VANCOUVER (LINK MAGAZINE) – Vancouver has been fighting to keep its Hollywood North title, with tax credit cuts and special effects studio closures contributing to the anxieties in the local filmmaking community. Such droughts in the industry normally correspond to a drop in newcomers interested in learning the craft. However, for those who are making their debut in the Vancouver film arts, the situation may not look as bleak.
The Lower Mainland houses many established film schools, with Langara, Simon Fraser and Emily Carr offering competitive training programs. One student filmmaker has shared the experience of making a feature film without the budget or the manpower of Hollywood giants.
Calgary-born filmmaker Brendan Prost is releasing his final feature project to wrap up his SFU film school training. Spaces and Reservations is a poignant study of a romantic relationship devastated by time and change. While Spaces is Prost’s third feature-length film, it’s the first project completed with the benefits of a film school education, and he says working with like-minded people presents a clear advantage.
“You’re able to express yourself a lot more clearly because you have the benefit of those people working with you,” Prost told Link Magazine. “As you learn more about some vehicle of communication, you start communicating better.”
The young director explained that being a film student allows to bypass some of the issues others face when making movies in Vancouver. While Spaces is very much a microbudget production, funded mostly out of pocket, the advantage of a talented and committed crew is priceless.
“All the institutions that exist to facilitate that beast, I get to reap the benefits of in a smaller scale way,” Prost said. “There’s a huge pool of talent and resources here that are ready and eager to work in anticipation of getting onto the larger stuff. I would never have had the opportunity to meet actors like Taylor [Hastings] and Jennifer [Kobelt] unless there was a budding film industry here.”
Lead actress Taylor Hastings echoes Prost’s feelings about the production. While working on her role as Kacie in Prost’s film, Hastings was also involved in a larger-scale commercial production. But she is quick to note her preference lies with a student film crew.
“It’s great to be in that sort of environment, because there is no ego getting in the way, which can happen on bigger sets,” Hastings said. “This was a really constructive collaboration of really creative people that were all working ultimately towards the same goal.”
Judging by the emotional saturation of Spaces and Reservations, ego did not have a place in the production. The filming of the two-and-a-half hour feature took place over the course of sixteen days, which left little room for conflicts.
“It was really draining, in a really rewarding kind of way,” Hastings explained. “We were really drained, which kind of put us in the right frame of mind to portray the emotional exhaustion that Jamie and Kacie were going through”
The actress said the intense schedule helped bring the cast closer, which helped with such an emotionally charged project. “It was very inevitable that we were going to share these experiences in order to relate to these people and come from a really honest place, so there is a lot of sharing, and a lot of drawing connections between me and Kacie,” she said.
When asked about the difference between making “passion projects” and making a movie under academic supervision, Prost says there is none. Spaces can indeed be described as a passion project in many ways: production crew and actors have gone to great lengths to make it happen, and the result showcases an astonishing range of emotion – and passion – while exploring a common human tragedy.
Spaces and Reservations will be screened at The Rio Theatre on May 27.
This article originally appeared in Link Magazine 49.8: Spaces and Reservations (Link Magazine)