Short films can take a long time. The Inner Ring, a five minute short, took years to make. Keeping in mind not all artists can make a living at making their art. My Co-Creator, Sara, and I both work full time and practice other art forms whenever we can.
Sara and I first worked together on a whim in the summer of 2016 when I put a call out on Twitter asking friends to help me make a spooky Super 8mm Film in the cemetery near my home. Sara not only answered the call, she also showed up with creepy masks and a costume. That shoot was a casual experiment and a lot of fun. Serendipitously, Sara was able to reuse this footage for some video poetry that was exhibited at a Horror Festival in Edmonton in 2020 titled The Spectre.
Back In 2017 Sara was seeking someone to produce a short script she wrote titled K.O. She had been working on it diligently, having received guidance from the EPL Writer in Residence at the time, David van Belle, and she was ready for the next steps. Sara reached out to FAVA and that’s when I got wind of it. I sent Sara a note saying I’d be interested to go on this journey with her.
I had only made one film at this point for an introductory film course called Video Kitchen at FAVA, been a Script Supervisor, and an Extra. I told Sara I had very little experience but a lot of (quiet) ambition to become a filmmaker. I wanted to learn and, in my experience, the only way to learn is to start doing it.
A big take away from my student film, Another Dimension Man, was to hear the script read aloud before you shoot (live and learn). Hearing the words come out of a performer's mouth is so important rather that just hearing the words clattering around in your own head. Sara enlisted some of her performer friends to a table read of the script for K.O. It was a great experience and helped inform some important, though subtle, script changes.
Our first big boost was in April 2018 we received the Alex Thomas-Haug Emerging Artists Award at FAVA GALA. This Production Grant allowed us to hire Dylan Rhys Howard, filmmaker, to review our grant application and provide feedback. We also hired Sylvia Moon, illustrator and graphic designer, to create some key storyboards. The advice from Dylan and the storyboards from Sylvia were inspiring. It was also reaffirming because the project was receiving some outside input and getting some flesh on it’s bones.
In 2018 we began applying for arts grants. We applied to the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Project Grant three times: February 2018, September 2018, and again in March 2019. We never received funding support from the AFA despite multiple revisions and advice from experienced artists. We also applied to the Edmonton Arts Council at the same time. We applied in February 2018 (unsuccessful) and again in September 2018.
In the meantime, we continued to create together. I took FAVA’s intermediate filmmaking class: Main Course in Spring 2018. I received instruction from Katrina Beatty and many skilled guest instructors from Edmonton’s filmmaking community. This course surpassed my expectations and I felt like I received film school in condensed format. FAVA is not an accredited institution, but rather a community of artists and experts sharing their skills.
As a result of that course was my fifteen minute short film, The Brink (2018). It’s a story about five women traversing a post apocalyptic prairie wasteland. Sara was my First Assistant Director on the shoot and joined me through the whole process from Pre-Production to Post.
In December 2018 we got the amazing news: we received a small grant from the Edmonton Arts Council for K.O. Despite our elation there was one big problem. K.O. is a seven page script, a four day shoot, required a realistic puppet be built, and had five actors. The support from the EAC is incredible but $5,000 is not enough for our initial vision. So, Sara and I changed our vision based on the generous funding we received and the project transformed into The Inner Ring.
Before we could realize our collective vision for K.O. now titled The Inner Ring I had the immense pleasure of being selected for the Herland filmmaking mentorship program supported by the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers. This outstanding opportunity resulted in my film Without (2019). Once again, Sara was on my crew this time as the Script Supervisor because of her attention to detail and our great relationship.
Finally, after many delightful and educational distractions, at the end of 2019 Sara and I began pre-production on The Inner Ring. We decided to shoot in Spring 2020 not knowing what this year would have in store for us, globally.