Windsor Centre for Film, Digital Media, and the Creative Arts Hosts Online ‘Master Shot Summit’ This Weekend

Attention all Windsor filmmakers, media content creators, and especially you, the person reading this that would like to be a Windsor filmmaker or content creator, this article is for you. Amanda Gellman has done it again, she continues to bring opportunities to develop the Windsor filmmaking industry. Windsor Centre for Film, Digital Media, and the Creative Arts is hosting an online event this weekend that will add more links between you the Windsor filmmaker and/or digital media content creator and the rest of the film and production industry.

With events like, “Financing Media Projects in Ontario”, “Unions, Guilds, and Associations in Film and Media”, “Influencers, and Online Content Creators Roundtable”, or “Sponsors and Local Media Companies Showcase” to name only a few – the Master Shot Summit is the next step of your Master Plan for becoming a Windsor filmmaker and digital media content creator.

If you are a filmmaker here in Southwestern Ontario, the above ‘Master Shot Summit’ is an excellent opportunity for you to learn valuable industry information as well as a great networking opportunity. Guest speakers include: Sir Richard Taylor, Noelle Carbone, Jason B. Stamey, and Tanner Zipchen, former Cineplex pre-show host from 2015-2020.

The online event, happening this weekend (Nov. 19-21) will feature:

“A project financing session (with Telefilm and Canada Media Fund), a unions panel (with ACTRA, WGC, DGC, IATSE), a panel of social media influencers and creators, an info session about media tax credits, a local production company showcase, workshops with talent agents, a video game developers panel, a copyright and entertainment law crash course, [and] Diversity/Equity/Inclusion roundtables.”

The event runs on the online platform, Hubilo. Participants will be able to connect with others/speakers, complete challenges, organize one on one meetings, join networking lounges and many more engaging experiences via the Hubilo platform.

‘Master Shot Summit’ is a collaboration between Windsor Centre for Film, Digital Media, and the Creative Arts, the local non-profit organization that founded Film Camp for Kids here in Windsor, Ont, and a charity, the Media Arts Community Centre and Museum. Both centres are dedicated to creating jobs and growing talent in film and media arts in Southwestern Ontario.

Amanda Gellman says, “We have been discussing the need for a digital media conference for a very long time, and we are proud that we have come to a place where we can host this amazing (and affordable) conference for the community. The event is on-line this year, and next year a portion will be held in our new facility. Young entrepreneurs, second career seekers, students and professionals are all welcome.  The goal of the Summit is for participants to gain skills and/or expand their networks through seminars and workshops. Our larger community-based mandate is to offer opportunities that will grow regional talent and jobs for our emerging film and digital media industry.”

Aaron Fauteux, Project Coordinator for the ‘Master Shot Summit’ says, ““The big-name guest speakers like Richard Taylor, Jason B. Stamey, Noelle Carbone, and Tanner Zipchen all have the common denominator of having been born far away from the Hollywood system and can speak to making a name for themselves in the industry despite that challenge, which I hope will inspire those in our area to believe we can make an impact from here too.”

For more information, or to purchase tickets (ranging from $25 to $125 for the entire weekend) please go to

Finally, a word from an award winning filmmaker from Windsor-Essex, Gavin Michael Booth: “This event is going to be a great opportunity for anyone looking to start or further their career. This industry is all about networking, so having an event like the Master Shot Summit where creators can meet and learn from each other is vital if Windsor-Essex is going to have a thriving filmmaking community.”

The Animal Shorts Blog

There have been two videos I’ve created recently that I was following the path of Sir Charles G.D. Roberts writing his famous animal stories. Roberts was a writer from New Brunswick living at the turn of the nineteenth century and is known as the father of Canadian poetry. In his ‘animal stories’, most notably, Kindred of the Wild from 1902, he displayed a natural and intimate understanding of the simple actions he wrote about animals living in the wild. 

I sought to record the animals, in this instance no surprise here, geese and deer, in their natural habitat doing the natural things that they do, and use that as the basis for the narrative in the shorts. I edited the footage together in a way that made it look like I was telling a story that wasn’t happening at all. The buck, was in one location, and the doe was in another area of the same park, on a different day. I have imposed the storylines onto them by carefully editing sequences together to make it look as though the deer are behaving flirtatiously. This feeling is also achieved by the music. The music is a simple romantic melody that sounds like it could be the start of any romantic comedy walk in the park scene, so using that music to help create meaning goes a long way. 

Animals are a great subject because they give you interesting film footage that you can edit, so you practice your editing skills with meaningful content. I am drawn to the idea of animal video shorts because, and particularly we notice it in Windsor, these animals are a part of our lives. How many of us have been held up in traffic, not just from a train, but from a train of geese in Windsor?  

Why take the time to record free animals living their lives in the wild, and exploit them here in these silly beginner attempts at videography? People are drawn to animals and their natural behaviour, especially when that behaviour is recognizable to us, like watching two deer flirting with each other, or geese pecking around the park and floating around the beach all day. Perhaps it reminds us of our natural connection to other living things, if we can begin to look at something that is different and see ourselves in it, then maybe that helps our humanity grow to be more tolerant of each other. 

All it takes is a little preplanning of when to go and spend a bit of time patiently observing the world of animals and recording with the right lens to get the best look of the animals as they do their thing out there in the wild. 

From a spiritual perspective, each animal has a different meaning and significance in our life and dreams, so I hope these two videos make you wonder and see something new in your dreams tonight. 

Here are the brief, ‘video animal shorts’, I hope you enjoy.

A ‘video animal short’ by
A ‘video animal short’ by

The Local Native Plants Blog

View to the right of The Great Trail, off Malden Rd.

For the Local Native Plants video, I’m attempting to identify plants from Essex Region Conservation Authority’s (ERCA) “A Guide to Local Native Plants”. The guide covers 31 of the most common local native plants, each with blooming, height, wildlife value, identification tips and other information included, like pictures from various stages of development. The guide states, “Native plants are species that have been growing in a region since before European settlement, have evolved with our climate and are well adapted to survive throughout the year”. For Essex County, that means these plants have been thriving here for over 250 years, that’s a quarter/millennium! 

Cup plant: “large, dark green, toothed leaves … branching clusters of yellow, daisy-like flowers with darker yellow centres.” – A Guide to Local Native Plants

Because native plants “require less maintenance and watering than non-native ornamental plants … and readily re-seed themselves, coming back year after year”, they are an excellent choice to fill your garden with for year-round colour. 

Boneset: “Veiny leaves in pairs that join around the stem; white, flat topped, hairy flower clusters.” – A Guide to Local Native Plants

I did a ‘tester’ video of this in June. I was able to identify a few plants, plus, I had fun and it’s always nice to admire their pretty colours, so I made another one. I found three native plants for this video, with the two from June that’s 5 of the guide’s 31 that I have identified. I still have a few more weeks for late season plants that bloom in October, like Ironweed and Switch Grass. 

New England aster: “Alternate, clasping leaves that wrap partially around the stem; large clusters of purple flowers with narrow petals and yellow centres.” – A Guide to Local Native Plants

The exciting part about this project for me is to bring together a local interest activity and make a video about it. Whether you’re seeking to identify local plants, or (like I do) just enjoy seeing any bit of Windsor on the screen, this video is for you. I found all of these plants while walking the trails at Malden Park, and regular visitors will recognize it. I hope this video helps you recognize plants out on the trail, and that you enjoy my attempt at taking some cinematic footage of local plant-life. 

A short video identifying three local native plants.

The Dream Home Blog from Cinematic … Colchester

When Jennifer Irving approached me a couple of months ago about the idea of shooting a scene from her upcoming Kindle book, Dream Home, I was thrilled to be part of this ground-breaking project. I say this of course because the idea of a trailer is something that seems exclusively associated with the marketing of movies, using it as a promotional medium for a book isn’t common or routine. Having the opportunity to shoot a scene in Colchester, Ont. – a place already abundant with spiritual meaning for me, as a trailer for Dream Home – a novel that is full of the potential of conscious spiritual dream exploration, is an artistic dream come true. 

            The vision for the trailer was to shoot a brief scene from the plot of the book. The script was written by Jennifer and developed through a series of three test shoots at the location in Colchester. During the shoots, I learned what the required lighting set-up would be through a process of trial and error and I created a DIY lighting kit for upcoming videos. Jennifer discovered just how much make-up actors wear, and had fun exploring her character through wardrobe, pictures, and dialogue. Our excitement grew as we inched through tasks like figuring out blocking, editing test footage, writing shot lists, re-doing everything twice; and then Jennifer recruited local artist Tracy Rigg to play the second lead in the scene, eccentric medium, Sandra. 

Tracy has been performing in Essex County for several years. She has performed in bands such as Hardwired and currently Two of a Kind. “Tracy brought an intriguing energy into the character. She naturally fit into the role. It mesmerized me how eerie it was that I was seeing Sandra, the character that I had wrote, standing right in front of me.” Says Jennifer.

a blooper that highlights what a treat Tracy was to have on-set. 

Over two days of shooting, a 3-person production team was able to piece together the footage used to create the Dream Home trailer that is now streaming on Cinematic Windsor’s Youtube channel. All of us put something personal into the project, Jen’s novel, Tracy’s performance or my directing – all of them possible because of our support of the spirituality behind #dreamhomenovel. We overcame obstacles like lawnmowers and noisy animals, mysteriously unplugged microphones, and lighting deficiencies on one day, and then unexpected rain with thunder and lightning storms on the next to arrive at a finished product that we are all proud to have created. 

Jennifer reviews footage in between takes.

Dream Home is an inspiring work because it shows the reader in an accessible format that there is a greater meaning and spirituality behind our everyday interactions. Taking your mother out for a mother-daughter day can have lasting impact through memories long after we’re deceased. It shows us that when we have gratitude for our lives, we are surrounded by the abundance of the universe. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to add my vision to this project, and look forward to future productions in Colchester, Ontario.

Dream Home by Jennifer Irving can be purchased on Kindle.

Mister Emancipation Documentary Receives Platinum Award

Mister Emancipation Trailer

Preston William Chase, originally from Windsor, Ontario has partnered with Northstar Cultural Community Centre to direct a documentary about his great, great uncle, Mister Emancipation: The Walter Perry Story.

Platinum Remi Award, Documentary Short
The 53
rd annual World-Fest Houston International Film Festival The oldest independent film and video festival on the planet.

The documentary tells the story of an epic Emancipation Day festival that thrived in Windsor, Ontario from 1936-1967. Walter L. Perry, a hard-working resident of Windsor selling newspapers at the Windsor-Detroit tunnel, who for 30+ years organized the successful festival. The event drew Eleanor Roosevelt, President Harry Truman, Joe Louis, Martin Luther King and others, and was a highlight for the city during its golden age, which “at its peak the event doubled the City of Windsor’s population of 100,000.”

Chase says, “I grew up in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. It’s a blue collar city just south of Detroit, with a black community that dates back to the days of the Underground Railroad. Times were always tough in the community. But there was one thing that people could be proud of, the largest Emancipation Day celebration in the world.”

Chase continues, “For years now, I have wanted to share those stories. I mean, here was a guy who came from nothing, and sold newspapers to make ends meet, who somehow charmed city leaders, and sponsors and staged an event that drew top sports talent, American civil rights leaders, politicians and musicians to Windsor.”

“Over the past five years, I spent many hours with the elders in my community, recording their recollections of Uncle Walt, and the impact his festival had on them, and how it shaped their lives. I sifted through their old photos which capture so many joyous moments. I did it just in time, we’re losing that generation, and their voices are still relevant today.” Chase says.


Garden Route International Film Festival

Western Cape, South Africa. Sept 21 – Oct 11th

Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival

(online event) September 10th to 18th.

Chase adds, “I wanted to capture that and share it, especially now, when we seem more divided than ever, it’s possible to reach out, get along, and have fun.”

Film Camp for Kids Offers Online Summer Classes in Filmmaking

Film Camp for Kids is offering online classes in filmmaking this summer. Their successful in-person camps have been reformatted to new virtual online editions this summer in response to the pandemic. Students have the opportunity to learn filmmaking in a virtual environment for the virtual world. 

Currently, the camp is offering 3 hour/day weekly classes in small groups for filmmaking, available over the Zoom platform. These 3-hour morning classes include creative work at home, which gives children and teens fun activities to do at home.

Additionally, they are also offering 30+ daily live one-hour tutorial sessions. Some of the topics include: Intro to Horror Screenwriting: The Essentials, Choosing Video Editing Software: The Pros and Cons, Writing: Script Story Structure / Dramatic Intent, Editing in Final Cut Pro X and so much more!

We have entered Phase 2, even with some progress, we are still dealing with the effects and risk of COVID-19; but you can still learn and create filmmaking opportunities for youth. Students are still exposed to qualified instructors, and learn together over the Zoom platform in small groups. Students still write a script themselves and break down the shooting of their production. Students are then able to film specific shots for various scenes independently at their home. This footage is then uploaded to a server where it is edited. Final cuts of the films are uploaded to Youtube

The leap to a virtual program is keeping Film Camp for Kids operational through 2020. For children, the program will teach them valuable team-working skills in a new virtual world; while strengthening their independent filmmaking skills necessary as we move forward, uncertain of how long it will last, or what impact ‘the new normal’ will have on our daily filmmaking lives. 

More information is available online at Film Camp for Kids. Don’t delay, register today

Windsor Film Society’s Q&A with U of W Alumni Filmmakers Braunte Petric and Matt Gallagher

The Rise and Fall of the Grumpy Burger is a documentary by Matt Gallagher about local moviemaking legend Marshall Sfalcin as he tries to make the leap from self-produced b-monster movies into serious storyteller. By making a movie about his family’s Hi-Ho fast food restaurant chain that operated famously here in Windsor for several decades from the 1930’s, Marshall hopes to expose the truth, that it was his family that invented fast food. It is an exciting glimpse into the passion of a man that is a driven moviemaker and a proud Windsorite. 

Image of a picture: “Cruisin’ 65′” by artist Ronald Suchiu depicting Hi-Ho Restaurant.

The Q&A following the presentation featured filmmakers Braunte Petric and Matt Gallagher. Braunte started things off answering questions about how the idea for her documentary Defender came to her. 

“I’ve worked [with the subject of the documentary] maybe just over two years now, the idea came to me last year, and it was actually for TVO, and that’s what started that. 

Julia is this amazing woman that’s been through so many challenges, like in that video she was actually going through chemo. She’s done so much and she’s done so much for other people, fighting for people.” Braunte remarks.

What was the most difficult part of producing the movie?

“By the time I found out this contest was out I had two months to make it, and then in the middle of that my grandmother actually ended up in the hospital. So, I ended up having to throw that together. I had less time than I wanted to be able to direct it, produce it, and get a proper story created. I had to use what I got, and the most difficult part was trying to put something together in less time than I expected, but trying to still to find a powerful story that would come across in -I only had 4 minutes and 55 seconds for the contest.” 

When did you make the movie?

“It was right after I graduated. I ended up entering the contest a week after I got my diploma.” 

The focus shifts to Matt Gallagher. 

Why that film at that point in your life?

“I graduated the University of Windsor, I’d done a little half hour short, much in the spirit of pulling it together at the last minute, but this was the first film that TVO gave me a chunk of money. I sold them on the idea of this character from Windsor, Ontario named Marshall who was this filmmaker that wanted to make a real movie about his grandfather who he claimed invented fast food in North America so whether that was true or not it was irrelevant to my film. I thought to myself I can probably spend some time with them, between the two brothers I had filmed a lot with them … probably at least 70 hours of footage at some point. We had already struggled with the edit … I hadn’t worked with Nick Hector before, and Nick had a great reputation of doing documentaries, he met with me and he watched the footage and said, ‘I think we got something here’. 

“Nick and I have done another 6 or 7 films now.” Matt Gallagher adds. 

The relationship with Marshall’s grandmother really humanizes him, was that a decision during filming?

 “My camera was a moth to the light when I saw his grandmother for the first time, I was like, ‘that could be the film just him and his grandmother’, so any opportunity that I could get just to spend time with him and his grandmother I thought was great for the film, and really just an interesting relationship that I’d never seen before. His grandmother owned this old salon that hadn’t had a customer for 25 years, but she still cut Marshall’s hair.”

What year was it filmed?

“I think 2007 was the final date that we put the edit together. But that film took three years to make, so we probably started filming it in 2004, so we were shooting on a little Sony PD-150, standard definition, it took a long time … we didn’t know what the story was, and we had to wait for Marshall to finish, that’s the thing about some documentaries that you get into, you can have a great beginning, great middle, but if you don’t have that end, then you have to wait for it all to come together. Now I do things a little differently.”

Why did Marshall like making movies in Windsor?

“Marshall could only answer this himself, but from what I know about Marshall, what I remember about him at this point, was that he wanted to stay in Windsor, he liked Windsor, he grew up here. He had a bit of a chip on his shoulders about Toronto filmmakers, and Vancouver filmmakers and filmmakers in Hollywood, and how much it takes to make a movie and all we need is our passion and our stories. Marshall was a big supporter of anything Windsor and loved this city, and I think for him he saw it as a badge of honour to be able to produce shows like ‘Ten Dollar Tales’ and these other movies in a city like Windsor that you don’t expect to see that, at least in 2007 that was something new, now I see that … Windsor has been featured in a lot of other films, but at that point there wasn’t much here. 

Theodore adds: “And that was before Youtube really kicked in, and just the idea that they had this show on local cable was amazing, I remember flicking through channels and seeing it, it was this cool grassroots thing that predates, or prototypes it.” 

How did you overcome the amount of footage in order to pull a story from it? 

Nick Hector said, “Whenever anybody talked about the Hi-Ho, it was incredibly dull, but the second that it was between you two then everything pops. It became easier.” 

Did you intend to be a character in the film? 

“No, I didn’t want to be a character in the film. I hate being in films. I’ve been forced to narrate a couple of films, and I always get dragged into it kicking and screaming. It’s my intention not to be into it, but Marshall pulled me into the story. His conversations with me were interesting when it came to art and what’s real and what’s not real and what’s documentary and what’s not. He forced my hand and made me be in the film. At the end of the day, we just looked at the content and what he had on tape. The footage will dictate your story. If you’re looking for a true story, you just have to look at the footage.” 

Conflict in the story between the brothers, how much were you involved in pushing them to finishing the project, and pushing them so that you could finish your own project?

“I couldn’t finish my film unless they finish their film, and at that point they were probably three years in or so and I was just done. I didn’t want to do this anymore … either finish the film or don’t finish the film, but Tuesday night I’m showing up there and I’m filming because I’m going home after this.  I think it was my soft-threat that actually got that screening happening, good or bad, it was an ending to my film, but at that point I was tired, as I’m sure they were.”

How do you get somebody to give you money to make a film?

“The technology now is amazing – 4K and 6K and now you can do it so much easier, and the editing software is so friendly. I still struggle, I’ve been making documentaries for twenty years, and we still start from scratch every time we go into a broadcaster. In Canada, there’s only a handful of broadcasters. There’s TV Ontario, and they only do 13 a year, and CBC might do another 26. You’re competing against me and every other filmmaker in Canada, it is going to be very difficult to get a green-light on a production and when you do you should thank your lucky stars. What I would do, and what I did do in the beginning is I just made them on my own. I made a half-hour film on my crazy Uncle Terry who lived in downtown Detroit. I did another little calling-card drama that actually Ted (Theodore Bezaire) volunteered with lighting and production assistant. You can’t wait for a yes from a broadcaster, you have to go and make your film and hopefully get it into a film festival; but that short about my Uncle, it got into Hot Docs which is a good documentary festival in Toronto, and it got into a festival in Michigan, but that little calling card film was enough for TV Ontario and CBC to take me seriously when I got them on the phone the next time. There’s a thousand ways to do it, and I don’t want to pretend that I know the secret code, that’s the way I did it, and I would recommend for first time filmmakers to make a calling card film.” 

There you have it, Windsor, follow your passion and make your movies, your subjects are out there in the city waiting to be discovered. The next, and final screening in the U of W Alumni Filmmakers series is Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer, has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Local Movie Screenings Cancelled Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

As Canada tries to shut its doors on COVID-19, the city of Windsor’s movie theatres have done the same to help prevent local spreading of the pandemic. Movie theatres and special event screenings have been postponed or cancelled due to the emergency. Here is a quick summary of what’s happening so far with the local theatres.

Windsor Film Society has postponed their upcoming Friday March 20 screening of Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer. Recall, that for the U of W Alumni Filmmakers Series the screenings were being presented downtown at the Armouries – School of Creative Arts building. All non-essential activities at the University of Windsor have been cancelled or postponed due to dealing with the pandemic. You can follow Windsor Film Society on Facebook, to see the latest updates to learn when this event will be rescheduled. 

Following the announcement from the University, another screening, The 46th University of Windsor Film Festival and CMF Gala, has also been postponed. Follow the event on Facebook to see when it will be rescheduled.

WIFF 365 has cancelled their upcoming screenings for March and April. The affected screenings are: MAFIA INC on Thursday, March 19; KUESSIPAN on Thursday, April 9; and THE TRAITOR on Thursday, April 9. Refunds will be released for purchased tickets. 

‘Movie Nights at the Chrysler’s screening of The Goonies on April 2 has also been cancelled. The cancellation puts a halt on their new plan to show weekly movies. When the health crisis is over, they will send out a media release for the summer movie season. You can follow them on Facebook and Instagram to learn when the new summer movie schedule is released.

Lakeshore Cinemas, in Tecumseh, has also decided to close it’s doors indefinitely, due to the concern that COVID-19 will spread locally.

To cap it all off, the big theatres are even closing their doors. Cineplex announced earlier this week online that, “Based on the publicly stated guidance from multiple public health authorities, including recent government directives and the escalating dangers of community spread, we are temporarily closing our network of entertainment venues. This includes the closure of all locations of The Rec Room and Playdium, as well as our entire circuit of 165 theatres across Canada beginning tonight through to April 2, 2020.” – Ellis Jacob, President and CEO, Cineplex.

This page will be updated as I learn about more cancellations or the details of when postponed events have been rescheduled. Until that time, follow the recommended guidelines for health and safety. Dust off those old DVD’s to keep you company during the coming period of hibernation as we wait for this emergency crisis to pass. I recommend Outbreak, the classic 1995 thriller starring Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, and Morgan Freeman.

Windsor Film Society Presents: The Birder and Q&A Discussion

The pre-show reel featured photos from production and the Red-Carpet Premiere. It was an interesting behind the scenes look at a local film production, full of images of camera and boom operators, grips, grip stands, grip stands holding flags, and all the other crew members it takes to make a movie right here in Windsor. It was nice to see the movie highlighted in this way, as if making it was special, meaningful. It set the tone for a night of celebrating U of W Alumni filmmakers. 

One of the clips from the Red-Carpet Premiere Q&A showed Mayor Drew Dilkens saying how proud he was to see Windsor on the big-screen. I concur, Mayor, and from the popular turn-out to the screening, quite a few others do as well. 

Following the main presentation, was the highlight of the evening, a Q&A discussion with filmmakers Theodore Bezaire and Mike Stasko of The Birder, and Gemma Eva of “Rough Love”, which began with Mike Stasko asking crew members of both films that were in attendance to stand and take an applause. 

Gemma Eva, writer/director of “Rough Love”, the short film which preceded The Birder said the idea came to her from, “basically my past acting experience, I started off in theatre, and when I started off acting I did screenplays like Night of the Living Dead and High Physique and later on I started doing more parody musicals and getting into stuff like a musical called Evil Dead Musical. A parody of the Evil Dead film and so from there I wanted to do something in lieu of more parody.”

Gemma was asked about the thrilling soundtrack. “We basically picked five 80’s pop songs to mimic in the film, our composer Will Rogers did an amazing job, he said, whatever song you have, we want your parents to think, ‘oh yeah, I know that song’ – he goes, it’s not that song.”

When asked about the actors, Gemma replied, “They’re all friends of mine from theatre I’ve done around the community. I had an idea of who I wanted to cast while I was writing it and hoped to God that they said yes”. Gemma continued to say, “My favorite relationship in the film was the two brothers – [the actors] had actually been best friends since before high school … so their chemistry was on-point.”

Gemma was asked about the shooting schedule next: “It took four days and they were very long days. Most movies are 10-hour days … 14 hours a day are quite long. I remember picking up Starbucks on the way to set, and them closing and then coming home and it was already open for the next day.”

Of the sets, costumes, and props, Gemma stated, “renting from the theatre companies that I’m involved with, production designers buying stuff, and then a lot of the paintings in the background was us painting them, a lot of them were home-made.” 

The audience also noticed the sharp colors that highlighted the movie. “We wanted to make a difference from the party room – nice, fun, bright colors, and we wanted to make the death room to be spooky as possible and cliché as possible.” 

And, finally, what are you doing next? “Right now, I’m working on my thesis, because I am doing my Masters at University, and I’m working on a musical movie.”

The focus shifts to The Birder. Theodore Bezaire spoke about coming up with the idea for the movie: “I was having an idea about relationships with teachers after high school. I had had this interesting conversation with a teacher. I was in University at the time, I went back to my high school and had this real conversation with a teacher, and [realized] ‘he’s a real person, he has emotions’, so that sparked an idea … Mike and I were kicking around different ideas, we have a mutual friend who is a big ornithologist – that’s kind of an interesting sub-culture, that at the time we hadn’t really seen.”

Mike Stasko adds, “I think the idea of him being an ornithologist came late in the script … There’s a lot of parallels between drift migration and finding the path again. We knew we wanted Ron to go through this arc. At first, it was a teacher that decides to live in the school for the summer.”

Theodore adds: “And then we developed it.”

“The script was in development for technically seven years. Originally, it was more of a buddy comedy between the two main guys. When Telefilm came in, they wanted us to play up the daughter relationship and the parallels that came out of that gave it a nice third dimension.” Mike remembers.

Theodore reflects: “Looking back, growing as a writer during that time was huge. Through that process of dealing with story editors, with producers at Telefilm Canada made us better writers.”

When asked about actor selection, Theodore remembers, “during that development process we started doing packaging – getting the main actors together and creating lists. Tom [Cavanagh] was always on that list. He was one of the first people that we went after, because we wanted to lock in our Ron, and then hopefully, the other people would fall into place.”

Mike adds: “Fred Willard was a dream pick of ours, one of my favorite comedies is Waiting for Guffman. He was one that was a big feather in our cap.” 

Theodore notes: “He came on early in the process. That was a big day. Being a huge Christopher Guest fan, as a filmmaker, Waiting for Guffman, was a transformative movie for me. Graham Greene fell into place, he was only on-set for a couple of days. Mark Rendall, is the other key component of the relationship. I had seen him in a movie called Victoria Day, and it’s more of a drama, and kind of sullen, but his performance, I like that guy a lot. When we were trying to cast for everyone, a lot of people were pushing stand-up comedians, but my thought process was let’s find an actor, and they can be funny.”

What about the locations? Will people from Windsor recognize shooting locations?

“I remember going on scouting trips and shooting videos dating back to 2007. We checked out the old St. Joe’s. One of the key components was the outdoor stuff. We found a home at Ojibway for most of the outdoor stuff, on the trails and things.” Theodore said. 

Mike adds some technical filmmaking insight: “If you know Windsor-Essex, the park for example was exterior at the park, Ojibway was the inside of it, Malden Park was the side of it, and from Villa Nova roof was the roof of the old St. Anne’s. Optimist was the façade of the front. It was five different locations to piece it together. If you’re an outsider, it looks like a continuous thing, but people in Windsor were probably a bit confused.”

Theodore adds: “But the key component was the school though. We were lucky enough to get access to the old St. Anne’s in Tecumseh. We basically got the run of the place, so it was our production office, it was our production design workshop, we had the gym for building sets and things like that. We had also shot in the school a lot. It became a central hub for the film, it was our headquarters. You move around a lot to different locations; it was nice to have that one hub.”

Asked next about the production schedule, Theodore remembers: “It was 19 days. 99.9% of the movie was shot in Windsor-Essex. The park film [from opening scene] was shot up in Toronto, and a couple of inserts. At the end, when Floyd’s running and he cranks his knee, that’s all with the actors here in Windsor, but just that one shot of his ankle bending was up in some park up in Toronto, and it was our producer’s brothers, that was his foot.”

Mike: “I play a lot of Ron Spencer’s hand-modelling. When you see close-ups of Ron’s hands or feet or he’s driving – that’s me.”

Theodore: “The foot going into the pedal of the fountain:” Mike: “that’s my foot.”

The Q & A ended on a humorous note with somebody asking about Mike Stasko’s beard in the film. Mike replies, “I wrote the character Mike Harper. I gave him the name Mike so that it would force Ted’s hand to cast me. He didn’t want me in it, because I starred in his last one, so he said, “fine, you have to grow a huge beard and look unrecognizable and that’s what I did to get the part. He made me audition for it as well.” 

The screening was made all the more special for having the opportunity to gain this insight into the production of these two movies. Windsor, we are so lucky to be living here right now in the midst of a burgeoning film industry. The Rise and Fall of the Grumpy Burger, screening at the School of Creative Arts downtown on Friday Feb 28th is your next opportunity to be part of the growing discussion about movies in Windsor. Come out to the event and engage with the filmmakers themselves and see for yourself what is so cinematic about Windsor. 

Where to See a Movie in Windsor: A Guide

There are alternatives to seeing box-office blockbusters on the big screen in Windsor. Although Windsor still does not have a full-time independent cinema, there are organizations and community groups devoted to viewing a wide selection of movies. In this guide, I will breakdown the options so that you know where to go the next time you want to see a movie on the big-screen. You can also check out the Events calendar located at the top of the sidebar menu to your left. Let’s get started:

Windsor Film Society: I have already posted a blog about this important community devoted to showing triptychs of movies for cinematic fans here in Windsor. Their current series is U of W Alumni Filmmakers, and features three selections coming up from local filmmakers. Up first is The Birder, on January 24 at the new home of the School of Creative Arts, University of Windsor, in the Armouries building located in downtown Windsor. The filmmakers will be in attendance for a discussion and Q&A after the screening. This is your opportunity to support local films, cinema, and artists all at the same time. By attending this unique event, you are getting a cinematic experience that big chains do not offer: a conversation with the filmmakers. See the Events calendar for more information.

Windsor International Film Festival: The wildly successful WIFF has been getting bigger for fifteen years, and last year celebrated being named #1 Film Festival in Canada by selling more than 42, 000 tickets in 2019. You can read the WIFF 2019 recap for more information. WIFF offers a chance for people to see the hottest documentaries, the latest foreign films, and a range of festival and Oscar winners. For more details about the local component, please read the 2019 recap. A trend is developing where WIFF and its monthly 365 series have been screening Netflix movies before they stream. This trend points to an idea that people still want to go out to see a movie. There is a shared communal bond among a movie audience that can’t be replicated at home in front of your T.V. – every November, WIFF reminds us of that for a hearty week of filmgoing; but that just leaves us wanting more.

The lobby of the Capitol Theatre for WIFF365

WIFF365: More. WIFF introduced WIFF365 to alleviate those post festival blues with a monthly series that screens two movies. Recently, I viewed Uncut Gems, and was grateful to see this Netflix movie on the big screen. It won’t be released in many theatres, so I feel like I was treated to a special experience. WIFF365 brings Windsor the opportunity to consistently see the best in alternative screening. Check the Events calendar for upcoming WIFF365 selections and don’t miss your next opportunity to see a once in a lifetime screening event.

Classic Films and Flashback Series: Screenings of older movies, offered at a discount price through Cineplex, at Windsor’s Silvercity. Coming up this spring, titles such as The Karate Kid, On the Waterfront, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s and many more will be available for viewing at Silvercity on select dates. Silvercity has an advantage over an independent cinema because they can afford the distribution rights, which can be costly, especially if you do not sell a lot of tickets to the event. I commend them for choosing to select older movies to throw in with their programming. Recently, I have viewed Batman and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Again, I am grateful to see those movies on the big-screen where the eye-popping colour scheme of Batman dazzles me and the action scenes of Raiders are right there in front of me.

It is after all, an experience. Whether you’re into an intimate setting with locals, a raw documentary, or the stylish comforts of Silvercity: Windsor has a movie-going option that is just right for you, and is as diverse as our great community.

What are your main considerations when going to see a movie? Is location as important as the film you’re choosing to see? Do you still value movie theatres in this age of streaming? What comforts and/or amenities do you require at a theatre nowadays? Please leave your comments below, thank you.