There is no excuse not to make a film these days.” Three Norquay filmmakers are taking that assertion seriously enough to make a movie when a lot of people are suggesting the Saskatchewan film industry is on the ropes.
“We see the shearing off of the film tax credit as pure opportunity,” says Benjamin Galay, creative lead at Middle of Nowhere. “Everyone is peeling off. The field is open. With the start-up funding gone, we’re going to have to find it ourselves.”
This confidence comes from something much deeper than mere hubris. Galay and his partners share a compulsion to make film that just won’t sleep.
“I grew up across the street from the movie theatre in Norquay,” Galay says. (The theatre has been gone for several years.) “I was at the theatre every week from the time I was four years old! Sometimes I’d have to find an adult to take me if the movie was rated for parental guidance. I knew that film was where I wanted to go.”
Brendan Olenick takes the lead on camera technology for the team. “Movies have been a weird obsession since I was young,” he says. “I don’t know what else I’d do. It’s always taking a large risk to make a film. But you can make a film for so much less than even ten years ago.” Olenick is a graduate of the University of Regina’s Media Production and Studies department.
For Middle of Nowhere sound technician, Zachary Galay, passion for movies started with the world of music he discovered when he moved to Calgary after high school. “I grew up with access only to classic country music,” he says. “When I started to experience the music world in the city, I knew I wanted to have a career in sound.” To that end he attended the Art Institute of Vancouver to study how sound is managed live and in recordings. “George Lucas said that sound is 50 to 60 percent of a film. I want to be able to use audio to really bring out the emotion of the stories we’re telling.”
Emotion is at the heart of of Middle of Nowhere’s premiere project. The project, Homefield Advantage: The Fans Behind the Game, is a documentary journey into the lengths people will go to to experience their favourite sports team. Football is at the heart of the stories they will be telling in the film.
“With football,” says Benjamin, “everyone has a story. When I was in acting school I began to realize how badly people want to tell their own story. The idea of collecting stories from fans about the extremes they’ll go to for their team was directly inspired by watching shows like America’s Got Talent. People are willing to do amazing things when they are motivated by a passion.”
Like make a film, for example.
The wall in Benjamin’s kitchen is temporarily the trio’s story board. The script will continue to evolve over the next several months as their social media outreach gathers stories from sports fans—primarily football fans.
The team is not shooting in the dark looking for extraordinary tales of fandom. They know what they’re asking for because a tale or two of their own will show up in the film. These guys could be classified as mildly crazy in the fan pantheon themselves.
And crowdsourcing for stories is only the beginning of the relationship they are fixed to have with fans. They are set to make investors out of sports fans and movie goers. In other words, raising the money to make the film will be in the form of a partnership with the people who will ultimately watch it, $5, $100, or $10,000 at a time. This trend in independent film sounds a little audacious, but it is one of the reasons why excuses to walk away from a film-making dream are running awfully thin.