Jackbell: An Origin Story

Getting it ready is the thing. You can’t wait until everything is 100% prepared, because it’ll never be 100%. At some point you just have to get rolling and plough ahead until you come out the other side.

The idea to make a movie was a light-bulb moment several years ago. I feverishly wrote a script, ignoring the fact that I had no idea how to go about actually making it. I had no experience, no contacts, no gear, and no money.

But you can’t step outside your house in Vancouver without being side-swiped by a convoy of big white trucks en-route to that fabled land – “Location”. This city is a filmmaker’s banquet. All I had to do was reach out to the community through the one tried and tested source:


25 eager headshots and resumes in my mailbox later, I knew I was in over my head.

So I decided to teach myself film making by doing a bunch of shorts, and hopefully pulling together a company of people with the same goals as me, so that when we made it to the feature we’d have all the bodies and experience to pull it off.

So…meeting actors.Dare I travel into the realm of these super-confident, outgoing, charming, beautiful people? Little did I know….

The first actor I ever arranged to meet, in Starbucks, never showed up. There was one guy I thought was him, at first, until he went to a different table and sat chatting with his smiling friend. So I sat there for the next half hour, and no show.

I went home with a new appreciation for how difficult this was going to be, if this non-meeting was any indication. Would all actors be like this? I’d been very honest in my ad., admitting to having absolutely no experience; there was more than enough info. for them to judge whether or not they wanted to meet with me.

I had an email from the guy when I got home. He’d shown up for the meeting, saw a man sitting at a table, assumed it was me, and so went to sit with him. The man, apparently, had also been waiting for someone he’d never met before, and had greeted my actor warmly.

Sooo…they sat and had a lovely little chat over coffee for about 15 mins. before realising their mutual mistake, whereupon the floor of the Starbucks opened up and swallowed both of them, putting them out of their misery.

I recalled that guy rushing quickly out, head down, sheepish expression, and how I had thought it might be him when he’d first entered. A lot of actors, I find, tend not to look like their headshots.

We did meet afterwards, and he ended up acting in my film, PLANET PAUL.

Five short films later, and I’m prepping JACKBELL. This is not that first script I wrote. Some of the people from each of the shorts are still on board with me for this.

Each short taught me a ton about filmmaking. Each was a huge improvement on its predecessor. I’m tempted to keep banging away on shorts until I finish one I can show to other people without cringing.

I’m fairly sure I’m never going to feel ready. I’m fairly sure that, from what I’ve learned so far, I can make something good. If I strive for greatness, maybe it won’t turn out too bad.

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Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Uncategorized


Calm before the storm

So, JACKBELL is a movie designed to be shot without too much logistical difficulty. Scenes are conceived to bend and flex to their environment, rather than the other way around.

The main character is a young woman going through some changes which affect her life to the point that she needs to go on the run and leave everything behind. 

No, she’s not a werewolf. Or a Bourne.

The movie climaxes at a house in a wonderful location. I believe we have that location, but it’s not completely locked down as of yet…so there’s a chance the film will climax…somewhere else. No biggie. 

So with the JACKBELL script in the bag, the camera all charged and ready, lights all bulb-i-fied, actors auditioned and settled upon (for the most part), flux capacitor fluxing, we’re almost ready to start shooting this thing.

So, what are we waiting for? Actually, I’m not sure. Maybe I’m waiting for the Movie Authority to knock on my door, stand there in it’s black suit and sun-glasses, and give me official permission to go ahead and begin. 

Because I need that, don’t I? Before I touch anything? Somebody in a position of authority to tell me I can? Otherwise, I could just go out there and start shooting a movie. And that’s just…that’s not right. Not without some kind of movie-making police permission.

We all saw what happened to Pesci when he went out and acted without getting a Go-Ahead first.

I’m just a regular person…I wasn’t born to filmmaking royalty, with Rise Of The Valkyrie blaring through the hospital, staring at the doctor through my little baby hands held out in front of me like a viewfinder; I didn’t poop Kodak film stock, I didn’t scream at the nurse…well I probably did, but nothing to do with her inability to perform a simple fucking task like prepare my fucking latte properly…Christ! Soy! How fucking difficult is that, am I right?

So I sit here, script and camera at the ready, reading about Kevin Smith and Ed Burns fucking with the distribution system, hoping to do the same with JACKBELL, waiting for the right moment to start.

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Posted by on October 7, 2011 in Uncategorized


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The Indie Film Project

So here’s the scoop – we’re making an indie, no-budget feature-length film, called JACKBELL.

There was a time when the whole ‘no-budget’ comment would elicit groans, and conjure images of 20-somethings engaging in a 90-minute naval-gazing festival, and often resulting in an audience bored to tears (this audience, anyway!). Not to say there aren’t some great films along similar lines, but the format was generally brought about by the lack of funding and…despite all good intentions…for every Ed Burns there were a couple of thousand…er…other people.

Today, thanks to digital coolness, not having a budget is still limiting, but not nearly to the extent it used to be.

With this blog, we’re going to document the JACKBELL production, from beginning to end, for better or worse, til death us do part. We will share all the blood, sweat, tears, trials/tribulations, fights, hugs, backstabbings, bitchiness, cattiness, drama on-screen, drama off-screen, emotional breakdowns and euphoric highs from the pre-production stage all the way through principal photography and post-production, where we’ll all come out holding a shiny and new feature film like a child clutching an over-sized, slightly-melting, messy and delicious chocolate bar.

We’re shooting HD 1080p on the Canon T2i which will be mounted on a…er…Domestically Constructed (ie. home-made) Fig Rig style contraption. If you see me on the street, I sell those…shhh….

We’re recording sound on the digital H2 Zoom, mounted on an equally Domestically Constructed boom pole (a modified, old Karaoke mic-stand).

Our Green Screen is made from a couple lengths of fabric purchased at discount from ‘Dressew’ on Hastings St. The cast will provide their own wardrobe and do their own make-up (except for FX stuff).

Hair, ditto.

Stunts, ditto-o.

Any specific set-dressings we need will be purchased from the likes of Ikea or Walmart, and then returned afterwards: “It just didn’t suit/fit/match”. So, FYI, if you buy new curtains next year…you might want to inspect them for fake blood stains. Said blood will be concocted in my kitchen with Syrup, Cocoa Powder, Food Colouring (red with a dash of green and/or blue, depending), and Mint for that fresh-blood taste.

The script was written in white chalk on jagged chunks of slate torn from the roof of a condemned church, and the score will be composed by banging two rusty spoons against an old metal washboard.

Just kidding – we actually had two sticks of coloured chalk, and the spoons are new(ish).

We’re taking inspiration from all the great debut films – Blood Simple, El Mariachi, Brothers McMullen, Moon, Reservoir Dogs, Monsters, Swingers, Shallow Grave, Clerks. Obviously there are many more…remind me of a few and I’ll check them out if I haven’t already seen them. And recently-released or even still-in-production stuff is inspiring, like Hobo With A Shotgun and Locked In A Garage Band.

So come along with us, enjoy the excitement when it’s going well, and talk us down off the ledge when it isn’t.

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Posted by on July 19, 2011 in Uncategorized