Category Archives: Great directors

My Chat with a Lo-Fi-Sci-Fi Duo

Ghosts with Shit Jobs movie poster

During the shoot, I had one free day so while the rest of the team worked hard on set I took the opportunity to interview the people behind the lo-fi-sci-fi film Ghosts With Shit Jobs. I was really excited to meet these guys because a) they’re also from Toronto, and b) I had seen what they did with a $4,000 feature production budget and a huge amount of passion.

I met with Jim Munroe and Anthony Cortese who make up part of their production company No Media Kings. Jim, an avocate for DIY media and a well published sci-fi novelist, is behind the film’s concept and script. Anthony is a producer on the film and the long-time partner of Jim. They both took part in the film’s direction as it has several storylines directed by different people.

Jim and Anthony have worked on several short films together and one feature film in 2007 called Infest Wisely, which was made with a mere $700 production budget, but none have seen the response that Ghosts with Shit Jobs generated.

Here’s the synopsis of Ghosts With Shit Jobs:
“The film is set in the future, jobs still suck — but in whole new ways. By 2040, the economy has flipped and North Americans are a cheap labor pool for wealthy Asian markets. A Chinese documentary show focuses on the “ghosts” (Cantonese slang for white people) unlucky enough to have been born into the slums of Toronto in a special report that translates as “Ghosts With Shit Jobs.”

The film follows the story of several relatable characters; including a baby-robot-making couple and two brothers with family issues looking for rare giant mutant spider silk. It’s a non-traditional sci-fi in the very best of ways. See the trailer HERE.

The film premiered in Toronto to a packed house at the Royal Cinema and is making its way across the globe in various festivals and invited screenings, including Berlin, London, Poland and at MIT in Boston. It should also be noted that the film won the “Best Feature Award” from the SCI-FI-LONDON Film Festival. The Grid wrote an article on the movie with Jim’s tips on low-budget filmmaking, and as Jim explains, “…the writer really got the spirit of the thing, with phrases like ‘happiness is the only real currency exchanged on an all-volunteer set.'” Volunteer indeed. This feature was made on a mere $4,000 production budget. When I asked if that was the planned budget from day one, Jim answered, “Well, the goal was to spend nothing.”

They got permits and insurance on the city locations as there are many recognizable scenes in downtown Toronto, including Young-Dundas Square, but all the other locations are favours from friends of the director/producers. The actors were auditioned, but the crew was volunteer. Jim preferred that if some crew were working for free, then everyone needs to work for free. This ensured there was no resentment, but rather a unifying love for the project. Of course he would prefer to be able to pay all involved, but he claims that the best part of making this film was the collaboration of the whole cast and crew; the magic that is created when people with no ego and solid focus come together to tell a story.

When asked what’s next, Anthony said he’s nudging Jim to get another project brewing (Jim is the writer and idea generator). I found out that Jim prefers to work a feature with a clear beginning and end rather than a never-ending web-series, and the genre of his next film won’t be too far off from his six published books and two feature films already under his belt. They are committed to unifying the film community by collaborating with other likeminded filmmakers (like us at Dangerous Dust Productions) and screening other filmmakers’ shorts before their films. In fact, exciting news is that they are planning a 48 Hour Film Festival August 17 – 19, 2012!

As an actor, I can only hope that people like Jim and Anthony will continue to make these fascinating projects a reality, and that these lo-fi-sci-fi films will continue to grow in popularity, not only on the web, but perhaps even in the “not-so-mainstream.”

Take a look if you’d like to find out more about Ghosts With Shit Jobs:
Ghosts With Shit Jobs production blog

The Little Movie about the Movie:

— Freya



Leave a comment

Filed under Great directors, Micro budget, Science Fiction

“Art Is Risk”: Francis Ford Coppola

I’ll make you a film you can’t refuse…


Our director of photography, Alex Lisman, shared this excerpted conversation with the great director Francis Ford Coppola on the Facebook wall of myself and my co-director, Kathryn Palmateer. I think he meant to inspire us (as opposed to intimidating us by reminding us that we’re trying to do the same thing as the dude who directed The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, et al). The whole conversation is worth reading but there were a few little tidbits, brilliant insights and controversial comments that I thought were worth sharing for those who don’t have the time to read the whole thing. What do you think about these, especially his thoughts on the freedom of art and the need for risk?

On art, risk and commerce:

Even in the early days of the movies, they didn’t know how to make movies. They had an image and it moved and the audience loved it. You saw a train coming into the station, and just to see motion was beautiful.

The cinema language happened by experimentation – by people not knowing what to do. But unfortunately, after 15-20 years, it became a commercial industry. People made money in the cinema, and then they began to say to the pioneers, “Don’t experiment. We want to make money. We don’t want to take chances.”

An essential element of any art is risk. If you don’t take a risk then how are you going to make something really beautiful, that hasn’t been seen before? I always like to say that cinema without risk is like having no sex and expecting to have a baby. You have to take a risk.

On the freedom of art and film piracy:

This idea of Metallica or some rock n’ roll singer being rich, that’s not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?

On directing:

You must never be the kind of director, I think maybe I was when I was 18, “No, no, no, I know best.” That’s not good. You can make the decision that you feel is best, but listen to everyone, because cinema is collaboration. I always like to say that collaboration is the sex of art because you take from everyone you’re working with.

On theme as the basis for making those directing decisions:

When you make a movie, always try to discover what the theme of the movie is in one or two words. Every time I made a film, I always knew what I thought the theme was, the core, in one word. In “The Godfather,” it was succession. In “The Conversation,” it was privacy. In “Apocalypse,” it was morality.

The reason it’s important to have this is because most of the time what a director really does is make decisions. All day long: Do you want it to be long hair or short hair? Do you want a dress or pants? Do you want a beard or no beard? There are many times when you don’t know the answer. Knowing what the theme is always helps you.

Leave a comment

Filed under About BNY, Classics, distribution, Great directors, Micro budget, Pre-production