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