By John Swartz
The movie, Who You Know, was shown at a full Opera House Wednesday night, balcony included. It was shot here last summer. The evening had another thing come out of it to report, but first the review.
Wow, you can do a lot with only $200,000. The opening shot was over 4 minutes long. The camera moved, the actors moved, and each were exactly where they needed to be in frame as needed.
I asked producer/director Jake Horowitz, how many times he had to shoot it to get the timing down and have any actor goofs taken care of and he said 15. It took a whole day just to shoot that scene.
Getting the lines right and said at the right instant, getting the camera circling around in time with the acting, replacing subjects in frame from one part of the room to a background part becoming foreground as other actors take over the narrative is bloody hard to do. And Jake served notice right away, with the hardest thing to do in movie making, is viewers should pay attention. Congrats for pulling it off.
I was present at the Brownstone when the last scene of the movie was shot and the difference between how it looked in person and on the screen is striking. It’s that way throughout the movie because at least two thirds of it was shot in Orillia locations (like Mariposa Market, Alleycats Music) and all of us present recognized the sets, but they didn’t look the same. They all looked better. A lot of credit goes to the director of photography, Filip Funk.
Most of it was shot handheld. There was one shot sequence I thought should have been on a tripod, but for the most part everything was smoothly done. The lighting was Grade A as well.
The actors, leads Dylan Everett (Cole), Naimh Wilson (Haley), with Stephen Joffe and David Hewlett did outstanding work. It’s great when the actions happen as if they weren’t practiced a few dozen times and look entirely natural. The interaction for 95% of the movie, the back and forth, sideways glances, etc. all seemed ad lib.
Mag Ruffman and Kate Hewlett had smaller roles which injected some humour into the story. It’s not my story, but I might have gone for more humour. There certainly were lots of opportunities, but then it would be a different story than Jake wrote.
The story is interesting, and he said during the Q&A afterward he tried to take a genre that’s been done to death, romantic, and turn it upside down while not changing it so much no one would like it. There is a twist at the end I didn’t see coming and the inside angle of the whole thing is it’s a movie about getting a script taken seriously enough to be made into a movie.
I’m not sure how long the runtime is, it seemed long. But that may have been because the Opera House was freezing (gas turned off because of the line break). I might have trimmed some stuff out, but then when I mentioned a scene or two I thought expendable, someone said, but that’s where this happened and it was important.
If there is one drawback it’s the sound. I’m not so sure this is the fault of the sound track, and more to do with the Opera House sound system and operation. Audio for movies is not the same as for concerts, which is not the same for events relying on spoken word as occasionally happens in Gord’s Room. The correction is going to tie into the next phase of this story (wait for it), but I think a center channel EQ’d properly for dialogue and amplified correctly is something to look at doing. I’ve seen enough movies in the room now to want to have straining to make out dialogue a thing of the past
That said, a couple people who saw the movie in another theater said the dialogue was a lot clearer in the Opera House. Maybe, but it still can be better.
I’ve seen worse movies made for millions, many millions. I don’t know anyone could say this one should be up for an Oscar, but it’s not a dud either; it’s not bland, it’s not boring. In fact, for a first time movie maker Jake did a great job and anyone who watches it on DVD or happens to catch it in a theater in Toronto (they’re working on getting it shown in the Carlton) should not feel they wasted time and picked another movie. You’ll like it.
The other thing to happen was Jake announced Orillia’s film festival is reviving as the Orillia International Film Festival and it will happen next September 18 to 20 at the Opera House. Jake said he posted it on an independent film website Wednesday morning and by evening had 100 inquiries from film makers wanting to get their movies picked up.
This is good. I think as much as I enjoy some of the stuff from Hollywood, I have yet to break a sweat wanting to see most of the stuff coming out of there in the last 5 to 10 years. I much prefer watching a good independently made movie that has some substance – and there are many of those to choose from.
To come back to an earlier point, if there are going to be more movies shown in the Opera House, can someone figure out the sound?
(Photos by Wil Dunlop) Main: Mag Ruffman, director Jake Horowitz, producer Jane Loughman, David Hewlett during the Q&A for Who You Know at the Opera House.