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Rob Grant: Writer/Director/Editor, MON AMI

February 19, 2013

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1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of MON AMI, from concept to financing.

MON AMI grew out of a curious urge to follow the villain’s side of a story.  The challenge in writing it was finding a balance so that your audience would still connect or relate to these characters even though they are doing some pretty horrible things.  I just saw that as a fun exercise and over a year’s worth of writing and re-writing with the True Hype team, I got it to a place we all agreed we had something interesting.

Since we had already shot our first no-budget feature YESTERDAY back in 2006-09 we had a pretty good understanding of how to shoot this feature on the cheap.  And through begging our friends and family managed to raise around $10,000 as our budget.  Capilano University Film Program (where we all attended at one point or another) helped out with providing our gear needed.  We then used two 7D cameras and begged a ton of our old contacts to help out on set.  Our crew was entirely built from friends and contacts we knew through the Capilano University.  We then shot over 17 days in August while mainly using locations in and around my parents’ house while they were out of town vacationing in Greece.

CK Photo_105 (1)2Q: It appears that the film has been screened at other festivals. Do audiences respond differently at some festivals than they do at others? And do you ever stop being nervous?

The rest of my team doesn’t seem to have any problems with being nervous at festivals but I’m terrible at them.  I get really bad anxiety, like I’m about to do public speaking.  I keep getting visions of the entire audience all at once standing and boo’ing me out the building haha.  Normally I’ll stay for the opening credits then sneak out the theatre and sometimes try and listen to the audience reacting from outside the doors.  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to relax, but it seems to get easier as the movie plays more and more.

The most nerve racking experience was our World Premiere at Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal.  We had basically spent 2 years working in a dark room editing and re-editing the movie and by the end none of us had no real perspective left on the film.  I thought it was shit and was fully prepared for the audience to hate it.  But from beginning to end the Montreal audience really responded to it and were laughing and cheering and gasping throughout.  It was amazing.  That was the first time I realized “okay, its working”.  And that seems to be how the audiences react whenever I manage to stay close enough to hear them.  The film really is a head-fake, people start laughing and chuckling at the silliness of the movie but then suddenly something serious will happen and you can hear a pin drop.  Sometimes you even get the nervous laughter when audience members don’t know whether they should still be laughing or not.  Those are my favorite moments because it means we’ve surprised them with something.

One Sheet (1)3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making MON AMI?

The best experience is always, for me anyways, working with people that share the same drive for creativity.  On set and even in post-production I really try and keep things as collaborative as possible.  I get charged from having other people JUST as excited about making something interesting as I am.  When you can cultivate that environment it becomes more like summer camp and less like work and that’s why I love doing it.

The worst experience….hmmmm…was probably the 2 weeks just prior to our World Premiere at Fantasia.  We had a hard date that the movie needed to be done and ready for screening and we had a lot of problems finishing.  We were still editing and making adjustments right up to the very end all while trying to finalize the sound design and color correction.  We even made a print of the movie on HDCAM one week before our screening time only to find a couple of errors in the picture that I accidentally didn’t fix.  I was losing my mind, I was working full time during the day and trying to edit and finish the movie at night, all the while doubting that the movie would be any good. I nearly had a meltdown.  That’s the hard part, the self doubt.  It’s something I can never seem to shake but I kind of appreciate it on some level because at least it keeps me questioning the material into trying to make it something better.

4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?

How to best sell my movie hey… haha, maybe just “go see it you won’t regret it!”.  No, I don’t know, at its core MON AMI is a horror movie disguised as a buddy comedy.  So there’s something for everyone really.  We really focused on trying to challenge the audience on whats funny and whats not, and I think our audiences so far have really to that as they never know whats about to happen next.  Some screenings have people yelling at the big screen trying to guide the characters decisions, which was great.  We really tried to take the viewer on an emotional roller-coaster.  So if you like laughing and cringing, this is DEFINITELY the movie for you!

5Q: There are now so many different ways in which to distribute a film; each has pros and cons. What are your hopes or plans for future distribution?

Yeah definitely, the landscape for independent films is evolving.  Our goal with MON AMI has just been about exposure and the best ways to go about the most people possible seeing it.  The festival tour has been a great start in getting awareness for the film and through it we gained many contacts we believe can now help us get it out to the general public.  We JUST signed our first digital distro deal with NEW VIDEO and are in negotiation for the rest of the territories and other World Sales with GRIMM ENTERTAINMENT.  When you go about making a feature on your own without any studio backing it can be tough to navigate the distribution landscape.  But luckily it seems the internet is providing direct access to the audiences now adays.  This is something I intend to experiment with in future projects for sure.

Buy tickets to see MON AMI at Cinequest!

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