Synchronicity-Premiere at Fantasia Film Festival 2015-Mini Review and Interview with Director Jacob Gentry

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I’m still attending the Fantasia International Film Festival here in Montreal for a few more days. I had the chance to meet up with Director Jacob Gentry to talk about his brand new feature: Synchronicity.The film had its’ World Premiere July 22 at Fantasia,and has a second screening coming up on July 30.

Gentry’s directorial work began in 2007 with the film: The Signal, which played at the 2007 Sundance Festival.The film was shot on a 50,000$ budget and was co-directed/written/produced by Gentry and his college friends in his hometown of Atlanta.

Gentry went on to do work in television; on narrative films based on the songs of Broken Bells,as well as a TV series: My Super Psycho Sweet 16. Synchronicity marks the directors’ return to feature length fiction.

Syncronicity is a homage of sorts to classic Sci-Fi, with a definite 80’s tinge. Neo-Noir would be a fitting genre label, and the film Blade Runner would seem an obvious major influence. But there is much more to this film than any labels, or derivative influences.

Delving into Science Fiction, regardless of a films budget, can often be much more fiction and much less science. Gentry was intrigued by the Hadron Collider experiments at CERN,and this was partly the inspiration for the scientific story at the heart of Synchronicity. He made use of a little known(to this reviewer anyways) organization called the Science and Entertainment Exchange. Here,he was teamed up with a specific researcher that advised him on the scientific underpinnings of the protagonists research in the film, and hoped give it a certain scientific plausibility.

This research has provided the story with a fertile soil for the very intelligent, thought out story line to grow from. The scientist at the centre of the drama is experimenting in time travel, but must re-invent himself as a Chandleresque detective of sorts,to solve the ever deepening mysterious chain of events that his experiments have unleashed.

Chad McNight stars as this ernest scientist: Jim Beal .He stands at the forefront of a scientific breakthrough ,but comes to realize that finding true love may be his biggest discovery of all.

Brianne Davis plays Abby, a Femme Fatale character who could very well be the key to Beals experiment. But she may also hold the key to his heart..

Michael Ironside(Klaus),AJ Bowen(Chuck) and Scott Poythress(Matty) round out the very capable cast.

The film has a great visual style with Cinematographer(Eric Madison) on board. Featuring heavy emphasis on expressionistic lighting, great framing and flowing camera movements; the movie has a great neon,smoky, nourish sheen.

Drawing inspiration from the streets and places of his hometown of AtlantaGentry has provided his creative team with a unique visual resource to work from,to help craft this imaginary world we are seeing on screen.

Speaking of visuals, I was particularly captured by Gentrys ‘ use of analog effects where possible. Old trick photography techniques including body doubles,as well as very the very cool time lapse and macro photography of liquids by designer Kim Pimmel, are utilized to help give the film some of it’s retro feel. The  shots of the wormhole opening and closing  in Synchronicity ,seemed reminiscent of some of the images from  Stanley Kubriks’ star-gate sequence in 2001.

Also of note is the amazing, retro synth score from Composer: Ben Lovett. Sometimes pounding our senses and at other times drifting over us in a sublime wash of warmth;the score definitely has a throwback appeal. This is partly due to the writing;but also to the use of the original Moog Studios in Asheville, North Carolina.

The composer was able to not only record in the studio, but also to gain access to original equipment and engineers at Moog,to assist in developing the sound palette reminiscent of the score sounds of Wendy Carlos and Vangelis.

But however much the score can sound as a homage to the past, its feet are planted firmly in the here and now.

The same can be said for this new film Synchronicity by Jacob Gentry.

As for our hero?Jim Beal ?

Definitely.

Synchronicity screens at 12:45 at the J.A Seve Theatre, 1400 Boul. de Maisonneuve, Montreal,QC

Audio interview with Jacob Gentry re: Synchronicity

24-07-15

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The Dark Below-interview with Director Douglas Schulze and Actress Lauren Shafer at Fantasia Film Festival

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The Dark Below had it’s World Premiere at the J.A. Seve Theatre in Montreal last night, to a large and appreciative audience. In attendance were Director Douglas Shulze and Actress Lauren Shafer. They had previously worked together on Shulze’s 2011 film Mimesis. Here they reunite for a visual tour de force.Literally.

The film contains only three words on dialogue uttered in the 75 min running length.Those are spoken by actor David Brown, as he immerses his drugged wife ( Lauren Shafer) into an icy cold lake, for what appears to be a slow and horrifying death.

This is in the first few minutes of the film. Our heroine must now struggle to survive below the ice with all her will and wits. As she struggles, we see dreamlike scenes of what has led up to this moment; and the audience may be unsure if the character is already dead,and if so,are we now seeing the equivalent of “her life passing before her eyes”?

It’s an interesting storytelling technique to build the structure of the story. As well, the wonderful music score by Composer David Bateman is utilized to a great extent to add to the narrative.His choral theme that builds up to a crescendo throughout the film is almost the an embodiment of the “voice”of Shafers’ character as she is unable to utter a word in her underwater prison.

The slow build up of the past story reveals not only Shafers’ close relationship with her mother (Veronica Cartwright) and daughter, but the lurking suspicion that her husband is a closet serial killer. A realization that comes too late to prevent the tragic struggle for her life. But in an ironic twist the tables seem to turn on our killer ,as the battered heroine asserts her ultimate revenge.

Enduring the hardships of severe weather and the challenges of shooting underwater is difficult for the largest of productions. For a low budget independent film to overcome these issues is to be commended. Especially so for Shafer ,who spends most of the film underwater.

The scenes that take place above the water were shot in the frigid -20 environment of a frozen lake near Port Huron,Michigan. The cast and crew later reassembled to shoot the underwater scenes in the warmer summer months,with the addition of a small floating prop ice cap.

I was lucky enough to catch up with Douglas Schulze and Lauren Shafer at the festival hotel here at Fantasia 2015.

I have posted a link to the audio interview as well as some stills and some reverent links for The Dark Below, and Banshee -a TV series that features Shafer in its upcoming broadcasts on Season 4.

Enjoy!

Stephen

An interview with Douglas Schulze and Lauren Shafer about their new film: The Dark Below,premiering at the Fantasia Film Festival 2015 in Montreal,QC The Dark BelowFantasia Film Festival 2015Lauren Shafer

The Dark Below

Banshee

The Demolisher-Gabriel Carrer-Fantasia Film Festival 2015

 

I’ve been in Montreal for a few days, attending the Fantasia International Film Festival. The organizers here are amazing,as are the films. It’s my first time here, and I hope to come back again next year:)

One of the highlights so far,has been my press room viewing of : The Demolisher. It’s a new feature film from Guelph based filmmaker:Gabriel Carrer. It has it’s big premiere Monday July 27 here is Montreal and I am looking forward to seeing it again on the big screen.

It’s an intense, yet dreamlike and metaphorical tale of a one man vigilante,whose quest for vengeance puts  his moral(and mortal) existence in question. From the first shot,to the final frame,it’s a brilliantly conceived piece of independent cinema not to be missed.

The performances from Ry Barrett(Bruce), Tianna Nori(Samantha),and Jessica Vano(Marie) are top notch. The final shot of Ry Barrett leaves you wanting for more, a Demolisher 2 perhaps?

A wonderful retro styled synth score by composer Glen R Nichols adds to the hypnotic power of the film, yet never overwhelms it. The Cinematography of Martin Buzora and work of Production Designer Vincent Moskowec are also of note.

I was lucky to catch up with Writer/Director Gabriel Carrer and he spent some time filling me in on this gem of a film.Take a listen:

Director Gabriel Career talks about his new feature film: The Demolisher from the Fantasia Film Festival 2015 in Montreal,QC

 

some quick notes…

well this blog is new and a little sporadic, but here are some things coming up :

July 22- I will be interviewing composer Steph Copeland and Christopher Giroux from Black Fawn Films about Steph’s score work and there 2 films premiering at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal:) Show podcasts and playlists can be found at the links below

cfmu-fm Soundtrack On 93.3 CFMU-FM

July 23-I will be taking the TEE(Via Rail) to Montreal as I will be there for a week attending the Fantasia Film Festival

Fantasia Film Festival

Hoping to get some interviews at the fest and will be going to see the two Black Fawn premieres: Bite and Anti Social 2…

more news to come, cheers for now

Stephen

Hallo!

My name is Stephen. I took Film Studies at the University of Waterloo in the late 1980’s, and went on to work in the film scene in Toronto for many years. I started a radio show in my spare time in 1997,called Soundtrack. It it airs weekly on 93.3 CFMU-FM. I’ve done some scriptwriting, and even directed a feature film that screened at the 2012 Shanghai International Film Festival. Last year I started helping the local and growing Hamilton Film Festival by joining the selection jury. I figured it was about time I experimented with writing a low-key blog to talk a bit about good films, independent festival screenings and interesting film scores. I’m just inventing this it as I go along, but i hope you will enjoy it and join the conversation. More to follow….