There are all kinds of movie makers dotting the B.C. landscape.
There are big-budget producers juggling multi-million dollar payrolls and multiple locations, creating features destined for the big screen. There are lower-budget producers charged with keeping production values as high as possible while churning out series and movies for cable channels and streaming services.
And then there are the ‘no-budget’ movie makers – the ones who get their digital movies made on a strictly beg-and-borrow basis (one would never suggest there was any stealing involved) with hard costs covered by whatever cash they can scrape together from their day gigs.
Proudly in the last camp are South Surrey producers Trevor Meyer and Wilson Campbell, of Fix It In Post Productions, who have teamed up on at least six projects over the last 15 years.
“The name comes out of the typical shooting situation in which something didn’t quite work out the way you wanted it to, and you say ‘ah, we’ll fix it in post (production),” Campbell said.
“It sounded like a good name for us,” chuckled Meyer.
While few outside their circles of family, friends and co-workers may have heard of films like Writers’ Block and Viral, the producers can accurately boast that every single movie they create is a labour of love.
“It’s certainly not about the money,” Meyer said wryly.
“We just love film so much,” enthused Campbell, displaying an arm tattoo that is a veritable montage of movie-making imagery.
Though their sub-strata of the business has been the recipient of back-handed compliments from the mainstream in the past – Tim Burton’s nod to ’50s no-budget auteur Ed Wood, and Steve Martin’s Bowfinger spring to mind– Meyer and Campbell have discovered there is wider recognition to be had for their efforts.
In December, their 28-minute horror short, Lure, won official selection status in the New Brunswick-based national Canada Shorts Film Festival, a succes d’estime that Meyer calculates can be leveraged into a return to feature-length format for a long-cherished passion project, Home Schooled.
“It’s all about snowballing the last project into the next one,” he said.
To that end, Meyer and Wilson are organizing a fundraiser on Saturday, Jan. 26 at Ocean Park Hall (1577 128 St.).
Starting at 4 p.m., it includes a $100-entry poker tournament and a silent auction for which Campbell (by day, a beer delivery driver) and Meyer (a BC Liquor Distribution Branch manager) have been gathering a wide range of desirable bid items.
It will also feature a chance to see the first public screening of Lure at 4:30 p.m., although Meyer and Campbell are careful to say that this part of the event is a free “sneak peek.”
“We still have the film entered into a lot of festivals on the circuit through (festival submission website) Filmfreeway.com until the season closes at the end of March,” Meyer said. “They’re pretty strict with their rules – they say, ‘you will be disqualified if you show it for profit’ before that time.”
For Lure, which will likely get its greatest exposure on YouTube, they raised close to $2,000 through a live GoFundMe page, but Campbell said he found that process “impersonal.”
“We want to be able to meet and greet people and show them we’re not scam artists,” he said.
While Campbell started out as an actor on a Meyer film in 2004, he has discovered he is far more comfortable – and inspired – behind the camera.
“We each have a different eye,” Meyer said.
The pair – who find that watching others’ movies stimulates discussions that turn into long sessions “spit-balling” script ideas – say their enthusiasm for the medium is complementary, allowing them to temper and counterbalance each other’s idiosyncrasies.
Campbell (who graduated to co-director for Lure, but said he will happily take a back seat to Meyer’s direction on Home Schooled) acknowledges he is an action-movie fanatic, but admits that many of his ideas are way out of what their pocketbooks will support.
By the same token, Meyer recognizes his desire to keep costs down has led him to obsess over single-location concepts – which also explains the recurrence of horror themes involving confinement and attempts to escape.
“We have to come up with an idea that we can shoot on a shoestring budget,” he said.
Lure, mostly shot in the summer of 2017, is about a deranged former sea captain (Vincent Hinch) who believes he is still at sea and terrorizes two teens (Christian Lagasse and Sam Krochmai) who have sneaked on board his moored vessel while playing a Pokemon Go-style game.
It definitely hews to Meyer’s one-location mantra, but in this instance they hit the jackpot with the location – two former Albion ferry boats that were then moored in Port Coquitlam. The opportunity came thanks to a friend of Fix It In Post’s long-time director of photography, Jon Ross (an invaluable resource for up-to-date, high-definition digital-camera equipment, including camera drones).
“The boats turned out to be just as creepy as we hoped they would be,” Campbell said.
The vessels, and Ross’ skills, and versatile light-weight equipment, made the project “look as though we spent a lot more on it than $2,000,” Meyer remarked. “It would have been impossible to get the same look 15 years ago.”
They said the project also benefited immensely from another key member of their team, Leah Shaw, who handled all of the sound recording.
Thanks to a tight-knit production team willing to pitch in wherever needed, and well-prepared, enthusiastic actors, the shooting process was a great deal of fun, they said, even though they wound up sunburned and bitten by mites lurking inside the disused vessels – and had to wait for sunny weather last year to match scenes for a crucial fight sequence.
But perhaps their greatest success, they said, is that just about everyone who volunteers to work on their films seems to get bitten by another bug – the desire to make more movies.
“We’re very lucky – we have people who want to come back and work with us on project after project,” Campbell said.
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