B&W 16mm film. 16:36min
Synopsis: A meek real estate agent thinks he’s found a machine that can solve all of life’s problems in this Twilight Zone-esque comedy.
Before I continue I should note that I’m not creating these posts in chronological order; there are quite a few shorts between The Ghost in the Machine and this one. I plan to give all of them their due on these pages before long – be they good, bad or ugly. And now without further ado…
The Impostor was my final film for OCAD. It was shot in B&W 16mm film and was my first with sync sound. It was finished as an actual film and as such I literally cut and taped it together on a Steenbeck editing table at the college.
Though it’s far from perfect I’ve always had a soft spot for this movie. I enjoy that it looks the way it does. I was aiming for a Twilight Zone sort of vibe and for the most part I’d say, with the help of my cinematographer, Brian Sharp, I succeeded. The plot was also an homage to Rod Serling’s classic show.
For the theme, having tried to deal with religion in my third year film The Cross, I returned to much the same subject as The Ghost in the Machine except this time, instead of being consumed by the technology, the protagonist grows to rely on it until he is helpless without it. Once again I think it’s easy to draw parallels between this subject matter and the way we rely on computers today.
The Making Of:
I wanted to have complete control over the look and art direction of the film and so, in addition to writing it to all take place in the hero’s apartment, I built the room as a three walled set in my parent’s garage. That way I could choose the wallpaper and the carpet and it was easier to control the lighting this way as well.
I scoured Queen Street West’s antique shops (back then it was a lot less gentrified) for the beehive radio and bought the shaving basin somewhere along there as well. The answering machine that I used belonged to my parents but had been retired in favor of “call-answer” (voicemail) which was a good thing because it definitely suffered at the hands of Christophe and his chicken drumstick during shooting. I bought the crickets at a pet shop where they were waiting to be tarantula food. After production they were set free to live out the rest of their days in the relative safety of my parent’s garden.
Christophe Quillévéré who played the main character was an OCAD classmate and remains a very good friend. He offered to take the part in a fit of Al Pacino inspired confidence after seeing Glengarry Glen Ross and agreed to cut his hair, which at the time was down to his shoulder-blades. During the shoot Christophe slid easily into the skin of an actor often wearing sunglasses inside.
We took four days to shoot the film with the help of many OCAD schoolmates (all listed in the credits) many of whom went on to work in film in some capacity.
Just My Luck:
In a typical circumstance that would dog my anemic career as a filmmaker the submissions for grants and awards in film from the college were due on a particular Friday in April. Unfortunately, I was unable to pick up a print for submission until the following Monday. That morning I rushed to OCAD with my film canister and quickly ran off a video dub which I attempted to submit to the film office. The staff there didn’t agree with my assertion that I was only a day late. Saturday and Sunday obviously couldn’t count, I argued, because there was no one to accept the film at the college before now. But they weren’t buying it and I had to walk out with my head hung low, the film in one hand and my unacceptable video dub in the other. I was later told by other students that I could have submitted any tape and then switched it once I had the real one but by then it was too late.
In the end I had to endure instructor after instructor asking me why I hadn’t applied for a grant, which lead me to think they probably wanted to give me one.