The Clothes Don't Make the Man

Spiritual Cinema Circle

Please tell us a little about yourself and your career:

I was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and despite having lived in the States for many years, I still consider myself Canadian. I began filmmaking by making lightsaber fights in my backyard with my friends and learning how to edit. The ability to put footage on a computer and manipulate it felt sort've magical. After getting involved in theatre in high school, I attended the University of Nebraska - Lincoln where I double majored in theatre performance and Film & New Media. My thesis film, "Love, At Last," went on to pick up a few awards on the festival circuit, and shortly thereafter I moved to Los Angeles where I was originally trying to pursue acting. Frustrations of the industry took me to Sweden where I worked as the Assistant Director on an independent feature film called "The Philosopher King" under the mentorship of my friend Ray Noori. On our shoot in Sweden, I felt like I learned more about filmmaking then I had throughout my entire college experience. I took that knowledge back to Arkansas where I started challenging myself with short films and co-founded a film festival now in its third year. Ultimately, I found out about the Louisiana Film Prize and made Mister Bellamy for the competition.

How did you become involved with The Bespoke Tailoring of Mr. Bellamy? What interested you about the project?

I reached out to my friend Paul Petersen who happens to be an incredible writer and told him about the Louisiana Film Prize competition in Shreveport. We started brainstorming ideas and I really wanted to create a role for Stan Brown who was one of my most influential college professors and mentors. Paul ultimately came up with the idea of a gentleman creating his own suit for a job interview and together we decided to set the film in 1960s Louisiana at the integration of the job market. I was fascinated by the idea of telling a story with no words... relying solely on visuals and Stan's face to communicate to the audience. I also really wanted to make a film set in the south and capture the beautiful scenery I see sometimes while driving. It was a huge challenge to attempt a period piece on such a tight budget, but that fueled and excited me throughout the process.

Did you film in the South? Did production go smoothly? (Please expand on any production challenges, anecdotes, etc.)

We filmed in and around Shreveport, Shongaloo, Vivian, Arcadia, and Homer, Louisiana. Our locations were fairly spread out (sometimes an hour apart) which actually worked to our advantage a few times when it was raining in one area but wasn't in another. Production, for the most part, went smoothly, although we did run into a few hiccups along the way. The heat, for starters, was killer. Parts of the film involve two characters outside in wool suits. I felt so sorry for them, but they were troopers and several big bags of ice saved the day. Another huge hurdle was the sewing machine. Initially, we could not get it work properly which would've ruined the whole movie. A little WD-40, however, ended up saving the day. Because much of the film takes place outside, lighting and time-of-day became something that we were constantly conscious of. We didn't have the budget to haul huge lights around with us, so we had to find areas with the most beautiful natural light. Sometimes the light allowed us to only film facing one direction. One of the most beautiful moments from set was when Stan sits outside the shed and hums an old blues tune. The sun was setting, the crickets were chirping, it was so peaceful. I think the whole crew was transported for a moment.

What message would you like our members to take away from your film?

To me, this film is about looking inwards -- not at external factors -- to find self worth and identity. Unfortunately, Mister Bellamy touches on a topic that is still highly relevant in our society. I hope that people can get caught up in the passion and hope that Mister Bellamy exudes and look for compassion within themselves. We don't know what sort of day anyone we see in passing has gone through. I never wanted the film to be preachy, I wanted to tell a simple story about a wonderful human being.

Do you believe “the suit makes the man”?

I believe the ability to persevere in trying times makes the man. But, look, I do love suits. I can't pretend making a movie with awesome suits in it wasn't enticing.

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