The Calm Before the Storm

Colin and I have been attending the Frontières market since it began in 2012. Collectively, we’ve presented three projects. He, along with Peter Kuplowsky, brought The Void in 2013, and I brought projects by James Sizemore (The Demon’s Rook) and Matt Swinsky (check out some of his music videos here) in subsequent years.

Hot tip about Frontières: the word is French, and it’s pronounced “frontier” – the S is silent. I say it wrong all the time. I can’t help myself! Learn from my mistakes. At least I pronounce “Cannes” correctly!

I think we’ve only missed one edition of the market in Montreal (they also have Frontières events in Cannes and elsewhere), in 2016, and it was because we had a very fresh baby on our hands.

This year, we decided to come to Frontières and sit on the other side of the table – as producers who are looking for projects, not ones who are pitching them. We aren’t necessarily looking to pick up a film to produce ourselves, but we have many friends and clients who have approached us over the past few months and asked for our help in scouting for all sorts of stuff – projects, completed films, talented filmmakers and writers, and more. So, we’re here to see some pitches, meet with a lot of people and hopefully do a bit of productive matchmaking.

We’re also in Fantasia for another reason – I’m on the festival’s New Flesh jury (the aptly-named first feature jury), watching and judging a dozen films from all genres and all parts of the world. Obviously I can’t say anything specific until after I’ve seen them all and the jury has deliberated and made its decisions, but so far, the films have been quite varied and quite good. Job well done, Fantasia programmers!

We arrived in Montreal on the evening of Wednesday July 19th, and headed straight to Bar-B-Barn with a group of friends, an annual tradition that we started a few years ago with our Shudder colleague Sam Zimmerman. It’s a very old-school chicken & ribs restaurant that really has to be seen to be believed.

When we mention the Bar-B-Barn to most of our Montrealer friends, they give us the quizzical looks of people who remember being taken there as children, many decades ago, but who can’t fathom why anyone would still go there in the present day. Because it’s still great, guys! Trust!

After the enormous plates of ribs were reduced to a few Flintstones-sized bone piles, we hopped over to the Irish Embassy (the pub where every single night of Fantasia seems to end, and a very handy place to congregate and meet up with pals). We said hi to everyone and then decided to be reasonable and go to our hotel early because the pitch sessions started at 9:30am on Thursday. If there’s one thing you don’t want to be when facing four hours of presentations in a darkened theatre, it’s sleepy and hung over!

friends (including one brave vegan who isn’t visible here) at Bar-B-Barn

Our hotel is a 10-15 minute walk from the Concordia campus buildings where the market takes place. It’s not the most interesting part of Monreal by any means, but it is very convenient to be walking distance from home while you’re at a festival or market. You never know when you might need a change of clothes, or a 30 minute power-nap, or an hour of uninterrupted time with your laptop to catch up on something. Being able to zip back to your home base without it being a half hour commute is crucial.

Note: I wasn’t originally thinking of doing a Frontières diary, but then our lovely friend Abraham (programmer at the very awesome Morbido film fest) told me he was looking forward to it, so … here we are!