After three years of directing music videos with George Vale as part of Experimental Parachute Moment, Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene has made his first short film.
Inspired by his girlfriendFeist's song "The Water," Drew came up with the idea to make a film of same name based on the emotion within the song (ignoring the lyrics). With that in mind, he then chose to use the classic tale of a loved one coming back to life.
With the backbone of an idea in place, Drew asked Feist to join the cast. She agreed, and they went on to cast his favorite Canadian actor, David Fox, and good friend Cillian Murphy (whom he met at a BSS show in 2005). Once a time popped up in which all three actors were free, they began to collaborate on a storyboard. "The story was sort of mine and then [Feist started contributing] and then when Cillian and David came in we all sort of sat down with this idea and found how the characters would be portrayed within all of us being together and talking it out," Drew told Paste during a recent phone chat about the film. "Another group effort for me. I don’t seem to stray too far away from opinions."
The collaborative essence of the film was important to Drew, right down to the way in which people interpret the story. The film can only be described as set on a snowy, eerie mountain landscape, with little dialogue, starring a woman that comes back to life, and (of course) featuring "The Water." The rest is up to the viewer. "It seemed like everyone sort of had their own interpretations of the story, and so it was interesting to see where we ended up with what it was," Drew explains of the film. "I had such high respect for everyone involved and I really wanted to have everyone go through the thought process 'cause then it makes it become closer to them while they're working. And I always find that when something is closer to you or you have more of a grasp on something, you're going to put that extra care into it, whatever project you're working on. So that’s what sort of happened with this team of people. The whole crew, down to the guy who designed the mummy, everyone seemed to really want to make sure they got it right."
The film is currently being sent out to festivals without further plans for release, which Drew says he has little concern with. "I wanted to do a short film before I went and did a full-length feature," he says. "I’m not someone who can be educated in a classroom or by sitting down and having someone explain things to me, I need to be doing it and in there to truly learn. So, it was just one step closer to another passion and another outlet to have. And I enjoy very much telling and making up stories. I found with the band, going further…when we started, I liked telling stories and songwriting but then it started to get too personal and I stopped telling stories and actually started telling different versions of adventures of my own life in the songs. So it's nice to find a place to tell stories again."
Shot in two days last January, the film was made on a small budget by way of favors and pulled strings. Luckily, the film turned out the way Drew had envisioned it, and there is nothing about the experience that he'd change. Well, maybe one thing. "What I wanted was for them to [actually] go into the water. Leslie has so much spirit, God bless her, she was like, 'OK, I’ll do it—give me a wet suit and I’ll go in,'" he remembers. "But she would have died from hypotherma and I would have probably had a hate list the size of Canada, so we didn’t do that. But I am happy with it. I really wanted to see if we could execute something that captured people's patience, and I think we did. In the end, I'm proud of how it was made and who was involved."
Having spent most of the year on tour for his solo disc, the film was a welcome break from his ever-evolving music career. But that didn't stop us from asking him about it. "Onwards and onwards, my friend. I got about 16 different people in my life putting out great records at some point and we're a band now that’s gone from being this strong community to all separating and going out on our own to coming back to seeing people have huge success to seeing people not get heard," he says. "We've gone all over the place, but right now it just seems like people are winding down or starting up again and that’s just how it is now within all our lives. Some people you don’t see much anymore and some people you wake up to every morning."
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YouTube: Broken Social Scene, "Cause=Time" (directed by Kevin Drew and George Vale)
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