by Tom Sasvari, March 22, 2019
GORE BAY—Dylon Whyte was genuinely surprised when he found out that he had won the Best Actor Award at the recent Berlin Underground Film Festival (BUFF), which bills itself as a “new way of consuming culture.”
“I recognized the number on my call display as Jayson Stewart of Massey,” explained Mr. Whyte. Mr. Stewart is writer and director of ‘The Philanthropist,’ a crowd-funded independent short film which was shot in Gore Bay and Massey in the spring of 2018.
“We first met formally while I was volunteering in August of 2015 as a zombie in Jayson’s short film REZilience,” continued Mr. Whyte, who would later discover that Jayson had first seen him perform as Mitch Albom in ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ onstage at Manitowaning’s Burns Wharf Theatre in 2008.
“At first I thought he was calling to discuss a role I have in his most recent independent production entitled ‘Overdue, a “pregnant” comedy written by screenwriter Marla J. Hayes which we will be filming next month in Massey,” said Mr. Whyte.
“It was either that, I thought, or a call regarding the documentary we’re co-developing about my father’s unique studio home,” Mr. Whyte said, explaining, “he then told me that he had some news to share before it ‘officially hit the internet.’ I was intrigued, puzzled and downright stunned when Jayson explained that I had won an acting award for my titular role as the Philanthropist.”
“I honestly thought I was being bamboozled by a clever practical joker,” admitted Mr. Whyte, but as he was about to discover, the accolade received from BUFF, which focuses on different, innovative and modern films and their directors, was real.
Mr. Stewart told the Recorder, “he spooked us in this film, he took the role and did things we were not expecting—he shocked us, which is exactly what you look for in actors.”
“I love that the BUFF website features Berlin’s diverse graffiti art while describing the city as independent, underground, cosmopolitan and most of all open,” said Mr. Whyte, continuing, “other than bragging rights, there was no other remuneration, gold statues or certificates associated with the award. I find this fitting for a crowdfunded project created by a collective of talented individuals. All of whom donated their time, effort and various skills because they love what they are doing. Especially since independent short films such as ‘The Philanthropist’ simply wouldn’t exist without the dedication of everyone involved.”
“Encountering support for independent passion projects such as ‘The Philanthropist’ is fantastic,” Mr. Whyte said with an enthusiastic smile. “It proves that anything is possible.”
Currently on the film festival circuit, ‘The Philanthropist’ made its world premiere at Sudbury’s Northern Frights Festival this past October and Mr. Whyte was in attendance. “It’s quite something to see your face on the big screen at a place like the Sudbury Theatre Centre, it’s almost impossible not to notice all your flaws,” he confessed with a laugh.
‘The Philanthropist’ was also an official selection and merit award winner at the Canada Shorts Canadian and International Short Film Festival 2018 held on December 15 of last year in St. John, New Brunswick.
“It’s amazing that makers of independent productions today have access to an entire world of festivals through resources such as Film Freeway which encourages and facilitates electronic submissions. When my father and I were first involved with film festivals in the late 90s and early 2000s things were far more complicated. Submissions often involved the laborious process of physically shipping hand copied video cassettes in a variety of formats,” Mr. Whyte explained.
On the only sad note, Mr. Whyte’s father, Gore Bay artist Jack Whyte, never saw the completed film. “Dad was always a fan of my acting, but the timing just didn’t work out,” said Mr. Whyte.
“He did however receive a humorously glowing review of my performance that left a proud smile on his face.”
“My goal is to remain humble through the accolades,” said Mr. Whyte, concluding thoughtfully, “in my experience awards come and go; real fun is found in the doing.”
To learn more about ‘The Philanthropist,’ as well as other productions from Laps in Judgment Films, including the upcoming independent comedy ‘Overdue’ (in which Mr. Whyte will be an actor) please visit www.judgementfilms.com.
“Our next project is ‘Overdue,’ a comedy which we will start filming in Massey in April,” said Mr. Stewart. “Marla Hayes is an award winning screenwriter and author from North Bay. Dylon is one of the four main members of the cast,” he said. The 15 minute comedy film focuses on pregnant couples. The comedy centres on a happenstance meeting in an obstetrician’s office between two very different, very pregnant couples.
Wednesday, June 8th, 2016
Adam Killah and Heather Dahlstrom, both with the Cultural Industries Ontario North (CION) gave a presentation to Espanola High School students about jobs in the filming industry.
How many people does it take to make a movie? If you look at the credits at the end of a movie you will see it takes more than 100 people.
Espanola High School (EHS) teacher and actor, Jayson Stewart brought Heather Dahlstrom and Adam Killah to talk to the students about jobs in the film industry that expand past the roles of actors, producers or directors.
“The movie industry has grown over the past few years in leaps and bounds in so many different ways; and there are jobs out there for you,” said Stewart. “Not just as actors, but in construction, transportation, catering, all the trades are represented plus other jobs you might not even consider.”
Dahlstrom, who has worked on films such as Silent Hill, Empire of Dirt and Max Payne, is a reporting supervisor and fi lm programmer for Cultural Industries Ontario North (CION), and Killah is the marketing and communications officer at CION.
“We have very different experience and education, but we work in the same industry,” Killah told the students. “To be involved in movies is not just the filmmaker or the actor. You see credit roles at the end of any movie or TV show you have ever seen, there are only so many actors. Most of those people are behind the scene.”
It’s a job that pays well, but it comes at a high demand. “These people make so much money and they do because it is hard,” said Dahlstrom. “In the film industry, you work between 12 and, the longest day I have ever worked was 21 hours; and believe me, I would have given back my pay check just to sleep.”
Dahlstrom described the crew working on a film as a puzzle, with each person fulfi lling their key role to make it successful.
“If you’re missing a piece you are never going to finish the puzzle,” she said. “So, if your costume designer doesn’t come to work that day, no one will know what to put on the performers.”
Having worked in the film industry for almost two decades, Dahlstrom said there are “so many little jobs” and that “people get paid to go shopping for film” referring to the clothes, sets and props.
While she is heavily experienced now, she does admit she struggled breaking into the industry because of her gender.
“It was very different. I couldn’t do certain things because I was a girl.”
Starting in 1999, she got her foot in the door by working in a shipping department with her goal to become picture editor. “I just kept proving to people that I could do things, and eventually I got more responsibility,” she said adding it is not as common of a problem as it once was.
If people are interested in seeing how hard the film industry is, Dahlstrom recommended being a backgrounder or extra in a film.
“If you’re interested (in a career in film) figure out what skills you are good at,” said Killah. “If you’re good at math we need you. If you really like customizing cars there is a transportation department.”
One student asked if graphic designers could get into the industry, prompting Killah to say graphic designers are successful. “We can conceptualize skills, but we are not hands on,” he said. “They are building the sets in their heads, but we need the hands-on skills to create it.”
Dahlstrom said she hopes to get more films made in Northern Ontario. Last years, six films were made in the north.
“We have beautiful locations up here,” she said. Prior to wrapping up the presentation Stewart, who is also going to be featured in an Eastlink TV show as a Russian mafia boss in 14 Keys, played three trailers that have a connection not just to Northern Ontario, but to Espanola.
Born to be Blue, which featured the local bowling alley Venture Lanes, The Lesser Blessed, featured a scene of EHS students and The Lost Warriors was filmed by an EHS graduate.
But is film school necessarily the only way to get into the field? Dahlstrom doesn’t think so.
“I keep telling people you don’t have to go to film school to do this stuff,” she said. “Graduate high school, it makes your life so much easier.”
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