‘ROAR’ dir. Stuart Langfield & Dylan Rekert
A supernatural drama about generational bonds and disconnects. It is a grounded take on the superhero genre, told through real themes and experiences.
Writer-Directors: Stuart Langfield & Dylan Rekert
Producers: Jesse Savath & Dan Keeler
DOP: Stirling Bancroft
Editor: Jennifer Mackie
Key Cast: Matthew Maccaull, Dakota Daulby, David Petersen
C8: Where did the idea for ‘ROAR’ come from and how did you divide the writing process between the two of you?
SL&DR: To start we didn’t necessarily have a story – we just really wanted to create something that was our own. We both had certain ideas we wanted to explore but weren’t really sure how to share our visions or how we would potentially tie them together. So we decided to each create a mood board, to visually map out what we were thinking. We were kind of surprised to see that our boards were eerily similar. We both had elements of fire, an elderly character, an old car. It was almost like we had a vaguely similar story in our heads that just needed some background. From there we developed the story together, taking turns writing the same scene before combining the best ideas into a cohesive whole.
C8: Had you two worked together before? How did you both approach co-directing?
SL&DR: We had collaborated on a few corporate projects. Some went nowhere, some were just creatively draining. Really it was those jobs that reinforced our desire to work on something creatively liberating. If we hadn’t experienced those frustrations together beforehand, we maybe wouldn’t have necessarily been so driven to undertake a big project together. Going into directing – you never really know how it will turn out. In the initial stages of development we just had constant discussion to make sure we were always on the same page creatively. We didn’t really realize how well we were working together until the crew brought it up a few times. It just felt natural. We both know our own strengths and weaknesses and they happen to compliment each other quite well.
C8: What do you think is the biggest misconception about co-directing?
SL&DR: I think with directing in general there’s maybe something around ego – there’s a fear that things might get confusing on set, having two directors wrestling for control. Shooting on a budget and in a short time frame, you’re going to have to make decisions on the fly and we can see how people might think those decisions are made all the more difficult by having two brains in the mix. In some cases they probably are.
C8: Talk us through the final shot of the film. What did you have to prepare for the visual effects?
SL&DR: Technically it was pretty straightforward. We had a great SFX team on set that created the fire, and the rest was taken care of in post. We knew from the start we wanted to do this shot with real fire and because of the importance and relevance the shot had on the film, we really treated it like a climax to our shoot as well. It was the very last thing we shot. We had this idea that we’d be sitting there on the beach after three long days and this roaring fire ball would explode in front of us and we would start cheering and crying and we would know we had wrapped and we would be on top of the world. And in all fairness the fire was pretty impressive, but we were so burnt out, we just looked at each other and shrugged “Did we get it?”
C8: Were there any visual effects that you wanted to include but couldn’t?
SL&DR: We always intended for the effects to be subtle but it would have been nice to spend a little more time refining some of the special effects – especially the first fire scene, which ended up being the very first shot of the shoot – which was nerve racking. Things like fire always look much more effective in camera, but it can be fairly limiting with a small budget and little time.
C8: Do you feel that emerging directors need to have a good grasp of the technical aspects of filmmaking?
SL&DR: It’s definitely a plus, especially in communicating effectively with cast and crew. Things don’t always go according to plan and understanding what you are asking from them on the fly can definitely save you time and avoid frustration. We’ve always found that crews work best when there is a level of mutual respect and understanding. Saying that, we’re always careful to not let technical considerations restrict our ideas.
C8: If you could go back and change anything about the film, what would it be?
SL&DR: We’ve chatted about this a few times. And we’ve definitely discussed a few things here and there that we would have liked to change, but we’ve also been able to stand by and defend those things as well. There’s almost some comfort in knowing it is what it is. Besides, we’re the harshest critics of our own work, if we spent too much time worrying about what we did or didn’t do and knew that changing those things was a possibility, we’d never be able to move on.
C8: What had you done before the film and what have you done since?
SL&DR: We’ve been writing lots and developing a few things. This sort of subtle sci-fi genre definitely creates a world we are excited to explore, but we are also hoping to get a few smaller projects underway before sinking our teeth into anything too elaborate.
C8: Stuart, you were born and raised in Scotland but now live in Canada while Dylan you were born and raised in Vancouver. Can you discuss what influence have the countries have had on your filmmaking style?
SL: I think living in a few different countries has given me a real sense of ‘place’. Huge parts of Scotland and Canada both have a very expansive stillness to them, which definitely works its way into my projects. I’d love to shoot a movie in Scotland one day.
DR: My father was an Actor and I spent a lot of my childhood onset. Being fortunate enough to live in a city where film was thriving, I could visit sets easily and feel part of it from a young age. I got to really appreciate what everyone did. And it wasn’t ever a far-fetched idea to want to become a filmmaker. It’s just part of Vancouver. The opportunity is there.
C8: How would you characterise the Canadian film industry? What opportunities are there for both emerging and established filmmakers?
SL&DR: For shorts it’s tough. We know there is opportunity to get projects funded – if you’re willing to spend half of your life filling out grant applications. We chose to use Kickstarter to fund this project which was a lot of work but it at least pushed us to be creative in our fundraising as opposed to focus our energy on paperwork. I think these days, with the Internet and the numerous platforms for showing your work, there is global opportunity. But getting it bankrolled is no small feat. Aside from that, there is a vast pool of talented and eager filmmakers, more than willing to just be a part of creating and working on projects, and that really outweighs the bureaucracy.
C8: What, in your opinion, makes for a good collaboration?
SL&DR: Being comfortable in making decisions that don’t feel like compromises. You won’t always agree and you definitely won’t always be right. So having confidence in the person you are collaborating with and knowing they have your back is a huge part of it. Ultimately if you enjoy the process, the end result is rewarding, and if you don’t want to kill each other, then we’d call it a success.
C8: What is next for you?
SL&DR: We wrote ‘Roar’ knowing that it was part of something more. We’d love to develop the story and characters and see where we can take it.