INDIE FEATURE GOES AGAINST GRAIN, CREATES OWN ‘MODEL’
Produced without financing or distribution partners
September 20, 2012 (Winnipeg MB) — You might call it a labour of love, and a bold framework for indie filmmaking.
When Winnipeg-based Ojibway filmmaker Jeremy Torrie got the idea to make Path Of Souls, which shows at Calgary International Film Festival, he wouldn’t let naysayers stand in his way. Even it if meant no production funding or distribution commitments.
“The project was rejected by all the major Canadian distributors prior to production because they felt Aboriginal feature films means niche. Yet my film is anything but. I specifically designed the narrative so non-Aboriginal audiences would be engaged. And so far, they have been,” says Torrie.
You can also call it risky, with the film entirely self-financed by Torrie. This meant securing interim cash flow through the bank without any other funding commitments in sight. Torrie, who wrote, directed, and produced Path Of Souls, deferred all fees. He even put his house and cottage on the line, potentially jeopardizing the future of his young family.
Why in the world would he do all of this? Because he believed so strongly in the film, it was something he simply had to do: “I had so much confidence in it. The idea had been spiritually sanctioned by Elders, and I just felt like I had to tell the story. I wasn’t going to leave it up to others to decide if it was to be made or not.”
“And now, I’m finding people are excited to talk about Path Of Souls. People are thanking me for making the film and that feels great, especially when it creates a dialogue beyond the movie itself.”
As for the challenges of going it alone in the filmmaking world, Torrie went into it with eye wide open: “This is my third feature film as a writer, director and producer, so I knew what I was in for. And when I realized Canada’s filmmaking model wasn’t going to work for this project, I decided to do things differently, and forge my own path.”
ALTERNATIVE MODEL FOR INDIE FILMMAKING
Based on the strength of the story, Torrie enlisted powerhouse talent to star in the movie – Adam Beach (Flags of Our Fathers, Big Love, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit), Laura Harris (Defying Gravity, Women’s Murder Club, Dead Like Me, 24) Corey Sevier (Immortals, A Pride Of Lions, The Listener, Murdoch Mysteries), and Lorne Cardinal (Arctic Air, Wapos Bay: The Series, Corner Gas).
Torrie gave out executive producer credits to his cast. In addition to writing, directing and producing the film, he edited it himself, and provided the cameras, monitors, sound equipment and editing facilities.
He enlisted crew to take on roles that would be a step up, and notches on their respective production belts. Most importantly, he believed in his team, and his team believed in him. Together they made a great movie, which is proving to be paying off.
Telefilm Canada eventually came on board with finishing funds, allowing Torrie to complete the film at a lab in Toronto. Now shopping his finished film, Torrie is receiving interest from broadcasters and distributors. While he acknowledges the importance of ‘mainstream’ movie audiences, Torrie is also pursuing alternative opportunities like movie screenings in Native communities and Native-run casinos and hotels, making the movie available on their VOD channels, and other such initiatives. He is also finding success on the festival circuit.
SCREENINGS & AWARDS
Path Of Souls will screen at the Calgary International Film Festival on September 29th and 30th. Filmmaker Jeremy Torrie will be in attendance.
The film won Best Picture at the Cowichan International Aboriginal Film Festival. It has already screened at Dreamspeakers Film Festival and Gimli Film Festival. Upcoming showings include the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco, Native Spirit Film Festival in the UK, and Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival.
ABOUT PATH OF SOULS
With traditions and artifacts predating the Egyptian pyramids, Native American culture has a rich set of myths and fables to rival any civilization. To Ojibway graduate student Jon Beardsley (Adam Beach), those legends are more than just stories – they’re the key to a more advanced understanding of the universe. But before he can finish his thesis exploring the topic Jon passes away.
Devastated by the loss Jon’s grieving wife Grace (Laura Harris) decides to finish his academic work. Along with long lost friend Brandon (Corey Sevier), Grace – an outsider to Native culture – embarks on a cathartic road trip deep into the heart of Indian country, to sacred sites across Native North America. From Manitou-Ahbee in Manitoba, to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, to haunting rock art in Utah’s Sego Canyon, Grace and Brandon encounter Elders and medicine men who speak of dark matter, worm holes, parallel universes, and shape-shifting spirits as real as the stone used to depict them.
As they explore the clues within Jon’s notes, collect evidence, and marvel at the beauty of the natural landscape known as Turtle Island, they come to understand they have stepped into a spiritually charged universe, perilously close to the land of the dead and the ‘path of souls’. Tasked with connecting the lines between ancient ideas and the modern understanding of the world, the more Grace and Brandon learn, the more clearly they recognize that the path they’re on isn’t what it seems.
Between ancient ceremonies, traditional teachings, and enigmatic tricksters, Grace and Brandon must determine what part of the world is illusion and what is reality. As they near completion of Jon’s thesis and unlock centuries-old secrets, will they live to tell the tale?
Path Of Souls is produced by High Definition Pictures. It is written, directed, produced and edited by Ojibway filmmaker Jeremy Torrie. The film was finished with assistance from Telefilm Canada, and support from Manitoba Film & Music. www.pathofsouls.ca