Looking Back On Left Behind

May 3, 2012 at 9:30 am

Looking Back On Left Behind | Short Film Directed by Eric Gamache


Looking back on a film after nearly 7 years is a great way to see where you were as an artist, where you are at that moment and where you hope to be in the future.  In Left Behind, director Eric Gamache created a touching story that won Best In Shorts at the 2006 Cinefest International Film Festival.

I recently had the opportunity to interview the director on what inspired the project, what it took to pull it off and much more.

When did you first become interested in filmmaking?

My interest in filmmaking started the summer before I started the 9th grade. I was visiting my cousin and some friends and one night we decided it would be fun to make a movie. We shot a 4 minute short, making it up as we went along.  We didn’t have any way of editing it so we edited on the camera as we shot,  If we needed a second take, we’d rewind the tape in the camera and hit record at the right moment to start the new take.  I don’t think anyone ever saw the film.  Actually I can’t even remember if we even finished the film that night but I was bitten by the bug.

Around that time I also became obsessed with “Scream” and “Scream 2”.  I started watching horror films and made my own. Eventually, I moved away from horror, but it was a great way to get into filmmaking and film appreciation.

What inspired Left Behind?

“Left Behind” came about so randomly it still surprises me it turned out so well. I had been working on another short film for a long time. It was going to be a 1940’s gangster film. But the script wasn’t coming together like I’d hoped. The day I put that gangster film to bed, I met with my friends Andrew and Adele.  I was venting my frustration with the process when Andrew mentioned we should make a short film together again (we had co-directed a short film a few years prior). I agreed and we starting mapping out what was supposed to be a treatment. We also established some rules:

1. It had to be black and white.
2. No coverage. Every scene is to be one shot.
3. Little to no camera movements. (there is only one pan in the film).
4. Minimalistic style (performance, music, etc.)

Four hours later I went home with the shooting script in my hand.  Essentially, we wanted to stand back and observe an older gentleman cope with the loss of his wife.

That was October. I then went off and worked on my first professional film set so we started prep in December 2004.  We didn’t have any money so everything was done for cheap/free. The cast & crew all worked for free. We didn’t have craft or catering and all the equipment was borrowed.

We shot the film over a day and a half in mid-January. We took 2 days to capture the footage (We shot on MiniDV) and lock the edit before handing the film over to our composers Robert and Mary-Ann Saltstone who did the wonderful score.  We premiered Left Behind 2 weeks later at the North Bay Film Festival where we took home the Audience Award for Best Short Film.

Describe the production process for Left Behind.  What was it like on set?

The production of “Left Behind” was amazing. We shot in North Bay, Ontario, where I was living at the time. The crew was made up of former college classmates so it was a reunions of sorts. It was a very light and fun shoot. We probably could have shot the film in a day but I wanted to take my time, so we could experiment on set. For the first time I did not storyboard any of the shots.  Steve Newman (my DP and former college professor) and I discussed the scenes and found the best angle to tell the story in a visual manner. It was almost as if we were making a silent film.

I got very lucky with the cast. Everyone I wanted, I got. People seemed to respond to the script so we were able to get everyone.  Things came together so quickly and easily I keep waiting for something to go wrong. It didn’t seem possible.

Looking Back On Left Behind | Short Film Directed by Eric Gamache

What’s it like watching the film again after all these years?

In a word, painful. But I feel that way watching everything I direct. Still, it’s the closest I’ve come to achieving the vision in my head so I’m still proud of the film.

Independent filmmaking has evolved a tremendous amount over the years.  What would you say has been the most important leap forward?  Likewise, what has, or should have, remained the same?

There are a lot of challenges facing new filmmakers. The first is just getting the film made in the first place. The 2nd is having the film seen by people.

But the internet is a huge help with both of these common problems. With social media sites helping out on both fronts with sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.  Not too mention YouTube and vimeo make it easy to get short films out to the public.  Beyond that, it’s now easier to get the word out about a screening, casting call, funding, etc.  Unfortunately, I’ve found grant options seem to be shrinking. It’s never been easy to get government funding, but now it seems harder than ever. I suppose it could be a sign of the financial times.

The future of indie filmmaking is changing.

XTRA | Have you watched a short film today?

Looking back, how have you evolved creatively as an artist?

It’s hard to say how I’ve evolved. I certainly have more life experience now than I did when I made “Left Behind”. I’ve also seen a lot more movies. But my tastes have stayed the same. I’ve been striving to get back to a “Left Behind” style short film again. Stylistically, this short film is the perfect representation of me as a filmmaker.

Being one of your first films, what advice would you give filmmakers today who are about to embark on their first production?

Be prepared. Know your shots, know what you want.  Get a good crew. For a first time filmmaker, there’s nothing more important than a great 1st AD and DP, Production Designer and Editor especially if you’re working with an experienced crew and money.

What’s next for you?

I’m producing a short film called “The Autumn Girl” for Writer/Director Eric Boissonneault that is in post production now. I’m also developing a few other projects as both producer and director.

Special thanks to Eric Gamache for the interview.

Check out his site here for more.

Playing Through Now Available Online!

January 19, 2012 at 12:18 am

Playing Through Now Available Online! | Independent Short Film

Playing Through is finally up on YouTube!

The film tells the story of Brandon & Nathan. Two friends playing a round of golf terribly. While Brandon does his best to distract his friend, every thought Nathan has rests on a looming phone call. A call that will reveal whether or not he has been diagnosed with cancer.

The film stars John Steptoe, Michael Clarke & Alyssa LaPlume.  It was written and directed by Jason McKinnon and produced by Eric Gamache.

Playing Through Short Film Festivals & Awards | 17 West Productions

I had an absolute blast making Playing Through.  It was the first film I directed with a professional crew and it was also the first film I edited using Final Cut Pro.  Software I purchased along with a sweet new iMac in order to complete the film.  I’m extremely proud of the work our cast in crew poured into the short.  I also have to thank Clear Springs Golf course in North Bay, Ontario for allowing us to make this film on their course.  It was a gorgeous week I’ll never forget.  I’m extremely happy it didn’t rain!

Hope you enjoy the film!  Pass it along.

There is still one more giant announcement to come regarding this movie in 2012 so stay tuned.

Playing Through independent short film 17 west productions

Eric’s Top 5 Movies Of 2011

January 12, 2012 at 9:09 am

Eric's Top 5 Movies Of 2011

The top 5 movies of 2011 according to Producer/Director Eric Gamache of 17 West Productions.  Check out his site here.

5. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

XTRA | The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo & Your Short Film’s Poster

4. Shame

3. Hugo

XTRA | Why HUGO To The Movies

2. Drive

1. The Tree of Life

Playing Through Official Selection 2010 NSI Online Short Film Festival

December 6, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Playing Through Accepted Into NSI Online Short Film Festival

Playing Through has been accepted into the 2010 NSI Online Short Film Festival!

We’re extremely honoured to be a part of a festival featuring 100% Canadian content.  The site adds new films each week and it’s completely free to watch.

I will post again when Playing Through goes live but head over there regardless and check out some amazing Canadian Filmmakers at work.

Playing Through Official Selection NSI Online Short Film Festival

Playing Through is the story of Brandon & Nathan.  Two friends playing a round of golf – Terribly.

While Brandon does his best to distract his friend, every thought Nathan has rests on a looming phone call. A call that will reveal whether or not he has been diagnosed with cancer.

The film was written and directed by Jason McKinnon (Me) and Produced by Eric Gamache.  It stars John Steptoe, Michael Clarke and Alyssa LaPlume and was filmed at Clear Springs Golf Course just outside of North Bay Ontario.

I’d like to thank the festival organizers for including Playing Through in their program.

Check out the trailer below and stop by 17west.ca for more.

17W Short Film: 4 Stops

September 4, 2010 at 7:01 pm

4 Stops Short Film 17 West Productions

4 Stops

One man riding a subway has a limited time to talk to a beautiful woman without being creepy. Can he achieve the impossible?

You can check out some feedback we got at the WILDsound festival below: