When was the last time you went to a midnight screening at a local cinema? If you’re like me and never had a chance to experience a late night movie outside the comfort of your own home, then you’re in luck! This Saturday, Cinema du Parc will be screening four indie short films by local filmmaker Brian Barnhart. I first got word of this event when I attended the shooting of a music video featuring Montreal punk outfit Animal Ethics, which will be one of the four movies that will be showing. Also on the menu are two documentaries and an eerie horror flick. I caught up with Barnhart to find out more about the four films and his future projects.
Christ Aitkens (CA): How long have you been a filmmaker for? Do you remember the moment when you were bitten by the cinema bug?
Brian Barnhart (BB): I started making independent movies, and filming punk shows in Manitoba when I was around 17, 18 – over ten years ago now. The bug came earlier when I saw the Gus Van Sant movie My Own Private Idaho at age 12. I laid on my grandma’s carpet, staring out the window for an hour after seeing it. Couldn’t believe what I’d just seen. Still my favorite movie to this day.
CA: You’re originally from Manitoba. Why did you decide to come to Montreal?
BB: They accepted me to the Mel Hoppenheim Film School to study film production. I did a year and some change there, but didn’t care for the process or for many of their staff members, so I left. Though I should mention two very good teachers: Korbett Matthews and Joanne Larue, who were fantastic to study under – very passionate people.
CA: Were you approached to make these short films or did you actively go out to seek a story?
BB: I’ve never been approached by anyone to make a film (that I can recall), and have always been a self-starter.
CA: How long of a process was it to write and shoot all of these films?
BB: A little over a year to write and produce this batch of films – a fucking marathon!
CA: I’m somewhat familiar with the storyline for the Animal Ethics’ music video, though I’m not too sure what the other movies are about. Without giving too much away, can you explain the story behind Chuggo, Radio Romanne and Holy Doodle?
BB: Yeah, Radio Romanne profiles the host of Nous Sommes Les Rockers, a CISM radio show specializing in garage, psych, old punk, etc. The host, Romanne Blouin, is a one of a kind gal – 20 years old. Her film is a lot of fun.
Holy Doodle is about a girl named E.T who is stalked by Death after her best friend O.D’s. You don’t get the circumstances of the overdose, and are left to piece together what transpired, and why E.T. seems to be going insane. Holy Doodle is the most out there of the films.
My Chuggo documentary is a one year in the making portrait of Daniel “Chuggo” Myshrall, the Montreal rapper famous for “C’mon Fuckin Guy“. It basically follows him from the time he is released from prison, up to now. It’s a very raunchy and funny, like a hoser-esque kind of thing.
CA: The original screening was supposed to be on September 5th. Why was the screening delayed?
BB: Tech difficulties. My hard drives and computer fried, and we had to send everything to Southern California for a special data retrieval process. It was a depressing period.
CA: I noticed you shoot a lot in Saint-Henri. What is it about the neighbourhood that appeals to you?
BB: Yeah, the Ethics video was all done down there. St. Hank has a lot of atmosphere which translates well into a movie for some reason, more so than other trendy areas like Mile End. I lived down there for a year by those Fattal Lofts, and started meeting the punks and what have you. That’s how the Ethics vid came about. We have another script set down there called Southwest Blues, and want to get it going next summer. It’s about rival drug dealers in the ’80s.
CA: What is your ideal film? Music video, documentary or narrative? Silent film or heavy character dialogue?
BB: Ideally, I like making sad, weird dramas like Holy Doodle, but documentaries and music videos get more interest. It’s always been like that for me. With regards to silent film vs. heavy dialogue, it depends on the script you write, though I’d say all that Bruno-Dumont-people-barely-talking type shit is falling out of favour, and most filmmakers still doing it look whack.
CA: Would you ever consider making a full-length feature?
BB: We have a feature length script about a teenage delinquent who travels to Montreal to meet his estranged father – who turns out to be involved with a prostitution ring. It’s going to be called Bring Me Flowers. It’s a very nasty and intense script, but it has a lot of good people behind it. We’re gonna make it!
CA: What do think the audience will take away from watching these four pieces?
BB: It was important to get these four films onto a screen in a proper cinema, and present these subjects with a bit of dignity, as opposed to using somebody’s loft with folding chairs. This in turn means we had to book at midnight, and will be competing with the bars for turnout. But that’s fine, at least it’s happening. For those attending, they can expect a fun night: door prizes, band merch table, the event is hosted by EJ Brule, it’s a midnight show and it’s cheap!
Ah C’mon, Radio Romanne, Holy Doodle and Lungs/Riots by Animal Ethics will be showing at Cinema du Parc (3575 ave. du Parc) at midnight on October 24th. Doors open at 11:30pm and tickets cost $6. To buy tickets in advance, click here.