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The History of Me as a Filmmaker

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I am taking this opportunity to tell you a little about myself and the history of this project The Trespassers. My name is Grant Leon Smith I am a 32 year old Filmmaker from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The Trespassers is my second Film.

Growing up in the 80's I learned to love movies via VHS tapes that I'd rent from small local shops and the convenience store. Movies at a young age were always attached to big events like birthdays. My family couldn't afford a VCR till the late 80's, so on my birthday I would get to rent a VCR machine and two VHS movies. My Dad would setup the VCR and my friends and I couldn't wait to press play. After pressing play it would be another ten minutes of trailers and adjusting the tracking so the picture was clear. To me though there is so much charm in these memories that they have never left me.

My predilection for action and horror movies started at a young age as well. Often my choices were Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Bond and Jason Voorhees. My Parents never censored anything from me. I was the kid in class wearing gory T-Shirts that'd never be allowed in today's protectionist world. I even wore one that said "Cop Killer" across the front with a gun pointed at you on the back. My first cassette was N.W.A. and the Posse, my first LP was Quiet Riot. My parents instead of telling me what I was seeing was fake did the opposite. I realized at a young age the real consequences of violence and what socioeconomic reasons lead to it.

Halloween was my favorite time of the year. My Mother and I would do drawings together and decorate our apartment windows. I would draw Wolf Man and Frankenstein's Monster and she would illustrate weird slug people and other Cronenberg-esque bizarreness. She loved David Lynch and horror movies. While I was young my Mother went to college for Art and developed her artistic skills. I followed in this mold and became infatuated with the world of comics. I collected mostly movie related books like Predator and Aliens. To this day I love to illustrate and was very close after high school to becoming a comic book artist. (Art Samples Here)

It was the late 80's when my family bought a VCR of our own. Every Friday my parents used to go watch my Uncles race cars on the dirt oval in Calmar. I started staying home alone and they allowed me to rent a couple movies while they were out. This was the start of my education in film. Nearly a decade renting movies every weekend I covered the gamut. One weekend Bloodsport the next Creepshow and maybe Ski School.

From there I started crafting my own stories usually in the form of a comic book. I made one called Acid Man which was a guy that looked like Spiderman but shot out acid instead of webbing. A funny thing started happening my captions and story lines were becoming more and more film like. Then my family got me the collectors box of The Terminator 1 and 2 with a making of cassette and a book in the case. This was when I started to realize how movies got made.

From this point on I wanted to do something with the movies. At first I thought with my drawing talent I wanted to be an animator. I started to watch a lot of the series movie magic that showed how Savini ripped dudes apart in Day of the Dead. I then thought I wanted to work in a creature shop. Finally my Korean Friend Pete hipped me to John Woo and Jackie Chan un-dubbed and non-subtitled. I think it was John Woo's The Killer that made me realize what a director was and what they do.

Through my twenties I spent a lot of time buying hi-8 camera's thinking I could learn all the technical aspects of film on my own. I was wrong. Mid twenties I got my shit together and went to a proper school learning about every aspect of video and audio production as well as Graphic Design. There I met Taro Hashimoto a gifted musician who wanted to become an equally talented filmmaker. After we Graduated some how we ended up working together on a small video project for a non-profit group. This lead to my first Film "Struggle to Survive."

We had a budget via government grant of $20,000. We were partnered up with a non profit group that catered to immigrant youth. Working side by side with one of these groups we tried to develop a story that they could identify with. I learned more about lighting and production in those 3 months than ever. I worked mostly on this project as a writer producer and director of photography. Even though I received title of Co-Director on the flick I just didn't feel that this was my film. I was also very disappointed with the films limited release and no real outlet for distribution as the rights to the film are up in the air.

My first real project that I could say I directed was a music video for award winning rapper Conway K. This project went fast from concept, to production took only days. There was a lot of on set changes out of my control but for the most part I got to stand by it.

Finally getting to The Trespassers the first film I have solely written and produced and directed. It was a 2 year process that started with a meeting I had with Telefilm Canada. At the time I was writing an action/drama and was looking for serious funding. They expressed huge interest in the project but not so much interest in me directing it. Coming away from that meeting I knew I had to show them what I could do as a writer director.

At the time I had a good job and was thankfully smart enough to save all the money I was making. Then Bam I lost that job and it was the motivation for me to finally go after my dreams of being a filmmaker with gusto. I wrote The Trespassers an homage to the films I grew up with and loved. I wrote it over a weekend and started getting my eggs in a row to shoot it. Killer Reviews and the Fearshop Horror Podcast both re-enforced my passion for genre films and gave me the confidence to try my hat at directing a large project again.

That process from start to finish took 2 years. It was exactly a year after I cast the Trespassers before it was filmed. It seemed like one road block after another. The Shoot was fast we shot it all in 4 or 5, 3 hour shoots. I story boarded every shot and we rehearsed monthly for a year to get the performances where they needed to be to shoot this thing fast. I am now color correcting and sound editing and hope to be finished soon. So this is the journey so far, I hope you enjoyed my story and I can't wait for you all to see the flick.

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  1. UNCLE FRANK's Avatar
    Your early story of your childhood is pretty much identical to what i had even up to the NWA cassette being my first. motley crue theater of pain was my lp. I like the tshirt design's you have.
    Looking forward to seeing the movie when it is finished. Cheers from Red Deer Ab.
  2. dawnkatdead's Avatar
    Can't wait to see the finished product for Trespassers, looks like it's going to be awesome! That's very cool that your family was open minded enough to let you make your own viewing choices, and encouraged you to take your life in a direction that you enjoyed. Mine was kind of similar, but with a few exceptions.
  3. Dusty B's Avatar
    Congratulations, it looks great. I'm dealing with the struggles of getting a movie together myself so I can certainly appreciate all you've put into your work. I'm sure it must be a wonderful feeling seeing the finished product come to light.