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To tell a story through film, one must be creative with both the camera and the calculator.
Matt Watterworth (FVP ‘08), SAIT’s 2015 Outstanding Young Alumnus, knows this all too well and he credits SAIT for providing him with many of the skills and connections that not only launched his career but led to him to being a finalist in Telefilm Canada’s Micro-Budget Production Program.
“Directors are hired on the strength of their reel – their body of work – and we constantly try to find the right mix between expressing our art while creating the kind of films that people want to watch,” says Watterworth.
Telefilm Canada’s Micro-Budget Production Program provides funding for the development, production, digital distribution and promotion of a first feature-length film or other format of narrative-based audio visual content made specifically for online distribution that is written, directed and produced by first-time web content creators. Once the projects are completed, they must be available to the public through one or more digital platforms. Project budgets are capped at $250,000. Watterworth’s project was chosen along with 17 other finalists for the 2016-2017 program.
“In Plainview, the Alberta script I was nominated for, has a lot of high impact action sequences and is nearly 90-minutes long — you’d never think we’d be able to produce it on such a small budget. With modern film, editing and sound technologies, you can do amazing things for a lot less money than was previously possible. It’s a spectacular time to be in this industry.” Watterworth is directing the film alongside fellow SAIT alumnus Scott Westby (FVP ’08) as producer and Kevin Doree as writer.
As film directing becomes increasingly business-centric, Watterworth says it’s all about “making the day.”
“We wake up knowing there are four scenes to be shot by the end of the day, but hurdles creep in along the way. So you have to know how to change plans on the fly, honour the story and be brutally efficient with time and resources to squeeze it all into 24 hours.”
Watterworth says SAIT helped him hone his skills behind and in front of the camera, and counts his fellow alumni as some of the most talented film professionals out there.
Some of SAIT’s aspiring directors now seek Watterworth out for advice and letters of reference. For those who aren’t accepted into the school’s competitive film program, he tells them to be persistent, keep practicing their craft, and to re-apply.
“Once your reel starts to grow in both size and quality, getting financing becomes easier. It takes a lot of time and effort, but it’s an incredibly rewarding experience when it all comes together.”
Written by Christian Brown