Category Archives: Films

Festival Awards 2018

Our very first festival was a huge success this past weekend, wildly exceeding my modest expectations. I’m grateful to everyone who shared, posted, tweeted, and especially those who attended our celebration of short film, and I can’t wait to start working on plans for 2019. But first, I want to recognize our award winners. Thank you to all our jury members for their hard work and for lending us their expertise. Congratulations to these filmmakers but also to all the rest of the filmmakers who allowed us to share their work during the festival. Toronto enjoyed watching your films and we can’t wait to see what you’re working on next!

Award Winners 2018

  • Best Narrative Film: Bitchboy (Dir: Måns Berthas)
  • Best Documentary Film: Tungrus (Dir: Rishi Chandna)
  • Best Animated Film: This Magnificent Cake! (Dirs: Emma De Swaef, Marc James Roels)
  • Audience Award: Flight (Dir: Lianne Graham)

BitchboyTungrusThis Magnificent Cake!

Interview: Richard Raymond (Souls of Totality)

SNP Official Selection

Souls of Totality

Second in our series of interviews/programme reveals is Richard Raymond, director of Souls of Totality, a thrilling exploration of love versus belief that stars Canadian treasure Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) and her real-life boyfriend Tom Cullen (Downton Abbey). We spoke to Richard about the film recently.

Richard Raymond (Souls of Totality)

James McNally (JM): Apparently, this was the first film ever to shoot during a solar eclipse. What made you want to take on such a technical challenge?

Richard Raymond (RR): The film came about in a very serendipitous way. Last summer there was a lot of excitement about the “Great American Eclipse,” the first total solar eclipse in 100 years visible in America from coast to coast. Millions of people from all over the world had booked out every flight and hotel available in or near the path of totality, so we more or less lost hope that we’d get a chance to go and experience it.

But then six weeks before the eclipse our baby sitter (Makenna Tague) mentioned she was from Oregon and that we could camp at her family house, right in the path of totality. We told our friends, Kate Trefry and Ben Bolea, (who are writers) and they jumped at the chance to travel with us. A couple weeks later we had a dinner with two actors, Tatiana Maslany and Tom Cullen — (Tom was in my last film, Desert Dancer and Tatiana is his real-life girlfriend) — we mentioned the trip and they also wanted to come with us to see the eclipse. Of course I suddenly had an epiphany! Actors, writers and I’m a director… we should make a film! The problem was it was now only four weeks until the eclipse — we had no script, no money and no equipment or crew, I’d never shot in America before — we were at the mercy of an impending deadline set by the universe. But I knew the film – whatever the story – should end with an uncut sequence through a solar eclipse… instinctively, I felt strongly it needed to be emotionally intense. So the next day Ben and Kate started thinking up ideas and my wife, Nousha, and I flew up to Oregon to meet our nanny’s father, Mike. He drove us around and eventually introduced us to a farmer — I fell in love with his property and that’s how we found the main location! I took photos and sent them to the writers and – bless their creative wisdom – two weeks before the eclipse they handed me Souls of Totality. So the journey to Souls of Totality was paved with this crazy last minute idea to make a film shot during a solar eclipse. But as Ben and Kate’s script was born everything changed. Their original story, like a magnet, pulled together a group of passionate, like-minded, like-hearted souls. In doing so the eclipse became a footnote to a story I had to tell.

Souls of Totality

JM: The cast is fantastic. Can you tell me how you got heavy-hitters like Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) and Tom Cullen (Downton Abbey) involved in such a challenging project?

RR: Of course this came about in a very organic way — a simple spark of imagination at a dinner table and the unexpected excitement which built up from there. Tatiana especially relished the challenge of doing a film where there literally couldn’t be a second take. I think they were both thrilled to try and pull off a high wire act with no safety net – just like they would do in theatre. For me, I’d been trying to find a project to work with Tatiana for a while — and at the same time I also yearned to work with Tom again. They’re both incredible collaborators and they’re also a real-life couple – so any project they are in garners so much between them that is unspoken.

They are both so comfortable with each other so there’s a unique and genuine comfortability in their chemistry that conveys so much to the audience without words. It’s a real joy to watch them just play and bring a scene to life. One of my concerns in making this was that doomsday cults would seem bizarre to any sane mind. So we wanted the scenes to play out in the vernacular, as though the characters were just ordinary people on an extraordinary last day. They both shared a desire to approach the film in a very authentic and naturalistic manner, within long single takes that would give room for improvisation. I wanted this to feel authentic and unvarnished. For the audience to never question their convictions.

JM: Can you discuss some of the technical aspects of shooting a long take during a solar eclipse? Did you consider using more than one camera, or cutting up the scene?

RR: The final eclipse sequence was designed to be as immersive as possible – It wasn’t about looking up and seeing the eclipse; anyone can go on YouTube and do that. I wanted a single camera, continuous shot that focused on Tatiana’s character – and allowed the audience to feel her desperation of not knowing whether the person she loves is alive or dead. We rehearsed the sequence for four days before the eclipse, using NASA data and GPS coordinates to precisely time the performances to the exact beginning and end of totality. There was only one chance to capture this and thankfully science took out all the guesswork for us. We just had to follow the numbers!

We blocked out the shot like a piece of choreography. And when the time came everyone was 100% focused and followed what we had rehearsed. I had total faith in the cast and crew that we could pull it off. I’m most proud of Tatiana Maslany and Tom Cullen, who gave such beautiful performances under immense pressure. When I called cut, the cast and crew were overcome by the alchemy of what we’d just all been a part of. This was a real family made film – among us were six married couples, four sets of siblings, and three complete family units, who’d all spent a week sleeping in tents, cooking, cleaning, and working 18 hour days together — that eclipse scene summed up what was such a profound and beautiful experience for everyone involved. Something that none of us would ever forget.

Souls of Totality

JM: What drew you to the cult aspect of the film?

RR: That’s all down to the script. The initial inspiration behind the first conversations was inspired by the real life “Heaven’s Gate” cult, whose members believed that the Hale-Bopp comet was the harbinger of an interstellar UFO that would transport them to a higher plane of existence. Most of the followers — 39 members — died of poisoning in a mass suicide in early 1997. They believed they had to leave their earthly lives to reach the spaceship. For me as director, I was really interested in telling a love story and capturing a never repeatable, can’t turn back event that forces a person to find the most real, honest part of themselves to help determine how they will handle it. That is very apparent in the love story of the film but it’s also in the making of the film; Souls of Totality was made by multiple couples who are passionately in love, working to seize a never repeatable moment and relying on their authentic partnerships to help see it through. I really think this is felt in the movie — this certainly couldn’t have been pulled off by strangers in such a small amount of time. It was a beautiful collaboration.

Shorts That Are Not Pants Festival 2018 takes place November 23-24 at Cinecycle. Early Bird passes are available NOW!

Interview: David O’Reilly (Kubrick by Candlelight)

SNP Official Selection
Kubrick by Candlelight

Today we begin revealing some highlights from our lineup, with the full slate to be announced in the weeks to come. First up, David O’Reilly, director of the mini-epic Kubrick by Candlelight, whose synopsis reads: “In 1973 Stanley Kubrick came to Ireland and brought the whole goddamn British Army. A light hearted romantic comedy set behind the scenes of the filming of Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon.” We spoke to David recently about the film.

David O'Reilly (Kubrick by Candlelight)

James McNally (JM): Your day job is as a location scout. What made you decide to make your own film and what was it about Kubrick that drew you to that subject matter?

David O’Reilly (DO): I’ve always been making little short films and taking part in 48 Hour Film Challenges where the experience is often better than the end product. I wanted to make a bigger, more professional film about “what I know” – which is film crews and the travelling circus. Aside from being a massive Kubrick fan I had met people who worked on Barry Lyndon and then discovered the myth and legend of his sudden departure from Ireland. Combining both elements and then finding the love story that would bring it all together became the script. I wanted to explore the theme of the dirtiness of the behind the scenes – behind the camera filming the “most beautiful film ever made” are guys chain smoking and eating bacon butties, blocked toilets, long hours etc.

JM: Your film is quite ambitious with a fairly large cast and elaborate sets, etc. How were you able to pull this off on your very first film? I assume you called in lots of favours?

DO: We pulled it off with a lot of work! The best elements, those that make it seem epic, were free – extras, locations, classic cars and VW Campers. I went on social media, had articles in local newspapers and on the radio calling for help and the wave of good will from people wanting to help and be involved was overwhelming. I think we had to go big – there’s no way to make a movie about a movie without pushing the limits of what you can do in a short film. Because we were filming in Tullamore (my family’s hometown) we called on local favours and most of my family are in there somewhere on screen and a lot behind the scenes – my cousin Gavin Cowley was the music supervisor, his cousin Ewan composed the music, a second cousin designed the poster etc etc. But because we were filming in Tullamore we couldn’t readily call on the favours from our film crew friends and connections although we got some terrific financial support from Above the Line Security and SP Locations – two companies we work with in the day job. We also brought over a beautiful Alexa with all the trimmings courtesy of Arri Rental and some huge lights courtesy of MBS Pinewood.

Kubrick by Candlelight

JM: How did you get Brian Cox (who narrates the film) involved?

DO: I had a long list of Irish and UK actors and any of them would have been brilliant for us. I pursued Liam Neeson for several months and we were very close to securing him but schedules didn’t match up and we approached Brian’s agent. Within days we were in the studio in Soho and he was fantastic. He’s a huge Barry Lyndon fan and whilst he’s from Dundee his family all hail from Ireland so he felt entwined in the project.

JM: Your actor Michael Nolan bears a great resemblance to Stanley Kubrick. Where did you find him?

DO: I typed in Dublin actor, beard into a casting website called StarNow and had about 8000 results and then I swiped my way through and found one gentlemen who had a good look but I wouldn’t be able to put the camera on him. Within a few swipes I found Mike Nolan and the rest is history! He said yes and we put a parka on him and he was Stanley.

JM: What’s next for you? Another epic short film or maybe even a feature?

DO: I realised this was the question I would be asked at every festival and screening very early on in the film’s run! We put so much effort in to KBC that had we had the 90 page script we could very easily have extended the shoot in to feature shoot without a huge expense. So at the moment I have writing several feature projects that could work on a smaller scale. Although the epic seems to be in my blood and work so I might need some money! There’s certainly a feature length script in development for Kubrick By Candlelight in the works…

Shorts That Are Not Pants Festival 2018 takes place November 23-24 at Cinecycle. Early Bird passes are available NOW!

Shorts That Are Not Pants Festival 2018

SNP Festival 2018 (November 23-24)

UPDATE: The full programme and schedule is now available! You can also now buy tickets to individual screenings (though we hope you’ll take advantage of our money-saving passes!)

We’re excited to announce our very first festival weekend! It will take place November 23-24 at Cinecycle (behind 129 Spadina, just south of Richmond and a little bit down an alley). Passes are on sale NOW and will save you money. For our out-of-town fans, we’ve created a special pass that will allow you to support our festival while receiving a t-shirt and tote bag (and access to some of our previously screened short films!).

View ShortsNotPants2018 pass sales.

We’ll be announcing our full lineup later in October and we’ve created a full festival mini-site with our friends Eventive. You can access it by clicking here or through the top menu. We’ll be adding our schedule and film guide over the next few weeks so keep your eyes peeled. We’ll also be quite active on Facebook so make sure you’re following us there, too.

Thursday July 19: American Dreams and Nightmares

This month we’re proud to present a curated programme of notable American short films from the past decade or so. These films have played festivals around the world and we’re happy to bring them to you here in Toronto. Please join us and bring a friend or two!

Thursday July 19th at 7:00pm
(but meet us at 6:00pm in the lobby for pre-screening drinks – $5 tall cans courtesy of Woodhouse Brewing Co.)
Carlton Cinemas
20 Carlton Street (steps from College subway station)



Dir: Jennifer Reeder
USA – 2016

Crystal Lake is about a group of girls who take over a skate park, forming an all-female force field on the half pipe. There on the ramp, with no boys around, they are thriving and visible. This is an anthem for young feminists which presents female friends as a means to survive adolescence. EVERY GRRRL-SHAPED BREATH IS A BATTLE CRY.

Duration: 16:00

Still from STRYKA


Dir: Emily Carmichael
USA – 2015

Stryka is an awesome reptile woman from another planet who does heists and odd jobs with her (literal) partner in crime, Callen. But she has a secret: she’s been stealing with somebody else. (She just wants a partner who cleans up well enough to pull off a fancy jewel heist once and a while–is that so wrong?) Anxious about her career in thievery and torn by her loyalty to competing thieves, Stryka has to figure out where she belongs. Luckily, she has a highly advanced robot therapist to talk it over with.

Duration: 8:00



Dir: Calvin Lee Reeder
USA – 2016

A man is tranquilized on the street and wakes to find himself tied up in empty room. But what is that thing coming down?

Duration: 4:00



Dirs: David Zellner, Nathan Zellner
USA – 2007

While on their way to a mariachi recital, a devastating car crash forces a mother and her two sons to confront the truth about their past.

Duration: 10:00

Still from FRY DAY


Dir: Laura Moss
USA – 2017

An adolescent girl comes of age against the backdrop of serial killer Ted Bundy’s execution in 1989.

Duration: 16:00



Dir: Matthew Lessner
USA – 2005

Meeting your date’s parents is never a comfortable experience, but the event is taken to unexpected levels of surreality in Matthew Lessner’s directorial debut starring Michael Cera as an awkward and flustered everyteen forced to make small talk with his prom date’s bizarre father.

Duration: 12:00



Dir: Jordan Firstman
USA – 2017

After being emasculated at a sales conference, gay couple Reese and Peyton decide the only way to regain their confidence and prove their masculinity is to sleep with some women. When they meet fellow conference attendees and pleasure seekers Beth and Dominique, it seems like a perfect match. Unfortunately sealing the deal is easier said than done.

Duration: 21:00

Tickets available online or at the Carlton box office ($10 adults, $7 seniors). Facebook RSVP here!