Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fort native eyeing documentary

Assembling a strong roster of players is essential to the success of a football team.
That’s something Fort Frances native Andrew George came to understand after playing up to the junior level and later serving as a coach at Fort High.

This fall, however, the aspiring filmmaker will be recruiting a 76-year-old wide receiver, a female running back, and an inexperienced quarterback to be a part of his latest cinematic endeavour.
The ambitious 28-year-old has set out to create another film, this time with a focus on Canada’s largest touch football league entitled “Why We Play,” in hopes of revealing the importance of recreational sports at any age, skill level, or gender.
“I love football but playing touch football at this age was something I thought was pretty special,” George said, citing his involvement with the PIT league in Winnipeg.
“What I found to be more special was some of the stories of other people playing,” he noted.
“There are a bunch of interesting stories, but I am picking three or four of them and putting together a documentary about why people play.”
George stressed it is different than exploring why professionals play.
“What do sports really mean to us after we can’t do it like we do as a teenager or as a child; when we don’t have to do it anymore?” he wondered.
“What role does [competition] play in our lives?
“That is what I am exploring with this documentary,” he explained.
George said he’s come a long way since the low-budget production of past documentaries he has premiered here.
After wearing the hat of many trades before settling into a creative director role in Winnipeg, doctors found a benign brain tumor in 2012, which left George partially blind for months.
“It took a year for me to recover, and after that I decided to quit my position at the marketing company and get back into film,” George recalled.
“I went back to school and decided to do everything I was holding off on before I was sick.
“I wanted to dive into it and learn a lot more because all I really knew about making films was what I taught myself—I had no formal training,” he noted.
“I was looking to reinvent myself a little bit . . . it was sort of like a rebirth after being sick.”
George jumped head-first into his passion for the arts, having taken a job working for a live television show and training with the National Screen Institute.
Now he feels prepared to embark on his most ambitious project to date—the first he’s independently funded and filmed.
“It is a small enough project where I could kind of go at it, start from scratch, and practice the whole process,” George remarked.
“This is the first one I have done on my own where I’ve stepped up and said I’m going to do the fundraising part.
“I am not being commissioned, so I am trying the crowd-funding route, which is really new to the industry,” he said.
“And that process in general, compared to the other films I made, is completely new to me.”
George said crowd-funding is a way for independent businesses (or, in this case, filmmakers) to fund their venture by raising small amounts of money online from a large number of people.
Those who visit his website are able to donate to the project in exchange for a variety of incentives.
However, if George is unable to meet his goal of $1,700, which is the estimated expense of production, he won’t receive the proceeds and those who supported the project will be reimbursed.
The thing about crowd-funding is that it is “democratic filmmaking,” he noted.
“If anyone has any feedback or suggestions, or wants to offer input, whether they support it or not, it really gets taken into consideration,” he said.
“It is not just about one person’s vision,” George stressed.
“It is about the backers, and I like the collaborative aspect of working with the audience before it is released.
“Yes, I do need the money, otherwise it isn’t going to come out,” he conceded.
“But I really am really encouraging people to give me feedback, too.”
Although George admitted he doesn’t plan on making a career as a documentary filmmaker, he said this story warranted “a real voice” because it hit close to home.
“There is lots being said about documentaries and how it is very tough to make them now,” he noted.
“They are not really box office hits and it is hard to get them out there,
“But I think promoting them on the Internet is a great way for people to view them,” he reasoned.
“There are a couple of stories that I would like to tell through the documentary format because showing real stories hits people in a different way,” George added.
“It is definitely a different beast,” he laughed.
“Giving a voice to someone else is intriguing and if you do it in a way that is real, I think it is powerful.”
Those interested in donating to the creation of “Why We Play,” visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/why-we-play or call George at 1-204-899-8097.

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