Stephen Spender ideaXme arts ambassador, singer songwriter and actor interviews Gary Burns, award winning Canadian writer and director with a formidable track record in making comedy, now turning his hand to making dramatic feature films with the launch of his new movie Man Running.
Stephen Spender met Gary when he starred in The Suburbanators, Gary’s first feature film.
Burns studied drama at the University of Calgary before attending Concordia University where he graduated in 1992 from the Fine Arts film program. Many of Burns’ films are shot in Calgary and contain references to the particularities of living in the city.
His first feature film, The Suburbanators debuted at the 1995 Toronto Film Festival, where it was placed in the top ten Canadian films, moreover, invited to the Sundance Film Festival the following year. It is about bored suburban “slackers” in Calgary.
At the 1997 Vancouver International Film Festival Burns was awarded Best Emerging Director for Kitchen Party, a comedy about a “teenage house party gone wrong”. Three years later his film Waydowntown received the Best Canadian Feature prize at the Toronto International Film Festival. A further feature film Radiant City, co-directed by Jim Brown, achieved the Special Jury Prize at the Vancouver International Film Festival.
Gary Burns’ Films:
The Suburbanators– 1995
Kitchen Party– 1997
Fuck Coke– 1999
A Problem with Fear– 2003
Radiant City– 2006
The Future Is Now!– 2010
Man Running– Spring 2019
Stephen Spender comments:
Serious comedy: Social satire and suburban surrealism
Gary Burns is a Canadian Independent film maker whose films have been described as “social satire or suburban surrealism”. He has received many awards for his work, including Best Canadian Director at the Toronto International Film Festival for Waydowntown and special Jury prize at the Vancouver international Film Festival for his film, Radiant City which satirically examines suburban sprawl.
I spoke with Gary about his filmmaking process and the difference, as he sees it, between shooting comedy and a drama. I asked him how he funds his movies. He described to me his preferred genre of filmmaking. Moreover, he provides advice for “would be” filmmakers.
Seriously dramatic feature film:
Gary comments on genre:
“I’ve jumped around from docs and dramas, but I usually keep the same sensibility “
The messages in Gary’s films:
“I look at stuff not in an overly serious way at least not on the surface but usually there’s serious subject matter underneath it”. Gary explains, how comedy helps to communicate meaning: “It’s easier to laugh at a situation no matter how serious. It’s a coping mechanism I guess.”
“Generally, I’m going after some money and then it’s like what idea do I have that fits that?”
Advice for future film makers:
“Don’t work in the industry. Don’t get a film job. It takes up too much of your time. You’ll make too much money and then you won’t have time for your own projects”
Source IMG: « John Cassavetes was born on December 9, 1929 in New York City, New York, USA as John Nicholas Cassavetes. He was an actor and director, known for Love Streams (1984), The Dirty Dozen (1967) and A Woman Under the Influence (1974). He was married to Gena Rowlands. He died on February 3, 1989 in Los Angeles, California, USA ».
Interview audio and text: Stephen Spender, ideaXme arts ambassador and singer songwriter and actor.
Find out more about Stephen Spender Music and listen to his latest album: www.stephenspendermusic.com.
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