Its 6:38 pm
warm/sunny/fake doctors,real friends
Welcome to “8 Questions with……”
Okay,I am going to admit something here…..for the first time,I have hidden something from a guest. So now I can see you shaking your head and saying “What???”
So I’m trying to broaden the blog and my friend Rebecca encouraged me to start using LinkedIn more. I told her I thought that was just a job seeker network site and she explained it is but its so much more now. You are encouraged to not only network but also promote yourself and since you are a writer,you should promote your blog.
So I have been slowly doing this and that is how I met our guest Jason Bourque.
I was posting on LinkedIn when I saw a post about Jason’s new film “My Wife’s Secret Life” being promoted by Lifetime. So not only did I not follow Jason but I asked him for a interview. He very generously agreed and I was pretty stoked.
Of course since I had pretty much cold asked Jason,I knew I had to do my research so I could ask some good questions. As I scanned over the movies he directed,I suddenly stopped cold. It seems like Jason and I had a “history” between us.
When I first started film reviewing with Paladin,I really knew zero about what I was doing,I would watch the movie and then express my opinion. I didn’t know anything about the process about filmmaking,I just knew if I liked it or not.
The second film I ever reviewed was a made for SyFy disaster film called “Seattle Superstorm” and I thought it was pretty cheesy and bad. I’m not defending nor changing my POV about it but I have learned a lot about films since then….how they made,budgets,casting,special effects,indie vs. major studios,IFC vs. A24,etc……
I know that today I would write my review differently,I wouldn’t change my opinion but I could understand the constraints that Jason was under and that he was trying his best with what he was given.
He won’t know any of this until I post this interview,I didn’t tell him that I had reviewed “Superstorm” in only my 2nd review. I like to think just as he has grown as a director,I have grown as a writer and I hope he will understand that.
With that said,Jason Bourque is director that can slide behind the camera and create magic – be it feature films,hard hitting documentaries or helming Hallmark and Lifetime Channel movies. He was won awards for both his documentaries and his feature film work. I am very happy to introduce you to Jason as he answers his 8 Questions…
Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your current project.
Thanks Patrick. As a working indie director, writer, producer, I usually have about a dozen projects on the go in various stages of development. I love collaborating on feature work in between television movie gigs. So in a quick snap shot I have two features I produced in post-production – rom com “Godfrey” starring Nick Thune, Cleopatra Coleman and Iliza Shlesinger and the family drama “When Time Got Louder” starring Willow Shields, Lochlyn Munro and Elizabeth Mitchell.
A Lifetime movie I exec-produced “My Husband’s Deadly Past” aired last week. As a director, my lifetime movie “My Wife’s Secret Life” just got a Leo nomination (Excellence in BC Film and Television) for Best Director and Best Lead actor. It’s my second year in a row for a nomination. This year I also had my movie “Hotwired in Suburbia” released (on most VOD platforms) and the Hallmark flick “Amazing Winter Romance”. I know it sounds like a lot but I’m admittedly a workaholic when it comes to filmmaking – It’s my passion.
How have you been handling the pandemic? What have you done to keep busy?
It’s such a horrible global curveball we’re living through and it’s been heartbreaking. Personally I’ve found solace focusing on family and health. I’m also a writer so I’m used to long stretches cooped up balancing my laptop on my pug’s head (she’s a lap dog) as I write 🙂 I’ve been very prolific over the last three months – series development, contracted script polishes and applications for my company www.goldstarprod.com I’m also overseeing a couple writers as well. I love to mentor new writers and directors and I give back when I can.
When did you know you wanted to become involved in the film industry and was directing always your goal going in?What makes directing so appealing to you?
For as long as I can remember I’ve always been a natural storyteller and artist. I knew I wanted to make movies since I was fifteen, after watching “Evil Dead” and “Alien” back-to-back and since then it was always my goal. I dived pretty quick into movie-making, starting out with zombie shorts with the local kids in the neighbourhood.
Directing is my first love and I totally prefer it to writing (that can be a lonely existence sometimes) and producing (lots more stress, personality management and sometimes factors out of my control). For me, directing is all about teamwork and it’s such a massive collaboration with creatives which I love. I’ll never take a “Film by Jason Bourque” credit – I simply don’t believe in it.
You are the rare director who walks both in drama and sci-fi and yet have also done several award winning documentaries,can you share your mindset when you work on a documentary versus a fictional film? What was working on “Shadow Company” like? Were you shocked at what you discovered? How much of “Shadow Company” influenced the making of your film “Drone”?
Hey thanks for doing your homework and asking about my docs! As a storyteller, I’m totally at ease jumping from dramatic features to docs to scripts for other directors.
I find the process of making documentaries more fulfilling /important than the final product. They allow me to travel with a small crew, meet incredible people and create a dramatic story sometimes on the fly. It’s very liberating. “Shadow Company” was co-written and co-directed with my friend Nick Bicanic. I had a huge learning curve on that one and it came at a time when little was actually known about private military companies. It’s heavy material, sometimes disturbing, sometimes heartbreaking yet we also infused it with lots of entertainment value to make it palatable for the general public. Ultimately it was used as a teaching tool for the US Senate which I’m very proud of. Making “Shadow Company” was a huge journey and time commitment (a couple years) but well worth it.
It influenced “Drone” a little when it came to writing the script with creative writing partner Paul Birkett. Having a character as a private CIA drone contractor was born out of “Shadow Company”. It also allowed us to stay away from the glut of military drone movies that had recently come out like “Eye in the Sky” and “Good Kill”.
How did you get asked to direct Lifetime and Hallmark Channel movies? What was the process like? We know actors have auditions but do directors have to audition as well?
As directors we do sometimes audition through creative calls. Our agents submit us and we’re on that magical list that gets cut down to whomever finally gets the job. Luckily I have a track record with some producers who offer me the gigs. The majority of the television movies I work on feel like indie filmmaking. Sometimes they’re sold to Hallmark or Lifetime afterwards. If they don’t sell to those broadcasters, they can also be sold to Netflix or other platforms. So many ways to sell product out there!
With the “The Chronicle Mysteries: Recovered” I was hired by the creator and star Alison Sweeney because she wanted the pilot more stylish / cinematic than the usual MOWs and she was a fan of “Drone”. I was then approved by Hallmark.
What is it like as a feature film director with a lot freedom to suddenly being asked to direct TV films with a much stricter format?
What do you do to leave your footprint on the movie?
I don’t mind the MOW (Movie Of the Week) sandbox at all. I’m constantly looking at ways to raise the bar and I’m always learning, even after 18 years of directing. I also direct for a company that gives me lots of freedom on set. They’re shot fast though – usually 13-15 days so it’s all about the planning / prep.
If you could remake 2 of your films with a 100 million budget,which three would you choose and why?
“Termination Point”! It’s a very cool time travel disaster movie I directed for SyFy starring Lou Diamond Phillips and Jason Priestley. The script by Peter Sullivan is truly excellent – the hook is a jaw-dropper and it has a huge scope to it. The plot is too twisty to explain briefly but it’s well worth checking out. I love this movie but the VFX company went bankrupt half way through post and I had to shoot it in 15 days.
“Doomsday Prophecy” is another SyFy movie I would love to re-make. I co-wrote the script and again, had to shoot it in 14 days but it’s a fantastic premise with excellent characters. The Moai heads of Easter Island are an alien defence mechanism against a dark star about to eat our planet.
You subscribe to the Jack Webb idea of using a lot of the same actors for your films,what are the advantages and disadvantages of using the same actors? How do you approach a film that is cast with a lot of rookie performers? Do you like to be involved with the casting process?
I’m hands on with all casting. Honestly, as an indie filmmaker having to shoot quickly, I sometimes can’t afford to take chances. I need actors I can trust, are incredibly prepared and can sometimes handle eight pages of dialogue a day with only a couple takes. It’s why I’ve used actors like Matthew MacCaull in 5 movies. We have our own shorthand. With rookie performances it’s all about helping them connect to what makes their performance honest. Sometimes it might be a simple one line of direction – “Play it like you’re talking to your mother” for example. After years of directing I’ve found it’s best to avoid mapping out the emotional landscape of a character for an actor. Rookie actors can sometimes be overwhelmed and that relationship always needs to stem from a foundation of trust.
I’m going to put you on the spot here……but what three actors and three actresses have you enjoyed working with the most and why?
Pick one relatively unknown actor do you think will break out within a year.
I gravitate towards really good people I genuinely like. No ego. Hard workers. Big hearts.
Sarah Butler. She always goes the extra mile and is a perfectionist. Sarah is extremely well prepared, the crew loves her and she doesn’t shy away from physically demanding work. And she’s a dog person like me so we bonded instantly 🙂
Josh Byer. He’s an incredible character actor and he always makes unique choices, whether its as a supporting lead or as a day player. There’s no one else I can compare him to in the Vancouver acting pool so he’s my secret weapon for elevating a scene. I’ve had him in a dozen movies. Josh is also a close friend and a triple threat. Besides acting, he’s an accomplished artist and musician.
Matthew MacCaull. Excellent on all levels and very versatile. I’ve directed him in thrillers as both the villain and also the romantic lead. Matt smashed the lead role in my “Black Fly” movie out of the ballpark and he’s been my favourite lead ever since.
Which three genres are the most challenging for you as a director? What is more important- a good story or a big budget?
I’m comfortable with all genres but thrillers come very naturally – I love exploring the dark corners of the human condition and I have a knack for creating tension. Comedy can be challenging sometimes – Hallmark walks a fine line with their comedy and they shy away from belly laughs or big physical comedy. it’s the art of the “soft chuckle” 🙂
I love sci-fi but there’s an extra level of prep involved due to storyboards, animatics etc… due to big CGI action sequences. The challenges are the usual ones since the dawn of filmmaking. There never seems to be enough time or money. Luckily the general audience never knows the majority of compromises made by the indie director. A good story worth telling is always the most important to me. “Black Fly” cost very little to make. I’ve seen so many big budget movies fail to engage an audience due to a poor script or it’s an an overblown sequel no one asked for. It’s usually because the big budgets also mean “filmmaking by committee” due to the stakes being so high. Too many producers with their hands in the creative decision making can create chaos. A camera operator I work with has a great saying – “Tweak it till it sucks” which I suspect happens a lot with big budgets.
What is your current dream/passion project and can you share a little bit about it?
I have three I gotta make – “Iris”, a contained horror that takes place in an ER during a hurricane. “Fourteen” – an action movie about a murdered hitman who gets reincarnated as a fourteen-year old boy and tries to take down the crime syndicate responsible for his death and finally “Claw” – a contained sci-fi / home invasion about a robotics engineering student who builds a medical robot that kidnaps her and her boyfriend.
The cheetah and I are flying over to watch to you shoot your latest film but we are a day early and now you are stuck playing tour guide,what are we doing?
Vancouver is beautiful. We have the world’s best sushi, tons of coffee shops, Stanley Park for great hiking and bike trails. I always recommend Granville Island for a visit – an awesome artistic hub with a vibrant market. Our restaurant scene is world-class along with micro-breweries. Hopefully everything settles soon and you can drop by for a visit. If all goes well I’ll be directing again this fall. Thanks Patrick!
I like to thank Jason for agreeing to do this interview with me. The cheetah and I have a copy of “Drone” and we’ll be taking a peek at it very soon. And you already know we’re going to get his Hallmark Channel films as well because that is how the cheetah and I roll.
There are various ways to keep up with Jason and his career:
You can follow his film company Gold Star Productions
Check out Jason’s newest projects by following his IMDb page.
You can follow Jason on his Twitter page.
Visit Jason’s personal website.
Follow Jason on his InstaGram page.
Feel free to drop a comment below.