Toronto Diary: Day One / by Andrew Yorke

So I decided to do something a bit rash. I completely redesigned the site, scaled it down, and gave it a funny (and true) title. I figured at times we need to reformat, and the digital age really does provide opportunities to do so.

I'm in Toronto for ten days to attend the Industry Conference and represent my feature "Videotape" at the annual international film festival, and my anxiety/excitement is getting a little bit away from me. I've been overwhelmed by the whole thing, honestly. But that's what meditation, chamomile tea, a new album by The National and fig newtons are for. Not much happened today, aside from leaving my pooch in the hands of a kick-ass lady (thanks Mary Katherine!) and traveling a couple thousand miles north. For the record, Airbnb is insanely great.

I'm hoping this festival will give me a much-needed boost, work-wise. I have an October 1 deadline for a script and I've been going in circles for the last two weeks. One idea works for a little bit, and then it doesn't. I start over, find something interesting, and then it veers off into oblivion once again. It's tough, and at times I wonder if "Videotape" continues to hold me back from pushing forward into unknown territory. Thankfully, I felt a certain liberating excitement on the flight up here. I made a left turn with the story, and actually made some progress. Hopefully, this particular direction will stick.

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For me, creating the story is by far one of the most enjoyable experiences about the cinematic process. I put on countless films (old and new) in the background, loop the same song five hundred times, and experiment with worlds. What the hell isn't fun about that? However, when working on a deadline, there's a little less freedom. Some times, many times, there's a lot less freedom. It's the business side of it, and it is what it is. Honestly, I've considered throwing in the towel with this deadline because of everything going on with Toronto and other deadlines. There's just this perpetual feeling of being a fish out of water. Then I talk with other screenwriters and filmmakers, and they all share that experience way more times than they can count. It's just part of the process, and it's a further declaration to the screenwriters out there who do this for decades. Talk about endurance and stubbornness.

I've always liked the flag of Canada. Random thought.

The script falls into the genre of horror, which poses a unique challenge for me. I've been captivated with horror films over the years, but they are usually for odd reasons. Many times I call certain films 'horror' when they are not in the traditional sense. Recently, I've been re-visiting and studying two films from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. "Black Narcissus" and "The Red Shoes" are beautifully crafted and utterly terrifying to me in so many ways. Powell (I believe) once called "Black Narcissus" an erotic film, and I see what he talks about. Almost every scene from the film is wrapped in some kind of sexual tension, which helps bring about the destruction of each character and the world they so desperately attempt to mold and uphold. I suppose that's what I find most terrifying about it. There are so many stories of people who pursue a dream only to find a nightmare they themselves created. It's a nightmare I consider in my own life many times over.

I suppose that's the overarching theme I'm going for with this script. I have certain characters in place, and there's a certain direction that follows. However, the devil is always in the details, and my meticulous pursuit of those details is what drives my anxiety. It's still about creating an experience that's real for me. I'm not unique in that case.

I'm also working on a "secret project" that's quickly turning into an obsession. It's not a paying gig, and sometimes those are always the best. I need to keep it under wraps for now, because I'm pretty sensitive about it. I say sensitive. Actually, it touches chords of my childhood that resonate to this day. I'm hoping this project will bring those chords to the forefront. As it gets closer to completion, I'll be sharing more. Who knows when that will be, but hopefully soon.

So now I need to finish unpacking, sleep, and get ready for an overwhelming (and exciting) day. My first day at the festival. My first day of school.