There's a new, chewable nanotechnology that lets you take photos with your eyes, cures cancer and eliminates body odour. But the early adopters are realizing they got extra "features" they didn't count on. And no one told them once they spread through the bloodstream, it's harder to uninstall than your average computer virus.
INFEST WISELY is a feature length movie in seven episodes, each with different directors but all written by novelist Jim Munroe. Munroe met the six other directors through his Novel Amusements project, an annual DVDzine tagged "unapologetically lo-fi, inventive short video" by the Toronto Star. "I didn't want to work with just one of them for an entire feature," he said, "It seemed too big of an imposition. Plus, each of them had a special talent or ability I was excited to write for."
"It was awesome," Munroe enthused. "Jon made a fake ATM machine from scratch. Kirby shot a sex scene the rest of us were too nervous to. Craig crafted a bunch of amazing special effects. Chris staged a punk rock show. Rose got us a tiny city to rampage through. And Benny did some chase scene stunts with his crazy art-bikes."
Munroe wrote the seven episodes to be stories unto themselves, with intertwining characters. But watched together they chart the social and cultural changes wreaked by the tiniest product in history.
While Munroe is primarily a novelist, his co-producer Craig Macnaughton brought his considerable film background to the project. His comedy musical "Dog Given Rights" (with co-director Chris McCawley) won Kevin Spacey's Triggerstreet.com competition for which they received an award at Sundance. "It can be a slog raising the funds for even a low-budget film," he said. "Luckily, being a no-budget movie, we didn't have to deal with that."
The resources of the seven directors were considerable. "I wrote around the resources we had, rather than what we wished we had," said Munroe. Friends offered workplaces as sets, cameras and lights were shared, people's attics were raided for props, music was donated, and everyone worked for free. And since it didn't cost anything to make the movie, it's being released for free download on the internet and podcast starting May 22th.
"It was free to make, so it's free to watch," says Munroe, who has also released his novels under a Creative Commons license for free download. But the first people who will see the movie will be attendees of their "Infestor's Meeting" at Innis Town Hall on Friday, May 18th at 7pm. "It's not as exclusive as it sounds. For $5 you can be a 'Key Infestor'," says Munroe with a grin. "And really it's a way for people to support the project -- the money is going to pay for the fees to apply to festivals all over the world."
The movie has already seen early support from the three sponsors of the advance screening: PROJECT WONDERFUL (a grassroots internet ad scheme based on auctions rather than pageclicks), CELTX (an opensource free scriptwriting application), and THE CULTURAL GUTTER (an online magazine that covers sci-fi and other maligned genres). "I'm fairly critical of sponsorship in general," Munroe admits, "But I feel great about the people we're working with -- I used Celtx to write the movie."
The sponsorship money will fund a pressing of the DVD, to which the directors will add their DIY movie making commentary. "Hopefully we'll see more and more people realizing that making indie movies is more achievable now than it has ever been," Munroe says. "And if word about it spreads half as fast as blood-borne nanotechnology, we'll be dominating the world in no time!"
Jon Sasaki's ("Obsolete") videos have been presented at the 50th Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, Eyebeam Gallery (NYC), and the Rooftop Films (Brooklyn) screening series. His work has been included in projects for Digifest (The Design Exchange, Toronto), and the Playlist Thursday event series at the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (Toronto). He is member of the Instant Coffee art collective (on leave), and currently lives and works in Toronto. www.jonsasaki.com
Kirby Ferguson ("Orientated") is a Toronto writer and director, and the creator of the popular comedy video website Goodie Bag TV. Kirby is currently producing a variety of new live-action and animated Goodie Bag videos, an on-going sex advice series for Nerve.com, and, yes, a full length erotic feature. www.kirbyferguson.com
Craig Macnaughton ("Early Adopter") is a Toronto-based filmmaker who has been making short films steadily since high school. In 2004 he was nominated for the Budweiser Filmmaker Discovery Award (with Chris McCawley), which saw their film screened at The Sundance Film Festival and mentioned in the pages of Vanity Fair. His comedy shorts have been seen at various festivals (Sundance, Just for Laughs, Triggerstreet.com), broadcast (CBC, The Comedy Network, FUSE TV) and on mobile phones in the US, UK and China. Craig is also a founding member of the video comedy collective All Day Breakfast, whose website (www.alldaybreakfast.ca) receives over 200 unique visitors a day, was voted one of the Top Ten Cool Video Websites by Internet Video Magazine and highlighted in Time Magazine. He is currently finishing a short film that was inspired by a workshop he attended with Academy Award nominee Deepa Mehta and is developing a comedic feature film with stand-up comedian extraordinaire Alex Nussbaum. Also a trained visual and multimedia artist, Craig brings his love of 'the process' to any project he collaborates on. www.filmquake.com
Chris McCawley ("Spawning Rebellion") is a writer, a filmmaker, a musician and an actor. As a writer and filmmaker his work has been screened around the world at Sundance, NSI Film Exchange, NYC Midnight Madness, The World of Comedy Festival, The Calgary International Film Festival and under the Brooklyn Bridge as part of its summer film series, to name a few. On television his work has been featured on CBC, the Comedy Network, Sketch w/ Kevin McDonald, The Toronto Show and Fuse TV. In 2004 his film Dog Given Rights (w/ Craig Macnaughton) won the 3rd annual Triggerstreet.com Short Film Festival, and they were nominated for the Budweiser New Discovery Award for filmmaking. He and his work have been mentioned in Vanity Fair, the Washington Post, Varity, Wired and live to air on Sounds Like Canada for CBC Radio. www.alldaybreakfast.ca
Jim Munroe ("Sublime Algorithm") is an indie culture maker primarily known for his four science-fiction novels. His previous video work is mostly compiled in Pleasure Circuit Overload, a series of seven pieces about videogames that spans movie preview spoofs, in-game machinima, quirky short drama and documentary interviewing. CTheory Journal called one of the pieces "a great work of pop culture commentary," and other pieces in the collection have been featured on CBC's 120seconds.com, Rooftop Films in Brooklyn and the Oberhausen Film Festival in Germany. Munroe also published a DVDzine called Novel Amusements, founded an indie press touring circuit that sent 100 artists on tour, and runs DIY media resource nomediakings.org. His forthcoming book with Salgood Sam, a post-rapture graphic novel, is called Therefore Repent! www.nomediakings.org
Rose Bianchini ("General Chaos") is a comic book artist, writer, and filmmaker, and producer. She is currently in the midst of writing and drawing a graphic novel called Amygdala. She has done production design for theatre and film including a few BravoFact productions, and is currently working on directing a feature length documentary about immigrant artists and a few wacky music videos. With the craft collective UPBAG she works to build an ongoing soft city. She has also produced radio documentary work and music profiles for CBC radio. Her television work includes working with Avi Lewis on the program The Big Picture and she currently works for The Hour. She enjoys flights of whimsy, ghost stories and befriending talking birds. www.rosebianchini.com
Benny Zenga ("Leveller") has been making movies since he was eight years old. To Benny, the camera has become an invaluable tool; a motivator toward realizing dreams, experiencing different personalities, performing stunts, and most of all, engaging others in taking part in his exciting movie projects. In 2000 he instigated "The Winking Circle," a creative youth collective that exists to encourage self-expression and promote positive social change. The group became an instant sensation and through his documentary film The Winking Circle's legendary status continues to grow. Benny's films have aired on CBC, TVO, The Movie Channel, Music Plus! and have screened in film festivals worldwide. www.thewinkingcircle.com
Photos by Rannie Turingan