|Ana Pacheco (pictured above)|
Bryce Iwaschuk is with me today to talk about the film Star of Therapy which showcased at the Twin Cities Film Festival in October. Bryce is a devoted editor, writer and producer hailing from Vancouver British Columbia
And onto the interview...
Bryce, how did you go about getting so many people within the industry involved to tell the story?
Most of the crew for The Star of Therapy were either friends from school or various sets we had been on in Vancouver. Some read the script and fell in love with the story, others just wanted to be on our team because we were making it - whatever the reason, us producers are all still astounded at the response we got when we put out the word we were looking for crew and we couldnʼt be more thankful for the overwhelming support. There were days where we had 50 people on set, and I think people kept coming back because we made it a very light, calm, and enjoyable shoot. And we had smoothies.
Do you feel like depression, anxiety or other struggles are an environmental factor within the entertainment industry given the demanding schedules and expectations?
Iʼd say yes. Working anywhere from 12 to 18 hours a day on set would take a toll on anyone's mental health. Being on set becomes your life, not just your job and it is hard to have any sort of time to see friends and family or even just recharge and keep up personal hygiene. Humans require balance and though being on set is thrilling, it is still way too mentally, physically and psychologically exhausting. This is an issue that I really hope the industry works to improve. I understand that it is cheaper to have fewer but longer set days, but it becomes dangerous for workers and at the end of the day we need to put our safety and mental health first.
Do you feel like in this day and age, itʼs becoming easier to talk about mental illness or it it taboo?
I think itʼs easier. Iʼve seen reactions to current events that would suggest it still is taboo, but Iʼve never been picked apart for talking about it in Canada or while making films like these. Some of my favourite movies revolve around the exploration of mental health - movies like Silver Linings Playbook, Taxi Driver, One Flew Over The Cuckooʼs Nest, and A Streetcar Name Desire all take the time to respect their mentally ill heroes. We wanted to put people in a similar situation where they could feel what Kendra was going through and have them relate to her struggle, and we hope that this will help add leverage to the continuing topic and prove that itʼs vital conversation.
What was your motivation to bring this project to screen?
The fact that Ana approached me with a script that was this personal and she knew it would appeal to my strengths as a director was my key focus to get this on screen. We each understood the kind of dark humour needed to make a comedy about depression work, but even though I have suffered from depression and anxiety havenʼt been diagnosed with any kind of disorder and Iʼve never had treatment for it, so I was quite honoured that Ana respected me enough to let me mess around with a story this close to home. I told her when I first read it that I planned “To make this movie as though Kendra were the one making it - super stylized and overly cinematic ” and she said “thatʼs the reason I want you to direct it” - so that was that.
You won an award for best editing at the Hollywood International film Festival. What was that like?
It was surreal. I always planned to come out of school as an editor, and two other talented friends from school, Mondo Singh and Alex Holt, had this allegorical boxing drama “In The Red Corner” in their back pocket. It was also a story about fighting depression, which seems to be a theme that I latch onto. We really worked as a team in that editing room, and I really wasnʼt expecting anything to come out of it, but thankfully we were recognized for our work. So yeah, that was fun. It wasnʼt an easy edit either, so Iʼm glad we as a team got some recognition.
What project are you working on next?
At this moment Iʼm halfway through writing a feature film script called Mind Offline, itʼs the story of a phone scammer named Soapy who questions if he is being scammed by one of his victims. I also have a few short film ideas in my back pocket, but nothing is currently in production. Itʼs been a slow process. Ana Pacheco has also approached me with another idea that I am very interested in making about the 27 Club, so weʼll have to see which would be the most feasible once theyʼre written. We have plenty of ideas, but we also have to make a living and the film industry doesnʼt always offer the opportunities to make your own stuff - so being able to make The Star of Therapy was quite a luxury, and a long time coming - it took us a little under 2 years to make a 25 minute short.