Dream-like, hauntingly beautiful and controversial, Affinity Point tells the story of Jake, a twenty-something who travels to Montreal
in search of his biological parents. There, he meets and falls in love with the enigmatic Skylar, a dancer harboring dark secrets.
Affinity Point is the first feature by director/musician/writer Deeh. Filmed in Montreal with virtually no budget, this indie epic's ominous effect is lasting and ultimately unforgettable.
'This is not going to work'
was the sentence I thought about most after a few months of filming. I, along with Mike (my cameraman and partner in crime), felt depressed. We didn't really know why. Was it the fact we realized we still had a lot of filming to do? Was it the realization that things weren't going as good as we had hoped? Was it the sense of feeling powerless because of the lack of film equipment? I guess, it was all of those. Affinity Point was our first film, and we had our hands full.
The spark of the film started back in January of 07, when I met Danielle Hubbard at a club in Montreal. We hit it off and started talking about working on a music video project together. Ultimately, the project fell through, but we kept in touch anyway.
Fast foward to June of 07...
I woke up one day with this strange, powerful urge to do a movie. I called Danielle, and told her I 'had to meet' with her. The following week, we're having tea in her apartment, watching DVDs. I wanted to give her visual examples of how Affinity Point was going to be, so I showed her the following movies:
-Wings of Desire ("this is what I want our film to look like.")
- Before Sunrise ("I want our characters to feel alone in the world like these characters are. I want them to walk around Montreal so we can show off this great city!")
- Paris Texas' ("I want the pacing to be slow like this, so the viewers can soak up the atmosphere.")
- Blue Velvet ("I want our film to have a hidden darkness like this movie has.")
- The Crying Game. ("This is basically my favorite movie. I want to do something like this")
I explained the plot I roughly had in my head. I remember her not understanding completely, but that was my fault, as my thoughts tend to do zig-zags. Finally, after a half hour of storytelling, she seemed shocked and uncertain about the story. But like a brave soul, she gave me the benefit of the doubt and trusted me (somewhat).
I started to write the screenplay the next day. I got up to 10 pages and suddenly realized that time was a factor as summer was in it's final days. So we immediately started filming with an unfinished script. My friend Mike, was the cameraman and basically the whole crew (although, Set did help us on occasion). For the first month, we shot only scenes with no dialogue. Most of them only with me in front of the camera. Things went smoothly, in general. Plenty of occasions, we filmed in public without anyone noticing and got pretty good at it.(Guerilla filming can be fun!) Every time we shot a scene, I would rush home to edit.(I was anxious to get this film done from the start.)
When we finally started filming the dialogue scenes (no boom, just the shotgun mic mounted on the camera), I realized I was not suited for the role and couldn't direct myself. I panicked and felt depressed. It took a couple of months before I could turn my depression into some sort of angry determination: 'If a line of dialogue needs 100 takes, so fucking be it.' Set Landerich, on the other hand, seemed at home in his role as 'Crazy' Carol. Both brutal and sadistic, his performance was perfect. Sure, the role was tailored to him, but he gave something extra that only a natural could give. Not bad for a 'non-actor'! The other performers, all non-actors, were as good as I had hoped. The small roles were tailored to them and they basically gave me what I wanted: Reality.
Finally, there was Danielle Hubbard. A dancer first, she acted in her first legit film role in CQ2 (2004). After viewing it, I knew there was a great actress hiding beneath that somewhat underwritten role. Being the only semi-'real' actor on set, she proved she was worthy of the 'actor' title. Directing her was like driving a Ferrari or fucking a pornstar: you got intensity.
After freezing our butts off all winter, the filming and post production wrapped in June of 08. We realized we needed a few re-shoots because of script and acting issues, so during the next year, I obsessively sculpted the movie until I was finally happy with it.
The official budget was 680$: Two train tickets, a toy gun, dv tapes and gas money. I wanted to prove to myself I could do a film with next to no money. Sure, it would never look as good as a Hollywood production, but that was never my intention. An indie film is an indie film, and the medium is there to be embraced and used to your advantage.
The music, although minimal and mostly improvised, was very important to the film. I wanted Affinity Point to have a lot of dream-like atmosphere. All the songs were composed while watching the footage, so that every note and sound were there to compliment the scenes. Most songs took less than an hour to compose, while others, like 'Consanguinity', took longer. For source music, I used a lot of music from my band The Scroll, mostly because I didn't want to pay royalties. (Although, I did use one song from Danielle's band Blodewed, and a track from Set's side-project Endurge.)
It's hard to believe that Affinity Point is finally finished. It was an ego-crushing experience and probably the most difficult thing I've ever done. But it was also a great experience that I'll look back on and smile.
Affinity Point was made because of Danielle Hubbard. I used the film as a sort of love letter to her. I'm not talking 'love' in the romantic sense, but rather, as a fellow artist. I once told her (a little jokingly) that if she would 'get hit by a car and die tomorrow', at least she would have this film to use as an example of how great of a person she was. The film was made for her and, in a strange way, is her. Or rather, my vision of her. All her beauty, fragility, power, talent and kindness are there on the screen.
Everyone who helped on this film followed me blindly, like brave soldiers, and gave me the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully, the bravery will pay off some day. For me it already has: I did the film I wanted to make with the friends I wanted to make it with.
When your castle is yet to be built and you realize it probably will never be, it takes great passion and determination to pick up the stones and build it yourself. You sometimes have to create your own paradise to shine. It might not be as great as you had hoped, some might say it's undeserved, but at least it exists and it is yours. That is the purpose.
'Now, where's my socks?'