Who knew a middle school A/V class taught by a district councillor would be the entry point for a Saanich filmmaker to make it to Cannes?
Jeremy Lutter is on his way to the internationally acclaimed film festival with his short film Reset being screened in Telefilm’s Not Short on Talent series, a curated showcase of works by Canadian filmmakers. Lutter got his start making movies in junior high at Cedar Hill middle school, spending three years in its multimedia program under the guidance of Saanich Coun. Vic Derman.
“They had a bunch of video gear, and I just started shooting school projects with my friends,” said Lutter. “That was the first time I ever used a video camera.”
While Lutter’s filmography is primarily family movies, Reset is a considerably more dramatic story of a female robot (played by Vancouver actress Emily Tennant) that develops human emotions for her owner. The film was produced by Lutter’s company, Broken Mirror Films, and he served as director and executive producer of the 16-minute short.
“It’s the story of an android that has feelings of love and she’s not supposed to,” said Lutter. “It’s about technology and our fear of the future – if we create something that actually has feelings, is it human or not? Where do we draw the line about whether it’s a human being?
“The writer, Ryan Bright, would say the film is a little bit about our current dating scenario with Tinder and all these apps, the way people are a bit too casual with the way that they treat people.”
Bright initially pitched the concept to Lutter, who said it struck him as a powerful character piece and a good foray outside his usual type of work.
“It was quite the opposite of anything I’d ever done before,” said Lutter. “We ended up pitching it to BravoFact and winning some finances of Bravo to shoot the film.”
Lutter said it took a little more than a year from the initial meeting to get the cameras rolling, but their hard work has paid off: Reset has only been screened at a few festivals, but has already received quite a bit of praise from audiences.
It’s currently up for seven Leo Awards, including Best Program, Screenwriting, Visual Effects, Sound, Musical Score and Production Design. Tennant is nominated for Best Performance by a Female in a Short Drama.
“The whole cast was awesome, but Emily Tennant really did a bang-up job of playing that android,” said Lutter. “When we recorded the climax scene on set, everyone was quiet – you could hear a pin drop because it was a great piece of drama.”
The film premiered at the Long Beach Film Festival in New York, where it won Best Narrative Short, and received positive reviews at London’s Sci-Fi Film Festival. Now Lutter’s heading to France for Cannes, noting it’s a tremendous opportunity to network with other filmmakers.
“The best part about Not Short on Talent is they bring filmmakers from across Canada there, so you get to meet cool filmmakers from Winnipeg and the Maritimes,” said Lutter. “Strangely, you have to go all the way to France to hang out with a bunch of Canadians.”
The Cannes Film Festival runs from May 11 to 22. For more information, visit festival-cannes.fr and brokenmirrorfilms.com.