Finishing ‘Ma vie réelle’

Ma vie réelle

Danny Raymond, Alex ‘Breezy’ Bryson, Mikerson ‘Swagga Kid’ Stiverne and his older brother Michael ‘da Prince Stiverne.

Last year I told you about the shooting of my film about troubled youths in Montreal-North. I have been following three young school dropouts, Alex (métis) Danny (white) and Michael(black), for a year and a half. And because Michael had a very interesting brother, Mikerson, I ended up with four main characters. The developments in their lives were more dramatic than I could reasonably have hoped for, giving us very good material for the film. (It’s  produced by Amazone film with a 90-minute license from Canal D.)

Ma vie réelle

The ‘characters’ and the crew.

Over a year and a half, we shot about 60 hours of material. Working with our formidable editor Annie Jean we have now shaped this material into a 90-minute film. The creative process has been terrifically stimulating. Some things worked out much as I had seen them from the beginning: only a snippet of first-person narration at the beginning of the film; alternating between our characters just by cutting, no special devices required. But other developments were surprising. For example, some of the interviews I had written off as being too meagre came to life and took on a great deal of meaning thanks to Annie’s ministrations. And then there’s the music. Two of our characters, Alex and Mikerson, are rap singers. Seeing how well their music worked in the film, we commissioned them to develop more songs that they recorded together with the help of Don Karnage, a music teacher and community organizer who has an electrifying presence on the screen. In the end, Alex’s and especially Mikerson’s music is the main music of the movie, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they get a lot of attention when the film comes out. The film is now named after one of Mikerson’s songs, MA VIE RÉELLE. (MY REAL LIFE.)  The title has a few meanings, opposing the real day-to day life of the young men to the clichés we see in the media, and also to the many virtual realities which occupy a large portion of their time.

Almost until the end of the editing process, our wonderful cinematographer Martin Duckworth helped with pick-up shoots, as well as participating in creative meetings with Producer Jeannine Gagné and sometimes groups of invited guests. Jeannine has given us complete creative freedom while at the same time offering judicious advice and total support.
Now Annie and I have done most of our work, and the film heads off to sound editing, colour correction and other dimensions of picture on-line, and finally the sound mix in late September. The film will première in November.

Thanks to Sally Rylett for helping with this blog.