Victoria Film Festival Interview: A DIFFERENT DRUMMER: CELEBRATING ECCENTRICS director John Zaritsky

By Jason Whyte
Posted 02/13/15 05:38:30

"Eccentrics live longer and are healthier and happier than the rest of us. Why is this so? A Different Drummer explores that question in charming profiles of seven eccentrics. This movie represents two important firsts in my career. I've never used animation in any of my previous docs and it's the first time I've ever edited a film in a virtual editing room in cyberspace." Director John Zaritsky on A DIFFERENT DRUMMER: CELEBRATING ECCEENTRICS which screens at the 2015 Victoria Film Festival.

Is this your first movie in the Victoria Film Festival, and are you coming to Victoria for the screening?

It is the first film of mine at the Victoria Film Festival and I will be attending the screening.

Tell me a bit about your background and what led you into movies and film festivals.

After college, I started in the business as a newspaper reporter but after winning a National Newspaper Award for a series of investigative stories I wrote for The Globe and Mail, the CBC asked me to become a television producer for three times the salary I was earning at the paper. It was an offer I couldn't refuse and so for the past 42 years I've been happily employed as a documentary producer, director, and writer.

How did this whole project come together from your perspective?

Twelve years ago, I read a wonderful book by a psychologist, Dr. David Weeks, who had done an intensive study of 1,000 American, English and Canadian eccentrics. I thought it would make an entertaining, informative, and even inspiring documentary. But nobody in the world of Canadian broadcasting agreed with me at the time. Two years ago after finishing another film, I dug it up again out of my thick file called the graveyard of broken dreams. But this time, Superchannel and CBC's Documentary Channel saw some merit in my idea and the film finally got financed and made.

What was the biggest challenge in making the film? And the most rewarding moment?

The biggest challenge was deciding which eccentrics I should select for the film. There were so many interesting possibilities, narrowing them down to seven was very hard. Every day I shot with any one of the seven always provided some rewarding moments and they were easily the most insightful and humorous film subjects I've ever been associated with.

What keeps you going while making a movie? How much coffee?

I am focused and concentrate on stories and characters while making my docs.

I would love to know about the technical side of the film and your relationship to the director of photography.

I leave the technical decisions to implement my wishes to the director of photography and other crew members.

What are you looking forward to the most about having your screening in Victoria?

I'm looking forward to showing the film to a number of friends who live in Victoria and hearing their reactions.

I would love to hear about the journey this movie has had on the fest circuit, and the plans you have for the movie after it plays in Victoria.

This is the film's third stop on the festival circuit. Previously it was successfully screened at the Vancouver and Windsor film festivals. Hopefully it will cross the border and play at some American festivals.

What would you say or do to someone who is talking or texting during a screening of your film in a cinema?

Like all filmmakers, I'm deeply upset when people are texting or talking during a film, especially one of mine. Some people I'd like to choke, others I wish they'll have a slow painful death.

There are a lot filmmakers, especially up-and-comers, reading our site. I was curious if you had any advice to aspiring filmmakers?

My advice to young documentary filmmakers is this; It's an awfully difficult, highly competitive business but if you can get through the bureaucratic bullshit you will discover tremendous rewards such as going to places and meeting people that 99.44 percent of the world never experience. And if you're lucky, you might actually do some good for society and its poorer citizens.

For additional information on the Victoria Film Festival including screening times, ticketing information and other events happening around the city in the next ten days, point your browser to

Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @jasonwhyte for live updates throughout the fest including Instagram updates, commentary and links to upcoming interviews and coverage. If you see me in line, please say hi!

Jason Whyte,

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