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VIFF 2015 Interview: NO MEN BEYOND THIS POINT director Mark Sawers

by Jason Whyte

"NO MEN BEYOND THIS POINT is a satirical mockumentary set in a world where men are going extinct. What could go wrong? Spoiler alert: the world, now run by women, may not be so utopian after all." Director Mark Sawers on NO MAN BEYOND THIS POINT which screens at the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival.

I have a feeling we have met and you are from Vancouver...what has shown here in the past? And you are going to be at VIFF I'm assuming?

My feature CAMERA SHY played at VIFF in 2013 and I've had three short films screen there as well. I will be at both the screenings of NO MEN BEYOND THIS POINT.

I look forward to meeting you! Tell me a bit about yourself and your background

I was born in Vancouver and have lived here most of my life. I graduated from the UBC film program. And I've been making independent films every since, as well as writing and directing TV shows here and there.

So how did NO MEN BEYOND THIS POINT get its start from your perspective?

After finishing my last feature I was eager to make another movie. Except I didn't have a script or any story ideas. Just the desire to make a movie. One thing I did know was that I had no desire to get dragged through a lengthy development there any other type? I decided that this movie would be ultra-low budget movie less than $50,000 and that once I came up with a script I would make it right away. So not only did I need to come up with a script, it had to have some serious limitations imposed on it. For starters the locations would be limited to my house and possibly the surrounding streets-slash-neighbourhood and the cast would have to be very small. Then I got this idea about a world where women become asexual and men stop being born and all the limitations I had set went out the window. In the end, the film was shot in over 30 different locations with a cast of more than 100 actors in scenes that spanned from 1953 to present day. We still ended up shooting a bunch of scenes at my house though.

So what kept your drive going while making the movie?

Two words: Coke Zero.

With the small budget and mostly shooting at your house, what was your biggest challenge with making the movie?

It took 22 months to get this movie shot. Why? Because when you are working with a budget as small as the one we had you are at the mercy of your cast and crews' schedules. We could only shoot when everyone was available. Fortunately, being a mock-documentary this was not an issue from a continuity standpoint. But it did mean lots of starting and stopping. And every time we stopped it seemed to get harder to start again. We kept losing our momentum! Overcoming it required stamina and a committed crew. There's no question that my stamina flagged several times along the way, but fortunately the crews' commitment never did. Weeks, sometimes months, would go by with no work being done on the film and the project would start to feel like it was not ever going to get finished. And then, without fail, I would get a call from my producer Kaleena Kiff demanding to know when we were going to shoot the next block of scenes. So, it was pretty clear that no matter what, one way or another, this film was going to get finished.

With the long schedule, I'm still going to ask that if you had favourite moment out of the entire production, what would it be? The moment where you thought that you had something amazing?

I usually know if I have something, or don't, in the rehearsal process. And this film was no exception. I think it was probably when I was rehearsing with Cam McDonald, who plays the leader of the mens' movement. I was working with him on a scene and working on getting him to play it as deadpan as possible, and we suddenly had to stop because I had pretty much fallen out my chair laughing. And I never laugh! That's when I knew the tone I was going for was going to work.

For the aspiring filmmakers who read our site, tell me about the technical side of the movie and how you worked with your cinematographers.

Though the film appears to be shot in several different formats, given that there is a ton of recreated archival footage, it was primarily shot on a RED Epic. Occasionally we shot on a Sony XDCAM for the home video stuff. Thomas Billingsly and Chris Kapinkski where the directors of photography and we spent a lot time discussing the look of the film. The main goal was always to make the archival stuff look as realistic as possible and the present day stuff to look as good as possible. Getting the archival stuff to look realistic was definitely the bigger challenge. Most of this work happened in post product working at Watershed Digital with post-production producer Jamie Franklin and assistant editor Michael Sang. It was a very long process of applying different filters and exposures and dirt & scratches to get the right look.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie at VIFF?

I love screening movies at VIFF. Mostly because it's my home town. And, at the end of the day, being able to screen your work in your community with your friends and family in attendance is, for me, what it's all about.

After VIFF, where is this movie going to show next? Any theatrical release?

The movie just had its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and after that it showed in Halifax at the Atlantic Film Festival and then Sudbury's Cinefest before landing at VIFF. After that, we're not exactly sure. We hope to have a theatrical run in some Canadian cities in the winter.

What would you say or do to someone who is talking, texting or being overall disruptive during a screening of your film?

Why are you here? Go away.

There are many aspiring filmmakers reading us for our articleson If you could offer any advice to them on how to get their start, what would you say to them?

I always go back to the very first book I read about movie making: ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE by William Goldman who said, "Nobody knows anything. Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work. Every time out it's a guess and, if you're lucky, an educated one." In other words: take any advice you get about making movies with a grain of salt.

Be sure to check out the NO MEN BEYOND THIS POINT official website, and follow on Twitter at @nomenbeyond and on the Facebook site!

This is one of the many films screening at the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival taking place in beautiful Vancouver from Septembe 24th to October 9th. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to or use the VIFF app for Android and iOS.

Jason Whyte,
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte

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originally posted: 09/25/15 05:13:03
last updated: 09/25/15 05:20:34
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