National Post: Slamdance Diary: Day 4 – Acting in your indie film was truly an honor(arium)
This week, Toronto filmmakers Pavan Moondi and Brian Robertson will take their new feature film, Diamond Tongues, to the Slamdance Film Festival — the Park City, Utah, film fest that acts as an unofficial counterpoint to the more glitzy and star-filled Sundance. As the filmmaking team prepare for the journey, they’ll file one diary entry per day right here. Today, star Nick Flanagan on being persuaded to join the project.
Imagine my joy when Pavan Moondi, one of the directors of Diamond Tongues, told me it had gotten into the Slamdance Film Festival. The expression on my face could only be described as “neutral.” Under specific instructions from Pavan to “keep things light” vis a vis my DT experience, I won’t reveal the mental ardor that burdened me throughout every step of the film’s production. Let’s just say there was nobody on set willing to constantly massage me into a dreamless slumber, which is unacceptable.
I’m excited for Slamdance in part because I’ve never been to Utah before, yet I’ve heard so very much about it. Apparently the state is bordered by a lake made of salt! If said lake tastes anything like famed salty dish matzoh ball soup, I’ll jump off the plane as we fly over the lake and dive right in, killing myself on impact, because I like matzoh ball soup.
It was truly an honor(arium) being asked to play Nick in Diamond Tongues. So many other Nicks could have played Nick. Nick, who works as a janitor at a hostel I frequent, would have been great, but is afraid of being photographed. Nic Cage could have played Nick, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch as he just needed to add a K to his name. But Pavan and (co-director) Brian Robertson asked yours truly. And I said, “No, I don’t have time.” So they tickled me until I peed my pants. “Oh god, now my pants are soaked. But what are pants, really?” I wailed — as the customers at the 2-4-1 Pizza wondered what all the commotion was about. Then I put on my sunglasses, had my mom to drive me to the airport, and purchased the first available ticket to Hollywood.
Later that night, on the flight back from Hollywood, I decided to take the part in Diamond Tongues. I haven’t looked back since. Because of an on-set neck injury. Let’s just say that massaging yourself is not for amateurs, and if I’m anything, it’s an amateur. See you in Park City!
Nick Flanagan is an actor, stand-up comedian and musician.
Source: National Post
National Post: Slamdance Diary: Day 3 – On acting, temper tantrums and humanizing an anti-hero
This week, Toronto filmmakers Pavan Moondi and Brian Robertson will take their new feature film, Diamond Tongues, to the Slamdance Film Festival — the Park City, Utah, film fest that acts as an unofficial counterpoint to the more glitzy and star-filled Sundance. As the filmmaking team prepare for the journey, they’ll file one diary entry per day right here. Today, star Leah Goldstein on lessons from the film industry.
Everything I’ve learned about the film industry has been through my involvement in a film about trying to be in the film industry. I’m not an actor. Thus, I’ve been contemplating how it was, exactly, that I ended up playing the lead in an independent film about to premiere at a festival in Park City, Utah.
My mind has brought me back to a memory. I am turning four and having a costume party in honour of my birthday. I’m wearing a lace dress and a long veil made out of a window curtain that I secretly like to pretend is my hair. Everyone else in attendance has come as Batman or a Ninja Turtle and has brought with them a Barbie doll-shaped box, expertly gift-wrapped in pink and purple by their mothers. I have no friends of my own because I haven’t started school yet so my mom has invited all my older brother’s friends as stand-ins. Everyone around me thinks it’s weird that I’m younger and much smaller than they are. They probably also think it’s weird that I’m not dressed as a Batman or a Ninja Turtle.
Because it is a hot summer and because my parents have just returned home from a two-week trip to England (during which they’d left my brother and I in our grandparents’ care for the first time ever), I have developed two questionable habits. One is throwing temper tantrums, and the other is taking off all my clothes. Sometimes I do both at the same time. As I look around at the room of Batmans and Ninja Turtles I can’t tell who here has seen me enacting said personal catastrophes through the living room window.
Most of them don’t know me and if they do it’s likely from hearing and witnessing one of my epic meltdowns. There is no reason for me to be comfortable in this situation. Quite frankly I should be embarrassed, especially by a four-year-old’s logic, but I’m happy as a little lace-clad clam. I’m grinning and proudly sporting a pin the size of my head that reads “I’M 4.”
In Diamond Tongues, I play an aspiring actor named Edith Welland who has no idea how to become successful. While you or I would just work hard, make and cross off to-do lists, and try to learn more about our craft, Edith always finds a way to do the opposite. She wants to be the hero so badly that she can do nothing but be an anti-hero.
She’s highly unlikable, unabashedly narcissistic and someone you would never want to befriend, date or be like. But she’s also undoubtedly human, which is why I wanted to attempt acting for the first time. Like I said, I know nothing about acting and very little about film. I am going to a city where two film festivals co-exist side by side and completely overtake the tiny ski town of Park City, Utah. They attract thousands of people who all have one thing in common; they’ve been busting their asses to work in film through many hard years and countless sleepless nights.
So how did I get there? A plane and a rental car. But really it was because two directors approached me after seeing my band play to an ultra cool (and ultra bored) crowd at Mongrel Media’s TIFF party back in the fall of 2013. There will be no reason for me to feel comfortable at Slamdance, but I’m hoping if I bring a pin the size of my face that reads “I’M 4” or maybe “I DON’T KNOW HOW I GOT HERE” or “I THINK THIS IS GOING TO BE SOMETHING REALLY SPECIAL,” everything will work out fine. And if not I can always take off all my clothes and throw a temper tantrum. I’ll let you know.
Leah Goldstein (a.k.a. Leah Fay) is a member of the Juno-nominated indie rock band July Talk. She makes her acting debut in Diamond Tongues.
Source: National Post
National Post: Slamdance Diary: Day 2 – The weight of film release limbo and the levity of letting go
This week, Toronto filmmakers Pavan Moondi and Brian Robertson will take their second feature film, Diamond Tongues, to the Slamdance Film Festival — the Park City, Utah, film fest that acts as an unofficial counterpoint to the more glitzy and star-filled Sundance. As the filmmaking team prepare for the journey, they’ll file one diary entry per day right here. Today, Moondi on the terrifying road to opening night.
In less than a week in Park City, Utah, we’ll premiere Diamond Tongues, the film a small group of us started filming 10 months ago in Toronto. It’s been a wild ride putting this film together for the past year and a half and it’s been all consuming to the point where I barely even remember what my life was like before it.
When we received the invitation from the Slamdance Film Festival, I was thrilled to be premiering the film within weeks of its completion. That period of limbo where a filmmaker has to sit on a finished film waiting to get it out into the world is not an enjoyable one. The work you’ve done doesn’t feel real until an audience of strangers has seen the film. As festival rejections start to pile up, your dramatic side starts to wonder if things will ever be made real.
I wouldn’t change a single thing about the film we made, and I’m happy to be going to Slamdance to present our film. It’s a festival with a rich history that reflects our approach to filmmaking and it’s played a large part in discovering some great filmmakers (Christopher Nolan, Greg Mottola, Lena Dunham).
But, given what has been, frankly, a pretty draining year, I’m not sure that I’m happy just to be going to Slamdance to present our film. I hope the film does well and that people like it. I hope it catches the eye of someone who can find us a meaningful audience in the long run. I hope it can help us get the next project made to pull ourselves out of the pretty dire financial reality we now find ourselves in.
The thing about Diamond Tongues is that I have never worked harder on anything else in my entire life. There’s a satisfaction in that, absolutely, but the terrifying truth is that if the film fails — whether it’s by being outright rejected by festival audiences and critics, or by receiving a lukewarm, polite reception and simply being forgotten the next day — I’ll be forced to confront the reality that if you’ve worked as hard as you can on something and you still don’t succeed in any significant way — well then what?
Being in limbo puts an enormous weight on your shoulders, but it’s accompanied by this small shred of possibility that the film will succeed in ways you only allow yourself to dream of. Every independent filmmaker has this insane, beautiful, tiny, unrelenting bit of optimism in them. It’s the only reason why anyone would pursue such an implausible career choice to begin with. Next week, that remaining shred of possibility will be supplanted by reality — whatever that may be — but at the very least the weight of the limbo will be off my shoulders and I will get to go skiing on a beautiful mountain. Things could be worse.
Pavan Moondi is the co-director, writer, producer and editor of Diamond Tongues.
Source: National Post
National Post: Slamdance Diary: Day 1 — A short introduction to Diamond Tongues
Next week, Toronto filmmakers Pavan Moondi and Brian Robertson are taking their new feature film, Diamond Tongues, to the Slamdance Film Festival — the Park City, Utah, film fest that acts as an unofficial counterpoint to the more glitzy and star-filled Sundance. As the filmmaking team prepare for the journey, they’ll file one diary entry per day right here. But first, a short introduction to the project:
At the end of every January, the small ski town of Park City, Utah, becomes a mecca for film talent and movie buzz. The work of filmmakers from all over the world is shown to some of the industry’s biggest influencers while just down the street, Sundance is also happening. The Slamdance Film Festival runs concurrently with Robert Redford’s star studded opus and has steadily grown in size, popularity, and significance in the 21 years since its inception. What makes Slamdance different is its concentration on young filmmakers, predominantly programming films from first time directors with budgets under 1 million dollars.
Two filmmakers who won’t be complaining about Park City’s subzero temperatures are Toronto’s Pavan Moondi and Brian Robertson. They will be representing Canada with their film Diamond Tongues, the only Canadian feature in competition at Slamdance this year. Since there are only about a dozen narrative features programmed every year, it is statistically harder to get into Slamdance than it is to get into Sundance.
Diamond Tongues follows Edith Welland, an aspiring actress struggling to see past her own failures and the perceived success of those around her. As is the nature of the industry, the project itself was not without its own struggles. Armed with an eight-minute demo and a cast consisting of musicians, comedians, and first-time actors, Moondi and Robertson managed to cobble together funding from four production companies, including Brendan Canning’s (Broken Social Scene) newly minted Draper Street Films and Robert Lantos’ Serendipity Point Films. Support in the form of post-production financing was also provided by Telefilm Canada and was only completed two weeks ago.
The other half of this film’s creative core was borrowed from the popular indie band July Talk in the form of frontwoman Leah Goldstein (a.k.a. Leah Fay) starring as Edith and her co-vocalist Peter Dreimanis, who was the director of photography. Production had to be planned around a rare twelve day break from the band’s hectic touring schedule that included over 150 shows around the world in 2014.
Moondi and Robertson are hoping that their film receives the kind of warm reception the festival has given Canadians in recent years. Kung Fu Elliot (2014) won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary and in 2013 The Dirties (directed by Matt Johnson, who also appears in Diamond Tongues) won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature as well as the Spirit of Slamdance award, bringing it to the attention of Kevin Smith, who helped get the film distributed in the U.S. Diamond Tongues will be distributed in Canada by Mongrel Media but the film hopes to catch the eye of international distributors at the festival.
Starting Tuesday, the National Post will feature daily posts written by the filmmakers and actors about these exciting days leading up to Slamdance, which starts on Friday.
See the original article at The National Post
Muchmusic: July Talk and Against Me talk Diamond Tongues’ cameo(s)
Muchmusic had July Talk (featuring Diamond Tongues’ lead actress Leah Goldstein and cinematographer Peter Dreimanis) interview Laura Jane Grace & Against Me during the Osheaga Music & Arts Festival. Click here to view the clip and get the scoop on a couple special cameos in our film.
Toronto Sun: Toronto’s July Talk generating a lot of chatter
In addition to the Juno nod, Fay’s been cast as the lead in a new Canadian film Diamond Tongues (by the same team that did the 2013 Canadian feature Everyday Is Like Sunday) playing an unpleasant wannabe actress after Fay was “discovered” at a TIFF party last year.
“It’s going to be nuts,” said Fay. “We kind of go to the Junos and then start (filming) the following Monday. I don’t know how it’s going to be. I’ve never really acted before. I’ve been performing since I was four. I don’t have a traditional education. I’m overwhelmed. It’s so different from working at coffee shops and being able to make my weird performance art and just stay home all the time and hang out with all the people I love.”
Full article: HERE