Sudbury Cinefest and Paul’s Sperm Count


Thursday morning, the day after the NY whirlwind, Paul and I hit the 400 northbound to Cinefest Sudbury. After checking in to the hotel, we headed to the Media Suite where we were greeted by Melanie who opened up the fridge and offered us a beer. This was our kind of town. Heather Campbell, Cinefest’s Guest Relations Coordinator had set up an interview for us, so Paul and I sipped our beers and admired our poster while we waited for Sudbury Star journalist, Laura Bradley to arrive. 

Laura was easy to talk to. I told her about the stem cell science in The Baby Formula, and how it was originally developed as a fertility treatment for men with low sperm counts. Paul was the only man in the room at the time, so I subconsciously pointed to him as I described it. Paul gave the Laura an “Alison is off her rocker” type look. “My sperm count is quite fine”, he insisted “don’t make me prove it”.   Of course that interaction was too tempting for Laura: Paul’s sperm count was mentioned in her article the next day.

After the interview, Heather drove us, along with Charles Martin Smith, to the Silver City Cinemas to see his gala film, Stone of Destiny.  Charlie and I had worked on a few films together: him as an actor and me as a stunt performer, so it was great to be together as fellow filmmakers. Of course our film is on a whole different scale than Charlie’s so I looked up to him and all he’d accomplished. We did a live feed together on the 6PM CTV local news before savoring his inspirational film.

Friday night was The Baby Formula screening, and again we were privileged to be surrounded by friends. Dan Lyon from Telefilm who was responsible for our completion funding was there along with Chad Maker and Kirk Comrie, our graphic’s guys from Agency 71. (Their partner Marc Kelsey was absent due to the birth of his baby – there’s a lot of that going around).  Robin Smith from Kinosmith was also there continuing to be a huge support.

Cinefest Sudbury has a reputation for having great audiences, and we now understand why. They laughed heartily throughout, even in places we’d never heard laughter before (good places), and were totally generous with their kudos.

The rest of our time in Sudbury was spent seeing a few films (most notably Michael McGowan’s thoroughly enjoyable One Week), and hopping from party to party to party.  The finale of all parties was the Saturday night Pit Party.  We were bussed into an open mine pit where there were tents, booze, food and a band. At midnight everyone went outside to experience the dumping of the slag. In response to our cheers of encouragement, a train on a nearby ridge poured it’s red hot molten slag down a hill, lighting up the night. A uniquely Canadian film festival experience. 

Next on the list: Mannheim Heidelberg FF, Germany, where The Baby Formula is the opening film!

Day Trip to New York

Wed morning, 5AM, Sept 17. We’re at the airport checking in for our flight to NY on the automatic kiosk. It tells us to wait for help. The attendant checks Paul’s passport. It expired 2 weeks ago.  “You can’t fly to the US without a valid passport”, she says. What!?  We were both in shock. Paul tried to sweet talk her: “this is the most important day of my life, my film is part of the Canada Showreel at Independent Film Week, I have to be there” – but she wasn’t budging. 

I went into solution mode: rifled through Paul’s stuff and got some of his business cards and our pitch document for The Baby Formula television series. Selling is Paul’s territory, not at all my forte, but I didn’t have a choice. I had to give it a shot alone.  Indicative of our totally different, but totally complimentary styles, Paul went into his own solution mode. He insisted on speaking to a customs agent, and softly but firmly attempted to talk his way onto the flight. No go. All the customs guy could offer was “ better drive across the border and get a flight out of Buffalo. You can still drive across without a passport.”  Nice.  Fat chance of making our 11AM screening that way.

Instead we headed to another terminal and got tickets with Air Canada. This time Paul got a boarding pass, and we got all the way to customs before his expired passport was noticed. We were both sweating. Paul was taken into a separate room, while I stood stranded by the x-ray machines not knowing what was going on. After fingerprints, paperwork, and heaven knows what else, in his true ‘horseshoes’ fashion, Paul emerged with permission to board the plane.

After the flight, we took a cab to West 23rd St and walked into the Chelsea Clearview Cinema to see the smiling faces of Brigitte Hubmann and Anne Frank from Telefilm.  Ours was the first clipreel of six new films they’d chosen to present at IFW. We basked in the audience laughter during our clipreel; the positive response was palpable. Paul and I fielded some great offers from film festivals across the States and then walked down to the MTV building on Broadway to meet with John Baldasare, Manager of Acquisitions and Coproductions.

The MTV station, Logo is currently airing my short film, Succubus and John was eager to see its feature length sequel, The Baby Formula. We had a great chat with him, handed off a screener, and then headed to our final meeting with a producer pal of Paul’s. After that there was time for a quick beer before hopping in a cab back to the airport and home.

What a day.