One film, two festival screenings, eight days and 4,800 km apart – Toronto Film School alumnus Darcy Love’s latest 11-minute short is taking a cross-country road trip across the Canadian film festival circuit this month.
Apprenticeship – which marks the 24-year-old Australian-Canadian filmmaker’s fourth foray into short-film directing – will celebrate its festival debut this Saturday, Nov. 9 at the 2019 Yellowknife International Film Festival, before trekking south to screen at this year’s Toronto Shorts International Film Festival on Nov. 17.
“For me, it’s a huge sense of accomplishment to find out that, while I love this movie, there are also other people out there in the world who really enjoy it, too,” said Love, who graduated from TFS’s Film Production Diploma program in 2018.
“It’s such an incredible feeling to know that international film festivals of the calibre of Toronto Shorts and Yellowknife think that we’ve done a good job and that our film deserves to be seen by their audiences.”
Written by Love’s frequent collaborator, Gordon Harper, Apprenticeship tells the story of a tenacious apprentice potter (Harper) as he works tirelessly to improve his craft and impress his callous pottery teacher (Christian Lloyd).
While not a potter himself, Love said he could nevertheless identify with the plight of the film’s main character.
“When Gordon first came to me with it, I thought it was a really relatable story, because we’ve all had a mentor or teacher who was a bit hard on us at one point or another,” said the lifelong musician, who was once asked by a childhood piano teacher if he was tone deaf.
“Despite that experience, I went on to get my music degree and make a small career in the world of radio and music. I think we’ve all had a mentor like that at some point in our lives – someone who challenged us in unexpected ways – and I’m really happy with how we portrayed it here.”
Using Disney Pixar’s Academy Award-winning short Geri’s Game as inspiration, Love said Apprenticeship – which was shot over two days this past February in Harper’s real-life potter of a father’s basement studio in Waterdown, Ontario – is, at its essence, a “love letter to the arts.”
“We really wanted it to have that Disney Pixar short film feel to it – something a little more on the comedic side, but also just really heartwarming,” he said.
“Because it really is a love letter – from Gordon to his parents, yes, but also to artists and craftsmen, in general. We wanted to showcase their hard work and dedication…(because) people often assume that the creative arts are just a natural talent. I don’t think they realize the amount of work and the amount of effort you have to put in to get good at something.”
For Harper, choosing Love – whom he first met during Toronto Film School’s 2017 Festival of Films – to direct his writing debut was an easy decision given the pair’s history of successful creative collaborations.
“I think we have a similar mindset. We both want to create good work and we’ve both got each other’s backs,” he said of Love, who previously cast him in the lead role of his adaptation of Stephen King’s The Man Who Loved Flowers – a project that ultimately won the Best Canadian First Short Film Award at the 2018 Edmonton Festival of Fear.
“We’re just supportive of each other. We’re always bouncing ideas off each other – that’s not to say that I always like his and he always like mine, but that’s a good thing.”
“The thing that makes me want to keep working with Gordon is he’s a professional who’s very good at what he does,” Love said of Harper, who he also directed in Of Dice and Men, a sci-fi short the pair made as part of a 48-hour film challenge last October.
“He’s super talented and has a great range to his acting – he can go from playing my weird comedy bad guy, through to your classic rom-com lead, through to horror movie villain. Whatever I throw at Gordon, he’s really good at just going with it.”
While neither Love nor Harper will be able to make the trek up to the Northwest Territories to catch Apprenticeship’s festival debut at the Yellowknife International Film Festival this Saturday, both are anxiously awaiting the film’s big city premiere next weekend.
“I want to be there to watch as other people are watching the film – to see what happens, and to see what hits and what misses,” Gordon said. “This will be the first time I’ve had that satisfaction as someone making their own work.”
Love echoed that sentiment, characterizing the opportunity to have Apprenticeship mark its Toronto premiere as one of just 76 films accepted into the 2019 Toronto Shorts International Film Festival as an “unbelievable” one.
“We are so excited that our friends and family will have a chance to see what we made without having to travel across Canada to do so,” he said. “Toronto is Canada’s film hub and to be a part of that is a dream come true.”
For tickets, go to bit.ly/apprenticeshiptix