Fredericton — Two sets of footprints in the filthy Regent Street snowbanks lead to an isolated phone booth.
The cracked, damaged Bell Aliant booth is the last of its kind in the capital city.
Although this of course doesn’t matter to anyone, local filmmakers Sarah Wilson, 20, and Andrew Yeomans, 21, are scoping out the area for their first masterpiece, simply titled Booth.
“We’re too young to remember what it’s like to actually use a phone booth,” said Wilson, taking a moody-looking selfie next to the decrepit piece of history, “but we love the idea of telling its story, and the story of those people who have used the phone booth over the years. I mean, who were they? I don’t know.”
The province has a history of funding projects that are relevant only to the insular film community that are shown once and never heard of again. This, though, will be different, according to Yeomans.
“For one, we’re going to shoot it entirely on Sarah’s iPhone — which is an ironic statement in itself — and unlike most films we see coming out of New Brunswick, it’s going to be exceptionally dark, hard to understand, needlessly edgy, and will leave the audience wondering: ‘…the f*ck did I just watch?!'”
The STU students received funding from the province’s Short Film Venture Grant to the tune of $5,000 for their five-minute piece. ArtsNB chipped in an additional $5K, with the Canada Council for the Arts contributing $100K.
The money will go toward a variety of costs, such as film festival submission fees, travelling to screen the film, hiring actors and crew, and the sheer creative exertion of realizing their vision.
Wilson, who has been writing the script, said she knows what film festivals want, and she’s going to provide it in spades.
“First off, we’ll show gratuitous nudity that makes a statement about…like, death or feminism or something. My main actress doesn’t want to do it, so some of the costs are going toward hiring a body double for her.
“Similarly, we’ll have an uncomfortably long makeout scene, ensuring no one can actually enjoy watching it. From what I know of short artistic films, if you enjoy it, you don’t truly get it.
“We’re also going to strongly hint at violence, while not showing any. We want this film to make people think about something really deep, but we don’t want to, like, spell it out for them. Get people thinking for themselves about how brilliant we are.”
Wilson added that, because the film will obviously be in black and white, they may add a splash of colour to throw people off.
“Picture it: the audience is just getting comfortable with black and white, and then two minutes in — bam! — a scarlet rose appears for no reason. Can you imagine what that might symbolize? Probably sex. Or possibly betrayal. We don’t know yet.”
Yeomans said he plans to do the narration in his most monotonous voice, because no avant-garde local film is complete without a murmuring male voice vaguely explaining what’s going on.
“I’ll just be really quiet and melancholy, to show that this is a serious work of art,” he said. “I can already see the awards piling up. This is going to put Fredericton on the map.”
Regent Street will be blocked for the next eight weeks during filming of Booth.