It’s tough to make friends in adulthood. Without the confines of a classroom to force you together, forging new friendship relies on extending out beyond your comfort zone. Enter Vancouver Neatos interviews, where I introduce you to a new face in Vancouver every week (ish). Want to take part? Drop me a line.
Tell us about yourself.
Make the first question a little harder why don’t ya! Well, I’m a filmmaker. I write, direct, produce and edit various works of film and media. Mostly scripted, mostly comedy. I love collaborating with musicians on music videos, whether concept, or live videos. The goal is to have most of my focus on sole directing, both in TV and feature films, while remaining a creative producer, and co-writing, or working with a writer to build the project together. Outside of that, I ride my bike, do yoga, borrow dogs and cars for hikes, dream of owning a boat, and travel at every opportunity.
What drew you to becoming a filmmaker?
As a seven-year-old actor once said to me, “I want to be a director like you so that I can tell everyone what to do.” I was lucky enough to write and direct my first short in high school. I knew right then that I wanted to be a director, and I was more than capable enough to pursue it. From then on I just pursued a a director career and didn’t leave space for any doubt in as to whether or not it would work out. I then started writing so that I would have something to direct, and edited because no one else around me was interested, nor got my humour. Now I have too many ideas to execute them all, and while I know how to edit, and I’m good at it, and others pay me to do it for them, it would be fantastic to find a collaborative editor who gets me, gets my comedy, and makes it even better.
Is there anything that particularly influences or inspires your work?
Real life. Real life x 1000. Or the over caffeinated version of real life. At this point, I will stay longer in almost any situation that I don’t particularly like just to find out: what happens next? Online date that is making animal noises at me, sure. Let’s stay awhile, this might be reaaaaal good. If you look through my body of work, you may come to the same conclusion that my grandpa did, “you seem to make a lot of films about sex, eh?” I think I just want to bring the relief of laughter to situations most of us are too uptight to laugh about. I’m currently working on some serious dark subject matter and calling it a comedy. There is a theatre show on tour that is a comedy about rape, by and for victims of sexual assault. I hope it’s hilarious, and I would love to see it.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start filmmaking?
You need to be seriously flexible with your lifestyle. You need to know how to save when you have a pay day, and make it last when you aren’t making any money, so that you can use that “not making any money” time to really hone in on your craft, and invest in yourself, to finance your own work.
Also, don’t be a prick. No one wants to do favours for a prick, and you will need a fuck ton of favours to get your indie whatever made.
Know what other people’s jobs are all about. If you don’t know what an editor is up against, you are doing yourself a disservice as a director. I have learned so much by editing my own work. I can hear myself directing on set, times when I did well, and times when I should have shut the hell up and let the scene carry on. You also get to see all your mistakes and shots you should have gotten over the ones you did.
What are the biggest challenges for filmmakers? How do you think we can overcome those challenges?
Making movies is fucking expensive. That said, you can make films for practically nothing now, and a good script is far more valuable than fancy equipment or fancy locations. Story comes first. Finding out that your story isn’t that great while you’re in the editing room, is a seriously expensive mistake. Show people your script. Pay for a script doctor. Make the film, show people, and do it again. As your skills with each project, you can also grow your budget (or not).
You also have to be self-motivated. No one will hold you accountable to write your own first feature. No one cares if you sell it. Only you do. So do yourself a favour and work hard. As for favours, make it better, and try like hell to make it.
Where’s your favourite spot in Vancouver to set up a laptop and get shit done?
My house (either my desk, my kitchen chopping block, the dining room table, or the old lady chair in my room), my office (on my office mates’ desk), JJbean on Bute & Alberni (the space chairs upstairs are so comfy). When it’s just me and my notebook, Happy Hour at Waterfront Station’s Rogue Wet Bar.
Can you share any resources you’ve found most helpful in your career?
There are really so many, and every year I just add more. William F. Whites has been HUGE in supporting my productions and I look forward to studios paying them millions in the future to rent their gear for my productions. Women in the Director’s Chair has mentored me since university, Telus and Telus Optik, Harold Greenberg Fund, BC Arts Council, The Movie Network, Movie Central, SEED in Northwest Territories, the NFB, have all financed a film, music video, or my professional development. The people I met at my old yoga studio got me more contract video work than anyone from university or otherwise ever did. I’m a hustler and have either found or created most of my paid work in the last seven years. I’ll be getting an agent very soon and hopefully I will be credited them for a lot in the near future.
What’s in the works for you right now?
I just wrapped Season One of a new comedy web-series, YOUNG & RECKLESS, written by Andrea Shawcross, which will be available on Telus Optik VOD, YouTube, and more come the fall. I have one or two new videos coming down the pipe with singer RYKKA, and my first with Vancouver’s Sadie Campbell, which will be out mid June.
I have three other web-series/series in the works, my short BEAT AROUND THE BUSH is killing it at film fests across the continent and now spilling into Europe, as well as a feature film of the same concept in development. You can keep up to date with all the things at www.Nord-Stewart.com.
Anything you’d like to add?
Please recycle. Eat real food. Respect the outdoors, and laugh at my goddamn movies.