A film doesn’t have to be lengthy to pack a powerful, dramatic punch.
Take The Wall for example, a short project written and directed by former Red Deerian Daniel Baker and set for a screening at the upcoming Central Alberta Film Festival the evening of Feb. 22nd at Carnival Cinemas.
The Festival runs Feb. 20th through to the 23rd.
“My interest in it goes all the way back to when I was little – I was probably about nine or 10,” said director/writer Daniel Baker, who is originally from Red Deer and now calls Vancouver home.
Used to viewing all kinds of gritty films as a youngster, he had seen The Exorcist way back then as well and was struck, even then, by the impact of the film on a number of both emotional and technical levels.
“It wasn’t until that movie that I finally really became interested in, how did they do that. Why did it scare me so much? Why am I still thinking about it? Those are the first movies that made me kind of stop and think about those things,” he explained.
Into his teens, he started taking film-related courses here in Red Deer at Hunting Hills High School. “It was all pretty basic stuff, but it definitely got us more interested in the craft.”
Even then, he was also started to try his hand at script writing. But his main desire was to shape and direct projects.
That said, after high school he decided to study commerce but after a couple years, he knew his true passion was in filmmaking so he headed out to the Vancouver Film School.
He’s never looked back.
As to The Wall, Baker said inspiration for the tale came in part from legendary gothic author Edgar Allen Poe, who penned plenty of chilling tales back in the 19th century.
“One of his short stories is about a cat that constantly scratches at the floor after it was buried, and it keeps taunting and attacking the psyche of the guy who lives there,” he explained.
That sparked an idea in Baker, who developed the notion of a tale of a wall in a kind of grungy basement, two brothers and a woman whom one of them is married to.
But there is trouble, and the two brothers confront each other with a shocking, unexpected culmination.
Suddenly, the wall itself, sort of like a ‘character’ in the project, takes on distinct layers of meaning.
“I thought, what if there was a conversation happening and unfolding and you aren’t too sure what these two people are talking about. But the whole time, the answer is kind of sitting there right in front of you,” he explained.
Meanwhile, the film is shot in a brisk, even jarring manner that work perfectly to highlight and enhance the dialogue and plot. Lots of unsettling angles help to keep viewers entranced all the way through.
Baker also pointed out that acclaimed director Christopher Nolan has been a huge influence stylistically over the years as well. “The way he would tell a story – kind of from back to front or by inter-weaving the middle into the end and kind of going all over the place with the editing.”
And while having that edgy feel, The Wall is also a polished, thoroughly professional production from start to finish.
Baker clearly knows how to tell a memorable story and get the very most out of a powerful cast as well.
And he’s been keeping very busy. “I’ve also been working in visual effects for the last four and one-half years, coordinating and working on the production side,” he said, adding he’s also worked on such global hits including Spider-man: Homecoming and Avengers: Infinity War.
“I just like being part of the whole process, whether it’s post-production, pre-production. But definitely my end game is to be doing my own films for sure.”
Meanwhile, besides international films, this year’s CAFF screenings will feature Canadian, Albertan and local films that are among the, ‘cream of the crop’, organizers say.
Other Alberta productions include Rise: Story of the Augustines (Calgary), Cor Values (Central Alberta), The Last of the Fur Traders (Edmonton) and Prairie Dog (Lethbridge).
Rise: Story of the Augustines had two sold-out screenings at the 2018 Raindance Film Festival in London and won the Audience Choice Award at the 2018 Santa Cruz Film Festival. The screening at CAFF will be the critically-acclaimed film’s Canadian premiere.
Besides the main feature presentations, there are also ‘Inspirational/Sports Shorts’, ‘Cultural Shorts’, ‘Horror/Suspense Shorts’ and ‘Mature Drama Shorts’ among others.
There are lots of other fun things to check out too including the CAFF Smartphone Film Challenge which was created and designed to be a film challenge for everyone from amateur to professional filmmakers ages 10 and up.
Meanwhile, a full schedule can be found at www.cafilmfestival.ca and tickets can be purchased in advance at cafilmfestival.ca/tickets/ for features, full festival access, as well as a special screening and the awards ceremony.