Writer/ Director/ Producer
Nathan, a lonely everyman, finds friendship in his neighbour Daniel. However, Daniel is involved with a religious group with odd beliefs and an extremely charismatic leader, Flynn. Nathan will quickly find himself enthralled by Flynn and his teachings.
Behind the Story
I have been interested in cults and religions for many years. Specifically, what the potential difference between the two is. There has been much debate about this topic, but I found one key difference between a ‘cult’ and a ‘religion’ through my research. One of the critical regions is cult practices of ‘Disconnection’. Members must cut off all contact with friends and loved ones outside of the religious group. While researching, I asked myself why anyone would join a religious group like this or what compels people to join.
There are many different reasons why someone would join a group like this. Most cults are looking to find vulnerable people to join their ranks. With this story, I wanted to explore one of the ways an exploitative religious group could exploit a person through loneliness. Many former religious members say they stayed because of the community and the connections that they had made with others who were involved in the religion. They remained in such organizations for so long because they were struggling with the idea that they would be forced to let these people leave their lives. I wanted to show an example of what this looks like. Show a young man who struggles with making friends. He finds friendship in the form of someone involved in such a group. They hit it off, and of course, the new friend invites him to join their religious group. This lonely man attends and is enamoured by a charismatic leader who listens and responds—an undeniable sense of community was built around this character that he was sorely lacking before. When another member uses ‘forbidden’ speech, he feels obligated to report this to his superiors. Something has been said or done that the group deems ‘dangerous’. Suddenly partitioners are forced to choose between their individual friends and the community they have built around themselves.
I aimed to show an example of disconnection. What Daniel says to get him thrown out was hardly even a joke, yet the system attacked him quickly and forced him to leave the community he had built around himself. This practice is highly destructive. While almost all religions support the partitioners getting involved in their community of like-minded individuals, some take that more seriously than others. In my opinion, the practise of disconnection is what separates a cult from a religion.
This project was written, filmed, and edited in Calgary, AB. Because I was outside of Vancouver, I was not afforded many of the resources I would have had in Vancouver. As a result, I had the added hurdle of writing and directing the project and determining the creative elements of the film. Still, I was also responsible for producing the film. Because I did not have my fellow students nearby, I was tasked with finding people to work on the crew. I thought to contact students attending the SAIT Film + Video Production class and see if there were students who would be interested in working on my film. I was lucky enough that the faculty at SAIT wanted to set up a sort of practicum for their students so that they could gain college credit, and I would gain a crew. It was a fantastic experience to be able to work with these students. They gave me new perspectives on how to think about shooting a film. While producing the film on top of everything else was quite a stressful experience, I am grateful for the unique experience that I had been able to work with these students.
Director/Producer/Writer – Amanda Avery
Nathan – John Munro
Daniel – Cody Banman
Flynn – Jayden Maguire
Extras – Gabby Cavilla
1st Assistant Director – Bethany Turnbull
Still Photography – Fraser Costen
Key Makeup Artist – Michelle Suva
Script Supervisor – Rhiannon Evans
Cinematographer – Ryan Gourley
1st Assistant Camera – Issac Paulhus
Media Management – Max Paulhus
Camera Operator A – Hannah Kobzar
Camera Operator B – Andy Burnell
Production Sound Mixer – Samuel Sheppard
Boom Operator – Micheal De La Ossa
Boom Operator – Curtis Scott
Sound Utility – Alexis Alvendia
Grip – Vercy Lazaro
Lighting Tech – Alexa Albers
Colourist – Nina Wolf
Media Manager – Eshan Adel
Tracy, Ron & Brandon Avery
Gloria & Dennis Kathol
Marlow & Harley
Emily Carr University Film + Screen Arts Department
SAIT Film + Video Production Department
My work deals with contemporary social and political issues. I am fascinated by dissecting the ways various political or religious movements present themselves and how their use of language and beliefs appeals to different groups of people. Through my practice, I have attempted to write stories showing this intricacy in dialogue and how even the most mundane placement of words has a purpose by trying to win debates and establish a narrative.
I am heavily influenced by documentary cinema and notable people like Louis Theroux, who explores fringe and sometimes controversial political and religious groups. Acknowledging that these fringe groups exist is something that I feel is important for society to recognize; in my work, I attempt to show in specific cases how these groups work and hope to identify how people on the fringe cab be brought back to earth.