Six Questions for Brent Nurse

Brent Nurse, Boneyard, Kingston Canadian Film festival
Pictured (left to right): Curtis Campsall, Steven Spencer and Brent Nurse

Brent has been working in film and video for over 10 years. Brent co-produced and was assistant director for the feature film, 21 Brothers, which went on to receive a Guinness World Record for longest film shot in a single take. Last year Brent co-produced KCFF Steam Whistle Local Shorts winner Digging Up Plato directed by Leigh Ann Bellamy and has been enjoying success with the YouTube hit video, Out For A Rip, which he edited and co-directed. This year Brent returns to KCFF representing two feature films. Brent was co-producer on Leigh Ann Bellamy’s feature film Fault and is bringing his own directorial feature debut, 5 Years After The Fall , with co-director Steven Spencer. Brent is returning to KCFF in 2017 with Boneyard.

1. When we last caught up with you at the 2015 Kingston Canadian Film Festival (KCFF), you were preparing to premier your post-apocalyptic thriller titled 5 Years After The Fall. Since then, what have you been up to?

The premiere at KCFF was great! They had to find and bring in extra chairs and it was packed and the audience responded wonderfully. We did not send that one out to other festivals since we had a distribution deal in place already and we just spent our time preparing it for that. Now if you would like to watch it you can find it on most digital platforms like Amazon, Play Station Network, Google Play, iTunes, Amazon Prime, etc. Since releasing 5 Years we have been hard at work getting our next feature, Boneyard, finished up and ready for screening at 2017 KCFF. I have also been working on a few music videos and we added a new child to our family – my little lady Clara. So it has been a busy time but very great.

2. At this year’s KCFF, you’re returning with your directorial partner Steven Spencer to unveil Boneyard, which takes the film’s main character on a nail biting, psychological roller coaster. With this being your second feature thriller in recent years, what attracts you to write, direct and scare the pants off of people with such suspenseful films?

I have always been a big fan of horror films and scary things. Horror films are what got me into film making in the first place. I was really into make up and gore when I first got into film making. I really wanted to get into special effects having been inspired by people like Tom Savini, Rob Baker, Dick Smith and many more. It was fun screening 5 Years at KCFF ’15. Steve and I sat above the audience in the dark and watched the film and the reactions. Seeing people jump or laugh uncomfortably at some baddies demise is a memory not easily topped.

3. Last time we chatted, you commented that you “would love to see the connection between film and theatre grow in Kingston. Theatre is a very strong part of the art scene here and lends itself well to film.” You’ve since been working hard to foster and strengthen that relationship between the local theatre and film scene.  Tell us more about what you’ve been up to.

Like 5 Years After The Fall, Boneyard saw us dip into the amazing pool of talent that theatre in Kingston has helped foster. Both our stars have very respectable and strong backgrounds in local productions,  which I think really helped them be prepared for both of their first film roles. Not only our actors but most of our crew has their backgrounds rooted in Kingston theatre. We rely heavily on these people and would not be where we are now without them. Recently I have been filming the performances for King’s Town Players to help them capture the wonderful shows they are putting on and to be able to share them after the run is long done. It can also be a great tool for actors to see their performances too. In the next year or so, after a couple more features, I would love to try and put on a play. Having never done it, I am not sure how well I would do but I would love to try.

4. The official trailer for Boneyard has no dialog, as it relies upon visuals and repetitive music to ratchet up the tension.  Why did you decide to highlight the mood and tone of the movie in this way?  How does the trailer setup/connect with the plot of this film?

We were very happy with this trailer. Steve and I cut it together pretty quickly just to have something to show to the cast and crew. We used temp music originally since it was not going to be publicly seen and then Aaron Holmberg, our sound man, got his hands on it and decided to run with it as a starting point for his score work to come on the finished film. He returned with such a cool and creepy soundtrack and was really excited about how it all came together that he really pushed us to release it. But! I do have to admit that the trailer was without dialogue because at the point that we cut it together we had not been able to sync up any of the sound yet. I find it works so much better without voice anyway and really builds up the tension with just the score playing.

5. Boneyard includes numerous dark and low light scenes, which even the most experienced filmmaker will acknowledge can be technically challenging to shoot. How did you and your collaborators approach these scenes? What tricks did you employ, and what technical obstacles did you have to overcome in order to get the right shot/feel?

Going in we knew we wanted it to be dark and moody and have a lot of movement. All aspects that can make a challenge like making a movie even more challenging. Our awesome partner and cinematographer Curtis Campsall was all over it. Curtis had recently acquired these awesome new little lights called scorpions which he could place in discrete spots on the set to really capture some great images and light quickly. Curtis is very skilled and knows how to take advantage of available light when required and how to manipulate his lighting rigs to really get some beautiful images. Also, Steven had purchased a Ronin which is a handheld camera rig to stabilize shots and help us keep the camera moving. A big thing was that having all worked together on our previous movie along with Michael Gourgon, our soundman, we are well practiced at getting our shots setup quickly and rolling several takes fast to keep our actors energy up.

6. Since you’re no stranger to KCFF, you’ve probably got a sizable bucket list of films to see and people to connect with. Walk us through what your looking forward to at this year’s festival. Also, having been to other film fests, how important do you think it that Kingston is home to the largest festival in the world dedicated exclusively to Canadian film?

I am really looking forward to seeing LIVE In Kingston by another talented Kingstonian Jay Middaugh. There are so many great looking feature films this year and it is hard to know which I will be able to make it too. The shorts are always awesome and worth catching. I think it is great that KCFF is here in town catering exclusively to Canadian film. It is really important to showcase our own great work and remind people across the country what has and what is being made in Canada. We do make great films and we all should see more of them.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

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