Leigh Ann Bellamy is a recent graduate of Vancouver Film School but was born and raised in Kingston. Since graduating, she has returned to Kingston and started her own production company, CuriousYou and has already shot one short film, Peculiar Mrs. Perkins, which screened at the Kingston Canadian Film Festival and the PictonPicturefest.
Now Leigh Ann is working on a new project, Pretty Pieces, a short film based on a one act play written by local author Charles Robertson. She plans to shoot the film here, staring native Kingstonian, Jacob James. She has received a Kingston Arts Council Funding Grant but is now trying to raise $5000 more to see this film come to life. Her fundraising initiative through IndieGoGo will run until September 30th with filming taking place in October.
Having seen and thoroughly enjoyed Peculiar Mrs. Perkins, we decided to ask Leigh Ann to tell us more about herself and her work.
1. Tell us about yourself and your work. What sparks you passion to make movies?
I started acting in theatre when I was 14, and when I was 15 I bought my first video camera. I developed both my love for acting on stage as well as a passion for making movies simultaneously over the next few years just by doing as much of both as possible. When it came time to go to school I chose film. It was at school where directing became my focus. I realized how much creative control the director has over a movie but also what a collaborative job it is. There are so many other creative people involved and layers of detail that have to go into a film and I find it thrilling to explore all of them from costumes, to set design, to actors’ performances. Every time I go through the process I want to do it again – only bigger and better. I always want to develop my skills into something more.
2. What is your experience with film making in Kingston? Considering how close you are to major Canadian centres such as Toronto and Montreal, what draws you to work here? What is your association with the industry in other cities?
I grew up in Kingston and the surrounding area and this is where my family is. After a rigorous year of film school I quite honestly came home to regroup. It wasn’t long before I wanted to start working on my next film project and I realized that Kingston has a lot going for it. The people of Kingston are still excited about movies, whereas a city like Toronto is bored to death because to them moviemaking is nothing special; it happens every day in the city. As you say, we are right in the middle of Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto so it started to make perfect sense for me to stay here because that meant the benefit of getting equipment and the occasional crew member from those larger cities without the disadvantage of their disillusionment. Yes the industry is bigger and more accessible in a larger city but I don’t want to work in the industry as a PA or a Grip, I want to make my own movies and Kingston is making this possible.
There isn’t a lot of professional filmmaking in Kingston yet, but there are a lot of people here who would love to become involved in a film making community.
3. What film makers have influenced your work? Who do you look up to? Do you have any local mentors?
I find myself greatly influenced by the dark and the macabre; this gears me toward watching a lot of David Lynch (Blue Velvet) and Aronofsky (Black Swan). Lately I have also taken to watching the documentary Heart of Darkness, which is about Francis Ford Coppola’s struggle with the making of Apocalypse Now. There is nothing more inspiring than watching a filmmaker put everything on the line to make a movie they are passionate about, particularly if they nearly go insane doing it!
As for local mentors, Valerie Robertson is not part of the film community but she is most definitely a mentor of mine. She has been involved in theatre in Kingston for decades, running Theatre 5 for many years. Now in the later years of her life she is still running The Baiden Street Theatre and teaching classes for teens. I can’t help but look up to Valerie who found her calling in life and continues to work very hard at it as well as love and enjoy it.
4. As an artist myself, I am very familiar with the idea of collaboration and bartering one job for another. What other work have you done in the film industry? Have you done any acting? If so, are there titles we could look for to see you wearing another hat?
Yes, I have worn other hats in the industry from grip, to art design to editing. If you want to see some of my editing work I suggest you look up Surviving Adolescence from VFS on YouTube. It was a project I was very fond of at school. But as far as acting goes, I have really stuck to the stage in this regard. That being said, I am going to be taking on a role in Pretty Pieces, my next movie, so when it is finished sometime in spring 2012 then I will have another role to show people which I am very excited about.
5. We really enjoyed screening your short Peculiar Mrs. Perkins at last year’s Kingston Canadian Film Festival. What were some of the challenges in making this film and how did you feel about the final product and reception?
There were a lot of major challenges for Peculiar Mrs. Perkins, the first being that I had never fully produced a film from start to finish before. I had done projects in school but so much is done for you, like getting equipment, finding funding etc. Here in Kingston we had to source out everything from scratch and ended up paying out of pocket between myself and the two other producers George Fisher, and Barbara Bell. Our other issue was time. We had a day and a half to shoot a ten-page script. Just to put things in perspective, in school we would shoot a ten-page script in 5 days. So we had to get things finished at a much faster rate then we were used to. Add on top of that accommodating three people staying in your living room and almost losing your location the day before you shoot and you have quite a challenge, and also a lot of fun. When all was said and done though I was happy with it. I had a lot of positive feedback at both KCFF and the Picton Picturefest and with our limited resources I was proud that we accomplished as much as we did. But now I can’t wait to make another one even better.
6. You’ve certainly shown your ability when it comes to short films and we are very much looking forward to seeing your next project, Pretty Pieces. What can your audience expect and how can they help?
Peculiar Mrs. Perkins was a great launching board for my next project. Pretty Pieces is just a little bit bigger and scarier in every way. It is going to be a 25-minute movie, a 5 day shoot, and I am acting as well as directing. With everything getting more elaborate, it means our budget is going up as well. We are currently working really hard to fund-raise to make this movie happen. We received a very generous grant from the City of Kingston and the support of the Kingston Arts Council that has given us a good start. We also have some great sponsors such as Science ’44 Cooperative who enabled us to receive our grant, and Keystone Property Management who are giving us space to build our set. We are currently looking for help in two major areas: food sponsorships and help through our IndieGoGo fundraising campaign, which is a secure online donating site. It is important for us to feed our volunteers both lunch and snacks for all 5 days they are on set to keep them going. Food sponsorships would entail providing us with a meal or a snack for a day or two. As for our online campaign, check it out at www.IndieGoGo.com/Pretty-