Unable to commit to each other in a legal marriage as a gay couple, Ryan (Matt Fentiman) and Grant (Mark Hildreth) decide to commit to each other officially through a small commitment ceremony in their backyard with only the closests friends and family invited for this important moment. But what they bring is not so much wedding gifts as personal baggage, drama and conflict. There's Ryan's brother Luke (Stephen Park) and his wife Rachel (Cara McDowell) who are unable to conceive, while Ryan's other brother's (Michael Chase) actress wife Trish (Suzanne Hepburn) is worried that her pregnancy will cause her to be fired from her television series role. Meanwhile, Grant's brother Kalvin (Andrew Moxham) spends most of his time stoned while his wife Jenny (Anna Williams) is mourns the recent loss of their child. And then there is also Ryan's mom Rebecca (Katherine Billings) who decides to decorate the wedding with her own traditional furnishings, while inviting along Dylan (Brendan Fletcher), a strange homeless young man who helps her carry her box of decoration. But it's not only the family that's troubled. Close friends of the couple, Madaline (Nancy Sivak) and her husband Shep (director Bill Marchant) are standing in for Grant's parents (who have not come to terms with Grant's gayness) while Shep is incredibly disturbed over the accidental death of one of his patients on the operating table. Lest we forget one quirky caterer (Carly Pope) who crashes her van and arrives late. What's a party without food to calm? Mayhem.
Everyone is directed and written by Canadian actor Bill Marchant and is shot on digital video (Panasonic DVX-100) for a budget of merely twenty-three thousand dollars over 19 days. It was a labour of love for most cast and crew members who put some other projects on hold for the sake of Everyone. And the results on the screen are impressive considering the modest budget. While the digital projection may be a bit fuzzy, the dialogue is sharp and natural sounding and the oddness of the situations still somehow manages to have an approachable sense of realism about it. And while some of the acting is a bit over-the-top in spots, most of the characters fare very well. Especially so Nancy Sivak, Bill Marchant, Carly Pope, Brendan Fletcher, Stephen Park, Cara McDowell and of course, Mark Hildreth and Matt Fentiman. All their quirkiness is accentuated by a simple, but highly effective score which also provides a wonderfully quirky pace.
There are points in the film where the narrative does lose focus, the humor dries up, and the never-ending "issues" that Everyone seems to have come across as a bit of a stretch, yet the underlying point of the film is that Everyone has problems with love and Everyone has the need to be loved.
When executive producer and talent agent (The Characters Agency) Tyman Stewart's client Bill Marchant brought in the script, he said "‘Look I think we want to shoot this on weekends and holidays – What do you think?'" But Stewart felt that the script deserved to be done right and so he approached some private investors for the modest budget, hired a crew and cast the characters from his own talent roster and a pool of Marchant's friends.
What appealed to Stewart was that Everyone was all about relationships, both positive and negative. "It covers the spectrum from every type of relationship we have in the world," says Stewart, "We have straight relationships and then there is a wedding of two men getting married, but they're really not getting married because one marriage hasn't been sanctioned yet per say.
"We were in the middle of shooting it and all of a sudden all this press started coming out about Canada legalizing gay marriage and the United States banning gay marriage," recalls Stewart, "All of the sudden a film that we knew was going to be great anyways was now very topical as well."
MovieWeb recently spoke with Tyman Stewart, executive producer of Everyone, Vice President of Characters Talent Agency, about his involvement as executive producer of the film:
What truly made you want to be involved with the film?
Stewart: When I first heard about the script it was about the writing and how well it was written - how these relationships seem so real, how they were honest, how it didn't shy away from their actual facts of life and make it about some stupid little comedy... the Hollywood versions of things that are a little too perfect. Reality isn't always looked at realistically.
Now for someone who is on the talent ‘agenting' side of things, you were kind of in a unique position in terms of casting. How did that come about?
Stewart: Oh, it was very easy. With a good script like we had and the dialogue and the premise and everything else – I really just sent it to three or four of my clients and said – hey, do you want to do this role? So, you'll notice when you watch the film that there really is no casting credit because we didn't hire a casting director to cast our film. It was all done within the community of people we already knew and wanted to have in our film. So it was really easy – especially when you have good scripts. You know, honestly, money becomes irrelevant when you've got good material.
I thought all actors were in it for the money...
Stewart: No. I definitely disagree with that...[Laughs]
How about all agents?
Stewart: [Laughs] I would really disagree with that because I didn't make dime off of this movie.
As a talent agent what made you want to get involved in actually producing this film?
Stewart: Well, producing is something that has interested me for a while. So, this would have been the first whole feature I produced from start to finish. I was also producer on one of the Ginger Snaps films and also I'm producing a series for Vh1 next year. So, it's just a natural segway. In the United States a lot of managers/agents are producing product and up here in Canada we tend to not take it to the next level. I think it's important we do so.
We've got the talent, writers and directors. It's just putting all the right pieces together and getting it financed. Here in Canada financing is always difficult because it's all government run. It's done by TeleFilm. So, when we did our film – as you know for only $23,000 all privately funded – when push comes to shove at the end of the day we'll actually probably be able to pay people back and make some profit as opposed to having to pay back TeleFilm every dime they put into it. I like the fact that we didn't use government funding.
How did you get the funds? The mafia?
Stewart: I went to people I knew who had some money and said would you like to invest...
I wish I knew people like that.
Stewart: [Laughs] They didn't have to invest much for $23 grand, you know. With already having an American distributor in place, which we organized, I'll be able to pay people back before Christmas probably. So, that's fairly unusual in this business – paying anybody back period.
What was your role as executive producer...?
Stewart: I executive produced but I also produced it. I was also production manager and production coordinator. When we did it with such little money – it's all about everybody pitching in and helping out. So my role as executive producer was to make sure that all the buttons that we needed came together – which I did. My role as producer is making sure everything is organized and you've hired your crew and that everything runs smoothly.
What was the experience of producing the film like?
Stewart: It was probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life to be honest with you. I took a month off to do it and it was just euphoric.
In what ways?
Stewart: We had such an amazing crew and an amazing cast and everybody just got along so well – we got 8 o'clock in the morning calls and we'd finish at 1 or 2 in the morning. It was just such an amazing family experience. I just can't wait to do the next one. It was just so phenomenal.
What were your major challenges?
Stewart: Money was always a major challenge. [Laughs] And time was an issue too – of course. But I was really – for lack of a better word – blessed with a director who had done a lot of editing before – so as soon as we'd get in a bind I would watch his brain click through and re-edit and go ‘okay I can use this scene because I can pick out this and I can do this here and I can do that there while shooting' – like on the spot. He knew the movie so well and had it all in his head but it was amazing to watch it all come together and just click into place Every time we'd hit a kink we'd roll through it quite nicely. And the rest of the kinks that didn't have to do with shooting were my job to fix.
It just kind of worked well and unexpected. I had crew people who have worked over the years in a million different kinds of films – everything from independent, like ourselves, to full US feature films. They were saying at the end of the day that they had never seen a more well-run ship and how fun it was to work on and how great it was.
Because it was my first experience I didn't have a lot of comparison to exactly what should be going on – is this right or is this wrong. But concerning how smoothly it went based on sitting down at the desk and dealing with production and how my actors are on disorganized they can possibly be – the whole thing was really lucky. [Laughs]
From an agent perspective, were there things about the shooting that definitely surprised you?
Stewart: No, I wasn't shocked with anything. Post-production was another issue. Once we got into post – we didn't have any money so we had to be our own post-production coordinators and I still feel like I've only learned 20 percent of what needs to be learned as far as post is concerned and I want to walk into a post-production situation again myself. That was a lot of work and a lot of unexpected [things] - between looping and ADR and color timing and about a million other things that have to come together to make sure that your film is finished at the end of the day – it was a nightmare. It took us two months to do a picture edit with an amazing editor. And it took us almost a year and a half to do the rest. But part of that was that we didn't have any money and we were just calling on favors. We were just going from one place to the next place to get favors – to get favors...to get favors.
I guess people don't react so well when you don't have money?
Stewart: No. [Laughs] Actually you would be surprised. I mean the whole community as a whole is very supportive, but....
Stewart: It's hard.
Because you do need to make money to live.
Stewart: Exactly. And I have to respect that. And they have to give room in their schedule where they are making money to the one that isn't making them any money.
Was there any moment where you felt things were really coming together?
Stewart: We shot two, four, six, eight days at four different locations and the rest of the shoot is one location... after we finished the four different locations, things really came together. [Laughs] Every two days changing locations is not unusual in this business at all, but once we got all the location stuff done we were settled into the one location which was the main house for the whole thing – it went really smoothly.
Why do you think that this is a story that is worth telling? What is its significance to you?
Stewart: I think it's worth telling because I think when people watch it Everyone sees something within it. I've watched this film 100 times in post and close to eight or nine times now with audiences and I'm constantly astounded at what people say to me afterwards in a sense of who they related to. I have people come up to me and say I didn't like this character and I really didn't like that character. And I'll turn around and talk to two other different people who their favorite characters were just the ones that those people said they didn't like.
That's pretty interesting...
Stewart: Yeah. So, it's so different. And every audience is different. Our very first audience we ever had were a retired group of Americans doing a film festival tour bus in Montreal and they were our first audience ever and we thought we were toast because here's a bunch of 65-year old Americans going to see this film about gay marriage who has, you know, [laughs] men kissing and nudity and everything else. It was probably one of our best audiences. They could not stop laughing from start to finish. I think it was because they were at an age that they have seen it all in life and they realized how true all these circumstances were. We don't have an age range we think our demographic is for, but I think that if you haven't gone through it or you are in the middle of it or you're about to go through it – you react differently to it. That's the beauty of this. Everybody can look at it and think there's something in it.
Do you think it would have made any difference if the wedding was a standard heterosexual and not a gay couple?
Stewart: Yeah. It drudges up other peoples' issues. If we'd made it just a heterosexual couple getting married, people's issues about being at the wedding and why they were there and all those things would become less relevant. The next thing you know, it's another Hollywood film about marriage.
It created that edge and that dynamic which people were there because they had to be – not necessarily because they wanted to be. And they were pulling out of their own relationships exactly what was happening and made us tune in and watch.
Do you feel that it is significant that you have shot this movie in Vancouver?
Stewart: Vancouver has been such a service-providing town for so long. Like 95 percent of our business is American business coming here and shooting. I think it is extremely significant and important that we're part of something – we're not starting something. But we're definitely part of something, which is creating our own indigenous business within BC and within Vancouver. So at the end of the day when the Americans all run home because our dollar gets so good and theirs doesn't go as far – we can flip and say let's keep this community going, keep everybody employed, and lets produce film for people that want to watch.
Why do you think there is a problem with this in Canada currently...?
Stewart: I think it's a problem with English-speaking Canada and that is the system with which we function and the lack of respect we give to our own people. The government as a whole doesn't respect the arts. They don't respect music. They don't respect dance. They don't respect film. They don't respect television. They set aside a certain amount of money because they have to – to finance the arts. And we as a public don't support it to the extent that the Europeans do, Quebec does.
And it's a North American perspective that if you're to be an individual of value in this world you're a doctor or a lawyer – not if you're an actor or a dancer. And the next question after that is how do you make your money? You know, you're an actor – oh, but how do you make your money? That's what you have to deal with. And I think the government just kind of perpetuates that. It forces people to leave the country if they want the recognition and the dollars with which to support themselves.
Actually, I do think it is disrespecting them...
Stewart: Extremely so. I mean they have no health care. They don't get any benefits if they become unemployed. The government doesn't even tax actors – that's how low down the totem pole they are. We get the checks. We give them to the actors and the actors are supposed to file their income taxes based on their salary each year. Name me any other profession anywhere in the world other than Canada where you don't get taxed. Even in the United States they tax you at the source.
How successful would you say the film has been?
Stewart: Well, it's been extremely successful. We premiered in Montreal and won Best Canadian Film. We were in the Calgary film festival. In Vancouver, we finished runner up for People's Choice. We screened in Ft. Lauderdale at the beginning of November. Australia has called. Germany has called. We waiting to hear from Berlin. And I've got a US distributor who wants the film. I think for $22,000 we've got a success.
When is it coming out on DVD?
Stewart: Definitely on DVD in the States probably in January. I still don't have a Canadian distributor, which is fairly unusual considering all the hype getting around it. There's the difference in the US and Canada as far as ambition is concerned. All the film distributors go to all the festivals and look for that little gem that they want to distribute.
It's a little frustrating. Without that being said I haven't contacted the Canadian distributors yet and said here's our film would you like to help us distribute it? That's my job next...to get ahold of Canadian distributors. I think we'll get a Canadian distributor – a little sharp on Canadian theatres for 48 hours before it's ousted and it will end up on Movie Central and then it will be on DVD and then that will be that.
If the audience can take one thing away from it before it - what one thought or emotion would you like them to take away from it?
Stewart: I would like for them to see the humor first and foremost. And then see the frailty of the human – but that's me – my director has a different opinion that he wants people to take away from it.
What does he want?
Stewart: He sees it as about hope and love. It is. I'm not disputing that but....
You can't get a message across if you don't have the entertainment value.
Stewart: There you go. But I think we got it all covered.
What are some future projects for yourself?
Stewart: I'm in the middle of negotiations with Vh1 so I've got a mockumentary comedy that I'm working on for the US network Vh1.
Yeah. You're big on the comedy.
Stewart: Yeah. I know. And I'm not really funny – so it's hard to figure that one out. [Laughs]
As things progress for producers you need to kind of get your fingers into about a hundred different pots. There's a script out of Quebec with a co-production that I'm looking at working on. There's another gay film, which is a true story, about a poet and there's a script out of Alberta that I'm working on. There's another series – an action series about border guards that I'm working on. So there's a couple things – and they're all different.
Everyone is currently available on DVD in the U.S. only.