Prarie11 & Erendira sends in these reports from their time with Billy Boyd up here in the Great White North. Take a look!
“I arrived around 5 pm; the show was to start at 7:30 pm. It’s a small movie theatre in an odd location – near several light industrial companies, rather than in a shopping district. I had “will call” tix reserved, thanks to the wonderful Joe of the Oakville Arts Council, which sponsored this showing of Scottish Shorts as part of the Toronto Film Festival (thank you all!). By this time there were about 6 cars there – all obviously fangirls, including one elf (nice costume!). I had hoped we’d wait as long as possible to climb out of our cars and get in line, but after about 15 minutes the first pair got out and went to the door, so I followed.
It was a bit cold, but we lasted fairly well. We were worried there’d be no tickets (the girls from North Dakota who had been at Trent U the night before had none, and neither did the two Canadians we met), but a kind older gentleman who went in as part of the Arts Council said as he passed “there’s only a hundred tickets left; the other two hundred are sold out” – which left us rather ecstatic. There was a bit of a group there by the time we went in (50? more?), but I’m guessing that anybody who was there when the theatre opened at 6 pm got tickets.
At 7:30, Billy came in from the side door (exit) of the theatre, with (a publicist for the Scottish Shorts, I assume). He was dressed in a black shirt, with dark blue jeans, a jean jacket and his leather jacket over it. The crowd (probably made up of about half fans) went crazy, of course, but stayed in their seats and were well-behaved. He did a quick introduction, which, of course, I don’t remember, and on to the shorts.
Sniper 470 was first. To be honest, I was worried about the reaction, being afraid that some would laugh at the more “uncomfortable scenes”, or talk throughout the movie, but the audience was great. There was some laughter at the toilet scene, and some uncomfortable sounds during the “virtual sex” scene, but otherwise, quiet and appreciative. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing this on film on the large screen. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s an excellent 25 minute film that takes place in the future, about a gunner on an asteroid whose job is to shoot and destroy enemy ships passing through the asteroid belt. It focuses on the loneliness and isolation of his situation, the extreme lack of human contact, and the terror he has to face as a sitting target, and the terrible reality of killing. Very timely, and an excellent showcase for acting without the use of dialogue (and very little monologue). Much applause from the audience.
The other shorts were wonderful, because each was very different from the other – in subject, in how they were filmed, in tone, and so on, even though all were performed by Scottish actors, in Scotland..
Tears for Bobo was next, and also the next best, in my opinion – a very funny tongue-in-cheek movie about clowns in society, with clowns married to other clowns and having little clown children. They prefer not to be called clowns – rather they are “costumed entertainers”. It uses terrible funny lines – “send in the clowns” for a police lineup of clowns; a policeman saying “don’t try anything funny” to a clown suspect, etc. The policeman are stereotypical, even to the extreme of acting like Keystone Kops at time. It also makes fun of other movies very well: a clown trapped in an alley cries out: “I am not an animal!!! I am a costumed entertainer!!!” ala The Elephant Man.
Next was a story of a girl and her father (either divorced or a widower), centered around the father getting ready to be the best man at the wedding (called The Best Man) – and showing how he really is not being the best man in her life, as she works, without appreciation or notice, to take care of him, rather than the other way around.
Then, a story around a quote from Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities – about how one of the amazing things about life is how we are constitutionally mysteries to one another. Just a scene in a train station where a young girl with her mother watches the various people waiting for a train, and observes how they react in various ways to an ongoing delay in the arrival of the train. Very stylized, and interesting, in black and white.
A cute short cartoon called Night Windows showing people in apartments as viewed through their windows at night, from outside – going from one window to another to show what they’re doing… ending by showing, from the back, a man shuffling around his apartment in nothing but bunny slippers…*g*.
Finally, a short called Poached – about a family in Scotland, with an older boy at odds with his father and his younger brother. The brothers bond while catching a whopper of a salmon (illegally, of course), and it brings them closer to their father as well.
As I mentioned above, all were done in Scotland, by Scottish actors. In fact, Billy mentioned with a laugh that when they did Sniper 470, they were told that a science fiction movie had never been made in Scotland – which, of course, was an excellent reason to do it! *L*! And, again, the audience stayed in their seats the whole time, and applauded every short. I was very impressed.
Then – Q&A! Billy came in again, this time without the leather jacket. They only had 15 minutes, so he only took a few questions. He was asked about New Zealand and said he’d be there in May and June doing shooting. He was asked about his tattoo, and he gave the same answer as at Trent U – he explained what it was and where he got it – his ankle – without showing it, and commented that, in retrospect, it wasn’t the smartest decision he made, since when they did it, he still had two weeks of acting in hobbit feet left, and glue over a raw wound is not a pleasant experience!
He was asked about the screenplay with Dom, and of course he teased and said how TERRIBLE Dom was to work with in writing it, it was just TORTURE, but the script was so good that it was worth it. Was asked about The Ballad of Crazy Paola (the gentleman acting as his publicist, or publicist for the Scottish Shorts mangled the name, so I guess he’s not familiar with Billy’s stage work – *g*) by a girl who’s doing a scene from it (Scene 4) in acting class. He noted that the playwright wanted to call the scenes “Round 1”, “Round 2”, etc. because it’s really a fight between two people, and that that scene should be played as one where the woman has the upper hand, because in that scene she knows more about the person connecting them (who is her dead lover and his dead brother). Billy then left; unfortunately, he was unable to stay and give autographs and had to keep his appearance at the end of the show short.
Again, a wonderful experience, a funny, thoughtful and gracious man. Thank you, Billy Boyd. “
I just thought you would like to hear about Billy Boyd’s appearance in Burlington, Ont. tonight–one of many stops he is making in Canada as he tours with his festival of independent films. I just got back from the cinema at Harvester Road, in Burlington, and I am still in awe of this talented actor. A sold-out audience filed into the small, intimate theatre and we were treated to a short speech by Billy himself before the films were shown, with the promise of more to come when the films were done.
From a writer’s perspective, I thought the films were very inventive, with kudos going to Billy’s project, Sniper 427, (I hope I’m getting that right!). There is a quiet intensity permeating the entire scope of the movie and I found myself rooted to my seat for the duration. The tension is palpable and I’m glad to see Billy finally get a chance to stretch his abilities to the extent that he does in this film, something he really hasn’t had the opportunity to do yet in the LOTR’s trilogy. The isolation of being alone in space, as well as being under the constant threat of loneliness and retaliation from enemy intruders seems to slowly break his character down, so much that we can even see it in his eyes. There are times when his pupils are so dilated from fear and an overactive imagination that I wondered if he didn’t put some kind of drops in them to create the effect? All in all, the performance was inspiring. He takes chances with this character and pulls it off with conviction and courage.
Briefly, the next film was about clowns. There was something truly brilliant in the way this film shifts our perspective about disparaging hopelessness of relationships and life and turns it into a humorous, slapstick joke. There is only one inevitable conclusion for poor Bo Bo and we see it coming a mile away, but the punchline is delivered straight from the heart and I found myself recalling that old scene from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, when Chuckie The Clown is laid to rest, and in spite of the painful reality of death, he still manages to have the last laugh.
The third film was presented as “Best Man”. The message I got from this film was that it focuses on a desperate, middle-aged man, who was more concerned with the fruitless banality of his life to realise his young daughter was aching for his love and attention. His own search for validation was a tangible agony, all wrapped up in a speech he was writing to give at a friend’s wedding reception. In his effort to create the perfect anecdote, he had forsaken his own daughter, who was growing up right in front of him, and by the time he realised what was important in his life, it was too late.
The next film was a short, animated feature that used rustic movement and simplistic figures seen through moving windows, each of them giving us a glimpse into the narrow world of its occupants. When they say “a picture is worth a thousand words”, this short film embodies the very essence of that.
The next offering was a bit more difficult to pin down. Titled, “Station”, this film presented us with a black-and-white view of the mystery of human beings, as seen through a young girl’s eyes. The focus seemed to shift briefly in the middle of the film from a montage of faces and emotions and personalities of a crowd of people waiting on a train platform, to the nakedness of our need for acceptance. Personally, I thought the film could have stood on its own just by staying focused on the conflicts and understated quirks of everyone on this platform, but I can understand what the writer was trying to do. We are all afraid of being judged, especially when our souls are bared and we are at our most vulnerable.
The final film was slightly weaker in its appeal, although still thought-provoking and bleak in its own way. The quality of the actual film seemed to be suffering from multiple showings so it was a bit distracting to watch, but the characters were well-developed and multi-layered. You got a sense that there was very little holding this family together. Again, the main theme was acceptance and understanding and forgiveness; you know these people are going to be okay in the end. No, “life’s a b**tch and then you die,” which would have been the easier road to take.
Perhaps other people may have gotten a different perspective of these films–this is just my opinion and food for thought. My one quip would be that I would have really loved to have had some prior information concerning the history and inspirations of the writers and directors of these films, perhaps on a handout or bit of text before each movie? One has a sense that there is more to come from these talented filmmakers and I would like to keep an eye out for other projects.
After the screenings, Billy came back out, much to the delight of the fans, and answered a few questions from the audience, one of which having been directed at him from yours truly!!! I was shaking like a mallorn leaf but I think I hid it well and tried not to trip up on my tongue while I asked him to give his opinion on the difference between the independent film and the mass marketed blockbuster. Graciously, he spoke right to me and offered an insightful answer, most of which I can’t remember because I was awe-struck and trying not to blush to the roots of my hair! There were other questions from the floor, and he answered each one with a charming smile and any excuse for a laugh. By the way, I found out that his Elvish “Fellowship” tattoo is on his ankle. The question period lasted only minutes before his publicist whisked him out the side door and no one got an autograph, which was really too bad because I think everyone, (and I do mean everyone!) brought something Billy-ish for him to sign! I did manage to get some wonderful pictures though, only by inching my way closer and closer to him, (and stepping on a few toes, I might add), and I hope at least one of them turns out!
It was a wonderful evening. One that I’ll talk about for many days to come.