Some might say that an aspiring filmmaker would be better served skipping film school and taking a bar job instead. Ottawa’s own Cody Campanale, whose debut feature film Jackie Boy gets it’s Canadian premiere this weekend at the Ottawa International Film Festival, took an altogether different route to the director’s chair.
“I was working as an editor and line producer on other people’s films, but the goal was always to direct, so I gave up to concentrate on making my own film. Then after the money ran out I started working in real estate, and I think that was really beneficial because you’d meet so many people everyday and there’s a story behind every one of them and of course your imagination kicks in. This is really useful in terms of the writing.”
Campanale also found that working in sales was good training for selling his ideas, both in order to secure funding, and also, being an independent movie, to get people to work with him for below standard industry rates.
“It was quite challenging for the actors due to the subject matter, so they really needed to trust in what I was doing, and to do that you need to be able to communicate your vision to people.”
Jackie Boy is a dark tale that explores hook-up culture and male sexuality. It tells the story of Jack, a player with self-destructive tendencies who meets Jasmine and finds that things don’t always go the way he plans.
The film is inspired by a combination of Campanale’s own experiences as well as those of his friends, and also by the films of directors that he loves. UK director Ben Wheatley whose latest film High Rise recently screened at TIFF is a particular reference.
“I love the way he plays with genre. If you watch Kill List, or Sightseers, one minute you think you’re watching a comedy the next it’s full-on horror.” Campanale is confident that Jackie Boy also manages to pull this off, to play with the audience’s expectations and take them on a unique journey.
Part of this confidence comes from the fact that the film looks so good. The writer-director spent a lot of time before the shoot talking with cinematographer Jason Tan about the kind of films they liked and the look they wanted for the film.
“We really liked a lot of indie films from the 90s, things like Buffalo 66. So we were interested in this underlit kind of feel. What Jason did was quite brave to really stick to that and go after that look because there’s always the fear of going a little too dark and something not being usable.”
Campanale is in New Orleans for the world premiere of Jackie Boy and will fly in just in time to make the Ottawa screening this weekend. He admits to the possibility that there might be a few nerves on the day, especially since he’ll have some family at the screening and because Jack and all the characters are kind of composites of himself and other people he knows. “I’m all of the characters,” he jokes, “and I’m none of them.”
View the trailer below:
Jackie Boy screens at 4pm on Sunday the 18th at the Cineplex in Landsdowne Park. Click here for more info.