Most cinema students dream about having the opportunity to make a high production cinema project. It usually takes years before the chance arises for most cinema students. For Émile Roy, an 18-year-old second-year “Cin-Com” student at Dawson, and his team, the chance came much earlier than most.
This Friday they are debuting their original web-series, Mila.
“It’s about a group of five friends, over the span of two years of their lives. At the start, they are 16 [years old], and by the end, they are 18 [years old]. Many events happen throughout these two years: some are really great, while others are very tense. When Mila turns 18, for a reason that we won’t know until the end, she will vanish. Nobody will be able to find her on the day of her 18th birthday. [The web-series] is going to dive into the past to explain why Mila is gone,” Émile explained.
Although this is mainly the work of students, the process was different than the average student production.
“Last March, I was looking for my next big project. I started to write a story and I thought it was going to be just another short film. When I finished writing I had a 65-page script, which is basically the length of a feature film, and I don’t think I was ready for that. So I decided to split it into four episodes,” Roy said. “I found it interesting to explore the series type of format because I have never done anything like it before.”
After working on the script for a month, he began to assemble the team that would help him take the script from page to screen.
“In April, we started to build a team of people that we knew and others who were really good at what they did. We built up a team of around 15 people who were all around the same age. They were all volunteering their time for a whole month of shooting. That’s incredible; 18-20-year-olds who are willing to give up a month of their lives to Mila and not be paid,” Émile said.
Four members of the dedicated team that Émile assembled are also Dawson students. One of them is Olivier Roy, the founder of Kinetograph Montreal, the studio that funded and produced Mila. Philip LeMoyne, the first camera assistant, Fabrice Alexandre, the artistic director, and Maëlys Carre, the actor coach, are all Dawson students as well.
Once they got the team together, they immediately started preparing for the production. They held auditions for the five main characters and they had over 300 applicants who were interested in acting in the web-series. With the five main characters chosen, the production of Mila was underway.
A professional production
“I wrote to the MELS studio and we managed to get a meeting with Michel Trudel, who is the president of the company,” Émile said. “He had already heard of me from my last short film, so he was already interested in what we were doing. We explained our project to him and he liked it, so he said that he would lend us the shooting equipment for three weeks, free of charge. He helped us for this because he believed in this project and we are not going to forget about his help in the future.”
Over those three weeks, they had to work every single day in order to get the project done. To help them stay awake during those long days, they were able to get Guru Energy to sponsor the production.
Fatigue was not the only problem that they faced during the production period. It was a full team of students and there were plenty of new equipment that they did not know how to use.
“We had a lot of challenges during the production, mostly because we were using a lot of professional equipment that we didn’t know how to handle it. Every day there were new challenges,” Émile said.
Émile explained that despite the issues often encountered, they were always able to accomplish their daily goals.
“Everyday was a challenge, but since the team was so motivated, we managed to do it. We learned something new every day.”
Now that the production is done, and all that is left is final editing, the team can finally relax a little and look forward to the release.
“This was such a big thing that we did and I just want to see how people will react to it,” Fabrice said. “It really is a great feeling to be part of something so huge. We started this at age 18 and we already have the film industry in Quebec paying attention to us.”
The web-series will be going up every Friday starting October 6 on Youtube here: https://goo.gl/xls8Tt. There will also be an event for the final episode October 30 at the l’Olympia. More information will be available at the end of the first episode.
“If some people have a good time or feel inspired by something in the series, then this project will all be worth it,” Émile said.