DAVID, 10min,. Canada
Directed by Matthew Forbes
Based on a true story, "David" follows the life of an openly gay HIV/AIDS activist at the peak of that nightmare pandemic, dividing his time between fighting for justice in an openly homophobic society and helping a total stranger as the virus takes his life away. Tight, compact and full of passion, "David" shows a contrast of terrible, deadly hatred and the incredible compassion that can blossom despite the hatred, if we let it.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
A had a friend named David Shannon. I knew him to be a charming, funny, sweet writer/journalist. When he passed in 2018 (aged only 56), it was only at his wake did someone mention in passing that during the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 80s and 90s, he provided care and companionship to patients who had been ostracized by family and friends after being forced out of the closet by their diagnosis.
David had never spoken of this; it was only near the end of his life that he mentioned it to his brother. I felt this was a story that deserved to be told. Research was difficult, as he had told no one about it, so I crafted a short script that distilled the experience into a compact story.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
I wrote the script during the COVID lockdowns of 2020-2021, but actual filming had to wait due to the ongoing pandemic. As soon as I was able to get a filming permit, we went to camera in the spring of 2022 and wrapped up post-production in September of that year. So from blank page to uploaded file, about two years.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
On top of the standard production work – permits, insurance, crewing – was the pandemic. It added a question mark to absolutely every aspect of production. Screen tests were visual (which worked out fine) but it was hard to get insurance when governments had not yet started issuing filming permits (we finally got one in Richmond Hill, Ontario).
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I’m not going to lie, I cried long and hard. I was so focused on making this film for so long, submitting to festivals, questioning every single choice, that it was so precious to get their perspective. I treasure the memory of David Shannon, and I’m grateful to see the value a real-life audience places on his life and actions.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
First time I watched Star Wars. I was seven.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Oh wow. I’m someone who watches movies over and over and over, so it’s hard to pick one I’ve watched the most! One that comes to mind is “Heat” (1995). In terms of the craft of filmmaking, it’s just so inspiring.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
I would love it if the festival winners always got in front of real industry players like agents and producers. And in-person theatre screenings would be amazing!
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
I love FilmFreeway. Such a great way to connect with festivals!
10. What is your favorite meal?
I’m a sucker for a juicy cheeseburger with a side of fries. Preferably from a rural Canadian chip truck.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I’ve got a feature script called “Sarge,” about a small group of Canadian veterans of the war in Afghanistan. It’s gotten amazing feedback and the wheels are in motion – I hope to direct it with an all-Canadian cast and crew!