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Finding success in a Fugue

First-time producer finds inspiration, support with IndieCan20K 
Producer Christine Rochon and Writer/Director Tomas Street of Northern Ontario are hoping to release "Fugue" and enter it into festivals by next spring and summer. (File)

Christine Rochon never thought she’d have a career in film, let alone right here in Sudbury.

The days of having to move south to work in the film industry are fading fast, and Rochon’s ability to find work and her successful IndieCan20K entry are just two signs of that.

IndieCan20K is a competition run by Canadian producer Avi Federgreen in which first-time directors and first-time producers pitch ideas with a maximum production budget of $20,000. Winners receive mentorship and support valued at $275,000. There is a competition in Northern Ontario, and one in southern Ontario.

Rochon has been working in production on Northern Ontario TV and film since 2012 on projects including Letterkenny and Born to be Blue. When she heard about the IndieCan20K opportunity, she knew she wanted to take a shot as a producer, but she needed a writer and director. She found one in Parry Sound-based Tomas Street.

“I literally went on Facebook and said, ‘hey Northern Ontario writers who have a story send me your work,’” laughed Rochon. “Tomas messaged me right away saying, ‘hey we need to talk about this.’”

While Rochon got into film, Street had been working in film since high school, and even before that had a passion for directing and making stories, using his mom and stepfather as his subjects.

“I remember him telling me about having a camcorder that was a plugin, so his limitation as a kid was he could only shoot as far as that cord would go,” said Rochon. “He was sort of stuck on a leash.”

Things went quickly once Rochon and Street decided to work together.

Street e-mailed her a 15-page synopsis of the story and within a month he’d written the whole screenplay. They submitted their idea at the beginning of November 2016 and by Christmas, they found out they’d won.

Their story follows a main character named Malcolm who wakes up in a home and has no idea where he is, or who he is. His wife tries to teach him who he is, and then his best friend, but through these interactions, he begins to feel like maybe the wife and best friend aren’t telling him the truth.

The title refers to a psychiatric “fugue state,” but also to a musical fugue, which the film will incorporate.

Over the spring and summer, Rochon scouted locations for filming and got ready to shoot over the summer. At the end of August, there was a break in filming on another project she was working on and she was able to go into a “mad dash” of filming on Fugue.

While much of their production costs were covered, by the IndieCan20K win, one of the requirements was that they raise $20,000 on their own, too. Music and Film in Motion (MFM) contributed $5,000 and the other $15,000 came from a successful Indiegogo campaign that saw them raise $25,000, the excess can now go towards future promotions and marketing.

The funding helped cover locations fees, paying the actors, and the catering. The crew, however, was all volunteer.

“It’s amazing because all of these people are working super hard on other projects before our show, and most people on hiatus want to relax and chill out with their families,” said Rochon. “These people came out and worked with us instead.”

Now, the footage is with their editor and by the end of the year, all the film will be in order. They’ll be submitting it to festivals in the spring and summer of 2018 with an anticipated release next fall.

Rochon said the experience has only strengthened her belief in the film industry’s success and support in Sudbury.

“The biggest highlight was seeing friends and community support us, it was overwhelmingly beautiful,” said Rochon. “I’m forever grateful to these people, our first time could’ve been wretched but this was the most positive project I could’ve been a part of.”