Birth pains for Edwin Boyd
- September 19, 2011 3:25 PM |
- By Margo Kelly
Nathan Morlando's big win at the Toronto International Film Festival is particularly sweet, given his long and painstaking road to success. His film Edwin Boyd, based on Toronto's real life Second World War veteran turned bank robber, has received rave reviews. On Sunday, it won the jury's top prize for the best first Canadian feature film, along with a $15,000 cheque.
The film, I suspect, will also do wonders for Scott Speedman's career. It's a stunning, nuanced performance in his first lead role. (He played Boogie in Barney's Version and plays a boarding school teacher in another film screened at TIFF, The Moth Diaries)
Nathan Morlando, left, is awarded the Sky Vodka Award for Best Canadian First Feature by Rob Malloch, chief marketing officer of Peter Mielzynski Agencies, on Sunday. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press) Edwin Boyd has been a long-time obsession for Morlando, who spent hundreds of hours talking to Boyd on the phone between 1995 and 2002, when Boyd died in Victoria. The film spans seven year's of Boyd's life, from the time he returned home from the war to his arrest in 1952.
What's not widely known is the struggle that Morlando and his producer and wife, Allison Black (who used to work with Robert Lantos), have been through to get their first feature made. The couple met 13 years ago at TIFF. Back in 2008, they signed a financing deal to make a film called Memphis, about the connections between the birth of the civil rights movement and rock and roll music.
Two weeks later, Morlando walked into a meeting with his financier to discuss some creative changes. "He was as pale as the concrete," Morlando recalled. "He'd just gotten a call and Lehman Brothers went down that morning." The financier had invested in Lehman and lost a bundle. "We lost 40 per cent of our funding."
As a result, the film wasn't made. Morlando and Black moved on and revived a project that had been in the works for years, Edwin Boyd. Now it's a prize winner at TIFF.
"I feel a lot of amazing disbelief" said Morlando."I always believe in perseverance but when it takes so long I'm still kind of pinching myself."
And given the long gestation of the film, Edwin Boyd has taken on a human quality for both Morlando and Black.
"It has become our baby," said Black. "Someone introduced us the other day as here's Edwin Boyd's Mom and Dad. That's exactly how we feel. Other people have children. We have Edwin Boyd."
Well, it's one good-looking baby!
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