Evil spirits take over Montreal in new, no-budget film premiering at Fantasia Festival
18 directors teamed up to create one feature-length genre film set in Montreal
The idea of creating an 85-minute film with 18 directors and no budget seems impossible, but that's the true story behind the making of Montréal Dead End, a horror/fantasy film that premieres Tuesday at the Fantasia Festival.
Montréal Dead End bills itself as a "terrifying tour-of-the-town" in which each segment is created by a different director and set in a different Montreal neighbourhood.
The 15-part anthology is united by a common thread.
At the beginning of the film, a plume of sinister green smoke rises from a large pothole, bringing with it an apocalyptic revolving door of zombies, vengeful ghosts and paranormal creatures, who proceed to terrorize the city.
"We know Montreal is renowned for potholes," said Rémi Frechette, the film's co-creator, co-director and producer. "It's a toxic fume that comes out, like evil fumes. It contaminates the whole city."
Frechette came up with this self-admittedly crazy idea in part because of barriers that exist for independent artists trying to get funding.
"It's so hard to finance short film in Quebec. The challenge here was to finance 18, so it was kind of impossible," he said.
The directors met through an art collective called Kino, whose motto is "Do it well with nothing, do it best with less, but do it now."
Putting it all together
In the end, the group of directors, who range in age from 25 to 40 and boast a variety of backgrounds and styles, decided to join forces and pursue the project using their own limited resources.
The film took about a year to produce. Each filmmaker submitted their own finished segment, which was then spliced into the whole during a lengthy editing process.
Frechette called this part of the project a "bit of a gamble," saying that he wasn't sure until the very end what the finished product would look like.
"Everything looks fine together, which I'm really surprised and really happy about," he said.
On top of his duties as producer, Frechette was tasked with creating a segment that would weave through the film and give it a narrative backbone.
His story follows the journey of a man who seeks to overcome the "paranormal chaos" gripping the city by searching for a magical amulet and book of prophecies that only he can decipher.
Hoping for a jubilant premiere
Before its completion, Montréal Dead End had a soft opening at the Brussels International Film Festival in April, which Frechette said provided valuable feedback.
Upon his return to Montreal, he made changes to make the film more cohesive.
Now, ahead of the film's official premiere at the 22nd edition of the Fantasia Festival, Frechette is excited to share the group's hard work.
He said the atmosphere is likely going to be jubilant, with a significant share of the 18 directors, 90 actors and more than 200 technicians involved in the project planning to attend Tuesday's screening.
"Sharing this with the audience will be amazing," he said.
The screening for Montréal Dead End, which is majority in French with English subtitles, takes place at the Concordia Henry F. Hall Building auditorium at 9:35 p.m. July 31.