Young Island filmmaker examines dementia in new short

A part-time Island filmmaker landed a big-time writer's story for his latest short film.

Ryan McCarvill gets permission from major writer to turn short story into film

Filmmaker Ryan McCarvill of Kensington is also one of the actors in the new short film, "The Real Deal." (YouTube)

Island filmmaker Ryan McCarvill of Kensington, P.E.I., has a growing passion for the craft.

It's something that he does in his free time, but he approaches it and the stories he tells with full dedication.

His latest film, The Real Deal — now available on YouTube — is about a subject McCarvill's family knows well, Alzheimer's disease.

"The story revolves around a gentleman with dementia," McCarvill told Mainstreet's Angela Walker. "In my own family I've had experiences with that. My father's mother suffered from dementia in her final years, and I saw how it affected my family and also her especially."

McCarvill's been making films since 2005, when as a 12-year-old he was given a camcorder for Christmas.

Ryan McCarvill started making films in 2005 when he was just 12 years old. (CBC)

He now has more than 10 short films to his credit, along with a couple of music videos and a few commercials for local Island businesses.

On this project, he wanted to bring his game up.

"I was looking for it to be a real professional effort. I had some money saved up so I wanted to really bump up the production value. I needed a great story, but I was having trouble finding one."

He was a fan of the writer Andy Weir, best known for writing The Martian, turned into a film starring Matt Damon in 2015.

"Somehow I got my hands on this email address, and I wasn't sure if it was even him or not," McCarvill said. "But I reached out and said, 'I read your short story, The Real Deal, and I'd like to adapt it into a short film.' He was willing to take the chance on that, as long as I put it up for free, that was his stipulation. If I sell it to anyone, that's when you need to get the agents and lawyers involved."

Last November, he called on people in the Island film community to take part as crew. For his cast, he went back to the same well he's always used: friends and family.

His father took the lead role, and his girlfriend has a part as well.  This time, it's not just the filmmaking experience that has been rewarding for McCarvill.

"It was partially simply a great story, but also I saw it as maybe an opportunity to start a conversation about dementia and Alzheimer's."

He's entered the film in a few festivals, and he's waiting to find out whether he's made the cut at any of them. And of course, it's always on YouTube.

"It's just a matter of putting it out into the world and sharing it with people for free."

McCarvill said he's already planning his next film, and at some point would like to make them full-time. But he said he'll always enjoy doing them during evenings and weekends.

From the Mainstreet interview by Angela Walker