How this Hamilton director made his TIFF dream happen with The Carter Effect
Film shows how Vince Carter helped put Toronto on the map as a city, Sean Menard says
It's a moment Hamilton native Sean Menard envisioned while attending last year's Toronto International Film Festival, to have his own film premiere there.
"I don't know how because I don't have the movie yet, but I am going to be here next year," Menard remembers saying to himself. "People are going to be lining up for my movie."
It will be a reality Saturday afternoon.
The director, producer and editor will walk the red carpet at the Princess of Wales Theatre for the world premiere of his new film The Carter Effect.
The film tells the story of Vince Carter's rise to fame as an American basketball player from Florida who joined the Toronto Raptors in 1998 and transformed the way people viewed basketball in Canada.
As UNINTERRUPTED's The Carter Effect tells it, the young superstar put Toronto on the map as a city with culture and world-class athletes.
But how did he get the likes of Drake, NBA megastar Lebron James and Vince Carter himself interested in the project?
Menard's first feature film about a female mixed martial arts fighter called Fight Mom, which he funded himself, got the attention of James and fellow NBA player Maverick Carter, who co-own a production company called UNINTERRUPTED.
"So they came on board and they said, 'What else do you got.?' And I had this one called The Carter Effect that I had actually tried to get made at other Canadian networks up here, but I had no luck," said Menard.
Menard says he was hesitant to pitch it because he didn't think an American company would want to produce a story about Toronto, but they gave him the green light.
That's when Drake came on board and became an executive producer of the film.
"He was very passionate about it; he wanted to make sure it was done the right," explained Menard.
'I was told 20 minutes' Menard on his interview with Vince Carter
The film also features candid interviews with NBA stars Steve Nash and Tracy McGrady, who describe Carter as a transformative player to the sport for Canada.
Carter's interview was key to the film, but Menard was offered limited time with him by the Memphis Grizzlies, the NBA team Carter was playing with at the time.
"My approach to get Vince was that I wanted to get him last ... I wanted to build a story with other people and I want to get the main character at the end and I was told 20 minutes by Memphis Grizzlies public relations," Menard explained.
Menard says the Grizzlies' public relations people told him to wrap his interview with Carter, but it didn't stop.
"Vince tells them [PR team] to sit down, 'I want to keep going," Menard described.
The interview ended up lasting 60 minutes.
"You have Vince Carter talking about these early years in such a way that was filled with nostalgia and passion," said Menard.
Menard says the most important part of the film to get right was Carter's famous win at the NBA All-Star slam dunk competition in 2000, as he wore the word "Toronto" across his chest — a moment that started the Vinsanity phenomenon.
"It took a certain player to play the way that he did to have that kind of impact on people," said Menard.
'There is a bigger story here than sport'
Menard says while basketball is pivotal to this film he also wanted to get across that "there is a bigger story here than sport."
A story that puts Toronto in the spotlight, not only in sports, but in music and entertainment.
"I want people from around here to feel passionate that it's their story, that they're connected to it," said Menard.
"Working with Drake and those guys, they want to make sure they put the biggest spotlight, whether it's fashion, music, sports and I hope that this film is a nice complement to that."
The Carter Effect is a hot ticket this year at TIFF, but as Menard explains, it is a "free agent" and has yet be picked up by a distributor.
Menard will be joined by LeBron James, Maverick Carter, Charles Oakley, Chris Bosh, Director X, Kardinal Offishall and Drake on the red carpet Saturday afternoon.
with files from Dwight Drummond