Martin C. Barry
A two-man team of filmmakers, one of whom lives in Laval, has its sights set on making a full-length feature movie after a 15-minute dramatic short they recently completed scored some major awards at a Montreal film festival this past July.
David Magini and Joseph Rossi have worked on relatively small-scale film projects since 2006. They attended film school together around the year 2000. Both learned filmmaking at the Trebas Institute in Montreal.
Won two awards
Their latest film, The Engagement, which was completed last November, won an audience appreciation award, as well as a best actress award, at the Let’s Make a Movie Film Festival at the Cinéma du Parc in Montreal.
“We went to film school together,” Rossi said in an interview with the Laval News. One day, they discovered they shared similar interests and decided to work on their first film short. Within a few years, they were making more films collaboratively. That was around 15 years ago. The degree of trust between the two has now developed to the point where they share co-direction credit on their productions.
Rising production values
The Engagement is a major leap forward for the two, as it is their first film involving professional actors who are members of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA). The film’s stars include Katharine King, Ellen David, Michaela Di Cesare, Tony Calabretta, Stephanie Coco-Palermo and Johnny Sa.
For her work in the film, Michaela Di Cesare won the film festival’s Best Actress award. Some of Di Cesare’s recent dramatic work included the world premiere run in April and May at Montreal’s Centaur Theatre of a “dramady” play she wrote called ‘Successions.’ The Engagement also received the most positive votes in a film festival audience poll.
Larger project possible
The Engagement was shot in several locations, including a reception hall on Lacordaire Blvd. in east end Montreal. Rossi and Magini are currently mulling the possibility of expanding the film into a full-length feature (70 minutes or longer).
The storyline for The Engagement goes like this: A woman named Caterina (the central character) must make a life changing choice on the day of her engagement to be married. On the day she becomes engaged, circumstances take a turn so that she has to choose what course to take in her professional life. As well, she has to decide whether to remain engaged to the man she has chosen, or return to a previous relationship with a lesbian girlfriend.
Many rejections, fewer wins
As Rossi and Magini tell it, The Engagement was entered in competition at around 100 film festivals since its completion. Eventually, it ended up being nominated and winning at the Let’s Make a Movie Film Festival. “I think the ratio of wins to rejections is like 1:10,” Magini said. From the technical angle, they do all their shooting with Canon single lens reflex digital cams, with cinema-quality lenses to enhance their style.
While they’re circumspect about their costs for making a movie (as are many independent filmmakers – although their first film cost $50), both agree they continue making films because they love the medium. Although they hold down full-time jobs (one works as a manager at Dorval/Trudeau airport, while the other is employed at Costco), they still manage to churn out at least one short film a year.