Lights, camera, action! Move over Parkwood Estate, because downtown Oshawa will soon be hitting the silver screen as the backdrop for the homegrown film Masters of Romance.
Yolanda Beasely is the director, producer, writer and leading actress in Masters of Romance, a comedy about four adults who just can’t get love right. We sat down with her to find out more about the film, letting go of the past, and what it’s like to shoot a movie in your hometown.
The film has already completed several days of shooting. What’s been the best part of the process so far?
The fact that it’s been so much fun. Whenever we encounter any obstacle, there’s no stress or anxiety over it, we know it will work out in our favour and it always does, often better than expected.
What was important to you about offering your audience a different perspective of Oshawa?
Oshawa is my hometown and I chose to set the film here because it’s where I am. When making a no-budget film, you make the most of what you have available. I didn’t set out to offer the audience a different perspective on Oshawa, it came about as a result of writing the script. The story is about shedding the past for a better future. Once I discovered this, however it became part of the project and I’m glad it did. Oshawa has a reputation for being a little dodgy, especially the south end and downtown isn’t a community hub like it ought to be. Growing up, family and friends would often wish something would be done to bring people downtown so I’m doing something about it.
What do you hope people take away from the film?
It’s a North American cultural thing that we believe you haven’t made it unless you leave your hometown, but it breeds this feeling of ‘not enoughness’. I want audiences to enjoy the ride and come away from the film feeling good about their own lives no matter where they are or what they’re doing.
Would you like to see Oshawa and Durham Region become a destination for filmmakers?
Yes. One of the main reasons for making this film is to help draw filmmakers to Durham Region. The Region is actively growing the film industry, but what better way to do that than to make a movie? Film and television production is a billion dollar industry in Toronto and studio space is maxed out, the industry is calling out for space and we have it, they just don’t know we have it. Everyone in the industry is aware of Parkwood, but they aren’t aware of the diversity of locations available here so I chose to shoot downtown. Cast and crew live out here, but have to travel to Toronto to work; 30% of our production team is from Durham Region. Durham has the infrastructure, the crew, the studio space in vacant warehouses, we now have a film studies program at Durham College so there’s no reason why Durham can’t attract film and television production.
How can the community support this project?
The community can support Masters of Romance by helping to get the word out and by contributing to our film fund. We are raising funds to cover hard costs of production and marketing to film festivals internationally through www.gofundme.com/mastersofromance. We opened the film up to community support because it sends a clear message to the industry that the community is not only behind developing a local film industry but is ready to let go of its past and create a better future.