Hamilton has become an increasingly popular destination for production companies to film their projects. From Netflix’s Umbrella Academy to Marvel Studios’ The Incredible Hulk, pictures of all genres were created on the streets that we call home. One such movie is an indie project called Speak Your Mind, directed by Hamilton-born Cyrus Baetz.
Baetz called Dundas home throughout his high school years. When he graduated, he decided to pursue a path in public relations at Humber College. At Humber, Baetz tried out an acting for film and television course for a year and then decided to complete a course on intensive film studies at Ryerson University. Since Baetz completed his studies, he has focused on film, writing, directing and editing two short films and two feature-length projects.
Recently, the director has been working on his latest flick, Speak Your Mind. The film revolves around a struggling actor who was told by his therapist to express everything and anything that is on his mind. He struggles to walk the line between what is socially acceptable and what is honest enough to satisfy his own conscience.
“Speak Your Mind came from a desire to work with [Steve Kaszas]. I have worked with him on a short film called Blue Collar Buddha . . . He was so special, so talented in the audition and he showed up for the film and really sort of stole the show . . . so I wanted to work with him and I wrote an entire feature script,” said Baetz.
Writing film is a methodical process for Baetz. He likes to work and write by himself, setting time aside each day to chip away at scripts. However, for this production, Baetz was operating under a tight time constraint as he wanted to film in Hamilton, but he was set to move to Brooklyn at the end of 2017. Since he had started the script at the beginning of the new year, there was little time to make final revisions before going into production.
Indie films work on far different schedules than those of major motion pictures. Although each have their benefits, Baetz looks more to the indie side of the industry.
“The benefits of the more indie style of the film, once we auditioned the actors, we were able to do a pretty intense rehearsal process . . . it let us perfect the scenes and dig deep in the dynamics, that way we showed up on set and the actors felt comfortable and prepared,” said Baetz.
Post-production, Baetz sat down with his laptop and cut together his film from start to finish. This time, he was no longer pressed with a tight timeline. Finishing the final edit of a project that had occupied so much of his time, Baetz was able to reflect on the movie as a whole.
“The film is designed to be provocative but also very entertaining . . . at the end of the day it’s a comedy, a bit of a dark comedy at times but it’s still a comedy,” said Baetz.
Thus far, the film has been well received,. At the Toronto Independent Film Festival, it won the best no-budget feature, an award for films with budgets under $25,000. While the film has been popular with audiences thus far, Baetz hopes that patrons walk away with their eyes opened to the times that we live in.
“[On] a more personal level and more one-on-one based level, the idea is that we assume things about people based on what we see superficially on the fronts they give us and we think we know people who we’ve been in relationships with and [in] friendships with for years, in fact a lot of the time we don’t. Sometimes the only way to really get to know people is to humble yourself and not assume you know them and ask from a place of vulnerability,” said Baetz.
The Westdale movie theatre (1014 King St. W.) will host a screening of Speak Your Mind followed by a question and answer period with Baetz. While everyone is encouraged to come out and watch the film, the director believes that students especially will take something away from it.
“This film is perfect for students because it’s a film about young people . . . who [are] struggling to find their place in society, in their social circles and find their voice and their confidence,” said Baetz. The emotional yo-yo process that comes along with that, it’s also really relevant in terms of the conversations that any socially and politically engaged student inevitably has been having. It deals with that in a way that genuinely attempts to be fair to all parties and tries to point it in a direction where there’s a compassionate dialogue and I think that’s something that could hopefully be a productive and entertaining fable for any student to enjoy.”
Speak Your Mind will be screened at The Westdale (1014 King St. W.) on Thursday, Nov. 14 and will be followed by a question and answer period with director Cyrus Baetz.