In 2021, I sought to bring new topics to SpiritLive. Thus, I’m happy to begin a series on Toronto filmmakers in the industry today. To begin, I was extremely lucky to chat with Evan Morgan.
Mr. Morgan, a York University film graduate who has lived in Toronto his whole life, wrote and directed one of my favourite films of 2020, The Kid Detective. He also co-wrote, edited and produced The Dirties, another all-time favourite of mine.
*Minor Spoiler Warning for Below (please watch the movies)*
Could you compare what it’s like now being in the real world as opposed to being in a film school?
Evan Morgan: Well I think the advantage of being in film school is that when you have an idea, you shoot it almost instantly. It’s a great place to be able to find and develop your voice and to figure out what it is that you do best.
As far as the difference, the other real advantage of film school is your accountability, your deadlines and the fact that you can’t be overly precious about whatever you’re developing. There’s always an urgency underlying each project. So it forces you to be productive.
I think a lot of us students have ideas, but we’re gonna have to wait to produce them. How were you able to not overthink about The Kid Detective over the course of its development?
EM: It’s been almost exactly eight years since I had the idea and pitched it to Adam (Brody).
I mean, I definitely over thought it. I spent a lot of time writing the script. I spent almost two years before I actually shared the script with anyone, and that was too long. It relates to the point I was making previously, where if there was someone who was holding me more accountable, I think it would have been a faster process, but there wasn’t.
What was it like transitioning from The Dirties into The Kid Detective with this huge cast and production as opposed to a micro budget?
EM: I was certainly intimidated by the transition because the scale of (this project) was just so much more significant.
When you’re on set, it feels very automatic. Very much like when you’re making a short film or a student film. As far as the actual process of directing actors, and working with your team, it’s exactly the same as when you do a student film. All you’re doing is looking at the monitor, and paying as close attention as you can to what every actor is doing.
How do you feel about Canadian cinema?
EM: When people think about Canadian film, a lot of the time they’re thinking about things that are very serious. Most of them tend to be quite naturalistic.
There aren’t a ton of examples of heightened Canadian comedies. There are a bunch, and there are even some that came out in the last year that I really enjoyed (The Twentieth Century). But it’s not the first thing you think about when you think about Canadian film.
I think it would be great if people stopped associating Canadian cinema with something as specific as what I was describing, if there was just maybe more variety.
Hear Mr. Morgan go in depth with me about more topics in the full 36-minute video below. The above excerpt has been edited and extensively shortened.
Stay tuned for more discussions with Toronto filmmakers in the near future.