UVic student’s short film accepted to Toronto International Film Festival

Gaston’s work shows startling maturity

Connor Gaston's film Bardo Light debuts at the Toronto International Film Festival this week.

As Connor Gaston’s classmates watched a sneak peek of his latest film, Bardo Light, the University of Victoria writing student kept his eyes glued on one friend who was visibly swept away during the 10-minute short.

“It seemed like he was actually invested in the story,” said 23-year-old Gaston. “And whenever it’s a sci-fi story, or something you might not actually believe, it’s nice to get that reaction – even if it’s just for that moment.”

This summer, the list of those invested in the drama inspired by the Tibetan Book of the Dead and Gaston having seen pug dogs watch television, expanded beyond Gaston’s supporters at UVic to include the programmers at the Toronto International Film Festival. Bardo Light, a reference to the light we cannot resist and would rather watch than breathe, now makes its big screen premier this weekend alongside the world’s top films at TIFF 2012.

“There’s a maturity to his voice as a film director that’s quite startling, considering how long he’s been making films,” said Maureen Bradley, filmmaker and professor of screenwriting at UVic. “I see these kind of heavy endings in Connor’s work that quite frankly, kind of terrify people. (Bardo Light’s ending) is terrifying in one way if your relationship with mortality isn’t settled and if it is, it’s quite a beautiful, calming moment.”

Once Bradley gave Gaston access to filmmaking resources available through UVic’s writing department, including the school’s RED digital camera, Gaston fully committed to the project.

“That really inspired me, thinking that I have this camera that they use in Hollywood and if the story’s half-decent, what’s stopping me?”

Gaston shot the film between Gabriola Island and Victoria, with a small volunteer crew and cast that includes local actors Chris Mackie, Donna Barnfield and Shaan Rahman with cameos from Gaston’s family dog Sally and his father, fiction author Bill Gaston.

Bradley describes the film as chilling, almost horrifying and ultimately moving through its use of metaphor similar to Gaston’s previous work. Gaston is reluctant to make any statements on the recurring theme of his films.

“That’s for other people to decide. I’m just thinking about story. A good story: that’s all I care about,” he said. “If you want to make a movie, go do it. … You can shoot a movie on your phone. It shouldn’t be about the production value at all. Start off with a good story, a good character, whatever it may be and go out and shoot. You’ll learn a lot and you’ve got nothing to lose.”

Though attending TIFF equipped with a feature film pitch and a freshly-printed set of business cards, Gaston plans to return to Victoria after the event and study screenwriting as a graduate student under Bradley’s guidance.

“I think it’s really good for Victoria that he’s sticking close and I hope we don’t lose him to L.A.” Bradley said. “He’s going to miss the first week of class, but I figured that was alright. I’m not going to dock him any marks for going to the Toronto International Film Festival. I figured it was a pretty good excuse.”

Also on the TIFF program this year: Frost, a sci-fi adventure short, written and directed by Jeremy Ball and starring Emily Piggford, both fellow UVic alumni.

Just Posted

Overworked and understaffed: More than 300 vacancies in Vancouver Island nursing

Tentative deal with province includes ‘working short premium’ to encourage hiring

CRD committee proposes ending livestock payouts to farmers

The bylaw has existed since the creation of the CRD’s animal control service in 1979

Victoria city council seeks authority to tax empty homes

Council is asking the province for the authority to invoke a vacancy tax

Backyardigans, Max & Ruby stage shows add to Family Day in Sidney

Bodine Hall shows make room for kids to sing, dance, enjoy Family Day weekend

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes says municipality will re-group after Rowing Canada decision

Haynes said he is “quite disappointed” but also respects choice of North Cowichan as national centre

VIDEO: Excessive speed on the Malahat captured by dash cam footage

Poster calls driving ‘dangerous, obnoxious and disrespectful’

POLL: Should people have to license their cats?

The Victoria Natural History Society has sent letters to 13 municipalities in… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

Most Read