By Dan Taccone
An Algonquin graduate has turned to the crowdfunding site Kickstarter.com to fund his latest film, which is slated to start production in April 2014.
Jith Paul, a graduate of Algonquin’s television broadcasting program, is looking towards the new funding trend to finance his latest film, A Clean Slate, explaining that, “as passionate as we are about filmmaking, passion doesn’t pay the bills.”
The film features a female ex-pop star, who reunites with her band, but has contracted an unfortunate case of stage fright.
This project marks a milestone for Paul, as it is the first time that he will be in control of an entire film production while using a cast of paid actors, rather than a mix of paid and unpaid actors. It’s also the first time that he will shoot a comedy, which has Paul excited as he believes that “comedy works different muscles.”
Passion has become characteristic of Paul, as his colleague and friend, Karim Ayari, noted his constant willingness to help others and reliability.
“If he says he’s going to do something, you know he’s going to deliver,” he said.
Coming to Canada when he was 16 from Sri Lanka, Paul has always been interested in film production, and remembers his first ever cinema visit to see Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope fondly. After earning a degree in electrical engineering at the University of Waterloo, a back injury in 2002 gave Paul an opportunity to re-evaluate his career option.
He volunteered at Rogers TV in Ottawa to expose himself to the industry, and after working and saving up the money he needed, he enrolled at Algonquin.
Graduating Algonquin in 2009, he and a group of other graduates began filming concerts at the now-defunct Cajun Attic in the ByWard Market with their DSLR cameras, posting the videos under their own site, Treepot.tv. A loose collaboration began to occur as Paul and the other members would shoot the concerts, and bands, seeing the value in recorded gigs, would link the footage on the Web, garnering more exposure for Treepot.tv.
After a successful three years, which included exposure on iTunes and a nomination for Canada’s Best Music Website by CBC Radio 3, they shut down Treepot.Tv to pursue other projects.
Paul took the lessons he learned and founded Treepot Media, Inc., a production company, which works on short films, documentaries, and other projects. He also started an in-demand service for indie movies called IndieKoala.com, which began with Treepot Media’s own movies. This grew to include films by other filmmakers, offering local artists global exposure.
Apart from filming, producing, and editing, Paul also likes to facilitate collaboration in the fractured Ottawa independent film scene, connecting people beyond their immediate circles, bringing the film community closer together, and fostering new working relationships. He also sponsors the odd indie movie night in Dundonald Park, where he shows local community projects. He believes that nights like these help in “supporting the community in so many different ways”, from local businesses, to the artists, to the people who enjoy the films.
To any aspiring filmmakers, Paul stresses the importance of building a portfolio.
“Showing what you can do is more important than what you have on paper.”