Jesse Menard, Algonquin graphic-design grad and writer of the award-winning short film, The Cold (Iowisto)

The Cold (Iowisto), a short film written by Jesse Menand, a graduate of Algonquin College’s graphic design program, and directed by Brittany Delgaty, also a former Algonquin student, won the 2020 Best Short Film award from the Toronto Independent Film Festival.

Iowisto means “the cold” in the Mohawk language. The plot of the film revolves around an Indigenous family in northern Ontario who have taken refuge at their farmhouse to escape a fast-spreading virus.

Menard says he’s a huge “horror/sci-fi/thriller/post-apocalyptic” movie fan who loves drawing, listening to music, gaming and hanging out with his cat, Marv.

Q: How did you come up with the concept of your short film?

“I actually began conceptualizing the idea during my time in the design program. It was always floating in the back of my mind, and I was never too sure what to do with it. Every few months or so the idea would change into something else. I eventually shared the concept with Brittany Delgaty, a classmate of mine and the eventual director of The Cold. A couple of years down the road after we graduated she reached out to me asking if I would like to turn the concept into a short film?”

Q: What were the challenges you faced while writing the story and screenplay?

“There were several challenges. Most of them were due to the timeline we were working with. We gave ourselves about three or four months to prepare for filming. So during writing the main changes had to be made as we were putting the pieces together. We would have actors drop in or out, or when we finally found the filming location some scenes had to be tweaked to accommodate. The director and I had a very clear vision. We just had to make sure everything worked with that vision.”

Q: Is there a memorable anecdote from this experience that you would like to share?

“There was a very special moment for me when we began filming. It was one of the first scenes we filmed around sunrise, a shot of the actors in full costume driving a snow machine over the horizon with the sun barely coming up in the sky. I was standing behind the camera (in about a foot of snow) sort of taking everything in. It was at that moment that the reality of this concept coming to life hit me. It was one of the most surreal and proud moments I’ve ever experienced.”

Q: How did your college program help you?

“Algonquin College’s Graphic Design program taught me to look at things and the world in a very different manner and the foundation of skills to apply that changed perspective to my everyday life whether it’s through traditional art, film, social media or other avenues. The program really helped me define the type of artist I wanted to be. I’m honestly shocked and honoured to have a concept of my own developed and put out into the world the way Iowisto/The Cold was.”

Q: A piece of advice you would like to offer to Algonquin students?

“Hold on to your ideas or any creative sparks you might have. Record thoughts, concepts or anything that really inspires you. You never know when one of those ideas might turn into something ultimately life-changing. Share these ideas with people close to you, having a fresh set of eyes on an idea can create something new entirely.”