It’s an intrinsic component of every film created by Nanaimo’s Jeff James Monson.
“To me everything in life is about love or the lack thereof,” said Monson. “Just ask the questions: Is it enough? What is love? I like examining it and ripping it up and putting it back together.”
Monson recently completed filming his full-length independent movie The Ol’ Amity Blues.
“The film is about betrayal,” he said.
The film explores the fragile friendship between Felix and Max, which is tested when Felix knocks on Max’s door looking for a place to hide out.
He’s on the run from the mob over some gambling debts. Felix believes he has found a safe sanctuary, but Max is holding onto an old grudge and rats out Felix to the mob.
The majority of the film features interaction between the two main characters in one room.
“I like the theme of claustrophobia and how that changes someone,” said Monson. “You see different personalities come out and how they can change in different circumstances.”
Monson said he’s interested in people, what they do to each other and how they think.
The Ol’ Amity Blues stars Brandon James Mason as Felix, Blaine Nosworthy as Max, Frank Moher as the mob boss Lucien, Sydney Howlett as Jade and Vincent Wells as a mob henchman.
Monson describes himself as an actor’s director.
“The most important thing for me in the film is the actor,” said Monson. “It’s not the technical stuff. I’m much more interested in the actors and what they have to offer the role.”
He said he wants the light and sound to be well done, but he’s much more interested in the interaction between the actors.
“I really think that rehearsing is vital to getting a good performance,” said Monson.
The actors rehearsed the script for about four months. Monson said he wanted to actors to “rip apart” the characters as much as possible, to analyze them, and get to know them.
“I just wanted a good solid script. A script that was solid and not all over the place,” said Monson.
Monson shot the film over 10 days from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. in the morning.
The Ol’ Amity Blues is Monson’s seventh film, and second full-length movie. It’s filmed under the moniker of his Out to Launch Pictures company.
Monson said the film is currently in post-production and he hopes to submit it to film festivals in the spring.
He said it’s important for people to try and do something with the films they create, not just create them and put them on a shelf, where they can gather dust.
Monson left Vancouver four years ago and moved to Nanaimo. He said the film community in the city is very supportive and growing. Monson said artists in Nanaimo of all disciplines frequently create events with various art forms and are cross promoting each other.
“People in this city are hungry for art. Art heals. In our current world, profit is the primary reason to work at something,” said Monson. “People are waiting for something truly meaningful to come into their lives that’s main intent isn’t selfish or competitive, but rather a shared collaborative expression of self that may bring people together and create peace. I think downtown Nanaimo is making huge progress as far as that goes.”
For more information about Monson or the film please go to The Ol’ Amity Blues Facebook page, www.facebook.com/amitybluesfilm.