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Writer-Director Maurice Devereaux


Although he's already directed two feature-lengthy films - Lady of the Lake (1998) and Slasher (2001) - and made an attention-getting (and very funny) satirical short called PMS Survival Tips, Maurice Devereaux's latest film, End of the Line (2006), was an official entry at theToronto International Film Festival. In the intervening years, the writer/director/producer/editor chose to weigh his distribution options carefully, ultimately selecting Anchor Bay/Critical Mass as the film's distributor.

Whereas most filmmakers would think moving fast was the best course of action to parlay their latest film into a more active career, Devereaux knew all the attention that surrounds filmmakers before, during, and immediately after a festival debut has to be examined as carefully as possible to ensure the years spent planning, filming, and completing one's movie aren't wasted on what can plainly be branded a bad deal.

It's a precarious situation, because you've just shown industry reps a commercial product, and you know there's a window of opportunity wherein you must decide the best move for the film and your career. How do you know what's the best deal? How can you be sure distribution means your film will be accessible to target and broad audiences? And more important, how can ensure the deal will set the stage for the next film?

In our candid conversation, Devereaux explains some of the tough decisions indie filmmakers have to make, as well as the importance of maintaining supportive professional associations and friendships with fellow filmmakers. And for fellow Torontonians fascinated by the city's subway system, Devereaux also explains what it was like to film inside Lower Bay, the so-called ghost station that's been sealed up from the general public for more that 40 years, but is available to filmmakers when they need a functional subway platform for their movie. (For further info on Lower Bay, check out the Editor's Blog for links to informative websites.)



End of the Line poster



Mark R. Hasan:            How did you get involved in the film industry?

Maurice Devereaux:      I think as a kid, even when I was ten years old, just watching horror movies, reading comic books, and starting to read Starlog and Fangoria, I just knew I wanted to do movies, but not coming from a movies family at all, I was going into it rather blindly. It’s basically a love of movies that made me want to do tell stories.


MRH:   Did you begin by working your way up from the ground up, such as doing editing or cinematography work?

MD:     No, I went to the principle that it’s better to be captain of your own little ship than to be a deckhand on a big ship, so I actually almost never worked on any other movies. In reading about how other different directors made it, most of them just directed movies, so I followed more the paths of the Sam Raimis and the Peter Jacksons, even Spielberg or Rodriguez. All these people just started to do their own movies, and just went bigger and bigger, and I sort of went that route instead of doing odd jobs on other films.


MRH:   I guess one advantage in taking that path in Canada is that we have great crews, good special effects houses, post-production houses and labs that make it easy to draw from a solid talent pool when you have a solid project.

MD:     I guess, although a lot of people would say that it’s a double edged sword, because, let’s say if you’re in Toronto or Vancouver or Montreal: yes, you’ll have a pool of more actors and technician, etc., but at the same time, people are more spoiled by Hollywood that has come and paid them a lot of money.

Also, let’s say you’re in a remote, small town, and you want to do a movie. If you go up to a local farmer and say, ‘We’re doing a film, we’d like to use your barn,’ he’ll go ‘Sure! Go right ahead. If you need anything, I’ll be back in a few hours,’ whereas in Montreal, ask anyone, they’ll go ‘That’ll be a thousand dollars,’ so there is that disadvantage of being in a movie city, and I’ve been burned many times. With a few of my filmmaker friends, we get so discouraged and say ‘Jeeze, let’s move and go someplace else,’ because it becomes increasingly difficult to do things in a movie city.


MRH:   In Canada, there’s only so much independent financing one can draw from to get a project off the ground, and although there are the government agencies where you can get some assistance, I wonder if there’s a perceptible competition among indie filmmakers striving to benefit from the limited financial resources.

MD:     Competition is maybe not the right word. I guess those that are applying, let’s say for SODEC or Telefilm support are in competition with the other people who are applying, but since it’s a board of people who are adjudicating, it’s not like a direct competition. I don’t think there’s that much animosity between the different filmmakers. It’s almost like a lottery where it’s the luck of the draw.

On the private side of financing, there’s no competition at all because basically other filmmakers are actually your friends, and I think among all the filmmakers that I know, we have much more of a support group than any competitiveness between each other.

But just to make something clear, I didn’t pitch End of the Line to anyone; I just made it myself. I’ve met some other Canadian filmmakers that had gone door-to-door with small amounts from local investors and farmers, sort of what like Sam Raimi did, where he had gotten something like thirty dentists and doctors to put up $10,000 each.

Some people might be good at that, but that’s not something I thought of looking into, probably because I wouldn’t have been able to do it out of respect, because the film industry is so risky; I could not honestly say to someone  ‘Hey, if you invent $10,000 in my film, you’ll make a lot of money.’ I’m not naïve to that side. I’d feel terrible to ask money from people and knowing there’s a risk that they wouldn’t see it back. If I go down the drain, it’s my own fault, and there’s no one to pay for it but me.

Slashers (2001) DVD cover

green screen filming

filming inside an old subway car

green screen effects


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