Film director Jesse Foster didn’t use to drink coffee at all. As we sit down for a cup of it, he confesses to have taken his first sip to make it through the early dawn, Olympic gold medal hockey game back in February. After that, he was hooked.
This new fascination with caffeine is serving him well. The film he and long-time friend and writer/producer, Jeff Migel, made together in Calgary is suddenly in the international spotlight.
Foster and Migel’s passion project is 32, an apocalyptic character study about zombies. The project has been a film collaboration 12 years in the making. Migel says he was quite conscious the film could be seen as just another zombie movie.
“It was important to us that we distinguish ourselves,” he says.
“We started focusing more and more on how [the apocalyptic] situation was affecting our characters. The decision was made to step back and explore a story that was about people dealing with a disaster and less about the monsters.”
The resulting film, shot in Calgary with a local crew, has caught the eye of the festival circuit and is enjoying some screen time in the States. Fresh off an appearance at the Sunscreen Film Festival in St. Petersburg, Fla., Migel is feeling good.
“We were nervous at first, but at the end of the day, you have to let it go and see how the people react,” he says.
32 showed well at Sunscreen and also appeared at the Famous Monsters of Filmland Film Festival in San Jose, CA during the May long weekend.
The climb to this jet stream has been a long one and has required a great deal of sacrifice. Foster works full-time in the oil & gas industry during the waking hours while completing a B. Comm. in Entrepreneurial Management. He also has a family, which includes his young daughter, Stella. Finding time to balance those things while still feeding his passion has been a grind but one that Foster deems necessary in fuelling his desire to make movies. According to Foster, as long as he can find a way to facilitate continued creativity in film, he will be fulfilled.
His partner in crime, Migel, shares this enthusiasm.
“I think the ultimate goal of any artist is to be allowed to continue creating,” he echoes.
“If I were to say my goal is to be happy, 90 per cent of that would revolve around having the freedom to create.”
Though the two attended Vancouver Film School, Foster for film production and Migel for acting, they returned to join the independent film scene in Calgary and Foster has nothing but praise for it.
“What I like about it here is it’s such a close community. Everyone is so supportive of each other’s films; everyone is willing to help and willing to learn. I was able to reach out to people I have never even met for 32 and they were like, ‘Whatever I can do to help,’ or ‘Talk to this guy,’ or, ‘Get in touch with this guy,’ so it was really great,” he says.
Foster and Migel are looking ahead despite the recent success of 32, with collaborative plans for two more shorts and hopes for a feature-length project for Foster. Moving forward creatively is very much on the forefront of their plans.
But first, Foster has to go home for dinner with his wife, tuck Stella in, and do some studying. The new script will have to wait until after that. Good thing we just had some coffee.
By Jennie Orton
Photos: Andrew McConnell