Queen West director Phil Connell’s short film, Survival Guide, available online

News Mar 18, 2015 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

A year after it earned acclaim – and a Newcomer to Watch nod for young lead Annie Rutherford – at the Canadian Film Festival, the short film Survival Guide is now available for all to watch.

Directed by Queen West resident Phil Connell, the story is set on St. Patrick’s Day 1987 and follows its protagonist, 11-year-old Fleur, as she grapples with being left to fend for herself after a Girl Guide meeting.

Ratcheting up the tension is the fact that another young girl had recently been abducted in the area. It all adds up to a unique take on the traditional coming-of-age story.

“The movie really culminates at a specific and important point in Fleur’s life – the first time in a child’s life when they feel really alone, what that does to them and how they deal with it,” Connell said.

Connell is particularly proud that Survival Guide easily passes the Bechdel Test, which was developed in reaction to gender bias in movies.

“This was a girl’s story, about a girl and not focused on boys at all,” he said. “The story was written by Genevieve Scott, originally as part of an anthology of short stories. The camera crew was mostly male, but everyone else on the set was mostly female.”

As a period piece, even one just dating back to the 1980s, the film posed its share of challenges, particularly given its shoestring budget. The biggest difficulty came in sourcing cars from the 1970s and 1980s. Connell contacted everyone he could find who was selling a car from that era on the online retail site Kijiji and left postcards under the windshield wipers of era-appropriate cars he spotted while walking through the streets of Toronto.

Survival Guide is another step forward in Connell’s filmmaking career, which also includes the short film Kissing Drew, as well as public service announcement for the GTA Housing Action Lab, Evergreen CityWorks and others.

He got into the filmmaking business purely by accident.

“I was actually a business grad at Queen’s (University), but developed an interest arts in my very early 20s because I had a ton of friends who were involved in the arts in various capacities,” he said. “I started producing theatre in my early 20s and I just caught the bug.”

Upon graduating with his business degree, he began working at a consulting firm, but quickly decided to change career paths.

“I got a real taste of ‘oh my god, this is more different than I thought it would be,’” he said. “Once I entered the real world, I realized there was more I could be than a doctor, a lawyer or a businessman, so I quit my job in my early 20s and started making movies.”

He is currently working on a script for his feature film debut, Portrait of a Darling, which follows an actor-turned-drag-queen who moves into his grandmother’s house to get his life in order and prevent the grandmother from having to move into an assisted living facility.

Survival Guide was released for viewing by the general public on the online video site Vimeo on St. Patrick’s Day.

The short can be seen online at https://vimeo.com/67779878

Queen West director Phil Connell’s short film, Survival Guide, available online

Coming-of-age story follows 11-year-old Fleur as she grapples with fending for herself

News Mar 18, 2015 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

A year after it earned acclaim – and a Newcomer to Watch nod for young lead Annie Rutherford – at the Canadian Film Festival, the short film Survival Guide is now available for all to watch.

Directed by Queen West resident Phil Connell, the story is set on St. Patrick’s Day 1987 and follows its protagonist, 11-year-old Fleur, as she grapples with being left to fend for herself after a Girl Guide meeting.

Ratcheting up the tension is the fact that another young girl had recently been abducted in the area. It all adds up to a unique take on the traditional coming-of-age story.

“The movie really culminates at a specific and important point in Fleur’s life – the first time in a child’s life when they feel really alone, what that does to them and how they deal with it,” Connell said.

Connell is particularly proud that Survival Guide easily passes the Bechdel Test, which was developed in reaction to gender bias in movies.

“This was a girl’s story, about a girl and not focused on boys at all,” he said. “The story was written by Genevieve Scott, originally as part of an anthology of short stories. The camera crew was mostly male, but everyone else on the set was mostly female.”

As a period piece, even one just dating back to the 1980s, the film posed its share of challenges, particularly given its shoestring budget. The biggest difficulty came in sourcing cars from the 1970s and 1980s. Connell contacted everyone he could find who was selling a car from that era on the online retail site Kijiji and left postcards under the windshield wipers of era-appropriate cars he spotted while walking through the streets of Toronto.

Survival Guide is another step forward in Connell’s filmmaking career, which also includes the short film Kissing Drew, as well as public service announcement for the GTA Housing Action Lab, Evergreen CityWorks and others.

He got into the filmmaking business purely by accident.

“I was actually a business grad at Queen’s (University), but developed an interest arts in my very early 20s because I had a ton of friends who were involved in the arts in various capacities,” he said. “I started producing theatre in my early 20s and I just caught the bug.”

Upon graduating with his business degree, he began working at a consulting firm, but quickly decided to change career paths.

“I got a real taste of ‘oh my god, this is more different than I thought it would be,’” he said. “Once I entered the real world, I realized there was more I could be than a doctor, a lawyer or a businessman, so I quit my job in my early 20s and started making movies.”

He is currently working on a script for his feature film debut, Portrait of a Darling, which follows an actor-turned-drag-queen who moves into his grandmother’s house to get his life in order and prevent the grandmother from having to move into an assisted living facility.

Survival Guide was released for viewing by the general public on the online video site Vimeo on St. Patrick’s Day.

The short can be seen online at https://vimeo.com/67779878

Queen West director Phil Connell’s short film, Survival Guide, available online

Coming-of-age story follows 11-year-old Fleur as she grapples with fending for herself

News Mar 18, 2015 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

A year after it earned acclaim – and a Newcomer to Watch nod for young lead Annie Rutherford – at the Canadian Film Festival, the short film Survival Guide is now available for all to watch.

Directed by Queen West resident Phil Connell, the story is set on St. Patrick’s Day 1987 and follows its protagonist, 11-year-old Fleur, as she grapples with being left to fend for herself after a Girl Guide meeting.

Ratcheting up the tension is the fact that another young girl had recently been abducted in the area. It all adds up to a unique take on the traditional coming-of-age story.

“The movie really culminates at a specific and important point in Fleur’s life – the first time in a child’s life when they feel really alone, what that does to them and how they deal with it,” Connell said.

Connell is particularly proud that Survival Guide easily passes the Bechdel Test, which was developed in reaction to gender bias in movies.

“This was a girl’s story, about a girl and not focused on boys at all,” he said. “The story was written by Genevieve Scott, originally as part of an anthology of short stories. The camera crew was mostly male, but everyone else on the set was mostly female.”

As a period piece, even one just dating back to the 1980s, the film posed its share of challenges, particularly given its shoestring budget. The biggest difficulty came in sourcing cars from the 1970s and 1980s. Connell contacted everyone he could find who was selling a car from that era on the online retail site Kijiji and left postcards under the windshield wipers of era-appropriate cars he spotted while walking through the streets of Toronto.

Survival Guide is another step forward in Connell’s filmmaking career, which also includes the short film Kissing Drew, as well as public service announcement for the GTA Housing Action Lab, Evergreen CityWorks and others.

He got into the filmmaking business purely by accident.

“I was actually a business grad at Queen’s (University), but developed an interest arts in my very early 20s because I had a ton of friends who were involved in the arts in various capacities,” he said. “I started producing theatre in my early 20s and I just caught the bug.”

Upon graduating with his business degree, he began working at a consulting firm, but quickly decided to change career paths.

“I got a real taste of ‘oh my god, this is more different than I thought it would be,’” he said. “Once I entered the real world, I realized there was more I could be than a doctor, a lawyer or a businessman, so I quit my job in my early 20s and started making movies.”

He is currently working on a script for his feature film debut, Portrait of a Darling, which follows an actor-turned-drag-queen who moves into his grandmother’s house to get his life in order and prevent the grandmother from having to move into an assisted living facility.

Survival Guide was released for viewing by the general public on the online video site Vimeo on St. Patrick’s Day.

The short can be seen online at https://vimeo.com/67779878