Filmmaker mentors novices to avoid production pitfalls

The meeting came to an abrupt halt when Ryan Singh could not hold his frustration any much longer.

“I have lost thousands and thousands of dollars in this kind of environment and I don’t want this to happen to … you, ” he said.

At a meeting with novice filmmaker, Issey Abraha, in a Toronto restaurant, Singh was remembering a film he’d produced in 2007. The film, “Curse of Ham,” had required that he budget money for crewmembers, marketing and video production before he shot it. But he under-estimated the cost. His mistake is instructive to his protégé Issey Abraha.

“I realize the importance of a cohesive team, where each member has a role (for) the success of the production; hence I use this (kind of example) to teach other (filmmakers),” Singh said.

Singh, 37, immigrated to Canada from Guyana in 1993. He works as an actor, producer, director and filmmaker. Among his credits, he played a soldier in the film “Conduct Unbecoming,” directed by Sidney Furie. Today, Singh offers advice to young filmmakers, such as Abraha.

“I have worked on and off with Ryan on several video projects,” Abraha said. “He was very helpful (dealing with) my own frustration in the film industry and he basically made me feel better about myself.”

Abraha, 20, is currently a journalism student at Humber College, Lakeshore campus.

In the film, he is both the producer and supporting actor. He is very grateful to be mentored by Singh and is hoping to use the experience to ensure success of his new project.

“The discipline and respect Singh displayed by always being prepared, made me want to be just like him,” Abraha said.

Chris Terry, a professor in Broadcasting and Film at Centennial College, remembered being mentored at the Academy of Canadian Cinema by now deceased British filmmaker Lindsay Anderson. Terry remembered Anderson giving him the opportunity to set up an entire scene by himself.

“I learned a lot in a short period of time with him,” Terry said, “because he was willing to teach me all these things and I always remember all the effort he put in to help me.”

Terry has taught and produced film for a number of years. He tries to mentor his students, even though he is paid to be a teacher. He sees mentoring as a way for people in the industry to find work.

“I think it is a gift to be mentored and not everybody gets it,” Terry said.

Abraha said the concept of his film is in the developing stage and will be completed sometime next year.