Archive for the ‘Personal Updates’ Category

Hiya folks!

Remember me? Matthew Saliba here with a little update on what I’ve been up to since I last updated this page, oh… 2 years ago?! Wow, has it really been 2 years? Time flies when you’re having fun and that’s just what I’ve been doing.

For a little over 2 years now, I’ve been working as a manager and film programmer at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I never thought I’d find a “day job” that could make me feel as satisfied as filmmaking did but I’ll be damned if I don’t leave work each and every day with a big smile on my face knowing that the work I do curating The Carlton Midnight Society (Toronto’s one and only monthly midnight film screening series) is appreciated and in some cases, emulated by so many in the city.

But of course, there are those who remember me before I became “Mr. Midnight” and will always ask, when are you going to make another movie?

Since 2003, I’ve made 7 films; 8 if you count my contribution to OUR FOOTLOOSE REMAKE. I have been extremely fortunate to have worked with some of the most talented and wonderful artists and human beings I have ever met and will treasure those memories till the day I die and perhaps even beyond the grave. But truth be told, after the incredible success of EROTICIDE which as of today, has screened in over 26 countries, been translated into 4 languages, collected awards for directing and acting (the latter of which I’m very proud of since Stephanie van Rijn may very well have given the best performance EVER in a Sinema Saliba production) and has been viewed over 1.5 million times on YouTube, I guess you can say for a while I was afraid to embark upon another cinematic endeavour. I suppose you can say that my anxiety stemmed from a fear of having to follow this up. What if I make another flick that bombs? What if any goodwill I was so lucky to gain from older and newer fans after EROTICIDE was tossed aside after making something that in their eyes would be deemed subpar? And here’s the biggest fear I had… whenever I’d do a Q&A or print or internet interview, I would constantly bring up the fact that EROTICIDE was the kind of film I was trying to make for over 10 years. If, in fact, that was really the case, wouldn’t EROTICIDE technically be my swan song and cue to bow out gracefully and let a new generation of DIY filmmakers take the helm and make sado-erotic dramas of their own?

But then I realised 8 is kind of an awkward number of films to “retire” on. 10, on the other hand is a nice round number and has a good ring to it. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s a couple of really strong ideas that have been kicking around in this old chunk of coal’s noggin’ that I think would make for two of the most wicked awesome films that I personally would die to see on the big screen. One of which came to me during my vacation last September in Berlin and Prague and the other, believe it or not, is a film I’ve been wanting to make since 2005, which according to my math, is 12 years now. And then, I got to thinking, well if EROTICIDE is a film I’ve been wanting to make for 10 years and *this* idea is something I’ve been wanting to make for 12 years, well by that logic, wouldn’t *that* be the picture for me to go out on?

You’re damn right, it would be!

So I’m very happy to announce that I am officially coming out of “retirement” to make not one, but TWO brand new films! And I even have working titles for them. The Berlin / Prague inspired idea will be called SUCCUBUS and my “swan song” film, the one that I have truly been wanting to make for 12 years now will be called I’M YOUR FLESH.

In the meantime, feel free to check out EROTICIDE as it’s the best film I’ve ever made and certainly the one I’m the proudest of.

Stay tuned folks, as Sinema Saliba is back and will be better than ever!

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1. Start a family

My wife and I had planned on starting a family in 2014 but the harsh reality of our personal and financial circumstances made it very clear that bringing a child into our world at that particular time would be unfair to the baby and therefore we put these plans on hold. As things are starting to look up for us in 2015, we will once again attempt to add a new (and un-fluffy) member to our household.

2. Go back to being a vegan

Somebody call the vegan police, I fell off the wagon in 2014! This is rather ironic considering one of the reasons why I moved to Toronto was because it was supposed to be easier to be a vegan given the vegan-friendly nature of the city. But for reasons that I still cannot fathom, I went back to consuming dairy and the odd meat dish. Perhaps it was no coincidence that when I went back to consuming food produced by a cruel industry, my energy levels and psychological makeup dropped to suicidal levels. In 2015, I plan on getting back on the wagon and really disciplining myself in this regard.

3. See a psychologist

On the subject of psychology, 2015 will be the year that I finally decide to seek some psychological help. In 2014, I made numerous references to the fact that I was suicidal only to receive “support” in the form of “likes.” Personally if a friend made numerous references to the fact that he was thinking of taking his life, I’d actually make the effort of contacting that person and talking to him. Evidently this is a practice that doesn’t seem to exist in the age of Facebook and so I find myself in a situation where if I am going to be of any use to my wife as a partner, to any future children I may have as a father and especially to myself as a human being worthy of love and consideration, I will have to do something I’ve been quite reticent to do and seek some help.

4. Find a job in my field

I was very fortunate that my first real job in Toronto was in my field, albeit peripherally. I was employed as a copywriter and photographer. Unfortunately it was for a company living out their own version of As the World Turns and in the process of getting caught up in their soap opera, I found myself unemployed and forced to take a job at a company that is the equivalent of Florida. In other words, it’s a place people go to when they’ve lost the will to live and simply want to die as quickly as possible. In 2015, I plan on dedicating myself to finding something in my field – particularly that of writing as I find myself rediscovering the joys of sitting down and letting my thoughts flow out on paper, or to be more “21st century” digitally on a laptop.

5. Write my first feature-length screenplay and my first book

I keep referring to myself as a writer and filmmaker and yet in 2014, I produced nothing to back such a proclamation up. 2015 I plan on rectifying that by not only writing my first feature-length screenplay but my first book to boot! Anyone who knows me, knows that I’ve been talking about writing and directing a film based on one of my favorite true crime stories. We’re talking about 8 years now. Before this turns into another Chinese Democracy, I plan to finally sit down and write this thing out. I suppose the reason why I’ve been so hesitant to do so is that I hate investing myself in a project where there’s no foreseeable “payoff.” By “payoff,” I’m referring to a green light as far as if I’m done writing by such and such a date, we will then be jumping into production not too long after. While I don’t have any prospects at the moment in actually getting this screenplay into any immediate production, perhaps it’s time I abandon a philosophy that’s been holding me back and start embracing one where I write for the sake of writing itself. The act can be very therapeutic and given the approach I plan on taking with this material, will likely be very cathartic as well. In regards to my book, this I can be a little more open on the subject. I’ve always wanted to teach a course that I would call The Philosophy of Filmmaking. It’s not so much that a would-be filmmaker understand the “hows” of making a film, but rather the “why” we do it. Having made films for 10 years now, I don’t delude myself into thinking I’m a “master filmmaker,” but I do think I’ve learned a thing or two and as such, I think I’d like to put down in words my own philosophies of writing, directing, acting and directing actors, editing, the promotion of one’s film once post-production is done, etc. This book, may even be somewhat autobiographical in that I may write about my own experiences becoming a filmmaker and making the films I’ve made. Given how easy it is to self-publish a book, there’s really no excuse for me not to.

6. Meet people in the Toronto film scene and build a network

Setting in a new city took a lot longer than I anticipated and as such, I didn’t really have any time to pursue building a new network for myself in the Toronto indie film scene. Now that I have established a base for myself financially, I can finally move on to introducing myself to the Toronto scene and hopefully meet new people who I can build a network around and start working on projects together. I’ve debated what would be the best way to do this. Should I book a cinema and hold a retrospective for myself where I screen my films so they can meet Matthew Saliba the filmmaker? Perhaps. But that could be a little costly, if not self-indulgent. Then I thought one of the best ways I can integrate myself in the Toronto filmmaking community would be the way I did it back in Montreal – acting! In my 10 years making movies, I found that the best way to meet potential casts and crews for your own projects was through acting in indie films and plays. You gain greater insight into how actors work and you see firsthand who are the ones that are genuinely enthusiastic about the process and who are the egos you want to avoid. In 2015, I plan on starting to audition for films and plays and hopefully meet new people who I can begin a longstanding professional relationship with.

7. Finish reading The Wheel of Time

Okay, my final resolution is rather less significant and a tad anticlimactic in relation to the previous six, but it’s still a mountain I intend to climb in 2015. I’ve given Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy saga which clocks in at 14 books (15 if you include New Spring, the prequel) multiple chances over the years but usually around Book #5 (The Fires of Heaven) is where my interest starts to drop. The furthest I’ve ever gotten was Book #7 (A Crown of Swords). I’m currently 3/4 of the way through The Fires of Heaven, and I intend on sticking it out until the bitter end. At its best, it is a masterpiece of fantasy literature that for my money, eclipses The Lord of the Rings. At its worst, it’s first-year creative writing student bad with its endless padding, inclusion of uninteresting side-characters and plots and misogynistic portrayal of female characters. Either way, I dropped more than a pretty penny buying the entire run of books and I intend on getting my money’s worth.

While it may seem obvious to anyone who’s been following my life exploits on Facebook that 2014 was a rough year, I actually prefer to look at it as the year I finally became a man.

Now what does it mean to “become a man?” Some may equate such a transformation as having turned 18. Others may define it as the period in which one finds a partner and gets married. And others still may see it as finally securing a future for themselves via landing a great job. Personally, and as 2014 taught me all too well, I see “becoming a man” as the moment one stops making life decisions based on personal self-indulgences and starts taking into consideration the needs of his loved ones and above all else, that of necessity.

We often talk about “living in the moment” and how we shouldn’t concern ourselves with the past and especially a future that we can never be certain will ever come to pass. And as such, we come to define “living in the moment” as forgoing a life of laid out plans for the future and embracing an existence on temporary satisfaction and hedonism. But what if “living in the moment” means realizing you have rent to pay and no financial means to do so? What if “living in the moment” means having to choose whether you or your children (or in my case, my cats) get to eat today. What if “living in the moment” means having to consider your personal morals and beliefs and finally being forced to challenge them in ways you could never imagine having to do so?

These were questions I faced throughout 2014 and I am very proud to say that for the first time, I was able to step up to the plate and make the necessary decisions to ensure the personal and financial security and well-being of my family at the expense of my own values.

It is very easy to remain content and comforted living in a bubble where one ignores the harsh realities of life. Real men are the ones who grab that needle and burst that bubble to face these realities head on.

So while I can sit back and bemoan the fact that 2014 was an awful year, the eternal optimist in me prefers to look at it as the year in which I not only burst the aforementioned bubble, I annihilated it and graduated to manhood in the process.

Today marks the 10-year anniversary of the World Premiere of PANDORA’S PARADOX at the 2004 Fantasia International Film Festival.

What is PANDORA’S PARADOX, you ask? Why, it’s the 2nd film I directed after my award-winning debut THE MANIPULATOR AND THE SUBSERVIENT.

For those only familiar with EROTICIDE or AMY’S IN THE ATTIC, this may come as a surprise to you, but “back in the day,” I was very much enamored with surrealism and was very influenced by David Lynch, almost to the point of imitation, rather than emulation.

But even Lynch himself couldn’t conceive of a film in which an old woman gives birth to a giant toe that upon being fed milk, hatches like an egg and pops out a young boy who needless to say, “has issues.” One night this young boy witnesses his parents getting it on like only they can, via a homemade Frankensteinesque machine with a pair of electrodes attached to the woman’s breasts while the man sends volts of electricity through them at regular intervals. This obviously leaves an impression on the young boy, but rather than seek professional help or perhaps even ask his parents what on earth they were doing, he decides to return home to his mother’s womb. But before he can do so, he has to tie up a few loose ends.

Starring Joesph Ranger, John M. Thomas, Danielle Berthiaume, Mark Evin, Glen Alexander (of RONNY AND CINDY infamy), Paul Rogic, Shelley Stevens and Elias C. Varoutsos, PANDORA’S PARADOX was a shot-on-16mm, 24-minute mindfuck of a film that managed to snag a pair of awards at the Moonrock Student Film and Video Festival for BEST ACTOR (John M. Thomas) and BEST ACTRESS (Danielle Berthiaume) and screened at Burning Man and even in New York City!

In the case of NYC, I’ll never forget when we were trying to cross the border. The agent asked us the reason for our visit, and we handed him a flyer explaining that we had a film premiering in the Big Apple. He let us go but then seconds later, we heard sirens blaring and a cop car coming after us. We joked that he must have read the flyer and the plot description and decided there’s no way in hell he’s letting us into the States. Fortunately, the car ended up chasing someone else and not us.

I’ve come a long way since the days of PANDORA’S PARADOX, but I think it’s important to celebrate your roots rather than bury them or pretend they don’t even exist like some artists are wont to do. This was a film that opened a lot of doors for me, including landing me my first commercial gig for Nokia of all companies and for that I will always look back on this film with sincere fondness and gratitude for the success that came my way in its wake.

So if you ever wanted to know what an old woman giving birth to a giant toe looked (and sounded) like, take a moment and check out the opening scene of my 2004 film PANDORA’S PARADOX.

As 2013 winds down to a close, I thought I’d take a look back and list what I feel were my top 10 accomplishments of the year. As bad and tough as the world can sometimes seem, I think it can be very therapeutic to count your blessings and realize that in spite of certain negative circumstances, the good often outweighs the bad. So with that said…

1. Celebrated my 1-year wedding anniversary and 3-year couple anniversary with the love of my life, Andrée-Anne Forgues.

2. Came out of retirement to direct my magnum opus EROTICIDE thanks to the generous financial contribution of Rick Creedy, the equipment donation of Kamel Khalifa and the emotional support of Lisa Di Capa and Kamel.

3. Starred as the male lead in FIRST NIGHT directed by Philippe Bourret and had an absolute ball. It was on this set where I met Alina Gotcherian which led me to…

4. Starred in PARAPHILIA: EVERYONE HAS A SEXUAL DISORDER at the 2013 Montreal Fringe Festival. I worked with a great cast and a wonderful director, Lorne Svarc whose inspirational approach to working with actors inspired me to become an even better director myself. He also got one, if not, the best performance out of me as an actor as for the first time, I actually emoted on stage and not merely performed as most actors are wont to do.

5. Saved a third cat from a horrific situation (she was being experimented on by a lab) and brought her into a home where she is showered with love and affection. Her name is Peaches and along with Munchkin and Quagmire, she adds a lot of life to the homestead.

6. Speaking of home, my wife and I finally moved out of Chateau Douchebag and into Coronation Manor back in February. Our apartment is big, bright and beautiful. And best of all, we live next door to the most wonderful man in the world who not only catsits for us but has become a dear personal friend as well.

7. Landed a job at MegaFun Productions where I worked as a colorizer of vintage black-and-white German documentaries. Granted the idea of colourizing black-and-white film sounds and often felt blasphemous but when you land a job in the film industry that pays well and offers you the security of a 9-to-5, you quickly set aside your principles considering the alternative that many with a film degree face when they can’t find work in their field.

8. Speaking of finding work in my field, I also landed a 3-month contract with an adult sex toy company back in February where I worked as a copywriter and a video editor. If you told me back in film school that I’d be paying the bills by editing commercials for vibrators, I’d say, “Come again?” Then I’d laugh because I said, “Come.”

These last two are at the bottom not because of lack of importance but rather because these were life decisions that will have implications for 2014. You can almost look at these as New Years Resolutions.

9. Made a decision to start a family with my wife. Having three furry felines is wonderful and all, but we really want to have a baby. In a world where family values is seen as something hokey, old-fashioned and downright wrong according to some mainstream outlets, my wife and I strongly believe in passing on our morals and values to a new generation in the hopes that they will grow up to make the world a better place. We’ve been trying very hard and hope to be able to announce big news in that department in 2014.

10. Made a decision to go straight edge. I don’t smoke but I do occasionally drink and smoke pot. While I have no moral qualms about the latter two, I feel that consuming these products have a profoundly negative impact on me. I suffer from a deep depression and alcohol and drugs only seem to exasperate my feelings of self-loathing and suicidal inclinations. By removing these things out of my life, and replacing them with my vegan diet, yoga, exercise and my creative outlets, I feel I’m taking a significant step forward in my life and one definitely for the better.

It’s never too early to start making good on a New Years resolution you had planned for 2014.

As of today, I will be going straight edge.

That means no smoking (which I don’t do anyway), no drinking and no recreational drugs. In the case of the latter two I have no moral objections to anybody using them and especially in the case of recreational drugs, I happen to believe they should all be legalized and I would still soon as take medicinal marijuana over anything Big Pharma has to offer.

What I do object to, however, is the effect both have had on me this year.

Contrary to whatever impression you may have of me as someone who’s flamboyant, “zen” or otherwise happy, I often go through very deep bouts of depression where I sometimes cry for no reason, get irritable for even stupider reasons and sometimes even get suicidal. Alcohol and drugs only seem to exasperate these feelings resulting in my work, my relationships and my general outlook on life being negatively affected.

I plan on working very hard to overcome these aspects in my life and as of now that will be done with a healthy lifestyle which will include my vegan diet, yoga, exercise and some new ventures to stimulate my creativity.

What it won’t include is drugs and alcohol.

Thank you all for your understanding.

Today marks the 10-year anniversary of the World Premiere of my first film THE MANIPULATOR AND THE SUBSERVIENT at the Bearded Child Film Festival in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. My film was screened to such great acclaim that it was awarded the Grand Jury Prize of Best Picture. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine getting my film accepted into a film festival, much less winning an award.

But lo and behold, THE MANIPULATOR AND THE SUBSERVIENT would then go on the next day to have its Canadian Premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival where it was nominated for 4(!) awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Editing as part of a short film competition sponsored by Vision Globale.

Since that fateful weekend, I have gone on to make seven films, all of which have screened the world over winning prizes and kudos all around. But in the end, any shred of notoriety I have managed to gain over these past 10 years is due to the unexpected success of my very first picture, THE MANIPULATOR AND THE SUBSERVIENT.

Here is the opening scene from that film, which in itself has gone on to become quite the cult item on YouTube with over 850,000 views and counting.