Mustard Bath

December 1989: Darrell Wasyk, having completed his acclaimed feature film H, goes to Guyana to research locations for a tropical love story he plans to write. He comes to see the 'abandoned country', as the perfect backdrop for the dysfunctionality of...

December 1989: Darrell Wasyk, having completed his acclaimed feature film H, goes to Guyana to research locations for a tropical love story he plans to write. He comes to see the ‘abandoned country’, as the perfect backdrop for the dysfunctionality of his main character.

On his way to Guyana, Wasyk stops in Barbados, meets reggae musician Eddie Grant (Electric Avenue), is struck by his charisma, and decides he has to write a part for him.

February/March 1990: Wasyk returns to Canada and, with Bebo Haddad, writes a treatment for the new story. In April 1990 submits it to Telefilm Canada, the Ontario Film Development Corporation, the Foundation to Underwrite New Drama for Pay tv and the Ontario Arts Council.

May 1990: The director/screenwriter receives development money from all solicited agencies: $21,806 from Telefilm, a few thousand from the ofdc, $8,000 from fund, and approximately $10,000 from the OAC.

Late June 1990: Wasyk writes the first draft of Mustard Bath in four weeks.

July to November 1990: Wasyk writes the second draft, working with story editor Annie Szamosi.

November 1990: He returns to Guyana to figure out the logistics of making a film in a socialist country that has no film industry to speak of.

December 1990-February 1991: He finishes the third draft with Szamosi.

May 1991: Brian Ferstman comes in as coproducer. The fourth and final draft is completed and a copy is sent to actor Martha Henry (Dancing in the Dark) and Grant for perusal. Both agree to do the film.

June 1991: Brightstar signs on as distributor. Brightstar’s Orval Fruitman supplies $135,000 as a Canadian advance. Wasyk applies to the OFDC and Telefilm for production grants.

Wasyk returns to Guyana with Ferstman to figure out how to ship 25,000 pounds of equipment into the country. The Canadian Consulate directs him to the right people.

He hooks up with a local theatre manager to start casting Guyanese parts, and meets with employees of the local tv station to crew the technical departments.

July 1991: First budget drawn: $1 million (later locked at $1.225 million).

August 1991: Scripts are sent to actors Michael Riley (Perfectly Normal) and Tantoo Cardinal. Impressed with Riley’s ‘ability to convey subtext’, Wasyk hopes to cast him as the lead.

Wasyk and Ferstman undertake another trip to Guyana to do more of the same: casting, crewing, location scouting.

September-October 1991: A scheduling nightmare begins as Wasyk attempts to co-ordinate Riley, living in L.A., with Henry in London, Ont., and Grant, on tour in the U.S.

November 1991: David York joins as coproducer to appease agencies on the basis of his experience shooting in the imax format in tropical and Third World locations. Telefilm invests $599,990, the ofdc $489,480.

January 1992: Canadian cast and crew start to trickle into Guyana. The dop is Barry Person, a 25-year-old with no experience in shooting a drama, let alone a feature; add the above to a distant exotic locale and… the agencies are nervous, says Wasyk.

February 1992: Principal photography lasts for 25 days. Wasyk works heavily with video assist and will not see rushes until his return to Canada. The Guyanese crew is wonderful. Not so the Guyanese government which at one point steps in and threatens to shut down production. Grant, good friends with the Guyanese prime minister, smoothes things over.

Ferstman leaves the production, York continues as coproducer.

March-May 1992: The day after wrapping, Wasyk returns to Canada to begin picture editing at Soundscore with Tomek Murtry. A rough cut is completed in four weeks.

They realize that two dat tapes, approximating several minutes of sound, are missing. They are later discovered to have been stolen and destroyed by a disgruntled crew member. The scenes are reconstructed and reshot in Toronto at a cost of $8,000. Wasyk flies the Guyanese cast up to Canada.

May 1992: Brightstar goes bankrupt. Of the $135,000 advance, Wasyk is still owed $45,000. Editing comes to a standstill. They need money.

July 1992: A much-needed $55,750 comes from exporter Jan Rofekamp of Montreal’s Films Transit, an advance against international sales.

Mustard Bath goes to final mix as Wasyk continues to search for another Canadian distributor. Alliance expresses interest in Mustard Bath, but on the condition of major structural changes to the film and being assigned the international sales rights. Wasyk declines.

September-November 1992: With expenses running up, Wasyk decides to lock his picture, eliminating the option for a potential distributor to make minor changes to the film.

February 1993: Mustard Bath has its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival.

April 1993: Mustard Bath has its North American premiere at the Houston Film Festival, where it wins Gold for best dramatic feature.

August 1993: Mustard Bath is screened at the Montreal World Film Festival.

September 1993: The film is screened in the Panorama Canada section at the Toronto Festival of Festivals.

Oct. 1, 1993: While the search for a North American distributor continues, Mustard Bath is one of seven Canadian films slated to be shown at the Independant Feature Film Market in New York City.