Contemporary World Cinema: Excited

A return to form for Vancouver filmmaker

• Writer/director: Bruce Sweeney
• Producers: Bruce Sweeney, Catherine Middleton
• Key cast: Cam Cronin, Laara Sadiq, Gabrielle Rose
• International sales: Bruce Sweeney
• Budget: $400,000

‘It’s not autobiographical,’ Bruce Sweeney says of his latest film. It’s a statement he’ll probably be making a lot, given the storyline in his new low-budget feature, Excited.

In the film, Cam Cronin plays a man who suffers from a severe case of premature ejaculation – from almost the very moment he’s touched in a sexual situation, he ejaculates. This means he’s intimacy-challenged, to say the least, until he meets a woman (Laara Sadiq) who is so smitten with him she’s willing to try to help him get over his malady.

‘I’ve always been fascinated by stories of sexual dysfunction,’ Sweeney explains. ‘I read about an account of someone who managed, with the help of a sex therapist, to get over PE. I thought it’d be interesting to tell the story in a film.’

The tone of Excited was crucial to Sweeney. While there are funny moments in the film (Gabrielle Rose is particularly hilarious as Cronin’s suffocating mother), Sweeney did not want to make a comedy, or a film that makes fun of PE.

‘There is so much media saturation with the topic of sex in our culture, but it’s never very serious,’ he says. ‘I wanted to make something that would contrast with that kind of coverage.’

After directing low-budget wonders like Dirty (1998) and Last Wedding (2001), Sweeney made a relatively big-budget film, a strange suspense movie about strained mother-daughter relations, American Venus, in 2007. Thus Excited marks a return to form for the Vancouver-based writer/director.

Sweeney shot the entire film on the Red One camera on a budget of $25,000. He then tapped into Telefilm Canada’s low-budget assistance fund and offered his cast and crew a lot of deferrals. The final budget is $400,000.

‘This project grew out of my frustration with the industry,’ Sweeney says. ‘The length of shoots has been cut dramatically in order to save money, and I think this is very shortsighted. There’s no time for rehearsals. What I’m hoping to get out of TIFF is a feeling of rejuvenation about filmmaking. In fact, I already have it. It was a great experience putting this film together.’

Matthew Hays is a programmer in the Canadian features section of TIFF.