Warren P. Sonoda on the things they don’t teach you in film school


Indie director Warren P. Sonoda thinks it’s a dynamic time to be a Canadian filmmaker.

Canadian film has its ongoing challenges, financial and otherwise.

But naysayers foreshadowing the doom of the industry, says the director of Servitude, Textuality and the upcoming Swearnet, ignore at the core of the industry “a group of very hungry, very talented Canadian filmmakers” with talent and stories to tell.

And the Canadian Film Festival, which launches Wednesday, is an opportunity for those emerging filmmakers to mingle with veteran filmmakers, indie producers, actors, writers and general film lovers and push the grassroots growth of the Canadian film industry forward, Sonoda adds.

“[The Canadian Film Festival] really exclusively supports and encourages Canadian indigenous community filmmakers,” he says.

Sonoda is teaching a day-long master class at the Canadian Film Festival this Wednesday – a primer for filmmakers covering the 10 things not taught in film school.

The first of those is the “Two Reasons” why anyone would hire a filmmaker, which Sonoda says are execution and point of view.

“Execution – early on in your filmmaking career, [that's] important. But if you want a real career, like a vital career, the latter is paramount,” Sonoda tells Playback.

The two points relate to how filmmakers see the world and translate that into a film story, he explains.

As a question of execution, Sonoda asks, “What kind of director are you?” The answer can be anything from a visual stylist, a filmmaker with an abstract world view, someone people trust, how time is spent on set.

“And with point of view, I really think that what finally matters is not what the world judges your work as, but how you judge the world as a filmmaker. I think any filmmaker that lacks this final arrogance won’t survive because that’s why you get hired,” he insists.

Sonoda says the aim of the master class is not to present the standard film school techniques, but to drive emerging filmmakers to build a long-term philosophy.

He’ll also talk scripts, the filmmaking process from script to screen (Monkey Business), “Killing Doves”, and “The Three Shots.”

The master class kicks off the Canadian Film Festival, which runs Mar. 20 to 23, on Wednesday.