Ryerson film graduate Lyndon Casey is hanging his hopes and dreams on a fictional character. But the character lives in a short film that hasn’t been made yet.
The inspiration for the lead character played by Casey in his in-the-works military comedy Weekend Warrior came from an experience at a bar, when his roommate — who’s in the Army reserve — came to his defence.
“The story starts when I was beat up for causing a bar fight,” said Casey. “I mean, I had a big mouth, I provoked it. And my friend, who was in the military, kind of saved my life. I remember riding home in the cab, looking at my friend and being like, ‘I kind of want to be you.’”
Casey’s interest in using the Canadian military for self-help peaked when he was living with his roommate.
“I would always ask him: ‘Are you going to go overseas? Are you going to fight?’ I’ve always been interested in the grey area between being a part of the military, but being torn between actually wanting to sacrifice your life to go overseas.”
But Casey, 27, won’t be joining the military any time soon.
“I definitely have thought about it. I mean, I’m too afraid to do so, so I’ll make a movie about it instead.”
Weekend Warrior explores the story of young soldier Bobby Reddick, whose commanding officer finds out he has no intention of fighting overseas. Reddick, just like Casey, was beaten up at a bar and is looking to use the military for his own personal therapy — to build strength, courage and honour.
The short film is being put together by Casey and his two brothers Dillon and Conor. Casey is the writer, actor and director, while Dillon is an actor and Conor is an actor and writer. Joining the brothers are producer Shasha Nakhai and cinematographer Rich Williamson.
The team came together through Ryerson University, where both Casey and Williamson went to film school. Nakhai also went to Ryerson, but studied journalism.
Nakhai, 25, was drawn to the project after reading a script Casey previously wrote after living with his roommate. She liked his sense of humour and respected the success he had in the past.
“We’ve always wanted to work on a project together and I guess we just found the right one,” said Casey. “I guess she has faith in what I’m trying to do.”
But in the film industry, a funny script and a great team aren’t enough to create a recipe for success. Films require a hefty budget no matter the length. That’s where Indiegogo comes in.
The filmmakers have set up a page on Indiegogo.com, a crowd-funding website to help groups raise money for film, music, art, charity, theatre and more. The page includes a short teaser trailer, a film synopsis, bios and a breakdown of where donations will go.
Nakhai came up with the $15,000 goal by factoring in funding received from the Ontario Arts Council. It will be provide $8,000 on the condition the group raises 75 per cent of the budget. She also factored in deferred payments that the crew would receive if or when the film makes a profit.
While raising money has been difficult according to Nakhai, the skills used so far have come from what they learned at Ryerson.
“A lot of the times I shoot and I do sound, and a lot of that I learned the basics of here,” said Nakhai. “(Instructor) Gary Gould’s technical workshops helped a lot. So, I can now pick up a camera and shoot and that’s very helpful for documentary, but also for this project.”
Casey agrees with Nakhai’s sentiments on their alma mater.
“Ryerson definitely connected me with like-minded people. Ryerson exposed me to the right films to watch, to the right people. It gave me deadlines. The professors have knowledge of the movie industry and gave us pretty valuable insight.”
Casey attributes his success to a project in fourth year that forced him to pitch a movie. It gave him courage to start pitching in Los Angeles.
“If I didn’t make that project, I wouldn’t have a career in film. I always would have been waiting to make this movie.”
This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on November 20, 2013.