A labour of love for filmmaker

You have to do what you love. That's what local filmmaker Vaughn Winmill said of his career change from actor to director and filmmaker.

"I worked as an actor for 10 years and I had a good run from about 1993 to 1996. But then the Lower Mainland turned crazy with the influx of people," said Winmill.

He moved to the Coast from the Lower Mainland about five years ago and was amazed at the local calibre of actors. "I was blown away by the talent here. It is so much better than the stale stuff you see in town," he said.

He soon realized there was enough talent and resources here to create a feature length film entirely on the Coast, but someone needed to fund the project.

"So I spent about $8,000 on gear after doing a lot of research about what was needed and then I started to teach myself different editing programs," said Winmill.

He created a six-minute film about a schizophrenic's life and a 20-minute film about a bank manager who was being blackmailed.

"Those were pilot projects for me to get used to my gear and learn the camera," said Winmill.

That process took him about two years. Then he set his sights higher. "I wanted to tackle a feature length film," Winmill said.He started to think about locations on the Coast and a story line that hasn't been done before.

For four and a half months he worked on a script bouncing ideas off his assistant, Nathan Maddrell. "I thought about what drives humans and I came up with three things: love, conflict and money," said Winmill.

He gravitated toward the issue of money and how it affects people. "I thought, no one has done a film on lottery winners," said Winmill.

He started creating characters that have won the lottery and are meeting for the first time while they wait for their payouts. The script developed from there, examining what happens when five completely different people are brought together to share in a lottery jackpot.

It's a funny, lively script exposing each of the character's faults and follies.

Winmill held an open casting call and quickly found his stars: Ed White as the war veteran, Thomas Clarke as the young vain doctor, Kris Backs as the typical family man, Tim Furness as the young rebel and Jean-Pierre Makosso as the landed immigrant.

The talent in this film is incredible and viewers are quickly lost in the storyline that examines how money changes people.

Winmill is happy with the finished product and plans to screen it on the Coast Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. at the Heritage Playhouse.

"This screening is meant to be a compliment to all who were involved in the film. It's primarily for family and friends but there are 150 seats at the playhouse, so the public is welcome to attend on a first come, first served basis," said Winmill.

Winmill plans to enter his film in various film festivals in 2005.

"This has been a real labour of love. I think you have to do something you love and a lot of times we forget that. You have to have passion and drive in life. I'd say 95 per cent of us have to work in order to do that thing we're passionate about and I'm no exception. I work for B.C. Ferries. But you need that creativity too," Winmill said.

His film Focus Group was shot entirely on the Sunshine Coast and runs about 60 minutes.

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