CLYDECYNIC TRAILER from Genredabattoir on Vimeo.
Clyde Nelson is a young, self-proclaimed master of hypnosis who lives with his violent and toxic father, Elijah.
Clyde works for Take the Power Keep the Power, a small-time company that offers seminars on self-empowerment. With his hypnotic talent, Clyde pretends that he can erase clients’ past traumas and undesirable memories. The founder of Take the Power Keep the Power, Dion Green, uses Clyde's talent to persuade audiences to spend their money on the seminars. His associate Wayne thinks that Clyde is emotionally unstable and potentially dangerous, but Dion refuses to believe him.
However, the young master of hypnosis reveals his true destructive nature when his life begins to spin out of control. This is when Kate, a tormented bisexual, seeks help from Clyde and makes him realize what he has become: A violent and toxic person. Secrets are exposed and lives are ruined as CLYDECYNIC takes you through a tough and gritty experience that explores the depths of rage, compassion and manipulation.
RAMIRO BÉLANGER / Writer, Director, Cinematographer & Editor
Ramiro Bélanger is a self-taught artist who began his career in filmmaking 14 years ago as a CGI animator on Hollywood productions like Sin City and 300. In 2007, he wrote, directed and produced Radical, Rifle, Icon, an ambitious stylistic short film that ignites a quest for his true path as a filmmaker. A few years later, he introduces his edgy auteur voice and dark humor with Raymond May Have Rabies, a short film that tackles taboos in a tell don’t show style. The film was selected to be part of the Québec Gold selection at the Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film Corner in 2010 and also won a Prends ça court! Excellence Prize in 2011. While being head of the narrative design team of the Activision Spider-Man video game franchise, he wrote and directed CLYDECYNIC, an intense art-house film which he co-produced with his equally passionate wife, Virginie Lavallée Bélanger. CLYDECYNIC is introduced to the world in 2013 at the Busan International Film Festival where it premieres in the Flash Forward official selection and competes for the Audience Award.
VIRGINIE LAVALLÉE BÉLANGER / Executive Producer & Producer
Hailing from Montreal, Virginie completed a Master’s degree in Literature and New Media at Concordia University before realizing her greatest passion in life is cinema and that she was destined for a career in filmmaking. In 2007 she co-founded the production house Genre d’Abattoir with now husband Ramiro Bélanger and started her journey as an indie film producer. Since then, she has produced 13 short films that have been screened in festivals around the world, the 24-episode web series OFF On The Roof and the feature film CLYDECYNIC. She was art director of her local filmmaking coop, Spirafilm, from 2009 to 2011, a time during which she also founded a Cine-Club to develop the auteur film audience in Québec city. From 2010 to 2012 she was Vice-President of the Québec Council of Media Arts (CQAM) and member of the Media Art Table. She believes her calling in life is producing but also has a great passion for photography and screenwriting. She has been married to writer-director Ramiro Bélanger since 2009 and is currently associate producer for Activision’s Québec city studio Beenox, where she works on the mega franchise Skylanders.
RAMIRO: I don’t really consider myself as a writer, but more as a narrative designer who deals with screenwriting, the way you deal with engineering. It is easier for me to express my artistic vision by working this way.
CLYDECYNIC was very hard to create due to the extreme limitations imposed by the production budget. As I was writing it, I was already thinking about how I would shoot it. I had to lay down each limitation before designing any plot element or character. What is interesting is that you sometimes find better ideas while under extreme limitation. When you have infinite resources, it is easy to become lazy.
The screenplay was written over the course of four months, at night, while working on a Spider-Man video game during the day. I did my research on hypnosis outside of traditional hypnotherapy. I became fascinated by hypnosis schemes in Las Vegas. I like the idea of something that feels like magic but works for real. I’m interested in all things that trigger curiosity, and hypnosis definitely does.
Clyde’s character was created around a mechanic that I wanted to explore which was: how can we have a victim who’s also a predator. I’m fascinated by this kind of duality and contrast. I enjoy discovering a character’s layers and observing them transform over the course of a story.
At the end of the day, I like storytelling as a vehicle to play with the audience.
VIRGINIE: As a producer, the writing process is one of the most nerve-wracking for me, because it’s kind of a waiting game. I consider the script to be the foundation of a film and, without it, I feel naked as a producer. It was twice as challenging with CLYDECYNIC, because I am also married to Ramiro and was with him during all the angst of finding the right story to tell and of digging in personal experiences. When making your first feature film, you want the tone to be right, and you want to make the talent of the people making the film with you to shine. I feel like it was definitely very challenging, but we are very proud of the script that turned out in the end.
RAMIRO: I had to reverse engineer the casting process for CLYDECYNIC. I selected actors I knew and wanted to work with, and I custom- designed characters for them.
Omari Newton was first to be cast as the lead character, Clyde. Omari and I had worked together before on my first short film, and I was extremely thrilled to work with him again. Unfortunately for us, four days before principal photography, he was offered the lead role in a TV series. That made it impossible for him to be part of CLYDECYNIC. After hanging up the phone with Omari, I called Alexander Weiner right away. Alexander is an actor who was introduced to me by Omari a few weeks earlier, and for whom it was creative love at first sight. I saw great talent in him, and I was extremely impressed by his dedication and skill set. He was a perfect match for Clyde, although he was 10 years younger and of a different skin colour than previously planned.
Richard Zeman was a good challenge to write for. Being type-cast most of the time, I wanted to write something different than a cop or a Nazi officer for him. In his important stature and physique, I saw power and charisma, the basic foundation for a good seminar scheme, which I called Take the Power, Keep the Power.
Alex convinced HBO’s Less Than Kind lead Jesse Camacho to play the only funny role. Jesse and I really connected, and I basically let him do whatever he wanted with his character Kevin. Cara Raynold is another talent introduced to me by Omari. Her natural and edgy femininity was perfect for the character of Kate.
Mark Kruppa was also an important collaborator on my first short film. He was cast to play the father once Omari had to quit the project, which led to the father suddenly becoming Caucasian.
As for Francis Jr Gould, he has been a good friend of mine ever since high school. He has always been interested in acting and has a natural gift; he was perfect for Clyde’s nemesis Wayne.
It is always special the first time an actor performs my work. My animation background gave me this taste for acting. Every small nuance and detail in a performance is really gratifying.
VIRGINIE: Casting when you have no budget is very challenging. You can’t really hold a traditional casting session if there is no money involved in making the film, it’s not very well perceived. So we did as we had done before for our short films: we started with a lead actor in head, wrote the part for him and figured we would use the script as our tool to convince the other actors to be a part of our project.
For about a year and a half, we worked with Omari Newton, who was cast to play the part of Clyde, and Richard Zeman, who plays Dion Green. Once the script was final, they helped us cast the other roles by sending us resumes, shots and videos of some actors they knew and whose work they appreciated. For Kate, it was an easy fit. The moment we saw Cara we knew we had found our girl. But some other roles were much more challenging, notably the role of Elijah Nelson, Clyde’s father. Up until two weeks before we started shooting, we were still looking for the right fit, until we had a light bulb moment and contacted Mark Krupa.
Because the actors were accepting to take part in the project without being financially compensated, we signed an MIP contract with ACTRA, which made them part owners of the project. We also had one actor in the project that wasn’t part of the union, and boy did I have to use my convincing skills on ACTRA to let him be part of our cast! I am really grateful they ended up siding with me, because Francis Gould Jr. did an amazing job as Wayne.
RAMIRO: We had about 3 months to get ready to shoot and when you are a 4 person crew, it’s not much. My entire crew consisted of my producer and wife, collaborator Jonathan Simard and props designer Karine Bédard. The first challenge was Clyde’s office, where most of the “action” takes place. We didn’t have the resources to rent a location and to be able to transform it the way we wanted. The most cost-effective solution was to build a set in our living/dining room. After emptying the room, we created Clyde’s personal space where he hypnotises his clients.
For the Take the Power, Keep the Power meeting, we needed something that reflected the underground and gritty aspect of the seminar. Virginie found an old building where we could walk in freely and could use not only a big room for the main scene, but all the corridors and stairs for other smaller scenes. It was a historic building situated in Québec city, where we live.
Wardrobe was simple. Every actor brought their own wardrobe and we provided the Take the Power, Keep the Power t-shirts and hoodies. It was important to make the clothes reflect who the characters were, and give an insight into their personalities.
The Take the Power, Keep the Power iconography needed special attention. I wanted it to be simple and clean, and to reflect the D.I.Y aspect of the group. It also had to be something that could resonate with the audience. Graphic designer Daniel Voyer Lessard was brought in to create all the images and iconography of the infamous seminar group where Clyde works.
VIRGINIE: We always like to keep our crew as small as possible in order to stay as independent as possible, and this time was no exception. I was the only one working full-time on the pre-production for 3 months, since Ramiro, our Art Director Jonathan and our prop designer Karine were all working on the Spider-Man video game on a full time basis at the time. We held many meetings, week-ends and week nights, to determine the look we wanted for the film. It had to be easy to create but highly effective.
One of the first choices Ramiro and I had made was to use our apartment as the main set. We had learned while shooting our first short film in 2007 how expensive locations can be and how annoying it can be to work around the opening hours. It sounded like such a great idea, but we definitely had pink glasses on. We had 800 square feet to create two main locations, house two of our actors and ourselves in addition to making the craft and establishing a production office. We built the sets with no exterior help and created custom lighting for our needs. We asked our neighbours living above to keep their 1 and 3 year olds quiet for the following three weeks and I prepared 3 meals a day for 12 people. Luckily, we live in Canada, and in January our balcony could be used as a freezer. Unfortunately, our light installations were also outside and they didn’t always love the -25 degrees celsius (-13 Fahrenheit) weather as much.
RAMIRO: Shooting started on January 2, 2012 in Quebec City, Canada. The decision was made to shoot the picture in black and white. It was more of a practical decision than an aesthetic one. Knowing I would do the entire post production, I decided that I didn’t want to spend time on color grading and color timing. Black and white allowed me to focus on composition, contrast and framing, leaving behind skin tones and color schemes.
Knowing our technical crew would consist of only two people, Jonathan and I, lighting needed to be simple and static. No changes between camera setups. The decision was made to use practical lighting. One problem we faced was light coming from outside that we could not control. Lights rigs had to be build outside so we could control the light coming from the windows. Setting up those rigs every morning at -25 degrees (-13 Fahrenheit) was an unpleasant challenge for Jonathan and I.
Every scene was shot with two Canon 7Ds, with and an average of thirteen takes per camera setup. As a director, I like discovering the scene with the actors. I like when everybody comes in with their ideas, but my kick is watching actors discovering new angles and taking decisions on the spot. I’m looking for errors and spontaneous pantomimes and unexpected facial expressions. It’s something that my animation background makes me appreciate in a performance. I’m not the type of director who is expecting something very precise from an actor. I usually discuss extensively with them about the character’s body language and persona before main photography. On set, I’m there to help the actors to give their best, and to give them a different perspective on the material. At the end of the day, I’m just a fan watching people perform my writing.
The shooting ended on time and within budget, something I’m really proud of. Through my entire career in animation, being on time and within budget was always important. I learned to embrace limitation, and how to use it as a creative tool.
After 4 weeks of shooting, we ended up with 130 hours of footage.
VIRGINIE: Production is my favorite part of the process. There isn’t really anything quite like being on set. As crazy as this shoot was, it was also the coolest experience ever. We had to have a short shoot for logistic reasons and so our schedule was spread over 22 days of shooting during month of January. It was very important for Ramiro to have the time and the freedom to shoot as many takes as possible of each scene to really make this film about the acting. The days were long, but we had such an energy going between us; it was kind of magical. We shot for three weeks in Québec city, and then we took down all the sets and moved all of our worldly possessions to a new space where we were going to go into post-production. The next day, we started the Montreal leg of our shoot at my father’s Saint-Anne-des-Plaines maple farm where we shot for 6 days straight. Our very last day of shooting took place in a fancy Laval hotel, with only Alex, Mark, Ramiro and I.
RAMIRO: With so much footage to watch and review while also working full time, a proper work flow needed it to be established.
A key scene was selected for each character as a guide on which direction to take for them. Then, the other takes would be selected to match my primary take, so the performance would be constant and fluid. With this method, it was easy to discard takes and not fall in love with a take that was very good but didn’t match the character’s behaviour and persona.
Sound is the only aspect where I couldn’t do it myself, and having good sound was very important for the film’s credibility. Serge André Amin was introduced to me through friends we had in common. After many discussions about the minimal style I was looking for, Serge was able to pull off something clean and simple. Cara Reynold’s (Kate) entire voice performance needed to be redone in ADR due to a microphone problem. We had to fly Cara back from Vancouver. Due to the complex sexual undertone of the scene, redoing the entire performance was a great challenge for Cara and a great dose of stress for me. Cara was able to prepare herself and she was able to pull it off gracefully.
Working only at night and on weekends, the film took eighteen months to edit.
CLYDECYNIC is my first attempt at a feature film. The decision to handle everything myself, from writing to editing, was a personal test to see if I had what it need to be a complete filmmaker without having the stress of spending somebody else’s money.
VIRGINIE: During post-production, people start talking about the movie as your baby because they notice you’ve been obsessing about it for about two years now, and it will soon be ready to be released into the universe.
For us post production had its ups and downs. Once the film edit was finalized, I did a lot of the sound editing to help move the process along. Our final edit and sound mixing was done in Montreal, which made the process a bit challenging since we lived in Québec city. Ramiro likes to be involved in every detail, and living 250 km away from your sound studio can be stressful.
Music is one aspect that we toyed with until the very end. For a long time, the film had no music at all. Then, Ram and Jo recorded some guitar sounds. We wanted to use more light and pad than music. In the end, the film was fairly heavy, although Ramiro and I found it funny. And so, we added some music, but very delicately.
ABOUT THE CAST
ALEX WEINER / Clyde Nelson
Alex began acting professionally at the age of 17 when, after one of his very first auditions, he landed a leading role in the feature film Territories (Olivier Abbou). Alex has since worked with various directors on numerous projects, including the lead role in the feature film CLYDECYNIC (Ramiro Bélanger), a supporting role in the feature The Good Lie (Shawn Linden), a supporting role in the Sonar Network mini-series Exploding The Sun (Michael Robison, aired on Space and SYFY in the spring of 2013) and guest starring on Spike TV's Blue Mountain State. He also did voice acting for animated productions like Wink and the lead in the animated pilot Hubert and Takako. Alex also lends his talent behind the camera, involving himself in the producing, directing and writing of several short films.
MARK KRUPA / Elijah Nelson
Mark started his career with the multi-cultural theatre troupe Montreal Serai before expanding into TV and film in both the English and French Canadian markets. Some of his most notable performances can be seen in Human Trafficking, Silent Night, L’incomparable Mademoiselle C and The Last Templar. He also wrote, co-executive produced, and acted in the The Wild Hunt, which won the Best First Canadian Feature Film prize at TIFF in 2009 as well as the audience award for best feature film at Slamdance in 2010. At the 2011 Gémaux awards, Mark was nominated as Best Host in a Youth Series for Zooville which aired on SRC for 2 seasons, totaling 104 episodes. He also wrote and hosted the travel-adventure series Hooked With Mark Krupa, which airs internationally. Mark also completed his Master’s degree in Dramatherapy at Concordia University. In between productions, he works with troubled teens.
JESSE CAMACHO / Kevin Thomson
Jesse has been an ACTRA member since the age of 8. At 9, he landed a recurring role on the Hallmark series Tales From The Neverending Story and a role in the critically acclaimed feature film 12 And Holding shot completely on location in New York. After several painfully close calls with American Network TV series and Hollywood studios, he landed a lead role in the independent feature film, Summerhood. He can also be seen in the role of young Duddy Kravitz in the mini-series St. Urban’s Horseman. Other credits include The Trotsky, Rapture Palooza, Kickass II and the upcoming feature Nicky Deuce. Jesse recently completed filming on the fourth season of the Gemini-winning, HBO Canada series, Less Than Kind. When not on set, Jesse can be found in front of his computer working on one of his many screenplays. Among his most prized possessions are the two Canadian Comedy Awards for best ensemble cast he shares with his Less Than Kind castmate.
RICHARD ZEMAN / Dion Green
Born and raised in Montreal as the son of Czech immigrants, Richard’s father was a cabaret and theater performer in Europe before coming to Canada. Richard always liked performing in front of an audience and he realized after doing his first play at the age of 14 that it was his calling in life. While taking acting classes, he got his first movie acting job and decided to whole-heartedly pursue his career as an actor. He has worked all over Canada, in the U.S., Europe, and New Zealand. Right now, his home is wherever work and life may take him.
CARA REYNOLDS / Kate
Cara Reynolds began her acting career in Montreal at the age of 9. She landed her third audition ever, earning a role in the feature film Eye of The Beholder, where she played the younger version of Ashley Judd’s character Joanna Eris. She later had a brief stint on the children’s television series Caillou, as well as on PBS Kids cooking show Wiz Chef. She then held a series of small roles in three Canadian independent features. Throughout her teenage years, Cara landed roles in her high school’s renditions of Cheaper by The Dozen and Alice in Wonderland. Cara took a short hiatus from acting in order to focus on her studies before deciding to combine her love of acting and academia to enroll in John Abbott’s Professional Theatre program. After a year of learning from some great mentors, Cara moved to Vancouver to take a crack at the West Coast film and television industry.
FRANCIS GOULD JR / Wayne
Ever since joining his high school improv team in the 9th grade, Francis has been passionate about acting as a hobby. As a teenager, he was involved in live action role-playing games where he met Ramiro Bélanger, who, seeing a lot of raw talent, inspired him to continue developing his acting skills. A decade later, Francis was cast to play JR in the short film Raymond May Have Rabies. His performance blew the team away, so Ramiro decided to write a part for him in his first feature, CLYDECYNIC. He was the only non-unionized actor in the production and held his own as a professional. Since then, Francis has written and directed his first short film, Two Inches From Death.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED WITH CLYDECYNIC?
ALEX WEINER: I got a call from Omari Newton, who I had worked with in 2011 on a television show. At that time he was playing the lead in CLYDECYNIC and he introduced me to Ramiro, who was looking for someone to take the supporting role of Kevin. A week and a half before we started shooting, Omari couldn't work on CLYDECYNIC anymore, so Ramiro offered me the lead role of Clyde.
JESSE CAMACHO: This is actually a funny little story. I was sitting at home one night when I got a call from my buddy Alex Weiner, who plays Clyde in the movie, asking me if I would go to Quebec City for a few days to shoot a movie. I had no idea what was going on. He'd left me like 3 messages and kept texting me. I was lucky enough to get involved from there.
RICHARD ZEMAN: About 6 years ago Ramiro asked me to play a part in his first ever film, a short, bizarre science-fiction film. I think what got me interested in it was more Ramiro - his character and his energy – than the film itself. One of his great assets - aside from directing - I think is his ability to listen to ideas. We have remained friends, and he often told me he wanted to shoot a full length feature film with me in it. After several years of writing and changing the concept many times, he came up with CLYDECYNIC.
HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU FIRST READ THE SCRIPT?
ALEX WEINER: When I first read the script, all I kept thinking was that I wished I could play Clyde. I was in love with the character’s torment, and the script had this raw tone to it. I knew I wanted to be a part of it in any way, really. When I got the part, I really started to delve into the script, and I realized how naturally the words flowed out. The writing was meticulous and obviously very deliberate. Before reading the script, I had never really come across a character like this, and I knew it was a unique piece of writing.
MARK KRUPA: I was drawn to the dysfunctional father-son relationship: the story of a father who loves, yet abuses, his son, which perpetuates a cycle of violence.
JESSE CAMACHO: I REALLY liked it. It was intense, dark, simple, with a great story. I could tell Ramiro knew his characters and their arcs. When you read a script you always look for great characters and Ramiro created a bunch of them. It was one great scene after another.
HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR YOUR ROLE?
ALEX WEINER: There were two aspects that I needed to solidify in the character right off the bat. The first one being his expertise: hypnotism, and the second being his history with his abusive father. Hypnotism is a huge part of the film and is the skill that Clyde has mastered, so I needed to be credible in that sense. I went to a hypnotist and underwent hypnotherapy, I read a book on self-hypnosis and another more academic one featuring more specific case studies, and I tried to hypnotize members of my family. I also consulted a lot of "performance" hypnotists, particularly Marshall Silver. The rest of Clyde I worked from within, spending long hours on the floor of my bathroom crying or in the corner of my room letting the character arrive in some way that I still can't fully understand.
MARK KRUPA: I thought it would be challenging to portray a father with a subtle yet undeniable mental condition. As a dramatherapist, I am familiar with several dysfunctional behavior patterns, so I chose to explore an intense and unique form of Obsessive-Compulsive disorder that would match the character in the script.
FRANCIS GOULD JR.: Ramiro made me watch a lot of movies and study them. He also coached me with acting for weeks before the shoot and made me look for the character’s personal story.
JESSE CAMACHO: I'm gonna sound a little silly here, but I didn't really want to, and I'll explain why. Kevin is the comic relief of the movie. His purpose is to come in and lighten the mood slightly for the audience before the shit really hits the fan. I didn't want to prepare him too much one way or the other as I didn't know exactly what Ramiro would want when I arrived on set. It also gave us more room to play with the characterization, which we did.
HOW WAS IT ON LOCATION?
ALEX WEINER: Ramiro and Virginie built the set in their home, and I went to sleep and woke up in my character's office, which was great. Virginie is a great cook (she took care of all the craf), and we all loved the film and the process. Every day was focused fun, like a group working on a really cool project.
RICHARD ZEMAN: For me it was a fun process working with people I knew. Our common goal was to create as much as possible with the little we had: a script, a camera, and some talent. A little patience helped too.
JESSE CAMACHO: SOOO much fun! I was already friends with Alex Weiner, who plays Clyde. But I also got to work with Richard Zemen and Francis, who are both awesome. It was interesting actually, because I only really came down for like 4 days and shot my scenes, which are mostly very comedic. So my experience was one of making a comedy. So it’s gonna be really cool for me to see all the dramatic stuff I didn't get to work on.
HOW DID YOU LIKE WORKING WITH SCREENWRITER-DIRECTOR RAMIRO BÉLANGER?
ALEX WEINER: Ramiro and I just clicked. We challenged each other when we needed to, but we mostly have the same ideas in terms of good films. He respects my preparation methods in terms of character-building, and I let him direct me in the right direction. I love having a good director who knows how to give direction, and he does a great job of showing me an objective point of view in terms of scene-building and dramatic action. We make a very good team.
CARA REYNOLDS: Not only is he wild, and likes to push limits, but he knows what he is doing, and the coolest thing about the fact that he is so knowledgeable is that he is completely self-taught. It was his passion for film that led him down the road to filmmaking and he learned everything he knows about it on his own by watching and re-watching many films and studying his favorite directors. He is a big fan of doing many takes in order to capture the most subtle aspects of every performance. At times it was challenging because you need a lot of stamina to work in such a way, but I had full confidence in him and his vision.
HOW WAS IT WORKING WITH PRODUCER VIRGINIE LAVALLÉE BÉLANGER?
JONATHAN SIMARD: She did all the thankless work in addition to her responsibilities as a producer. She made sure everybody had something to eat, that we were on schedule and also assisted during the filming, taking care of the continuity and other stuff. I don't remember ever seeing her take a break actually. I kept telling Ramiro how lucky he is to have her. The movie couldn’t have been completed without her, that’s for sure.
CARA REYNOLDS: She was like an older sister I never had, and the cool young mom of the entire film.
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON WORKING ON A NO BUDGET INDIE FILM?
ALEX WEINER: It depends on the team. Some people can make a great set with no money, while others do a terrible job. Same thing goes for big budget sets: it depends on the team. Some films require a big budget, of course, but smaller sets can be so efficient for some projects. I will say that if the project speaks to me and I think it's a worthy investment of my time: then let's do it, let's team up and make a movie. I would do it again with Ramiro and Virginie in a heartbeat.
MARK KRUPA: I am a strong supporter of indie film. I ask many people to work on my indie productions so I try as much as possible to return the favour. Unfortunately, in English-speaking Canada, we are in somewhat of a cultural coma, but film-makers like Ramiro and Virginie remain part of the solution.