e-mail newsletter
arts and expressions
about SNN
magazine archives


Outspoken : Above and beyond Hollywood
By: Shoilee S. Khan, SNN Editor, John Fraser Secondary, Mississauga, Ontario

"I am confused", these words, scrawled in black marker across a black and white poster that simply read "Outspoken", expressed the perplexed state of mind of many students attending John Fraser Secondary School. In early December, posters with the eerie black print were plastered on practically every wall at John Fraser staring students in the face wherever they happened to venture.

During the second week of December, word got out "Hollywood had hit Fraser". Outspoken, a film written and directed by Matthew Johnson, a student at John Fraser, was premiering at the prestigious Living Arts Centre in Mississauga. Excitement spread like wild fire! Tickets sold faster than Johnson and his assistant directors, Chelsea Flook and Eric Davis could hand them out.

So how could a bunch of seventeen-year-old high school novices pull off a stunt like that? The fact is, Johnson, Flook and Davis aren't novices; at this tender age, they're already professionals and show no sign of slowing down.

It all began in November 2000 when Johnson felt the angst and drive to do something ‘big'. Shortly after he had completed a couple of well-received short films, Johnson began writing a script and upon completion received an offer from a prospective buyer who didn't seem to care about the integrity of the script, but rather the idea of owning it. Refusing the offer, Johnson launched himself on a year long campaign, determined to bring his script to life. In April of 2001, Johnson recruited Chelsea Flook, also a student at Fraser, as an assistant director and together they approached Film Brats, a production company based in Toronto.

It was instant success. Producer Randi Richmond provided Johnson and Flook with a $3000 bursary to fund the movie. With $5000 burning in their pockets, (the remaining $2000 provided by some very nice family members), the two budding directors headed off into the filming world purchasing a professional D.V. camera, make-up, props, and renting the picturesque halls of John Fraser for the final riveting scene of the movie. After months of blood, sweat and tears, the movie was completed and ready for public scrutiny. The long awaited day arrived: Friday, December 14th, the first public screening of the movie. The majestic halls of the Living Arts Centre echoed in the friendly chatter and laughter of students, teachers and curious adults from all around Mississauga excitedly awaiting the premiere of Outspoken. Showing at three separate times, 6:00, 8:00 and 10.00 pm, the tickets were all sold out.

After viewing the film, the words ‘student made movie' took on a new meaning. The intellectual meaning of the movie had the integrity, honesty and heart-wrenching emotion that much of the teen flicks spewing out of Hollywood lack. Starring Chris Bernaerts as Michael Wyman, Outspoken is a film that meets the challenge of explaining the true meaning of isolation and self-realization. "An analysis for the human need of communication, says Johnson. "Communication is the transfer of information between any two media, how we humans grow into what we are".

Outspoken follows the life of Michael Wyman, a student ignored and neglected who is essentially a silent figure walking through the motions of life. He finds solace in his computer but his world begins to fall apart when he discovers that what he deems as reality isn't reality at all. The final scenes of the movie depict Michael Wyman's attempt to bring his reality to life through extreme and violent means.

Filmed in the main atrium of John Fraser, the final scene required over 150 extras and multitudes of preparation organized by Flook. "Without Chelsea, I don't know what I would've done, she was responsible for all the technical work", comments Johnson. "It was definitely an incredible experience", says Flook nodding thoughtfully.

An incredible experience indeed! Viewers left the theatre with the film lingering on their minds. Outspoken spoke to the audience, and the audience listened and held its message. Who was it that said, "a good film will leave you satisfied, but a great film will never leave you?"

Well whoever it was would definitely agree that Outspoken could rightfully be deemed a ‘great film'.