Outspoken : Above and beyond
"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
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'.
Living Arts Centre
John Fraser Secondary
CRITIQUES OF ARTICLE BY
- Excellent piece of work. Grabs me from the first sentence
with a question I want an answer to -- what about those posters
-- and lures me nicely into the rest of the story...
- Excellent article! Interesting story about how a student
brought a film to life. Good research, and well told. Well done!
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