A Q&A with Lost Dominion Screening Collective’s Paul Gordon

Based out of Ottawa, the Lost Dominion Screening Collective is a group of film professionals, enthusiasts and students that are dedicated to bringing forgotten,  rarely-shown Canadian classics back to the big screen. A lofty goal for any programmer, but the recently formed collective, or LDSC for short, makes a special effort to delve deeply into tax shelter era for their popular screenings at Ottawa’s Bytowne and Mayfair theatres.

On September 17, 2011, the LDSC is set to launch the second season of their largest film series, the Canadian Cult Revue, the only long running program of its kind in Canada. Tickets are already on sale for this unique screening series that features double and triple-bills of an exciting lineup of classic Canadian B-movie fare, including DEADLY EYES, RABID, PAPERBACK HERO and THE PEANUT BUTTER SOLUTION, as well as a few “lost” gems recently uncovered in the film collection of Library and Archives Canada. One of the collective’s founders, Paul Gordon, talked to Canuxploitation.com about the LDSC’s upcoming Canadian Cult Revue series and offered some of his thoughts on the state of Canadian genre filmmaking today.

Where did the idea for LDSC come from?

LDSC started back in 2005 when I was working part-time as a projectionist at the Mayfair Theatre in Ottawa. We started with late night local productions that were on 35mm, and then we teamed up with filmmaker Lee Demarbre (JESUS CHRIST VAMPIRE HUNTER) and it evolved into “Saturday Night Sinema”, with a focus on grindhouse films.

Our first Saturday Night Sinema screening was DEATH RACE 2000 after I bought a 35mm print online. From there we started playing grindhouse classics on the last Saturday of every month at either the Mayfair or Club SAW, which is a small screening venue, part of SAW Video and SAW Gallery.

Saturday Night Sinema brought on the idea for the Canadian Cult Revue. We were showing a lot of Canadian tax shelter films on 16mm, such as RUSSIAN ROULETTE, STRANGE SHADOWS IN AN EMPTY ROOM and AMERICAN NIGHTMARE. Not only were these screenings very successful, but we could also sell booze! We even installed a 35mm projector in Club SAW to open up our print options. That’s when we started accessing films from the Library and Archives Canada.

Why did LDSC decide to focus on Canadian films?

We wanted to show that Canadian films can be entertaining, innovative, unique and bizarre. Canadian films always get a bad rap in Canada, and it seems Canadians still refuse to pay to watch them. We are trying to fix this, and we also wanted to fill a niche that we felt was neglected.

What part does cult and genre films play in Canadian film history?

Cult and genre films are what Canada is all about! They are, and will be, the films people want to see. Without the tax shelter years, Canada’s feature film output would look pretty grim.

Paul Gordon (L) and John Yemen (R)

Tell me about the LDSC’s most memorable screenings.

We’ve had a lot of great screenings, but my favorites are:

Have you noticed a change in audience’s interest in Canadian tax shelter era films and genre films since LDSC started?

Yes, people now know there is more to Canadian film then Atom Egoyan and Don McKellar. There is a renewed interest in the tax shelters years, which may be a result of Canuxploitation.com, screenings at The Trash Palace and Phantascope in Toronto, the takeover of the Mayfair Theatre by Lee Demarbre and company, London, Ontario’s Vagrancy Films and Saskatoon’s Bad Monster Films.

Our audiences have come to expect something different from Canadian cinema, and many are seeing these films for the first time. They welcome the fact that they can go into a theatre blind and enjoy themselves with the crowd.

Any film you would like to show as part of the Canadian Cult Review but haven’t been able to find prints?

Finding prints is always a mission. Another problem is faded prints — before low fade stocks were introduced in 1983, Kodak used a Eastman release stock through most of the 1970s that, over time, fades to pink! So finding good 1970s and early ’80s prints that have good colour is a difficult.

But we’d love to score prints of STARSHIP INVASIONS, TRAPPED, SIEGE and THE BLOODY BROOD. I know they’re out there!

The Library and Archives of Canada has an incredible collection of Canadian film prints. Are there any gems you found in their collection but haven’t screened yet?


What are your future plans for LDSC?

We would like to be able to keep our Canadian Cult Revue series going, as well as our 70mm film festival, and our campground outdoor screening weekend at Raven’s Knoll Campground.

We are also currently producing “Cinema of the Lost Dominion,” a Canadian Cult Revue web show in which we interview filmmakers and show works ranging from the early 1900s to today. Our first episode, which should be up in August, features Ed Folger, a local filmmaker who directed the first Inuit language feature film back in the 1970s called NANOOK TAXI.

Generally, where do you think the future of Canadian films is heading?

New Canadian filmmakers need to take more risks, and forget grants, Telefilm, and TV sales. Just make your film the way you want to and it will find a venue.

As the arthouse and small rep cinemas switch to digital cinema projectors, there will be more opportunity for genre and B-flicks to see the big screen. I love celluloid and LDSC has always had a mandate to try to show movies on film, but the digital push is on. 35mm film may only have a couple more years as a projection format.

What screening from your 2011/2012 Canadian Cult Review series are you most looking forward to?

I’m most looking forward to RABID,  THE PEANUT BUTTER SOLUTION (which is still unreleased on DVD) and the dogs-dressed-as-rats movie DEADLY EYES, because I have a Dachshund.

For a full schedule and instructions on how to pick up your tickets for the 2011/2012 Canadian Cult Revue season, see the  Lost Dominion Screening Collective site.

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