The characters may be the same, but Connor Gaston’s The Cameraman is quite different from his father’s novel of the same name.
The Saanich-based writer and director said his latest short film is less of an adaptation and more of an “inspired by” work, based loosely on the critically acclaimed 1994 book by his father, author Bill Gaston. The film hits screens at the Vancouver International Film Festival on Oct. 13 and stars young actors Octavian Kaul and Nolan Hupp as Francis and Ed, two boys coming to grips with their father’s Huntington’s disease.
“These two brothers try to reconcile the fact that they both have a 50-50 chance of having Huntington’s disease,” said Gaston. “The youngest brother (Ed) deals with it by filming everything – it’s kind of therapeutic to him. The other brother (Francis) tries to deny it or not think about it or ignore it, and eventually, the younger brother helps him see the truth, in a way, through his filmmaking.”
Emotionally, the film touches on Francis’ resentment toward his father (played by Mur Meadows), who is abusive at times, making it difficult for him to feel compassion for his father’s suffering.
“It’s a complex character,” said Gaston. “You feel terrible for him because he has this horrific disease, but he’s abusive to his kids. It adds a layer to it.”
While Gaston admits his father “wasn’t wild about” adapting his novel to film, the 16-minute drama stands on its own as a well-made piece of cinema, almost separate from its paperback roots.
“I showed him the first half of the script and he did not love it at all,” Gaston said with a chuckle. “It took on many iterations and eventually came so far from the book that it worked better as a movie.”
The film was produced by Clownbog Studios and funded by Bell Media’s Harold Greenberg Fund in their Shorts-to-Features program. Additionally, Gaston’s father recorded the narrative voiceover, portraying an older version of Francis.
“There’s a lot of him in the book, and with the main character, Francis, you can tell there are bits of him in the character,” said Gaston.
The screening is set for Thursday, Oct. 13 at 3 p.m. at the VanCity Theatre. Following the screening, Gaston will be on hand for a Q&A, along with the lead actors Kaul and Hupp.
For tickets or more information, visit viff.org.