Headcase is the result of an odd confluence of events that came together around (of all places) a bar called, Castro's Lounge. It's at this bar where former stand up comedian, and then bar manager Anthony Greene met the embittered, under-employed television editor, Ken Simpson and his friend, the young upstart producer, Alex Jordan. It was shortly thereafter that Anthony mentioned to the two that he had written a script in his spare time. That was all well and good thought the other two, but everyone has a script lying around, “where is the money going to come from?” they asked. “Well,” replied Anthony “I think I can get about fifty thousand dollars through a combination of a low interest credit card and a small line of credit” This piqued the interest of the (then) young Ken and Alex, “Sorry, what did you say your movie was called?”
That for the sake of brevity, is how Headcase came to be.
However what I could never have predicted at the time when me made the handshake deal (I've never signed a contract) that it was going to take four long years to make the film! I've always wanted to direct, in fact that was the whole point of getting in to this ridiculous industry in the first place! But more often than not I found myself trudging though gig after gig, lighting technician, grip, set painter, camera operator, editor, compositor, you name it I did it. What I didn't realize then was that the trudging wasn't an end it onto itself at all, that what those ten years of toiling on other people's film sets was actually the best, most practical film school imaginable. I wasn't learning just how to “wax on and wax off” but rather I was learning the tools that would prepare me to mount the crazy, ambitious and arduous fifty thousand dollar feature film that was Headcase.
I poured everything I learned into making this film. There were many 20 plus hour days throughout the production and twice as many as that after we wrapped principal photography. No one will ever know the sacrifice and dedication it took to get this movie from script to screen except for the equally dedicated cast and crew (most of whom it was their first feature) and all of whom worked for nothing and gave absolutely everything. I'm so proud of the performances in this film and I say that not just about the actors but about everyone who worked on Headcase. A film as logistically challenging as this could not have been made with out the ingenuity and genuine lack of pretension of everyone involved. There's no glamour in working 20 hours straight and taking the crew's lunch orders before ironing the cast's clothes but that's exactly what our co-producer, Lara Amersey did. There's nothing to brag about stealing a desk lamp and tying it to a wall to light our star but that's what our cinematographer, Alex Dacev did. There's countless stories like this on Headcase that happened hourly, just to get us through our day's schedule.
Wether the resulting film itself is too “Hollywood” for Canada or too “Canadian” for Hollywood remains to be seen, what I do hope is that audiences will cheer, jeer and be genuinely entertained by this dark, funny and ultimately uplifting film about characters who find themselves stuck in neutral and aspire to a life more fulfilling. Like the film's protagonist, this “Headcase” was exactly the kick in the ass that I needed to get out of my own rut and gave me the opportunity to pursue new creative avenues. I feel extremely privileged to have been given so much freedom to make a movie with my best friends in the city I love. I can honestly say, without any irony or sense of cynicism that it was a dream come true.
Ken Simpson, 2013.