A year in shorts
After Lewis Bennett got in the only fight of his life on the soccer field of North Otter Elementary, his principal warned that if he continued his violent ways, he would end up in an Asian gang.
The shocking comment was made to him nearly two decades ago, but it was only recently that the filmmaker decided to explore the idea that he might — perhaps — belong to an Asian gang and just not know it.
Bennett along with fellow writer/filmmaker Callum MacLeod returned to Langley from their current home of Vancouver to make a short documentary exploring the topic of gang life in Langley in the 1990s.
The film features different elements of what makes Langley unique, from the Fort Langley Historic National site and Greater Vancouver Zoo (where even the painted animals look depressed) to the Langley Ukulele Ensemble.
It also spends time in Bennett’s family home in Langley where he shares a hilarious conversation with his mother, including asking her if she ever paid for Chinese food with sex.
“My poor mother, she’s had to endure a lot of sh** from my brother and I,” said Bennett.
To make the film work Bennett insisted on bringing in the Grade 7 student he fought all those years ago.
“I tried to find him on Facebook and messaged him but didn’t hear,” he said.
The men reconnected through a friend of a friend and Bennett’s one-time nemisis agreed to be part of the film, so the two met at their former elementary school.
The 10 minute short ends up being a laugh-out-loud, nostalgic piece of art.
Bennett, for no better reason other than to keep his skills sharp and to test himself (and likely his sanity), has committed to creating 12 short films — one for each month of 2012.
“Well I can’t quit now and look like an idiot,” said the D.W. Poppy Secondary grad.
But for every “smarmy” moment of hilarity, he adds a serious element to each film.
In this documentary, he talks to a police officer who specialized in gangs in the 1990s as well as a young outreach worker who is a former gang member.
“I’m always trying to tell real stories with a goofy element,” he said.
Among the films he’s made so far is one that finds silliness in the feet that have been washing up on the shores of Vancouver.
That piece took a surprisingly dark turn into the alleyways of the Downtown Eastside and a look at all the missing women.
Shot in HD on a Cannon 5D DSL and edited using Final Cut Pro, the films have an impressive professional quality.
Filmmaking is Bennett’s passion. But so far, it doesn’t pay the bills.
“Our girlfriends are covering our budget,” laughs Bennett.
He said he did a bit of landscaping last week and tries to do some Internet marketing work to pay some bills.
With a gift for comedic timing and creating films that truly grab the viewer from start to stop, Bennett would love to be able to be a filmmaker full-time.
“I’d love to work on longer projects, mixing documentary with made up stuff is kind of my thing,” he said.
“I like writing and directing.’
MacLeod said he makes films to make people laugh.
“Anytime I get paid for making people laugh, then you are winning,” said MacLeod, who is a correspondent for CFL.ca.
The two said their film Asian Gangs was a “true collaboration.”
Bennett’s latest film introduces a Port Kells deli shop owner dubbed by his customers as the “sandwich Nazi.”
The Lebanese-born sandwich maker requires that all his customers say please, often decides what is going on sandwiches and a ringing cellphone gets you kicked out of his shop.
This short comes with a big warning, said Bennett.
“Sal (the sandwich maker) is really, really lewd and there is nudity.
“He is a very interesting guy though,” he said.
“Our three days spent with him will not soon be forgotten.”
Check outBennett’s film on Asian gangs at http://vimeo.com/41227051.