PEACE PARK DOCUMENTARY | PRODUCTION


 

Peace Park Documentary_Production Notes_Poke me and Die_Photo Dan Mathieu

 

To make the Peace Park documentary, director David Boots filmed over the course of twelve years, capturing over 200 hours of footage. To ensure that he covered every aspect of the park, he filtered through approximately 900 hours of tapes that belonged to other skaters and friends.

Most of the movie is filmed with a Sony 3CCD VX1000 and a Century Precision Optics 3x Ultra fisheye lens. The rest of the footage was captured with High 8, Digital 8, and Mini DV. Out of the fifty interviews conducted, forty-five were used. Three different release dates were announced before the film was shown as a work in progress at the 40th anniversary of the Festival du Nouveau Cinema. The total budget was $60 000 with grants from the Canadian Council of Arts (CCA), the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Quebec (CALQ), Aide au Cinema Independent Canada (ACIC), and Programme Aide d’Urgence de Productions Réalisations Indépendantes de Montréal (PRIM). The postproduction was finished in 2013 with a short version and an extended version.

One of the biggest challenges faced, was dealing with a staggering amount of footage. The footage collected from contributors spanned from 1994 to 2009 and was not dated. To maintain the integrity of the film’s chronology, the footage was put in order, sometimes frame by frame, looking for clues that would indicate the year. To determine what year the footage was from, the construction of the buildings around the park were used as reference points and the leaves on the trees separated the seasons. The presence of stickers and graffiti tags on the curbs and walls around the park were used to pinpoint specific moments in time. The process was grueling, but as a result, as the story unfolds, the footage accurately represents each time period.

The promotion of the film began almost six years before the movie was finished with three “WANTED” advertisements in Éxpose magazine. The first appeared in November 2005, the second in April 2006 and the last in July 2006. They called on skaters to donate any and all footage from Peace Park. At that point, the film was meant to be a skate video about Peace Park, which would include the history of the best skateboard tricks, graffiti, and some of the history of the park to add context.

 

Peace Park Documentary_Production Notes_The Gazette

 

Once the contributed footage was collected, another advertisement was placed in the November 2006 edition of Exposé, announcing that the movie was “coming soon”. With no clear work plan, the same ad was printed again at the beginning of 2007. Soon people began to doubt whether the film would ever be finished.

By May 2008, the movie was well on its way and the amount of footage collected and research done inspired David to change the direction of the film, from a skate video to a full length documentary. He submitted grant applications and in November 2008 placed another ad in Éxpose announcing that the Peace Park documentary would be coming out in 2009. That same year, a website was built with the help of TRIBX, also announcing 2009 as the year of release.

In December 2008, the documentary was approved for $50 000 from the CCA and the CALQ. The first installment of $10 000 came in March 2009. At the same time, David was was ordered to pay a fine of $653 for allegedly skateboarding in Peace Park. The story made headlines in the Montreal Gazette and got David interviews on the radio. This unforeseen attention added to rumors that the project would not live up to its hype.

By the middle of 2009, the film was nowhere near completion but it finally had a real budget, so in July and October of 2009 two more ads were printed in Éxpose featuring the grant logos and the release date set for 2010. By the beginning of 2010, almost everything was in order but David, being overwhelmed with information, needed help putting his story together. On May 30th, 2010, David met Jessica at the 30th anniversary party of Café Cléopatre, a show bar across the street from the park. Introduced through mutual friends, they crossed the street and discussed the project over a beer at Peace Park. With a degree in history and an interest in the film, Jessica decided to get on board, but even with her help, the movie would not be finished in 2010.

 

Peace Park Documentary_Production Notes_David Boots & Jessica McIntyre_Photo Dan Mathieu

 

For the next year and a half they worked together to write the story, finish missing research and conduct two final interviews. There was a lot of progress made but the final factor that pushed the film to completion was an opportunity that came in June, 2011.The Festival du Nouveau Cinema was celebrating their 40th anniversary and was interested in the documentary. Because the film was still in pre- production, they were doubtful as to whether it would be completed by the October deadline. Help came again when PRIM promised they would do everything they could to ensure it would be done on time and, it was their commitment that assured the movie a spot in the festival.

Facing a very close and non-flexible deadline, the production was incredibly tight, but if everything went as planned it would all be done on time. By mid-August the story was finished but the script had to be revised for the narrated parts of the film. The plan was to record the studio narration first and then, film the rest in the park. Unfortunately things did not go as planned. Less than a week before David was scheduled to record in the studio, he went down to Peace Park and was devastated upon seeing big cement blocks stacked in the park. A temporary market was being installed that would be there until October. Once completed, it would be impossible to film the park narration. The studio date could not be pushed back and the narration in the park needed to be filmed before the market went up or the movie would not be finished in time for the festival.