Making Dreams Come True

by Kayla Perrin

If you who know me--or if you've followed this blog for some time--then you know that besides being a writer, I have also worked in the film business. And while I don't do much work in the film biz these days, I am still closely connected to that world through friends, and I love to get out to film festivals as much as possible.

Recently, the ReelWorld film festival took place in Toronto, Ontario. This was a big year for ReelWorld, as it was the 10th anniversary of this film festival that celebrates films created by and featuring those from diverse cultures from around the world. The founder of this fabulous festival is actress Tonya Lee Williams of The Young and the Restless fame, whom I enjoy seeing every year at her festival and at the Toronto International Film Festival, where she always promotes ReelWorld. This year--thanks to the generosity of Harlequin Enterprises--I donated 500 copies of my novel OBSESSION for the gift bags.

I've called this blog "Making Dreams Come True" for a few reasons. 1--Tonya has certainly seen the fruition of a dream with the ten year anniversary of her festival. Some people may have thought ReelWorld wouldn't last this long, but she has proven them all wrong. Congrats to you, Tonya! 2--Filmmakers saw their dreams come true with the screening of their films at this festival. And 3--my long-time friend, actor/stunt-actor Howard Green, saw his dream come true with the premiere of his feature film, MACHETE JOE.

The Saturday night screening of Machete Joe was so packed, the cinema had to open a second theatre to house all those wanting to see the film. People who have known Howard for years came out in droves to support him. Machete Joe is a horror flick, with enough gore, plot, and humor to satisfy all. Howard co-produced the film with talented actor, Gordon Greene--who starred in the movie along with some well-known talents. Like Ernie Hudson, of Ghostbusters fame. And Jamaican film star, Paul Campbell (pictured with me on the left) who starred in a Jamaican classic called Shottas and many other films. Also Erica Gimpel, who has starred in Boston Legal, Veronica Mars, E.R., and many other television productions. The roles were well-cast and all the actors did a great job.

Horror movies can be pretty cliche, but what I liked about the movie was that there was a reason behind the horror. Paul Campbell played "Machete Joe" and even he commented that he was able to add humanity to the character. Machete Joe is not just a bad seed who enjoys killing. He has gone through his own hell as a child, witnessing unspeakable evil, and as a result grows up to repeat what he knows. And he does so with the goal of good in mind. I won't say more--I'll let you see the movie for yourself, which should soon be available at your local video store. Howard and Gordon have secured a North-American and Caribbean distribution deal. Yay! I'm so proud of them. Plans are already underway to shoot MACHETE JOE 2. I can't wait! Howard is on the left in the photo, and Gordon is on my right.

This festival was particularly inspiring for me, because of the stories behind the projects. Like the story behind writer/director Mateo Guez's movie OFF WORLD. From Quebec, Guez traveled to Manilla and was so moved by their "Smokey Mountain" that he had to go back there and make a movie. He had no script when he traveled there, but within weeks came up with a powerful film that highlights the extreme poverty in a shanty-town built on a garbage dump. This is Smokey Mountain, so named named for the methane gases that leak from the dump. He plans to go back within two years to open an orphanage.

His film was about a young man who has been adopted, lives in Toronto, but goes back to the Philippines in search of his family and his roots. The film so easily could have had the character take the stance of "Thank God I wasn't raised in this place" when he sees it, but instead, the lead character connected with the people and the place, seeing past the poverty to its heart. Yes, there is horrendous poverty. But there is also joy. In fact, you could argue that the people there are more connected with the meaning of life than we are in North America or Europe or anywhere else where we hustle and bustle to pay the mortgage, drive a nice car, and pay the rest of the monthly bills. OFF WORLD was the gala opening film for the festival, and it was both powerful and riveting. I hope you'll get a chance to see this movie!

Another fantastic film I had the opportunity to see was A TOUCH OF GREY by a first time filmmaker. Set in Toronto, it features four women in their forties. Four women, four bottles of wine, one night. This is the film's tagline. As you can imagine, the women go from happy friends getting together to women discovering that their lives aren't as perfect as they may make them out to be. It was certainly a refreshing change to see women in their 40s portrayed in such meaningful ways, with fantastic story lines that are bound to have people talking.

I was riveted by the story behind the filmmaker. Sandra Feldman is a doctor who had never written a creative word in her life. Her son, however, is an actor, and after seeing him in a play, she got the idea for A TOUCH OF GREY. She went home and promptly started to write it. As a doctor, she heard from many of her female patients just how unhappy they were in their lives, which is something she drew upon when writing her script. Sandra was a total inspiration to me because for years I have talked about wanting to make my own feature film--I started working in film as an actor before I was twenty, then as an assistant editor, but I let that dream slide as I pursued my novel writing. No regrets there, but I've always had this dream to make a feature. And I know many people in the film biz who *talk* about making a feature. Perhaps because Sandra (in the picture on the left) hadn't worked in the film business, she didn't think of how *hard* or *impossible* it would be. She just did it. I had to speak with her after the screening to congratulate her on a job well done and to pick her brain. She told me that she took a 2 day filmmaking course. Three months later, she had her film completed. Once she decided to do it, she just did it. I hope that a certain friend of mine--yes, you know who you are, at your computer in Ottawa--is reading this and seeing that all things are possible. I've talked to this friend--who is great at brainstorming with me and yes, we are working on a writing project together--about the idea of shooting a feature. No more excuses! It CAN be done!

For me, going to film festivals is like going to writers' conventions. I am no doubt going to be inspired and motivated. After being moved by the films and the stories behind the determined filmmakers, I enjoyed the after parties. I got to see some friends I hadn't seen in years, which is something I really enjoy. It's nice to see how we're all making our dreams come true in our own creative niches. I'm doing my thing as a writer. In this photo on the right, I'm with musician Sean Jones, whom I haven't seen in years. He has just begun working on his newest album. He used to be with the group In Essence, but is now a solo artist, doing his thing. Look for his music!

So to all of you reading this who have a dream, don't think of why it won't work, or how it can't be done. Think instead of how you can make your dream come true.

And then do it.

Until next time,


  1. ok. i heard you. ;) Great post! I think what Tonya Lee Williams has done with the ReelWorld Film Festival is terrific. I had the pleasure of meeting her once- she is a very gracious and lovely woman. ;)

  2. Kayla - if you knew how much I enjoy tagging along with you when you go to these film festivals! Great trailer, really great stories of inspiration - and I agree that 'knowing' how herculean the task can be puts many filmmakers off of plunging into the deep end. I'm already behind you and Joanna with my pom poms! Go, K & J, go!


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