“God knows what James Cameron makes his movies for,” says filmmaker Rod Webber. “Along with money comes a magic wand you can wave to make all your problems go away. We don’t have that magic wand.” Webber is the director of Northern Comfort and co-organizer of Reel Fest—formerly the Reel Movement festival (“Shorter is better?” says Webber)—which also includes works in progress and short films from a bounty of local filmmakers. Reel Fest will hold Northern Comfort‘s premiere this weekend.
Unable to use magic, and with Cameron in no way involved in the festival, Webber instead uses what he calls a “manifesto.” “We tried to think of a way to [make a movie] that’s not going to be so expensive.” His films are always experimental, the first rule that Northern Comfort is based on. Other rules include: The principle shooting should take place in three days and cost less than $3,000, and that the director should guide the actors, unaware of the story, by playing a part in the film.
The crew essentially follows Webber and the cast around, documentary style, studying the relationship between Webber’s character, Horace, and Cassandra, played by Greta Gerwig (Greenberg). Rod told me his character is “really me in a different situation,” but we kind of already knew that anyway. There are real awkward moments, real distress and very little CGI as the pair bumbles their way through the plot, meets real people along the way, awkwardly waxing philosophy and never mentioning their feelings to each other, while being filmed.
All of which makes Webber, and Reel Fest in general, decidedly anti-Cameron.