Markham filmmakers returning home to make independent short movie
Markham based film producer Eric Tomjenovic, 22, is making a short film titled “The Only Way Out is Down,” written and directed by his childhood friend Joseph Bigioni.
The film is about a political staffer who has betrayed his congressman and is tasked with sabotaging a fundraising event to showcase his new allegiance. As Tomjenovic and Bigioni describe it, “it’s ’90s action meets the cool tones of ‘Oceans 11.’”
Having both grown up in Markham, the two young men went to York University and Humber College to pursue their film dreams after high school. “We met as kids and reconnected as adults when we discovered our shared love of moviemaking,” says Tomjenovic.
Although Tomjenovic and Bigioni have both been involved in different productions at film school, this is their first independent movie, which gives them an opportunity to bring the team back to Markham and include their friends and family in the creative process.
“During our first block of shooting, we were able to shoot a scene that included 30 extras, all Markham-based friends and family," Tomjenovic says. "Being able to include our friends and family in our creative process has been incredibly gratifying.”
Bigioni has been working on this 20-minute film since 2020, during which time he and Tomjenovic overcame various challenges such as casting, team assembling and finding the right locations, especially when the pandemic took the world into a different direction.
Everything seemed achievable when writing the script, Joseph says, but when the camera started rolling, he realized it was not easy to make a film that actually expressed his vision on a small budget.
Fortunately, with the support of local businesses, they finally wrapped up at the end of January after shooting in multiple locations including a Markham golf course, theatre and local shop. The film is expected to release later this year via film festivals or online.
Markham welcomes people to make movies inspired by the city.
“Given Markham is home to a rich, diverse and creative community that has an interest in sharing its culture with the world, there are many interesting filmmakers telling their stories,” comments Chris Rickett, director, economic growth, culture and entrepreneurship.
Rickett also points out that the city supports filmmakers in a number of ways, including assisting in connecting them with sites to do filming and offering a small business grant program, Starter Company, to young filmmakers.
The city is currently undertaking the development of a new Economic Development and Culture Strategy. An important part of that strategy is to identify ways to grow Markham’s creative and digital media sectors, including potential film production opportunities.
Residents are encouraged to share their thoughts on arts and culture in Markham and help shape that strategy. More information is available at Markham.ca.
Scarlett Liu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Economist & Sun