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Director Jason Banker Blogs on the Road to 'Toad Road' - Part 1


Director Jason Banker blogs for FEARnet about his experiences at Fantasia Fest 2012. In part one, Banker shares his feelings about finding out his feature film, Toad Road, had been accepted, and his first thoughts on the festival.

I found out about being accepted to Fantasia while I was at the Sarasota film festival with a movie I shot for director Onur Tukel called Richard's Wedding. Films can feel like they take so long to get out in the world, and at some point I think it’s natural to feel discouraged and frustrated.  I had been working on several projects in addition to Toad Road, but when I got the email from Mitch Davis at Fantasia, I was excited to finally get my own personal film recognized.

After Fantasia released its lineup, I got to see how someone else described my film. The synopsis Simon Laperriere wrote for my film was great. He described it in a way that perfectly captured the story that I was trying to tell. I finally felt that someone outside the core team of the project ‘got it.’ Toad Road is a hybrid film that doesn’t fit into a mold and it’s only one of several films I’ve made that explore different types of horror, whether it’s documenting the horrors of being homeless in NYC or exploring the dark side of a relationship. So it’s great that a place like Fantasia is interested in films that are harder to define. 

When I checked out what other films Fantasia had programmed this year, two in particular stood out.  The first is Possession by Andrzej Zulawsky.  That film has been out for a while so I did see it before I got here but it’s the kind of horror movie that I am really into.  Isabelle Adjani’s performance is so visceral and unexpected.  She’s possessed, but they do it in such a way that’s realistic and fantastic at the same time.  I see similarities with that approach in Toad RoadPossession  was an influence for me so it’s cool to be here in such esteemed company.

Another movie I’m interested in seeing is The Bones Brigade by Stacy Peralta.  It’s a documentary about the guys who essentially turned skateboard videos into an art.  Since I made skate videos with my friends when I was younger I really want to see it.  It’s set in the late 80’s and that’s when I got into skateboarding culture and filmmaking. 

The whole experience didn’t feel real until I was on my way to the theatre to pick up my pass and I saw the poster for Toad Road in the lobby.  It was printed full size on a banner at the entrance.  Again, it was really something to see my work becoming a reality in a world outside of my own.

I have a real appreciation for people like Mitch Davis and programmers in general that actually watch the movies and can speak to the films they program. The conversations that are allowed to occur because of this are much more relevant to everyone, because you can get a real feeling about someone’s impression of your work.

At the end of the second day I went to the screening of Hemorrhage directed by Braden Croft and produced by my producers at Random Bench. I got to see the same theatre that my film is screening at on Thursday night and I got to watch Braden handle the Q and A. It was nice to see the attention and care that was given to introducing each film.  

Today, day three, was the first really busy day for me being involved with the festival.  I began to take my first serious meetings with sales agents and other companies. It feels like the movie has evolved so much - - it’s becoming its own thing for other people so there is an intensity to it. I didn’t necessarily have any expectations about how I would feel about all of this, but the experience so far has made me feel confident that the film will resonate with audiences.