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Adrian Konstant is from South Africa, but after moving to Waterloo Region, he says he couldn’t have made his film without help from the community. I Was a Greenhouse, which Konstant wrote and directed, was filmed in and around Kitchener and Waterloo.

One small bloom

Local filmmaker writes and directs feature about the relationship between parents and children

By Charlotte Prong Parkhill
Kitchener Post staff

Adrian Konstant has come halfway around the world to make a film about home and family.

I Was a Greenhouse, written and directed and produced by the South African native, was filmed in and around Kitchener and Waterloo with local actors.

“This Kitchener-Waterloo environment just lended itself to a creative environment, and a community creative atmosphere, which is exactly what you need to make a film,” Konstant says.

“You have to have the support of the community or you won’t be able to do it.”

Just 29 years old, Konstant earned a degree in film and production from the University of Cape Town before becoming a production assistant.

Like most people in this seemingly glamourous business, he started out as a production assistant, making coffee and taking out the trash.

He worked his way up to camera operator, and eventually moved to Vancouver to work in the film industry there, on movies such as Starship Troopers and Doomsday.

It was in Vancouver that he met and fell in love with Waterloo Region native Heather Roth, and the pair moved to Waterloo a year ago.

That’s when Konstant started to seriously consider a solo endeavour.

“I wanted to write, but it’s really difficult to get anyone of significance to read it that would be able to turn it into anything,” he says.

“I didn’t want to make it. I wanted to sell (the script). I shopped it around for about three months before I decided that I’m going to have to do it myself.”

I Was a Greenhouse tells the story of a homeless musician who makes a connection with a family — a mother and three children whose father has died.

Konstant finished the script about six months ago, then started putting together the financing, locations, and, most importantly the people who would make the movie come to life.

“It was a surprise how much organizing it took and much scheduling it takes,” he says.

“Every single day was like a huge event you’re trying to co-ordinate: food, makeup, wardrobe, props, making sure people can be there.”

There was another scheduling issue — every cast and crew member volunteered their time, which meant they all had other jobs.

Filming took about 10 weeks, with shooting squeezed into weekends and worked around when certain actors could be available.

“You have to shoot at maximum speed to try to get everything done,” Konstant says.

In total, about 30 to 35 people were involved with the film. On one shoot, taking place on location at the Woodstock hospital, there were 14 or 15 extras involved.

A farm just outside Kitchener served as another primary location.

Other times, it was just Konstant with a a camera and lead actor Derek Lackenbauer, who plays the homeless man, Deuce Arlington.

“We filmed in all these streets around here,” he says.

“We would wander around the city streets and see an alleyway that looked aesthetically pleasing, dirty and grungy, and we’d throw him in the alleyway and film him for a little bit.”

The shooting process was really a collaborative effort and he credits both Lackenbauer and his partner Roth, who also serves as a producer on the movie, for helping to guide him through the process.

But many things came together almost serendipitously.

Lackenbauer, who has an agent, actually found out about the part through an ad Konstant had posted on Kijiji. An actor who bowed out when he moved to Alberta had to come back for a few days, and was able to shoot his scenes then.

And though it rained almost every day of the shoot, Konstant took that as a good omen.

He was on holiday on Lake Huron during pre-production, and every time he went out rowing on the lake, he’d come back to a positive phone message.

“They were all good. Actors had accepted parts, or a location had come through. I felt that water was a positive motif for us.”

Konstant is now in the post-production process, editing the movie. He’s using the editing suite he has available to him through his full-time job at a marketing company, and the audio will be done at local studio The Red Room.

Making movies isn’t only for superstars or the rich anymore. Having good quality equipment available at inexpensive prices has levelled the playing field for filmmakers, says Konstant, who estimates his entire budget for the film was about $17,000.

“I hope that the good stories are what’s going to come through,” he says. “People won’t go watch a movie because of the big star that’s in it, but because it’s an amazing story, with amazing actors.”

Once the film is complete, he hopes to enter it for consideration in the Toronto International Film Festival, one of the most prestigious festivals in the world.

He knows he’s aiming high, but he wants to catch the attention of a producer or disbributor. At the end of the day, he doesn’t care about making his money back on this film.

He just wants to be able to make another one, and hopefully build on a burgeoning local film industry.

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