Many of you know that in addition to the work I do with Relax and Succeed, I also write and produce film and television, and I teach screenwriting and creative production. In fact, Cineplex Odeon is releasing my latest film this coming Friday (April 26th, 2013), and it includes the hard work of many of my very talented film school students.
This idea was created by my friend and co-producer, Chester Sit, who also directed the film. As an artist, Chester was always amazed to hear about friends driving every day to jobs they said they hated. And they would do this for years. It felt to him like they were zombies, and so Spencer and his narcolepsy (the sleeping disease) are intended as a metaphor for people who are sleeping through their lives.
Now despite that lofty beginning, this film is ultimately a straight-ahead a dark comedy. You could say it’s a bit like taking a nerdy character and dropping him in the middle of Pulp Fiction. It ended up winning both Best Feature and Audience Choice Awards on the festival circuit and those two two things are linked. The film’s broad appeal emerges from its artistic authenticity.
Whenever I take on creative producing duties (if I’m not writing the script myself) my primary focus is on ensuring I know what the fundamental intent of the original creator and/or writer(s) was. That way I can ensure that intent isn’t lost as I do my work. But as much as I need to know where they were coming from, I also can’t develop a story and characters and a movie without somehow finding my own way into the work with the same sort of enthusiasm as the original creators.
In the case of The Pharmacist, Chester’s main point was that people had to find a reason to live—that surrendering ones life to consumerist pursuit was a death of the spirit. The original writer, Indy Randhawa, wanted to comment on how he felt his generation was lost in the sense that it had no greater purpose—it was only focused on its own selfish gratification.
Indy created some magnificent characters, but he had never written a screenplay before and it’s quite a technical field in many ways. I knew extensive changes would need to be made, so when I re-worked the story I was able to insert my own spirit into the work in a way that enhanced Chester’s and Indy’s overlapping intentions. When I did that, I also had to make sure it was all done in a way that could be genuinely embraceable by Chris Craddock, who wrote the brilliant final drafts, including the one that went into production.
My addition to Chester`s idea that people should have a reason to live, and Indy`s intent that people require a greater purpose, was that; I have found people are at their best when they are more concerned about others than they are about themselves. This is the Raison d’ệtre of the film—to achieve a meaningful life people need a reason to live that represents something bigger than themselves, and that thing is most naturally a love for other people.
Why that`s meaningful to me is important. Because the reason you can enjoy being sad, or scared, or angry in a movie, is because you know that those feelings are transient. They’re just part of the story being told, and because you’ve done as the Buddhists say and you’ve Accepted that, then you can travel through those emotions with no problem. You just have to start seeing your life like that too. It’s like a story your spirit witnesses and enacts at the same time.
Now can you see then why it’s better for you to think of others than of yourself? If you’re focused on watching their story, then you’re not worrying about yourself. If you’re not worrying about you, then you’re fine, because there’s a difference between compassion and worry. Compassion is love going out. Worry is love being stifled from coming in. Spend your life being compassionate and your life will be filled with love. Spend it worrying, and you will surrender your chances for happiness.
The film is not only funny, but it`s genuinely trying to say something meaningful about life. I do hope that, if you’re in Montreal, you will take this chance at some happiness: Consider checking the movie out. It’s called The Pharmacist and it will be opening the week of:
April 26th, 2013
Cineplex Odeon Forum Cinemas
2313 Sainte-Catherine Street West, Montreal, QC.
If you laugh and enjoy the story as much as festival audiences did, then please do considering sharing it through your social networking. This is a remarkable achievement for a film of this scale and I’m extremely proud of my cast and crew and partners. It would give me great pleasure to help even more people enjoy a couple hours of their life by viewing something we all poured so much heart into. And the world could always use another reminder that we’re all at our best when we’re actively loving others. Thank you.
Here’s some links to information on the film. Please feel free to share them on your social network pages. Thanks!
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.