Canadian director Simon Ennis (pictured) talks to realscreen about his debut feature doc Lunarcy!, which premieres at TIFF in Toronto next month, and shares three exclusive clips from the film.
After taking several small steps at the Toronto International Film Festival in previous years, director Simon Ennis will take one giant leap forward when his Moon-themed doc Lunarcy! has its world premiere at TIFF next month.
The Canadian filmmaker previously launched three narrative short films at the festival (The Waldo Cumberbund Story, The Canadian Shield and Up in Cottage Country), but this year’s effort marks his first feature-length TIFF premiere, as well as his first feature doc.
Lunarcy! looks at “a group of people who’ve devoted their lives to the Moon,” Ennis tells realscreen. “There is the fourth man to walk on the Moon, Alan Bean, who now paints lunar landscapes. Then there’s Dennis Hope, a man from Northern California who claimed ownership to the Moon about 30 years ago with the United Nations – he’s made millions selling Moon lots.
“And at the heart of the story is a young man called Christopher Carson, who’s from Texas, who’s trying to put together a DIY space program. He wants to be the first person to leave Earth to go to the Moon, with no intention of coming back.”
Ennis has been working on the film for about two years, shooting and editing over the course of a year. Making the move to non-fiction was a refreshing change, he says, offering that the change in process was liberating.
“Writing is usually such a big part of my process and I didn’t do any writing for this,” he explains. “With that taken away from me, I was unbelievably free – I don’t take a very dogmatic approach to the rules of documentary at all.
“I kind of feel like it’s the same thing – you’re making a movie, you’re trying to move people, inspire people, make them laugh, entertain them. It just so happens that these are real characters, instead of characters that I’ve created.”
The film is produced by Jonas Bell Pasht and exec produced by Jonah Bekhor and Canadian filmmaker Ron Mann, and will be distributed in Canada by Films We Like. Rights for the rest of the world are still available, with Global Screen handling international sales.
In terms of funding, Ennis says money came “primarily from Canadian network Super Channel – their initial green light was what triggered the financing, and we also got backing from Documentary Channel, the Rogers Documentary Fund, plus tax credits and various stuff like that.”
Going forward, the director says he would like to make another documentary, adding: “I’ll also probably take a lot of the process that I’ve learned from doing this film into my next narrative movie – to be more improvisational and be more on-the-fly.”
Ennis adds that one unexpected outcome to have already emerged from making the film is that he is now a property owner. Sort of.
“When I went to the Lunar Embassy and interviewed Dennis Hope, the owner of the Moon, I purchased an acre. So I’m a property owner now,” he laughs. “It feels very good.”
Lunarcy! will have its world premiere on September 8 at 6.30 p.m. during TIFF. Check out three clips from the film, exclusive to realscreen, below:
In addition, check out the poster for the film below: