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Despite Feeling Bleu, Local Director Remains Busy

Tuesday March 1st, 2016, 10:00am

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Not happy with sitting on his couch, a familiar director is lining up projects after relocating.

Local talent Gavin Michael Booth is hard at work… again and again. After moving to Los Angeles recently, the director is doing his best to stay busy. Although he’s run into some hurdles, it hasn’t slowed him down much at all.

As a prime example, Booth decided to direct the video for musician Bleu’s latest single in Windsor.

“I’ve been making the transition to having a green card to work in the U.S. on a regular basis and had a very slow year creatively due to circumstances surrounding the green card push,” he said. “I wanted to make a few music videos early this year to get in the creative zone again. I thought the video for Bleu’s I Have To Have You would be a great way to break the dry spell.”

Booth originally met the artist after reaching out to him over Myspace. Upon hearing his song for the original SpiderMan movie soundtrack and a couple of albums, the film-maker felt the two would be like-minded and able to collaborate.

Fast-forward three-to-four years later in 2013 and his vision came true. Directing a video inspired by Ryan Gosling’s movie Drive, Booth worked with Bleu and Canadian musician Alexz Johnson on their 80’s synth-pop song, Bottom Of My Heart.

Having hit it off so well, the two never lost touch and collaborated several times over the years. When Booth released his most recent movie, The Scarehouse, Bleu even penned a song for the film’s opening credits. Living in Los Angeles now, the two see each other socially and keep informed about what they’re both working on: Most recently, this has led to Booth directing a video for Bleu’s new band Johnson &McAuley.

Booth filmed his first video with Bleu in Los Angeles. In an odd twist however, now that he’s living there, the director decided to capture this one in Windsor. Of course, he had a good reason.

“I love shooting in Windsor” said Booth. “I actually prefer it to Los Angeles (other than outdoor shoots in February perhaps.) I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shake the freedom and ease of film-making which I spent so much of my formative years as a filmmaker in Windsor. Stick to what you know right? We needed a bakery to film in and in Windsor it takes me one phone call to reach out and connect a location that welcomes us with open arms. Sweet Revenge Bake Shop did that for us and there has always been, in my experience, an amazing connection between Windsor small business owners and the Windsor arts scene. Just so much love and appreciation and willingness to throw their support behind the artists in the community.”

As far as the concept for the video and filming it in a bakery, the idea came to Booth very quickly.

“The very first time I heard the song I had this concept pop in my mind,” he said. “Often that is the case – it is a bit like gut instinct – if it doesn’t feel wrong after you first think it, go with it before you second guess too much. I have always been a fan of counter-direction in music videos. When you listen to the lyrics of Bleu’s song it is about obsession – possibly love obsession and I felt with the slightly fantastical mood of the song it could go down a more surreal path.”

Featuring one actress and a small crew, Booth said it was his smoothest shoot in awhile. Needing less material than usual, he had Ryan Bro of Zeebrah Media working the camera, local artist Kelly Spinarsky doing make-up with University of Windsor film graduates Natalie Dupuis and Douglas Cunningham rounding things out.

Thinking about it some more, Booth realized that the only challenges he encountered were somewhat shared with the video’s star, Holly DeJoseph. Being a University of Windsor Bachelor of Fine Arts acting student, the issue wasn’t her ability or professionalism — it was something else entirely.

“Come to think of it, there were two challenges,” said the director. “The first was for Holly to not throw up or get too much of a sugar rush eating that much delicious icing and the second was for me not to gain twenty pounds filming inside Sweet Revenge Bake Shop. I think if heaven has a scent, Sweet Revenge is channeling that. Pure sugary, craving inspiring heaven in there!”

Although the video is out in the open, this doesn’t mark the end of Booth’s collaborations with Bleu. The two wrapped production on another video in L.A. a couple of weeks ago, which was described as the polar-opposite of this one.

Beyond these projects, Booth has kept busy in other ways. He recently finished a video for DJ Manifesto and filmed a short thriller in the desert. Down the pipeline, he has another feature-film and is hoping to lock that down shortly. In addition, he’s begun filming commercials and has music videos coming out soon for artists such as American Idol runner-up Jena Irene and Gavin Slate, — the former was filmed in the Windsor/Detroit area.

And what would an interview with the director be without some scoop? Seeing how he’s dipped his toe into almost every form of media, Booth is also making a leap into another forum soon.

“This is the first time I’m talking about it publicly but I am throwing my hat into the Podcast arena,” he said. “Several years back I had a daily video blog project and often it was discussing filmmaking / artistic living advice and many folks suggested I start a podcast back then. I didn’t have any interest in the time and was struggling to get my ill-fated school shooting movie off the ground.”

Despite not having much to share back then, Booth came up with an idea that’s changed his mind.

“The goal with this podcast is to educate and possibly inspire artists from all aspects of the entertainment business,” he said. “The podcast is titled ‘Here’s My Advice (Not That You’ll Take It).’ I’m often asked for advice from young filmmakers, actors, colleagues expanding their career focus for my advice on things I can speak too. I’ve found an alarming amount of these folks listen to what I have to say – I don’t ever speak anything but brutal honest and the harsh truth of this industry – and then turn around and don’t take the advice, perhaps feeling I’m too negative and there must be an easier way around what I’ve advised. The majority of these situations they only come back to square one and realize the advice might have been sound after all.”

Admitting he doesn’t know everything, the film-maker acknowledges that he still stumbles in his own career. Even so, Booth will have some help with advice from guests and hopes to spread some wisdom to aspiring artists.

“The format of the Podcast is to have a different guest each week, people who are up and coming or already mildly to wildly successful at their entertainment career,” he said. “These guests will discuss the career advice they were given in the beginning, too stubborn to follow and (now looking back) what advice they can discuss to help the next generation of people pursuing an artistic career that might help shave days, weeks or even years off their pursuit (not that they’ll listen!).”

Looking ahead to the rest of the year, Booth just wants to stay active. Building collaborations, putting projects into motion, remaining creative and productive are at the top of his list. He’ll also be coming home to work even though he’s now in a different time zone and country.

“I never intended to stop making music videos or films in Windsor,” said Booth. “It’s similar to when I moved to Toronto but still came to Windsor to shoot videos and ultimately The Scarehouse. I continue to point in the direction of Windsor for upcoming projects. I very much want to continue contributing to Windsor’s art scene and film community for years to come.”

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