SLAMDANCE: New Brunswick co-directors Jaret Belliveau and Matthew Bauckman discuss their startling documentary.
When the Canadian filmmakers followed self-proclaimed martial arts champion and wannabe Chuck Norris of the North Elliot Scott as he shot his third home-grown production Blood Fight, something felt out of place.
Steven Beer represents North American rights to the Kickstarter-funded film, which premiered in Park City on January 17.
How did this all come about?
Matthew Bauckman: Jaret and I had worked together on Jaret’s documentary [Highway Gospel] and we’d read some newspaper articles about Elliot promoting himself as an award-winning filmmaker and producer and a martial artist. He would promote himself at the local video store. He seemed like a genuine low budget filmmaker trying to make it big so we related to that.
We watched some trailers from his movies and there seemed to be a disconnect. The quality of the movies was [lacking] and the audio wasn’t there. We went out to rent some of the movies. They were feature-length and low quality. He promoted them as these award-winning films and the film festival [where they allegedly won awards] didn’t seem real. So all these questions started coming up about who this guy was.
When did you shoot?
Jaret Belliveau: We shot in summer 2011, took a break and resumed in spring 2012. We went down to meet him and do the first interview in summer 2011 and then took a break and resumed in spring 2012. Elliot lived with Linda [his girlfriend] in Lower Sackville outside Halifax. He’d just got laid off from Domino’s and was living off Linda, who’s a day care worker. He had the most elaborate stories and Linda seemed so closed. There was going to be another character in the film – a rapper – but we felt Elliot’s story had enough weight to carry the film.
What kept your reservations about Elliot in check?
Bauckman: We knew there was something going on with him, but we saw a bunch of people working on a low-budget movie which was exactly what we were doing, so there was a real kinship.
So much so that you funded the movie yourselves.
Belliveau: We borrowed every camera [we used.] It was a labour of love. it’s really difficult to get funding in Canada for films like this and also we never knew where it was going, but we had an inkling that something wasn’t making sense. But all the people around Elliot were so interesting – they were all such big dreamers, including Elliot. He really wanted to become Canada’s first action hero. Regardless of whether Elliot was telling white lies from the start, we knew he was providing a world to let these people around him live out their fantasies. We thought, ‘How bad could it be?’
Turns out Elliot lied about most things in his life, including his fidelity to Linda. How did the lies reveal themselves?
Belliveau: In some cases things said on camera were the first time we heard them – like a former girlfriend of Elliot’s dying and the stalker. That’s when we thought maybe this was all not so innocent. He only went to karate school when he was seven with his mother. His parents didn’t deny this in an interview but wouldn’t go on camera.
How did it make you feel behind the camera?
Belliveau: We were not completely fooled by Elliot but we wanted to mimic our journey of how deep and dark it got. But I have to say we left Elliot sometimes feeling very annoyed and frustrated because while you want to be empathetic you want to be treated a certain way.
Bauckman: As you’re filming it and spending time with another human being you do get emotionally invested, so yes, we felt lied to and we were definitely upset with Elliot and it took us a while to get that objectivity back as we were editing it.
Belliveau: I was really emotional and disgusted and got way too close. I started getting very worked up towards the end of the film and it was upsetting to see how he was manipulating Linda at the end.
Everything got a little wild at the end of your movie.
Belliveau: Elliot attacked me in that final scene. He hit me seven or eight times on the back of the head. It was really emotional at the end. We’d gone down to confront Linda about how we though the relationship was probably not for her when the attack happened in the final scene.
Who is Elliot Scott?
Belliveau: He has had other lives. This is not the first time [he has lied about himself.]
There’s a lot going on here – on and off the camera. What’s the most prominent theme that emerges?
Belliveau: It’s about dreams. We tried to make these extreme characters likeable and relatable and explore what happens when lying to oneself and following one’s dreams cross over.