Made for $1,000, the Butler brothers’ Mourning Has Broken was part of Ingrid Veninger’s 1K Challenge project.

In the 1K Challenge project, Canadian filmmakers Brett and Jason Butler tell the story of a man who wakes up to find his wife dead and refuses to come to terms with it.

The five-film 1K Challenge was funded by Ingrid Veninger (of pUNK FILMS; her film The Animal Project just screened in Toronto) with the simple aim of inspiring film-makers on low budgets.

Directed, produced, written, and edited by both brothers — who own Substance Production — the small budget of Mourning Has Broken certainly had its constraints: the film was completed, from script to final product, in three months, with filming being completed within a month of the project having been greenlit.

Jason Butler says, “The biggest difference was the pace at which things happened. We hit the ground running and didn’t even have time to think about looking back” but, the timing also forced them to rely on their skill as film-makers — “we couldn’t hesitate with decisions and had to trust our instincts.”

With such a low budget the brothers adhered strictly to a tight schedule and trusted their talent.

“The key was being organised and knowing exactly what we wanted to achieve, with contingencies in place. Our DOP, Michael Jari Davidson, couldn’t believe it when after two takes we were ready for the next set up. If he liked the shot and we liked what we saw performance wise, it was time to move on… complete trust,” Jason Butler adds.

The limited means of the film created an environment in which nothing was wasted: with little time and money, everyone had to put their all into every aspect of the project. “We like to keep an energy on set for crew and actors alike that allows for the chance of something inspired to occur at any moment… which is challenging at times but ultimately rewarding when that ‘moment’ on set occurs that is just magical and everybody feels it, feeds off it and it galvanizes the team!”

The Butler brothers are currently developing a completed feature script, First Round Down “that is ready rock n’ roll - it’s a departure of sorts for us as it involves guns, blood, action and squealing tires,” plus they have agreed a first-look distribution deal with Avi Federgreen of Indiecan Entertainment. They are also currently developing two other feature projects, one with Shannon Masters (Empire of Dirt) attached, and two completed TV pilots.

Mourning Has Broken has appeared at several film festivals, and screens at the Calgary International Film Festival this weekend. It will be released initially in Toronto at the local art ouse cinema, Carlton Cinema, and “if all goes well will hit the major cities across Canada.”