“Sorry, I’m busy.”
We hear it all the time. We say it all the time. But what are we so busy with? And more importantly, is it what we should be busy with?
These are the questions that husband and wife filmmaking team Myke Bakich and Chandra Michaels explore in their short film Busy Bee, an official selection in the Toronto International Short Film Festival this year.
Michaels, who co-wrote, produced, and has a leading acting role in the film, said being selected for the prestigious film festival feels good.
“It’s a nice validation for our efforts and commitment to seeing our vision through to completion,” she said. “It’s really special to have our world premiere in Toronto, where we can share the experience with our local crew, family and friends.”
Busy Bee is the story of two friends who run into each other at very different stages in their life. In their attempt to make plans to rekindle their friendship, it proves challenging as the character of Lisa is constantly busy.
Various experiences Bakich and Michaels had with “busy” people and how to stand up to them was what triggered the inspiration behind the film.
“A desire to bring awareness to these unhealthy relationships in our lives and how to navigate letting go of them inspired the story behind Busy Bee,” said Michaels.
Busy Bee also explores the phenomenon of how absent people can be from a moment while focusing on their own stories, appearances, and cell phones. In what is perhaps one of the more powerful moments of the film, Colette confides in Lisa some life changing news, when Lisa stands up and immediately starts talking on her bluetooth headset. It could have been the turning point in their friendship, but Lisa, being too busy, fails to connect in the moment.
“Chandra and I set out to make a film about a complex female friendship, with both light and dark tones,” said Bakich, who also directed the film. “It’s a satirical dramedy about gathering the courage to stand up to that self centred, crazy-maker in your life, even if it goes terribly wrong.“
Busy Bee is Bakich’s first time directing a short film and Michaels’ first time involved in multiple roles behind the camera, in addition to in front of it as a leading actress. It is also their first short film together. Despite the pressures, the power couple made working on the set very easy.
“There was never a moment of doubt in myself or the production because these two are the most understanding, loving and supportive people I’ve ever met in my life,” said Ashley Ross, who played Lisa. “Their positive energy made working with them one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.”
Both Bakich and Michaels admit that trying to make the film while planning their wedding was one of the biggest challenges, but they remained diligent to make sure the film was a success.
“We focused on getting the best out of the film, not just getting it done, and the entire process felt like a creative collaborative,” said Amanda Strachan, the editor of Busy Bee. “Working together, we were able to nurture and expand our crafts and by the end of the edit, we even developed our own way of communicating using metaphors, gestures, and sometimes interpretive dance.”
This couple has no plans of slowing down either. They both want to continue doing what they love, making films.
“I like stories that are deep and heavy with meaning and consequence,” said Bakich, who is no stranger to success as a story artist after working on the Golden Globe nominated feature film, The Book of Life . “I’d like to try writing and directing a few more shorts to experiment with different genres before doing a feature.”
Michaels wants to keep producing and advocating films with strong, female driven content.
“I feel there is an overall lack of multi-dimensional roles for women in film and television,” she described. “I feel there could be more interesting and dynamic leading and periphery roles written for women, where they are not primarily represented as objects of sexual desire. Through awareness, progress is starting to be made and will continue to. I feel there needs to be more female voices writing, creating, producing, directing film and television, and a global effort in the industry to encourage and support this.“
They still plan on working together though, and intend to go into production with their next film in 2016. Since working on Busy Bee, they have opened their own production company Les Deux Magots Films Inc.
“Creatively collaborating in film with my husband had been a long time dream and inspiration of mine as well. Making this film was about us empowering ourselves and each other to take charge of our creative careers, by writing and creating what we want, and casting ourselves in the roles we want to be and play,” said Michaels. “It felt like a natural progression and evolution in our relationship, an organic next step on our journey of co-creating together.”
The film was shot in Fall of 2014 in the streets of Toronto, which did not come without its challenges.
“There were multiple wasps buzzing in and out of frame during our first weekend of shooting. One actually flew into Ashley’s face during a take on the bench,” described Bakich. “We all chose to see the bees on set as good luck.”
And it looks like they were right.
Busy Bee makes it world premiere at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto on Nov. 11 at 7:45 p.m. Tickets are on sale now.