It took Terry Ortynsky and Robert Fritz a couple of years to get rolling, but since their first film, Twice, premiered at the Yorkton Film Festival (YFF) in March, they are building momentum and rapidly putting together a repertoire of films.
Even as they awaited the premiere of Twice, Fritz was off to Sweden where he shot, in four days, a second film, a 35-minute short called AKT 2 (Act 2). Co-written by Swedish actor Michel Riddez and starring Kirsti Torhaug, one of Sweden’s most prolific and celebrated actresses, AKT 2 tells the story of an unexpected and fortuitous reunion between Anna (Torhaug) and Manuel (Riddez).
Thematically, the film explores similar ground to Twice. It is a story of past secrets, second chances and redemption.
“I think all of our films, and I think this is very important to us, have a redemptive quality,” Fritz said.
“The threads that make the most interesting stories are ones in which somebody’s in a weak position and overcomes whatever it is they need to overcome, to be able to be whole again, or redeem themselves, or choose the future over the past.”
In the case of AKT 2, it appears to have worked very well. The film won the Audience Choice Award at the Artisan Festival International Cannes World Cinema Initiative in May.
“We’re absolutely thrilled how the response to the film has been,” Ortynsky said. “The film festivals are raving about it.”
Next up for AKT 2 is the International Film Awards Berlin this month and the Independent Television and Film Festival in Vermont in September.
On the strength of AKT 2, Ortynsky and Fritz have also, just last week, signed on with a Hollywood distribution agent, who will attempt to licence the films around the world.
Terry Ortynsky, of course, is no stranger to success as one of Yorkton’s most prominent business owners, but he finds filmmaking extremely gratifying in different way.
“You’re bringing something completely new into existence,” he explained.
Bringing new films into existence is something Ortynsky and Fritz are not wasting any time doing. Their third movie together, another feature-length effort titled Past Tense starring Jen Flynn (also the lead in Twice) is already in the can and yet another is scheduled to start filming in September in Boston, Massachusetts.
The partners debuted Past Tense with an impromptu and intimate private screening July 31 in Yorkton. As the title suggests, it is another redemption story of coming to terms with inner conflict generated by past events. It was very well received by the small group of invitees, which included YFF executive director, Randy Goulden.
“I enjoyed watching the film and I’m really looking forward to the filmmakers working with local artists filming in Yorkton in the fall,” Goulden said, referring to a new project officially announced last week.
So far, Ortynsky’s role has been as producer, although he said he has had the opportunity to have quite a bit of creative input working with Fritz on scripts and music.
In November, he will become even more hands-on, however, with his directorial debut of a short based on local author Calvin Daniels’ story “The Woman Behind the Mask.”
To prepare for directing, Ortynsky said he has been studying online, and will be on set with Fritz during filming in Boston in somewhat of an apprentice role.
By the time the 2014 festival season rolls around, Ortynsky and Fritz will have no shortage of potential entries having completed three features and two shorts in just over a year.
It is a pace that Ortynsky hints may slow down a bit in the future.
“Even one feature in a year is quite a lot,” he said.