Just before I made “Line of Taxis”, I went through a bad period in my life. Initially, I didn’t want to make a movie about it. It was still too close for me. There were also the possibility that a movie could reignite the situation.
I wanted to make a more challenging movie, but was stuck for an idea. One day I over heard someone talking about the mass layoffs we had in Calgary in the early 1980s. His phrase, “line of taxis”, stuck in my mind.
What I realized quickly was that in a movie about layoffs, I could draw on my own experience. Not in the sense of a story line, but in the emotions I felt. I could create a situation where the character would feel the same emotions I had.
There were several advantages to going this way.
It was a way I could deal with the residual emotions I felt. A way to exorcise them. I felt it would help me distance myself from the emotions that were still gnawing at me.
It would allow me to avoid the specifics of the situation. I was still afraid of the consequences if I made it too close to what actually happened.
It would shift the focus of the film from the story to the emotions of the character. This is something I realized later. It wasn’t something I was aware of at the time.
I began work on the movie with a focus on the emotions of the main character. Then I developed situations and events that would bring out the same emotions I had felt. A relentless drip drip drip of minor events, that would force the main character to give in to the emotions.
In retrospect, I think that it was this focus on the emotions rather than the story is what made the movie as good as it was.
In the movies I made since then, I really have not had that focus on emotions. I think this has undercut the effectiveness of these movies. I know that I should focus on the character’s emotional journey before I dive too deep into the story. I find that hard to do.
People often assume that writer’s stories are autobiographical. “Line of Taxis” is, in a way, but in another way it isn’t. While the emotional journey of the character is based on my own journey, none of the events in the movie reflect anything that happened to me in real life. I feel that I need to use the emotions from my experience but not the specific events.