Tell us about yourself. How did you become an artist?
I'm Jaymz Bee. I was born in North Bay, Ontario...a small town in Northern Canada. I was five when I found out that being an artist could be an actual job.
I knew right away I wanted to tell stories and write books and songs.
What was your first job in the art field?
At sixteen I had a puppet company that was surprisingly lucrative. I did some acting as a teen and then at nineteen moved to Toronto and started a rock band. I was writing and directing most of our music videos and started getting work directing and producing music videos for others, which led to some television commercials. I always wanted to make a feature and at the end of 2022 finished my first short film, Wild Music. At a short film festival recently, I discovered I loved being at the back of a dark theatre with people enjoying my film...as much or more than being on stage singing!
What makes you want to tell stories? In other words, what are the themes/issues
you want to incorporate into your work?
I feel art (and especially film) can shed light on important issues but I choose to do it with lighthearted comedy. In this first film, Wild Music I wanted to tackle ageism and have fun with modern technology and how weird the music business is these days. I also tackle issues regarding gender, feminism, racism and other isms - but always in a fun and funny way.
Please tell us about your vision and your method of approaching a new project?
Inspiration can come from anywhere - often at 4am when I suddenly awake in bed and immediately start taking notes based on dreams. I use my insomnia as a tool, it's not a curse! I often write a song at "stupid o'clock in the morning" then go back to bed and walk up a few hours later to see if what I wrote was any good. Odds are 50/50 it will turn into something. Finally, I run it by my producer, Michele Silva-Neto - and if she agrees it's a good story or theme - I spend weeks or months polishing it and completing a script.
Who are your filmmaking influencers? What are the films that were influential for
I know it might not be wise to admit this - but I like movies that some people might consider horrible. I love when things are odds, weird, crazy and sometimes even challenging. I enjoy brilliant art films (Felini, Egoyan) and my greatest hero is my friend, Alejandro Jodorowsky. We spent four days together in the late 90's and he inspired me to no end. The Holy Mountain is my favourite art film. I also am a huge fan of Billy Wilder's "Some Like It Hot" and the Dr. Suess' film "The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T." which was a flop when it came out but is now a cult classic.
How do you think the industry is changing? How has COVID affected independent
Because I am fairly new to the film industry I am very optimistic. I think adults are tired of CGI and I am thrilled to see how many short film festivals and Independent features are getting a shot at finding their audience. I might be unrealistically optimistic but that is my nature. During lockdown (Covid) I brushed off some old stories and scripts and wrote some new ones. I read and wrote for two and a half years and now I'm able to work - so I'm grateful that fate forced me to stay in and write.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists? What are some of the things they
When it comes to advise for artists - my first rule is "weigh votes, but don't count them". In other words, don't listen to everyone's opinion of your work. Then again, if everybody says something sucks, you might be on the wrong track. All artists of all disciplines need to have a thick skin. Stay true to your cause...within reason! Also, don't quit your day job. Being a starving artist isn't sexy. People who think they need quiet to create are often fooling themselves. Inspiration can come from anywhere and in my case, when I'm really busy - I often come up with my best stuff.
Do you think films/stories can bring about a change in the world?
I see how stories (books, plays, movies) can inspire so naturally I believe art can change the world. A film like "Sullivan's Travels" by Preston Sturges is a great example of a comedy with so much heart it's almost unfathomable! Probably the wildest example is "Blazing Saddles" by Mel Brooks: he tackled racism in an outrageous way! Cleavon Little was outrageously good in it!
What do you think people like to watch these days? Has the pandemic changed
Other than a few major films (like "Dune" by Denis Villeneuve) I don't see many major big budget films. I had hoped the pandemic might cause people to have more respect for music and film - but I'm not sure that happened. They can watch and listen for free and that is causing hardship for many artists - I'm not sure it changed people's taste or understanding of how much work goes into a great film or recording. Still, if you want to be an artist, nobody said it was going to be easy!
Please tell us about your upcoming projects.
I continue to produce records and have new albums coming out: Robert Priest and Serafin LaRiviere are two I'm most excited about. I also work with Vesuvius Music Inc - and we have many releases coming out later this year: Geneveive Marentette, John Finley and Irene Torres to name three.
As for films, "Wild Music' has won over twenty awards around the world, and I just completed my second film "Beat Speak" about aliens who come to Earth to find The Perfect Couple (ie. the new Adam and Eve). My third project, called "Artists & Aliens" will be completed this fall. Art from Earth saves the Universe: "why go to war when you can stay home and finger paint?"
In one year I'll have made three short films that strung together to become a feature.