Montreal Artists On the Silver Screen

Local Filmographer Captures Montreal Artists, Screened at FilmPOP

Tim Kelly makes intimate portraits of local musicians, artists and personalities. Photo Marc Rimmer
Photo Marc Rimmer
Photo Marc Rimmer
Photo Marc Rimmer

For over six years Film POP has presented a diverse array of filmography that compliments the eclectic programming of the POP Montreal festival.

The aim of this “festival within a festival” is to present films in non-traditional settings, free of the trappings and pretensions of mainstream film fests. Past years have featured numerous documentaries, classic silent films with live scores and shorts from up and coming directors from both Montreal and abroad.

One of the most anticipated highlights of this year’s edition is the Big Small short-film series presented by Tim Kelly.

Kelly, a local filmmaker, recently transplanted from Melbourne, makes insightful and intimate portraits of local artists.

His films feature a diverse selection of local artists, including the multi-talented Jason Harvey, spooky songstress Grimes, writer and journalist Ian Orti and sludge rock heavies Tornstartssbandht.

Kelly’s involvement sprouted from Cinequanon, an outdoor summer cinema festival he started in 2009.

Cinequanon, which featured some of Kelly’s documentaries, caught Film POP organizer Carmen Negrelli’s eye.

These documentaries, deemed Meet New People by Kelly, were “a more low-fi Australian version of [what we can expect from] Big Small,” Kelly said.

Based on these films, “[Film POP then] asked me to do a Montreal portrait series and I cordially agreed.”

This is not Kelly’s first experience working with the festival. Last year he was the videographer for POP Montreal, spending “most of [my time] on a bicycle riding from show to show to show,” he said. “Hands down, I saw more acts than anyone else in Montreal over those five days.”

The subjects of Kelly’s portraits come across as totally honest. What does it take for Kelly’s subjects to feel comfortable speaking about themselves and their experiences in front of his camera?

“If you pick the right people, anyone will be comfortable in front of the camera after you’ve shot about 30 minutes of tape,” Kelly explained. “For everyone else, it’s about gaining trust.”

His portrait on Grimes, for example, took three months when they normally take one.

“[Grimes] didn’t know me before I asked her to do the film, and there is three shoot days of footage that weren’t used at all in the completed film,” Kelly said.

“She is a wonderful, weird and super talented person, but it just took ages for us to click creatively,” he said. “The final product is very different from other Big Smalls. Some people like it, some people don’t”

Big Small at Film POP takes place at Studio Off Interarts (5143 St Laurent Blvd.) from Sept. 29 to Oct. 2 from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 07, published September 28, 2010.