Artist Spotlight: Kazik Radwanski makes use of low-budget resources

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By Julia Sacco

Image Arts (IMA) graduate Kazik Radwanski premiered his newest film “Anne at 13,000 ft” earlier this month at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Known for his low budget independent films, Radwanski has already made an impact on the Canadian independent filmmaking scene, being cited as part of the “New Canadian Cinema Movement.”

Radwanski’s third feature film chronicles the life of Anne, who he describes as “a woman trying to find her place in the world and the few people in her life who know she needs help, but can’t quite figure out how to help her.”

This film, like his others, comes from “a very introspective place,” Radwanski said. 

Previous films by Radwanski follow a similar formula, focusing on characters who don’t follow societal norms. The films “trap you in” with uncommon characters, evoking a “complex mix of empathy, pity, recognition and/or identification,” as described by Ryerson University Magazine

This, combined with his unique “hand-held” film style, helps to generate a sense of intimacy between the audience and the screen. 

“I fell in love with the sort-of mystery or tension of being so close to someone, but not necessarily understanding them,” said Radwanksi. “We shouldn’t be too comfortable watching these people.”

Getting his start at the School of Image Arts helped shape his distinctive filmmaking technique. Radwanski completed his first short film, “Assault,” and thesis film “Princess Maragaret Blvd.” while at Ryerson. Both films gained modest success, with his thesis film premiering at TIFF in 2008. 

Radwanski said his time at Ryerson taught him how “things that were initially a setback became huge advantages.” He found this was the case when he used local businesses and actors as opposed to big budget resources. 

“We tried to incorporate as many real things as we could into the film,” Radwanksi said about his choice to keep things local and familiar. “You have so many memories of these places, I know where the lights [are going to] be and I know where the good views are.”

Deragh Campbell—who plays the lead role of Anne—underwent a dedicated process to create a realistic character. From jumping out of a plane during her first shoot for the film to working as a daycare teacher, the spontaneity and chaos in the film helped Campbell connect to the character of Anne.

“We tried to set up scenarios where we can stumble into a lot of exciting things,” said Radwanski. 

Radwanski said collaborating with people in his own peer group, rather than having a senior producer, made the experience all the more special.

“People are able to have much more control and just be much more direct, and much more interesting and exciting,” he said. 

Radwanski offers the following for current IMA students trying to find their voice: “There are so many ways now to share your work, if you believe in your work, it will find its way out there.” 

To see more of Kazik Radwanski’s work, follow him on Twitter or Instagram.

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