September 25, 2011
Posted by Kathryn Griffiths
Interview with Bryan Law and Steven Davies, Producers of 'Into the Fire'
K: I understand you've been doing documentaries for quite some time now…
B&S: ...Yes, a few years, this is my third documentary.
K: What drove you to the documentary field?
S: To be honest, for me it was accidental. I got into film more to do, like, fiction type stuff. Especially nowadays with YouTube and just equipment in general has come down in price- it's a lot easier to make films, especially in the documentary field. As for a lot of the topics we just kind of stumble into it. We're passionate about the issues and feel it's important to address the topic at the time.
K: When you decided to talk about the G8 and G20, was that more of a 'stumbling' occurrence?
B: Yes, we knew the G8 was coming to Huntsville, and we thought both the G8 and the G20 were going to be in Huntsville, because that was announced three years prior. When they announced the G20 was coming to the city we knew that was going to be the perfect opportunity - we didn't know if we were going to get anything worth making a movie about but in the weeks leading up to it, seeing all the laws they were passing, and even in the months leading up to it, just trying to film in the downtown streets of Toronto, I was being arrested for filming in public streets. So I knew that there were going to be some problems coming down the line when police were arresting you under the auspices of saying "it's for the protection of the G20 delegates." I would be filming right at the corner of King and Bay and come the day of the actual summit – where two police cars [got] burned – right at the corner of King and Bay – it seems odd that it was a high security area for someone filming on a sidewalk, and then the complete polar opposite to have that area overtaken by fifty kids in black masks on the day. It was definitely incongruities in their story that were going on. After we got all the footage for it we thought, "Yeah this is something that needs to be discussed", because it was the largest mass arrest in Canadian history, the biggest violation of civil rights ever since the establishment of our charter of rights and freedoms in 1981 and it was just a total flagrant violation of existing laws: international laws, human rights for people and just to pass all of these secret laws and arrest all of these people and spend all that money, as well. All of the other G20s cost $17million for the one in London, $30 million for the one in Pittsburg and $30 million was just the budget given to the Toronto police alone not to mention all the others. I think it was, like, hundreds of millions of dollars given to the RCMP – it's like the entire police in our whole country were given a carte blanche to buy all of this new gear for monitoring people, arresting people, all sorts of new toys that in my mind they will be using in the future as people continue to get out and protest for more reasons. I mean the protests in London and stuff like that, all for different reasons they're going to start using all of this new technology and training, basically, it was a million dollar training drill. My dad's a retired police officer so had he not retired he would have been part of the security apparatus of the G20.
K: Being in both Huntsville and Toronto, seeing the two, what did you think the major differences were?
S: Had the G20 still taken place in Huntsville it probably would have been similar just it's a totally different layout here – it's the countryside, there's probably only two roads to get into Deerhurst [the resort that hosted the G8], so they easily could have blocked that off. Whereas downtown Toronto there's just all kinds of logistical things for the police to consider and that's obviously going to be the magnet to where the opposition to the G20 is going to go. It was more for training in an urban setting, we're seeing a lot more of this worldwide thanks to government cutbacks and the recession and everything else- a lot of people are starting to feel that pinch and are trying to fight back in some way. That was obviously the perfect way to do that. There were a whole bunch of security cameras up, they took a bunch down but lots still stayed up and they kept the other ones for future use. Same with the L-RED, the long-range acoustic device, they didn't end up using it at the G20 but they got it at the G20, and still have kept it. Who knows...we'll see when they break that out.
B: I was covering the G8 in town, and when I came to town it was a very polar difference to being in the city, in Toronto the police were all on edge and they seemed to be looking at everybody. If you had a camera and you we're filming in the area you were automatically a suspect for some reason that you were going to be doing something bad, they were demanding identification, cornering you following you around. I was even told when I was filming by a police officer that secret service wouldn't appreciate you filming – I don't really care what the Secret Services approves or doesn't approve of. They're a US agency they have no jurisdiction in our country at all, so to say that Secret Service doesn't approve what we're doing on the streets of our own city was kind of insulting, especially that the police would be promoting this kind of behaviour. In the G8 the police we're all very nice, everyone was very calm there were no threats to 'show us your ID or we'll have you arrested' and then you get down to the city in Toronto and it's like that all over the place. Security guards are being told they have the same power of police, but there's no way to mitigate that power with them so they're being issued new responsibilities and being told to check in with the police. It was similar to the Stasi police in Eastern Berlin in the 60's and 70's with surveillance vans travelling around. Even their snatch and grab operations of pulling up in a van and taking people into the van – it reminded me of Chile in the 70's when this would happen to people and they would disappear and die. That type of training to teach the police that that's okay to do – they're no longer peace officers then, they're not holding their duty to uphold the constitution anymore. They're thugs being trained to do all this stuff they're not supposed to be doing in the line of duty. I think the fact that the G20 had so much going on is because there's so much more power to it, it involves many more countries, it actually only has 19 countries that are part of it. The finance ministers for the G20 have been meeting since 1999, but ever since the 2008 recession the leaders meet and they discuss global initiatives that they want to try-all the countries involved in it have to make concessions – taking away from the idea of national sovereignty. No longer is a country able to make decisions for what's best for the people of the country, and you don't have any voting power for anybody on the G20, so you're essentially destroying democracy the more you globalize everything. Something that makes perfect sense in France makes no sense in Canada, but you have to make concessions and agree to measures to get the global economy back on track. Let's face it, the economy is controlled by bankers anyways, so these bankers getting these huge bailouts and funds from public money are just giving themselves the bonuses at the end of the day anyways. You can only push people so far before you expect them to fight back and that's sort of what we do in filming this – to try and expose it. Because if people have the information they're not just going to run out and start a riot, they're going to go out and start to affect change in their communities locally and start to take back the idea of sovereignty.
K: And how have the audiences been receiving your message?
S: The film has been doing quite well- it's gotten a good reception. The premiere in Toronto in April went well. Back to the other question of Toronto vs. Huntsville – just the media frenzy in Toronto alone is a bigger machine that's what I think a lot of what we saw there was what we were trying to drive home to the general population.
B: With all the riots you're seeing around the world right now people are trying to be socially engineered that rioting is the way to fight the system and burning and breaking stuff – the media switches that on everyone and paints the rioters as bad protesters. All you really need is for – as we present in the film – is for a couple of undercover police officers to go into a good situation and turn it ugly – and the media capitalizes on that – before you know it the message of the protestors is totally lost and downed in this sea of burning cars and smashed windows.
K: An important part of Film North is to help inspire young filmmakers to get involved and that other people's work will help ignite them to get making films themselves. Do you have any advice for our younger audience?
S: Go out there and do it, don't let little things like budget or whatever- getting funding- there's so many avenues now to show films that never happened 10 years ago when I was in film school. It's a lot easier in some ways. My advice is to do what you're passionate about and go for it.
B: With all the new advances in technology like iPhones and iPads you can film stuff film HD now and have it in your pocket. Cameras are everywhere these days, and if you're interested in making documentaries, the medium is not as much important anymore as much as the message. You could film an entire documentary on your phone and have it win awards or get recognition since it's more about the message you're conveying. For young people out there the biggest thing that I've had told to me and it's true, is film what you know. Don't try and go out there and film something where you have no idea what you're filming unless that's the point of making the movie - that you want to learn more about it. If you're interested in skateboarding make a skateboarding video if that's what your passion is. If you're interested in horses there's a whole film on horses. You've go to focus on what your passion is. Our passion is about breaking down the lie and propaganda of the mainstream media, I got into doing documentaries mostly out of frustration. Watching the evening news every night and seeing that they weren't covering certain important issues that needed to be discussed, and finally saying the fourth estate is failing in its role…in the 70's, 150 corporations owned most of the media and now it's 5 of them, that's kind of a scary thought when you think about it, because it's consolidated all of the power into the hands of so few people, and they control the messages of what you see and hear. In your books and newspapers and everything you see and hear is controlled by a very small elite group of people but not anymore with things like YouTube and the internet, everyone has a voice now so you can go ahead and use it.
» For more information on ‘Into the Fire' and Press for Truth check their website pressfortruth.ca