The Adventure of Faustus Bidgood

Mike & Andy Jones’ The Adventure of Faustus Bidgood (introduced by Peter Wintonick)
Saturday, February 27 at 4:00PM
Winnipeg Cinematheque
Free Admission

“We did what we thought we had to do,” says Mike Jones, one of the directors of Newfoundland’s first feature film. “We knew that you needed a camera and you needed actors and you had to cut it together.”

With that knowledge, Jones, his brother Andy and a large cast and crew set out to create The Adventure of Faustus Bidgood, the making of which would be an adventure in itself. A huge and unwieldy project, it began with an eight-hour script and practically no budget and took almost ten years to complete. By the time it was finished a generation of Newfoundland artists had been introduced to the business, and the creative process of making feature films.

Newfoundland had been the site of previous features, such as The Viking, The Rowdyman and Orca The Killer Whale. But those films had been made by outside producers and crews with minimal local involvement. Faustus Bidgood was the first full-length movie created and completed by Newfoundlanders.

The Jones brothers began writing Faustus in 1977. Later that year they assembled cast, crew and equipment and started shooting selected scenes with Andy Jones playing the title role. Work continued sporadically until 1979. After a three-year break, additional shooting and post- production began in 1982 and the film was released in 1986. Aside from the lack of money, resources and expertise, the lengthy production time created further challenges. “There’s a scene where Andy gains 20 pounds,” says Mike Jones. “He knocks on the door and when the door opens inside he’s put on 20 pounds, because it had been shot six or seven years later.”

The final product is a dense and surreal black comedy. It follows a day in the life of Faustus, a gormless and unwitting minor bureaucrat who is scorned and ridiculed by his co-workers. A dreamer capable of spectacular fantasies, Faustus becomes the first ruler of the Republic of Newfoundland, which has been established after a revolution.

Opinions of Faustus Bidgood vary widely. But it has gained a reputation as a cult film and it probably exceeded the commercial expectations of many. Because of the shortage of money, many of the cast and crew were given shares in the film in lieu of salaries. At least one crew member reported that his shares returned enough money to pay for a new stove.

– Jamie Fitzpatrick

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~ by cineflyer on February 17, 2010.

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