Ever leave a theatre feeling good about the universe, the world, your marriage and the kids? This is that type of movie. After watching it, I felt invigorated and wanted to take a drive at night with my shirt off to express my right to poke fun at myself. This film attempts to find truth in a world invaded with hypocrisy. It deals with cause and effect. How ones actions can trickle down to consequences we hadn’t imagined.
The Grand Unified Theory is the latest film created by David Ray. He’s known for films Fetching Cody, I am Evil Knievel, I Am Steve McQueen, Earth’s Final Hours and End Of The World, just to name a few.
David has been writing since he was a young lad. He and his buddies would get together after he wrote a story and film it. Making films always remained a passion of his. It was a natural fit to pursue it as a career. He wrote, directed and produced it.
I loved the film and the essence of the message imbedded inside. It’s a comedy/drama that revolves around a family of four in need of therapy. The wife is lacking excitement, the husband struggles with a job offer, the son is discovering his first love and the daughter comes to terms with adulthood while cementing her bond within the family. A string of events brings them together to remind them of ties that bind. Family is forever, no matter the circumstance, so you better embrace it.
The cast is amazing with every performance award worthy. The father is astrophysicist Albert James. He’s been so absorbed with his work, he’s become disconnected from his wife and kids. He’s played by a very talented Scott Bellis. David had seen a stage performance by Scott and knew that he was the right fit for is film.
The wife/mother is in need of excitement in her life. Her character Rita stumbles across an ex boyfriend after a few drinks at a lounge. She lets her guard down long enough to allow her ex boyfriend Victor, make a pass at her in the bathroom. She comes to her senses and escapes without her top which later results in an arrest. This stellar comical performance is played out by actress Kendall Cross and Andrew McNee.
The daughter Lauren, is a competitive athlete that gets cut from the team for inconsistent performances. Her temper flairs up, causing a juvenile reaction with unforeseen consequences. Talented actress Emma Grabinski pulls of an amazing performance. Her brother Gordon is discovering love for the first time. Taking advice from all the wrong people, he pursues the wrong girl before the right girl intervenes and wins his heart. A young talented actor, Maxwell Haynes plays the role of the love struck teen.
The casting for this film is remarkable. I had to ask, where did David Ray find such a talented group?
“The casting is the one area I took a long time to consider. I spent over a year sifting through resumes, headshots, researching performances. I had the good fortune of hiring casting directors Stuart Aikins(Emmy winner) and known for Best In Show, as well as Bim Narine. Both were instrumental in discovering the cast.”
There are no small performances. The ex boyfriend Victor creates a storm of comedy through his caveman antics and theory of relationships. His character is pure comic relief and creates laughter through his dialogue and mannerisms. His is a character we are all familiar with. We all have a Victor in our lives. The uncle that was never married but still thinks his swagger is the nectar of the gods. Victor is played by very funny actor Andrew McNee.
Another stand out performance I was extremely impressed with is police officer Steve. When everyone else wants to laugh he is serious as a heart attack. Never swayed or impervious to distraction, his by-the-book attitude invites conflict and disregard for the law. Officer Steve is played by talented actor Raugi Yu.
The rest of the cast are equally impressive. The sports coach played by Sabrina Prada, Gordons co-worker Don is played by Blair Penner and Gabrielle Rose performs as Rose, a fellow astrophysicist.
Niki Wipf plays a convincing Carleen, Alysha Jackson pulls off a stunning performance as young love interest Sakhah. The rest of the cast is impeccable in their performances.
David had this film green-lit through Telefilm Canada. He had pitched a few projects before this one resonated as marketable. He received financing in the ballpark of 142,000.00. David wrote the script seven years ago. Since that time, he’s weathered a divorce and discovered another love along the way. Now engaged, it seems fitting that the film has embarked onto a journey of surprise and hope. Much like the journey of a new relationship, it parallels high expectations with the hope of tremendous success.
The film was shot in North Vancouver in the neighborhood David grew up in. He was fortunate to use his mom’s home for a large chunk of the scenes. It only took twelve days to shoot this masterpiece using a crew of 60-70 bodies. His DOP was award winning John S. Bartley. The music was composed by musician and singer Jordan Klassan and Hamish Thomson. Editing was accomplished by Chris Hooper and Jamie Murray. Two ARRI ALEXA cameras captured the brilliant images.
The film premiered at a festival in Beijing. David experienced the red carpet treatment. Providing a flight there and putting him up in a first class hotel was a tremendous surprise. There was even paparazzi that wanted to speak with him.
“The warm welcome was beyond my expectations.”
“The warm welcome was beyond my expectations.”
David also thanked astrophysicist Jaymie Matthews for collaborating on the astrophysics lecture.
I love a movie where you feel like you gained some knowledge just by participating as an observer.
David Ray is heading to premiere the film at the Chicago Comedy festival this week in Second City. He explains the huge honor it represents to him. He grew up watching Second City.
“This film is like watching your child grow up. It takes on a life of its own. You do your best to prepare it for the world and hope it survives the journey.”
“What was the best part about making this film?”
“I’d have to say it was being able to work with some incredibly talented people that truly made the film possible. I want to thank them over and over again because of the appreciation I feel. I have worked on projects with 10-100 times the budget of this film. However, this film has amazing production value that the other films didn’t. The caliber of talent attached to the film made all the difference. It was a labor of love.”
This film reminds me of Little Miss Sunshine. It has great legs and a bright future. It is premiering at the Whistler Film Festival next week. I suggest you be in the audience.
David Ray is currently in development on a TV series as well as working on another feature. He wants to continue writing/directing. He tells me that one of the keys to finishing this film was sticking to his vision. Its great to collaborate with the actors, but communicating and articulating your needs while remaining genuine is golden.
It was a pleasure getting to know David and his work/passions. An Exceptional and truly inspirational interview.