The last three weeks of my life had been a complete blur. Time had become an irrelevant concept my brain barely understood as red wine was slowly replacing what was left of my blood. Wow, I’ve been watching too much Wednesday. My father had passed away suddenly but I could swear I could see him everywhere. I was clearly going through the stages of grief. A day after his death I flew to Vancouver, where my family lived. I spent the next few weeks with my mom trying to loosen up the fog that had suddenly taken over our brains. Nothing was clear. Nothing made sense. He went too early. He was around the age men usually die at. In the end, we scattered his ashes in the Pacific Ocean and parts of Lake Winnipeg, where dad was born. A part of me died the day dad’s ashes were swept up by the waves.
After three weeks of trying to cope with the loss of my best friend, I returned to Toronto in search of a new project. I needed a change, a new challenge. That’s when I met Russ De Jong online. His company North Film Co. was looking for a Producer to help raise money for its many feature films in development.
On a cold Monday in January, as the wind bustled in every direction and my mind was still fixated on my dad, I waited for a train outside Union station contemplating the virtues of life, death and everything in between. After close to an hour the train destined for Oakville appeared. I took my seat as a passenger on board the unpredictable journey of life.
The company was owned by Russ De Jong. He had been a DP (Director of Photography) in the industry for years and had worked on countless movies and commercials. Recently he’s been a DP on, Star Trek Discovery, Umbrella Academy and Shadow
Hunters. Russ was full of bravado, confidence and clearly the group’s fearless leader. This guy had been to the show and he had the pipes to prove it. He knew the politics of working on a set and was an excellent DP. His problem was in the midst of always being hired out to shoot shows (with his team of 4-5 men) he didn’t have the time to produce in-house projects, even though the company had a few features under their belt.
Sitting at a cubicle by herself was Cat Hostick. She was about ten years younger than Russ and her sole interest was to be a director. She was always working on screenplays but ultimately she wanted her name in lights on the movie marquee. A few of Russ’s associates were working at a computer, setting up a future shoot. Cat’s head was covered by a black toque. I could barely see her face.
After speaking with Russ for a while, I was given the role of Producer at North Film Co.
Immediately I was sort of teamed up with Cat. I felt as if I was her personal producer. This young lady seemed to have all the talent in the world and was also an actor having even flown to Singapore for a role. She was the ultimate type of hyphenate this country needed. North Film CO was a fledgling business and I truly believed with my know-how, Cat was a movie away from becoming the next Sarah Polley.
Her first feature film, The Meaning Of Life, was outstanding. The film tells the story of a starving musician Finn Faber (Tyler Shaw) who attains a temporary job as a therapeutic clown at a hospital entertaining sick kids. He is assigned a 9-year-old cancer patient: Sophia Hill (Sadie Munroe). Finn soon learns that Sophia, coming into his life was no coincidence, but an important lesson he needed to learn before making a big step forward in life.
Growing up, Cat wanted to be an actress and later transitioned into directing. “I grew up in a small town an hour east of Toronto, Canada called Bowmanville. My mom is a retired nurse that delivered babies. My Dad was a regional director of a large insurance company. My older brother is a finance guy. Basically, my family are all math geniuses and I’m the black sheep. I was a gifted artist/painter from a very young age. My filmmaking and acting interests began early on.” Like a young Stephen Spielberg, she wanted movies to be part of her future. “I always knew from a young age that I wanted to make movies. I remember as young as 6 years old putting on plays with my animal toys, doing actual plays in school, and any opportunity at school where we had creative autonomy, I would turn my projects into a show of some sort. I made my first horror film in grade 6 with one of those camcorders. I remember my teacher being a bit disturbed when I showed it to the class since it probably wasn’t appropriate for kids our age.”
After high school Cat began to take her craft very seriously. “When I finished high school, I moved to Toronto and was auditioning and working as an actress. I remember feeling stifled as an actor and artist because I wasn’t loving all the roles I was going out for and had an urge to tell the stories the way I wanted to tell them. So, I decided to start producing my own work, which is when I really started taking directing seriously. Once I got over the fear of it all and just decided, “yes I am going to be a director…This is going to be my career”. things started falling into place.”
In 2021 the young Director had her first major taste of success. She directed a feature for Lifetime entitled, “A Date With Danger.” about a single mom looking for a fresh start in a new
town when she befriends a boutique owner. After her new friend goes missing, she begins to suspect her neighbour of the crime.
WORKING WITH CAT
Right from the start I could see from Cat’s previous features there was talent. She reminded me of so many young directors I’d worked with that simply needed the encouragement and a veteran producer to help move their career forward. We talked a lot about ghosts, haunting and the supernatural. These were topics of great interest to her and since my dad had recently passed I too was thinking on that same level. She’d written a couple of scripts which I thought were good concepts and with the right cast attached could have been made. We were successful in optioning a true-life story about a NY Police Officer who went to jail for killing and later eating his victim. Eventually, the case was retried and he was found innocent.
Later, she sent me two rough drafts of films she was completing. Both were low-budget but it was obvious that breakout potential was there. It just needed to be cultivated. I offered some editing choices and Cat may have used some of my suggestions. This non-stop go-go girl also had another film in the can she was starting to edit called Campton Manor, a horror film. I watched the first assembly edit without music and special effects. Even at that stage, it was obvious she had something special on her hands, but Cat didn’t feel that way. She spent months in the editing room working and re-working the picture until it matched her overall vision. I recall seeing the last cut which was quite impressive.
A GHOST RUINED MY LIFE
Perhaps Cat’s biggest break came when Eli Roth, the master horror icon, chose her to direct episodes from his docu-horror series A Ghost Ruined My Life. “I did 4 episodes in season one, 2 of season 2 and then we did a show called MY POSSESSED PET. It was cool working with animals as leads.” A Ghost Ruined My Life showcases footage and story recreation of various unexplained occurrences, from hauntings to mysteries to the just plain weird. Roth and his team solicit stories from the public and specifically seek out those of skeptics and non-believers, whose brushes with the supernatural are often so traumatic they convert into believers.
MEETING ELI ROTH
Cat met Eli through Cream Productions. “I’d worked with Cream on other shows like FEAR THY NEIGHBOUR which has been around for 8 seasons. Once Eli started working with them they started doing a lot of horror. So they were only really looking for directors that had a horror background. Because I have a horror feature and love the genre, I had the opportunity. That’s how I met Eli.” Cat elaborates on her working relationship with Roth and how he is supportive as a Producer, “He deserves the credit for giving so much support to his directors. It’s important for Eli the directors have recognition. Even though it’s television and it’s not common to make the directors the focus, he’s really done that and promoted us through his own channels. He’s made it clear to the other producers, he wants the director to be the focus and we’ve gone out of our way to make these mini horror features.“
Cat’s latest project is another Eli Roth production, Urban Legend. “It’s a terrifying new scripted horror anthology series on Discovery plus based on Urban Legends. I directed two episodes called ‘Creep in The Walls’ and ‘The Haunted Shower.’ The episodes end with an interview between Eli and myself talking about the episodes and all things horror. ‘The Haunted Shower’ is about a college freshman (played by Jenna Vittoria) who accidentally uses a haunted shower that everyone stays away from. A revenge-seeking entity attaches itself to her. ‘The Creep in The Walls’ is about two sisters (played by Emily Cole and Nicole Ruse) who renovate a neglected house they’ve inherited from their deceased mom. When one of them suspects their mom may be haunting it after a series of strange occurrences, it leads to a sinister discovery.”
Cat is more than grateful for Eli’s collaboration. “Eli is like a walking encyclopedia – for the horror genre and beyond that. He’s very worldly. So naturally, I just learned a lot chatting with him in general. I’ve done four of Eli’s shows now, and for a couple of them including Urban Legend, he interviews the directors at the end of each episode. During those interviews, we really get into it (5% of the conversation only makes it onto TV). But I learn more about myself as a director. He’ll point out things about my work that I’m not even aware of. He’ll say, ‘I loved that sequence – you were channelling Nightmare on Elm without copying it,’ or he’ll pick up and point out things about my approach and style as a director that I’m not even aware of.”
Since I met Cat she’s gone on to have an amazing career as a director. I truly am inspired by her work effort and self-belief. I’d also like to thank her. After my dad passed I was lost in every way possible. Life had become a series of events that followed each other in chronological order. But it was getting to know Cat and seeing her relentless hard work and passion to surpass her own lofty expectations, this creative enthusiasm slowly began to rub off on me. Suddenly the old Myles who was full of new ideas and concepts every day had found his way back to a world that really hadn’t interested him since dad was no longer in it.
Perhaps Cat was the bridge I needed to find my way back from the Upside-down World. Or maybe over time we slowly let go and regain purpose.