“Everybody knows that teenagers are going to drink and smoke drugs. If you do it with them, everybody has fun!”
Today I raise a shot glass of vodka to the TIFF Official Selection “Guidance“, which is also the directorial debut of Pat Mills. It’s the story of David Gold , an alcoholic, sexually repressed 36 year old guy who still hangs on to his long ago success as a child actor. After being axed from his job as a voice over on self-help soundtracks made for women who need to up their confidence, David fakes his resume to land a job as a high school guidance counsellor. A natural transition, of course.
“Guidance” is a must-see and a moving, laugh out loud romp from start to finish. The brilliant comedic timing hits within the first moments as the sound engineer at David’s voice over job says, “Apparently our female customers would like the voice of a heterosexual man feeding them their affirmations.” David replies with the perfect beat, “No, I’m not gay. I just have a gentle voice.”
David poses as “Roland Brown”, a high school guidance counselor he finds on Youtube, to play the part of Grusin High’s new guidance counselor. His emotional and hilarious journey is refreshing, as he’s honest with his students about his drinking problem (while offering them shots like a good bartender would) and coaches his teenage girls how to flirt and be sluts with the guys. It’s the kind of character that makes you wish your high school counselor was upfront about being an alcoholic, because you know he really was.
Without a doubt, “Guidance” will get the nods it deserves at TIFF, and will continue to bedazzle viewers with it’s vodka guzzling, self-help affirming hilarity at other significant festivals down the road. My suggested affirmation for the creators of Guidance: I am worthy of awards, international festivals and distribution, because I am funny, touching, and gosh darn it, festival goers like me.
Executive Producer/Producer Alyson Richards and Producer Mike MacMillan share what went into making this unique and outrageously entertaining film:
Alyson Richards talks about how Guidance was unexpectedly sold. A good example of why it’s necessary to have more than one project to pitch:
I originally went in to pitch a different project to Telefilm Canada, but the person I met with felt that project wasn’t yet ready. Just before I was leaving he asked “What else do you have”? I mentioned Guidance and his eyes lit up. He was totally into it.
What makes “Guidance” unique compared to other projects you’ve worked on?
Mike MacMillan: I really love working on black comedy, more than anything because I find it really great when people are laughing on set. For this, I was really drawn to this script, because it was hilarious – I actually laughed out lout when I read it. The team was amazing as well – we really had so much fun and became a film family. That’s hard to find, and it’s really something to hold on to for other projects.
Has Pat Mills directed other films?
Alyson: He has directed shorts, but this is actually his first feature, and I think he did an amazing job transitioning to long form. Funnily enough, he wasn’t originally going to play the lead, but we forced him to audition – now I can’t picture anybody else playing the role. He hasn’t acted professionally since he was a kid, but you’d never guess it from his performance.
What has been the overall response to Guidance so far?
Mike: Everyone has laughed really hard at our test screenings, and has really enjoyed it. It’s really fun, which I think is great.
Alyson: Up next is another comedy called “Don’t Talk To Irene” that is written and will be directed by Pat. The script is hilarious, and recently won best comedy script at the Austin Film Festival. We are in the middle of putting together the financing, and plan on shooting next summer.