Written by: Jeremy House
Cats Eye Cinema is a video production comany in St. John’s, NL. In this interview, we talk with film director and owner of Cats Eye Cinema, Cody Westman, about a broad range of topics from cats to music videos to what the future holds.
Rock Island: Tell us a bit about your background. What made you really want to get into filmmaking?
Cody Westman: I’ve been involved with music my whole life, went to music school and took it seriously for many years. Got into film making while living in Montreal in 1999 and did it as a part time job there and in Vancouver. Mostly extra work and PA work. Finally bought my own camera and started shooting, producing and editing in 2013. Been doing it full time eversince. Movies and music have always been the ultimate coolest things in the world to me!
RI: Could you tell us a little about Cats Eye Cinema? Where the name came from, projects you’ve done, how long the company has been around.
CW: Everything I’ve ever produced has come with the name Cats Eye since 2006. At the time, I had a very unique cat named Cleo. I could have 25 people in our house for a party and I could wear her as a scarf, holding her front and hind legs. She was unlike any cat I’ve ever seen and she meant a lot to me. I would take pictures of her, and one day I got a great picture of her eye. The name stuck and now I see it as a symbol of my attention to detail. When cats are hunting in the grass, they can see everything that moves, and I try and think like that when I am planning and shooting videos. I’ve done a 22 min documentary about Erin’s Pub, I have a short film in the works for April 2016 called ‘It Could Be You!’ with Andy Jones and Justin Nurse, a documentary/web series in the works with Alan Doyle, finished a music video for Waterfront Fire last month and have 2 more in the works, and have done a ton of corporate and commercial work in the last few years.
RI: Tell us specifically about some of the music videos you’ve worked on. What were the shoots like? What music artists were they for? Any funny anecdotes or stories to go along with any of them?
CW: The first music video I did was for my band Man The Animal, which was through the First Time Film Maker’s program at NIFCO and we recorded the whole video on one roll of 16mm film! It was an 11 min roll of film, so we really only had one take of everything. That was fun. I did a promo for Another North’s CD last year, and a full concept video for Waterfront Fire this year for their song ‘First Light’. That one was a bunch of work with 3 locations, extras and a small crew. I’m currently working on a music video for The Town Heroes out of Halifax, and a couple secret ones that I won’t mention until they are set in stone!
RI: How much input do you usually get from the musical artists when you are making the music video? Do they usually come to you with an idea or is it more along the lines of they want to make one but don’t know how?
CW: Well, it starts with me listening to the song and seeing if I’m into it, writing down the lyrics and seeing if any ideas come to mind. If the artist is totally set on an idea, then I will try and find some way to make it my own, and we can meet in the middle. Film making, and the whole business of entertainment, is not something you can do by yourself, so I love when people have ideas. I like building on them until we have something solid that I think will look cool and people will want to watch.
RI: What projects do you have lined up for the near future?
CW: Right now I’m putting a ton of energy into this short film ‘It Could Be You!’ and hoping that it will make it’s rounds at festivals in 2017. A couple big corporate things just came up, I have The Town Heroes and a couple more music videos that I hope to see the light of day, and I would love to see my show with Alan Doyle get finished called ‘Something In The Water’ That one is a bigger project with a lot of people behind it, but it can take a while to get these big ones finished. I’ve stuck by this saying for years: "You can do anything with will and money!"