Spring 2024

Local Editor/Director Making a Mark in the Canadian Film Industry

Jennifer Shea

Local Editor/Director Making a Mark in the Canadian Film Industry

Luke Sargent grew up in British Columbia. He was an avid movie fan who would watch a movie on VHS over and over until he knew all the lines. As a teenager in Victoria, his dream of working in a video store came true and when he wasn’t working or in school, he was making short videos with his friends and editing them just for fun. It’s no surprise that Sargent now enjoys a career as a film editor and director.

Travelling through Toronto on a backpacking trip, he fell in love with the city and the film industry opportunities it offered. He moved there in 2004 and volunteered himself into the industry as an editor. His formal education followed. “In my 20s, I went to the Canadian Film Centre (CFC) and that was really competitive. I didn’t get in the first year, which was disappointing, but also a good thing in hindsight.”

“The next year, I applied with everything I had and I got in. I had a wonderful update to my skills and my understanding of the artistry of filmmaking. The CFC was a great landmark for me because I got to see how bigger shows were made and how creative you can be as an editor when you have all those resources.”

His early editing projects were primarily documentaries. His experience at the CFC led to work in indie films, then he moved into television opportunities. “That’s kind of the golden ticket for anyone in the film business because television is working year-round usually. I joined the Directors Guild of Canada, which is what the editors are under.”

Sargent’s television editing work led him to Bruce McDonald, a well-known Canadian director. For the past 5 years, Bruce has been Sargent’s mentor to introduce him to the art of directing. “There’s new, fresh, exciting energy in directing because I haven’t done very much of it. I see it as an opportunity.”

Sargent compares directing to being the host of a great party. “There’s a bunch of different groups of people. You’ve got to go around and make sure everybody’s comfortable and well-fed, and you’ve got to listen to them all. I’m not the best at wardrobe or makeup or hair. What you do is you bring that team together who are the best and you filter ideas. It’s a balance of trust.”

“As an editor, I look at the story more as a finished thing, so I bring that to my directing.”

In 2018, Sargent directed his first documentary, The Love Songs of Oedipus Rex for CBC Short Docs. He was director, producer, cinematographer and editor.

His most recent directing project was a short farce/comedy/dramedy film produced in The County, Saint Bernard. Sargent and a small crew and cast filmed the project inside a 7 ft. by 9 ft. sauna. It was a challenge. “For me, that was part of the fun,” says Sargent. “This was literally the box I had to play with, the space I had access to.”

The story revolves around Bernard and a midlife dalliance. “I think midlife is funny because we can’t sort of help but become hypocrites while grappling with life catching up to the idea of ourselves … if that makes sense.”

The key takeaways for Sargent from this project: “That a director should be open to listening for better ideas all the time. The clock rules all things on set, so always be hustling and thinking ahead. Also, trust people, treat them well, and when in doubt, trust your gut.”

Sargent is hoping to premiere the short in the County, possibly at The Regent Theatre. He’s also investigating opportunities to show it at film festivals. “Telefilm has a list of qualifying festivals – a short list – if you’ve made something that goes into one of these festivals, then you can qualify for Telefilm funding for a feature film. I’ve been applying to those festivals.”

He and his young family live in Cherry Valley, Prince Edward County now, but Sargent keeps an office in Toronto and does most of his work there.

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