A videographer and a musician, both from Vancouver Island, bare it all in a new documentary about overcoming addiction and trauma.
Nathan Reimer’s 50-minute documentary, titled Inside Out: The Carl Longstaff Storywill premiere at Vancouver Island University’s Malaspina Theater on Saturday, May 28 as a two-film feature.
The doc details Longstaff’s lifelong addiction issues and his journey to recovery, told chronologically from birth through interviews with the subject, his family and friends.
“It was like putting together a puzzle, piece by piece,” said the videographer.
Reimer, who now lives in Sidney, knew Longstaff through neighborhood church and school youth groups, as they both attended Dover Bay High School in Nanaimo for a time.
“He was always this completely rambunctious, crazy kid who was obsessed with Jolt Cola. And everyone knew him as this ‘overdone’ spark plug,” Reimer said.
Before working on the project together, he said one of the last times he saw Longstaff was over 10 years ago.
“I saw him once – his band was playing in 2008 – and I was like, ‘Hey, I haven’t seen Carl in like 10 years.’ And I walked up to him to say hello, and he looked at me like I wasn’t even there. It was so weird,” Reimer said.
Following that encounter, about two years ago, Longstaff informed him of his struggles and “everything that happened.”
“And it all made sense,” Reimer said.
The documentary project began when Longstaff asked Reimer to produce a video about his life for him after seeing his previous work online.
The next thing he knew, Reimer said, he was going back and forth between Nanaimo and Sidney shooting interviews every other weekend. The project morphed into “something much more” as it delved deeper into Longstaff’s life, as people around him recounted.
In dealing with generational trauma, one point the documentary attempts to address is knowing when to say “enough is enough” and breaking the cycle of violence.
Although the 18 months of production seemed harrowing, Reimer said the doc was a “labor of love”; the one he loved to watch unfold slowly.
“I thought it was really empowering to hear from someone who was at their lowest getting their life out of the fire and realizing their full potential,” he said. “I thought, how interesting would a story be to show someone that they would rebuild themselves systematically and strategically.”
During the making of Inside Out: The Carl Longstaff Story the pair went on to work closely together on five separate music videos for Longstaff based on different chapters of his life. Images from these videos have also been inserted into the document to facilitate and illustrate the storytelling process.
The second film in the May 28 double feature, titled My Beaten Heart: 20th Anniversarywas also shot by Reimer and his then-partner John Silverberg. my beating heart was the first film Reimer ever made, a ‘mockumentary’ about a fictional rock band called Whips N’ Chains, which premiered at VIU, then called Malaspina College, in May 2002. The anniversary edition of 20 Years includes additional interviews with the band’s surviving members.
The event will take place from 7-9:30 p.m. To purchase tickets and view trailers for both videos, search www.eventbrite.ca.