Interview with Morgan White, director of the Rep

Toronto documentary director Morgan White spent several months filming Charlie Lawton, Alex Woodside and Nigel Agnew as they struggled to manage the now-closed Toronto Underground, which was arguably Toronto’s most interesting rep theatre experiment in years. Documentary The Rep is the result of his efforts. Toronto Film Scene editor-in-chief Krystal Cooper recently featured an interview with White that is worth reading and can be found here

What was the best part of making the film?

I had the opportunity to meet a lot of great people making the film, many of whom I call friends. Meeting Alex, Nigel and Charlie, and getting to know them and call them friends, will always be the best part of this whole project.

The most frustrating?

Not surprisingly, the guys from The Underground! It’s very hard to spend most of your time with the same people, following them with the intention of getting to the deepest part of their personality. Sometimes that proved to be a challenge, and one that was both frustrating and exhilarating.

For more info on the rep, including screening times and episodes from the original web series, follow this link.


Night of the Comet

(poster by Daniel Bresette and can be viewed here)

For its final night, the Toronto Underground Cinema ran the inspired double-bill of Night of the Comet and the Last Waltz. Having not seen Night of the Comet before, I was pleasantly surprised. A playful 80s zombie / post-apocalyptic one-off, it combines the MTV sensibility of Valley Girl and Fast Times at Ridgemont High with the ominous dread of Dawn of the Dead. With its tongue firmly planted in cheek, the film (to its credit) does not take itself too seriously. As a result, it has dated extremely well.

Actors Robert Beltran and Catherine Mary Stewart give fun but not hammy performances that are a joy to watch. The 80s soundtrack delivers an expected jolt of energy that helps sustain the film’s pace. This is the type of fun, late-night fare that CityTV used to specialize in. While it appears that the DVD is out of print, those who are interested shouldn’t find it too hard to track down a copy. For more info, check out this informative site.

Also, it is worth commending the guys at the Underground for the theatre’s great run during its 2.5 years of operation. Nigel Agnew, Alex Woodside and Charlie Lawton ran programming that was personal and spoke to their interests. Frequently brave, they took risks on screenings that they were passionate about. Who else would screen stoner classic Heavy Metal on a weeknight? Toronto is definitely worse off without them. I remain hopeful that even if the Underground does not re-open,  Agnew, Woodside and Lawton will go on to do other interesting things and continue to play a role in the Toronto film scene. Am I the only one who is going to miss seeing the Golden Harvest logo (which should be famous to any seasoned kung fu nuts) on the wall by the stair case?

And on that note, the “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” scene from Night of the Comet.

UPDATE: The Toronto Underground updated its Facebook page with the following goodbye message. For the purpose of posterity, I’m posting it here as well:

That’s all folks!

Thank you so much to everyone who has been a part of this thing over the last few years. It has changed the 3 of us more then we can say. We are sad to see it go, but welcome a new chapter of life.

To everyone who came last night to watch the films and party with us; thanks for making the bitter sweet, totally sweet! It was a fucking blast, and now we are all hung over!

See ya’round Toronto!