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Salem Film Fest 2017

Filmmaker Spotlight: Catching up with SFF Alum Jay Cheel

Posted March 7th, 2017 by jeffschmidt in Uncategorized

Jay Cheels’ film BEAUTY DAY was shown at SFF 2013 and this year he returns to Salem Film Fest with HOW TO BUILD A TIME MACHINE.  SFF program director Jeff Schmidt caught up with the Canadian based filmmaker to talk about his work as a documentary filmmaker.


JS: How did you first get into filmmaking?

JC: I was a big movie watcher as a kid, so I was drawn to filmmaking at an early age. That led to making short films throughout high school and eventually film school. After a brief stint at a video game company — where I filmed behind the scenes documentaries — I decided to make my first film, BEAUTY DAY. I was offered support from Primitive Entertainment, and I’ve been working professionally in film and television since.

JS: We were first introduced to you when we screened BEAUTY DAY at SFF 2012.  Can you talk about filming that documentary and update us on what Ralph is up to these days?

JC: Filming BEAUTY DAY was one of the best times of my life. It was a summer of hanging out with Ralph and filming him coming up with crazy stunts. It was great having the opportunity to experience that first hand. Since then, Ralph’s continued to grow his bike business and I keep in touch with him and see him as much as I can.

Subject: Beauty Day information On 2011-03-14, at 4:00 PM, Kavita Gill wrote: Hi Peter, Here is part 2 of the pictures. Best, Kavita Gill Primitive Entertainment 585 Bloor St West, Suite 300 Toronto ON, M6G 1K5 T: 416-531-3087 x 338 F: 416-531-4961 BD_PIC7.jpg BD_PIC8.jpg BD_PIC9.jpg BD_PIC10.jpg BD_PIC11.jpg BD_PIC12.jpg On 2011-03-14, at 12:14 PM, Kevin McMahon wrote: Hi Kavita Can you please resize and send out these BD photos ASAP? thanks Kevin Kevin McMahon Primitive Entertainment 585 Bloor Street West Toronto ON M6G 1K5 Canada 416 531-3087 ext 333 Begin forwarded message: From: PETER GODDARD Date: March 14, 2011 12:12:15 PM EDT To: Kevin Primitive Subject: RE: Beauty Day information Kevin: If it is not too much trouble, would you please resend the images to in jpeg format 300 dpi. Thanks. Also: Do you have hard dates for the May release and the Sept. showings? Thanks, Peter Goddard From: Subject: Subject: Beauty Day information Date: Fri, 11 Mar 2011 18:03:35 -0500 To: Hi Peter I have attached the text from the press kit in a Word document. Yes, Beauty Day is going to be released in movie theatres in Toronto and across Canada in May by filmswelike, Ron Mann's distribution company. In September, it will be shown on television on The Movie Network and Movie Central. Thanks again for taking the time to check it out all the best Kevin Kevin McMahon Primitive Entertainment 585 Bloor Street West Toronto ON M6G 1K5 Canada 416 531-3087 ext 333 On 2011-03-11, at 5:17 PM, PETER GODDARD wrote: Thanks Kevin: I've got the images. Is their any TO window where the piece will be show - on Bravo, or anywhere? Also would it be possible to send to me only the textual elements in the PDF file? Thanks Peter Goddard Subject: Subject: Beauty Day information From: kevi


JS: This year, we’ll be showing your most recent film, HOW TO BUILD A TIME MACHINE.  Can you talk about how this film came to be and how you met the two men that are at the center of the documentary?

JC: HOW TO BUILD A TIME MACHINE started as a short film which I made in film school. That film was called OBSESSED AND SCIENTIFIC, and feature Rob Niosi in the early days of building his time machine replica prop (at that point he was three years in).  I stayed in touch with Rob, and years later felt it was worth revisiting the subject matter on a bigger scale. The film started as one thing, and eventually morphed into what it is now. I think the film ended up being a little more sincere, sentimental, and emotional than I’d originally expected. I’m glad to see it’s really resonating with people.

JS: If you could go back in time to talk to yourself when you were beginning as a filmmaker what would you tell yourself?  Or would that disrupt the time-space continuum too much that you might just pass yourself an anonymous note?  Ok, this is just sounding strange… help!

JC: I think I would simply encourage myself to be more aggressive in my pursuits and get moving sooner, because time flies!

How to Build A Time Machine


JS: Do you believe traveling back in time will ever be possible?

JC: I think Ron Mallett (featured in HOW TO BUILD A TIME MACHINE) makes a convincing argument that suggests it might be possible. I’ll go with his answer.JS: As a documentary filmmaker, what motivates and inspires you?

JC: I just like the idea of telling great stories which feature interesting and unique people. I’ve been lucky enough to form long lasting relationships with the people in my films, so that’s been the best part of the process.JS: As we celebrate 10 years of Salem Film Fest, what do you think is the importance of documentary film in our daily lives and society?

JC: There are many different types of documentaries with varying goals. For me, I’m drawn to films that entertain, enlighten, and push the boundaries of cinematic documentary storytelling.

HOW TO BUILD A TIME MACHINE screens on Tuesday, March 7 at 8pm at CinemaSalem – tickets available for purchase at the CinemaSalem Box Office or online here: