“Buzzard” by Joy Webster (Trailer)

Back in July, I hosted director Joy Webster and her crew for a day of film shooting in my layout room and workshop. This week, Joy released the first trailer for the film, called Buzzard. You can view the trailer – part of a fundraising campaign to finish the film – by clicking on the image, below:


While the trailer only includes a brief shot taken on my layout, Joy and her team filmed more than two dozen shots in my workshop and layout room and it will feature more in the final film. In fact, Joy and cinematographer Filip Funk visited on Sunday to film a few more shots on the layout – and overview, and close-ups – to fill out some of the scenes.

The film is not about model railways – or railway modelling – but the layout is an important ice-breaker in the relationship between the two main characters, Hanna and Frank. The Indiegogo page for the trailer includes more information about Buzzard, including the following description of the film:

Buzzard is a film about the fragility of the human conscience, and the corrupt corporate system that threatens it. It’s about two very different characters that have both been manipulated by corporations to their own detriment. Hannah is a young girl who is recently out to make it on her own and trying to navigate through life, and Frank an older man who has given up on his own life after losing his daughter and sinking into depression. Both are vulnerable to the overarching corporate trap – Hannah as a young person trying to pay her bills who gets roped into working for the corrupt company, and Frank as a man struggling with depression who becomes one of the company’s prey.

I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to play a small part in the creation of this film and can’t wait to see it! It’s only natural that I’ve invested in the Indiegogo campaign – because I really want to see this project finished. And no, I’m not asking you to do contribute, but of course if you wish to do so (even as little as Cdn$10), I know it would be greatly appreciated.

And while I’ve never asked for a dime for the blogs I’ve written over the past seven years, if you’ve enjoyed Port Rowan in 1:64 and are looking for a way to express that appreciation, a Cdn$10 investment to Buzzard would be a terrific way to do that. If fifty of us gave $10 each, that would put Joy and her team way over the top.

Thanks in advance for considering it. And enjoy the trailer if you watch!

10 thoughts on ““Buzzard” by Joy Webster (Trailer)

  1. Congrats, Trevor! I’m keen to see the film. Curious though as to what you think of the film’s portrayal of our hobby as the domain of the non-normative through its association with a character dealing with mental illness. Seems to be a fairly typical trope in Holywood that doesn’t do our hobby much good…

    • Hi Brian:

      It’s a good question and I’ve been pondering it since I got involved with this project.

      There are really two issues here: do creators portray our hobby inaccurately, and how is it portrayed in this particular film?

      In Buzzard, Frank does not build a model railway because he’s depressed. Nor is he depressed because of the hobby. We won’t know the complete story until we see the finished film – but my understanding is Frank built the model railway with his daughter – and that was a very positive experience in his life. He’s depressed because he’s lost this daughter – an event, and a resulting condition, that has nothing to do with the hobby. If anything, the model railway that’s in his life today may remind him of those happy experiences from the past – but it would also remind him of his loss.

      It’s also Frank’s model railway that brings Frank and Hannah together – so in that sense it’s a very positive portrayal of the hobby.

      Furthermore, as public awareness campaigns about it try to make clear, depression is actually a lot more common than we like to admit. In its 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey, Statistics Canada found that 1-in-8 (12.6%) of the Canadian population aged 15+ identified symptoms at some point in their lifetime that met the criterial for a mood disorder. Anecdotally, I know many people – inside and outside of the model railway hobby – who are coping with various degrees of depression. Some are diagnosed and receiving treatment – others are presenting the signs and just trying to get on with life.

      Given the loss of his daughter, the character of Frank isn’t at all unusual in that regard.

      As for your comment about it seeming to be a fairly typical trope in Hollywood that doesn’t do our hobby much good, I agree that there’s some typecasting going on in film and TV. But over all, writers and directors are excellent at observing reality and reflecting it in their work.

      Next time you’re at a train show, try to step out of the hobby and take a really good look around as someone who is not a model railway enthusiast. What do you see? How do the people present themselves? How do the layouts present themselves? Take a bunch of general pictures – then go to a mid-level grocery store and compare the train show experience to a more common, everyday event. How do the displays compare? How do the crowds compare?

      The trope came from somewhere – and that somewhere is us. I think it’s up to us as hobbyists to change that perception by changing how we present the hobby, and ourselves, to those who are not a part of it.

  2. Well said, Trevor. I always make an effort to portray the hobby in its best light. I make an effort to engage attendees at shows in conversation. It’s fun and I learn a lot about people.

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