RTA Media Production first year student Samuel Lehner is set to make his directorial debut with his new documentary, Wes, as an entry to this year's Toronto Black Film Festival.
The film explores the life of Wes Hall, CEO of Kingsdale Shareholder Services Inc., who was recently named one of Canada's Most Powerful Business People by Canadian Business magazine. Hall's story is not like that of any other influential business leader on Bay Street - Hall was born in Golden Grove, Jamaica and raised by his maternal grandmother. It was his humbling journey to the top that inspired Lehner's idea for a documentary.
After reading about Hall in a Globe and Mail article, Lehner set up a meeting with him and pitched the idea of a documentary profiling his life. Lehner admits that though Hall was skeptical at first, he relented after his family approved of the idea.
The entire process of making the film took about six months, from conceptualization to post-production. As a first-time director, Lehner also recounts the challenges he faced. "It's my first feature film, so figuring out the logistics of the film, the technical stuff, and post production were a challenge."
Lehner was also given the opportunity to travel to Jamaica to interview Hall's extended family and see where the prominent businessman grew up. He described the experience as "mind-boggling" and that "it was crazy to see how people lived there". Lehner believes that the project made him a more experienced film maker.
Though he has only been at Ryerson for a few months, Lehner seems to be enjoying his first year and intends to continue his academic career through RTA. Lehner also revealed that he has other projects in the works through his production company, S.a.M. Productions.
Lehner and the film's subject, Wes Hall recently appeared on BNN to promote the film. A clip of their interview can be seen below.
View the trailer of Wes below. For tickets to its premier or more information about other events during the Toronto Black Film Festival, check out their website.