“I’ve lived the life I should have,” Steve Veale says about half way through our sit down. We were comfortably seated on the back patio of The Only Café on Danforth and had just discussed his extensive background in journalism and his work with the Ontario government. It is this acceptance, spoken with a quiet confidence, that defines Steve and it also compliments his affable, social nature. It is also this life and nature that have led him to his sixth year as Festival Director of The Toronto Independent Film Festival, better known as the TOindie.
So who is Steve and what is the TOindie? Let’s start with the Festival and then get to the Director.
The TOindie is a ten day international event at the Carlton Cinema showcasing the best in low budget, independent film. It proudly runs alongside the well-known Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and gives film lovers in the city an alternative to the bigger budget productions featured at TIFF. When questioned of this decision, Steve notes that the TOindie is not in competition with the larger festival. He explains that it is a very exciting time for film in the city and having the two festivals run concurrently gives even more exposure to the filmmakers that take part in the TOindie. This is Steve’s mission as Festival Director and one that he takes great passion in achieving.
Steve’s five words are film, literature, reader, teaching, and travel. It was his love of film that drew him to the TOindie, his love of literature and reading that drew him to writing and journalism, his love of people and knowledge that drew him to teaching at George Brown College, and his love of travel that has given him the life perspective to inform all of the others.
“Transition” is one word that does not appear on the list, but in our conversation, it popped up at various times and, as with the other five, it has played a big role in Steve’s life. Living as a freelancer for the majority of his career, Steve has witnessed and has had to adjust to the ever transitioning world of writing and publishing. It is this aspect of his life and career that he feels informs his work with the TOindie. Steve believes his experience with marketing and promoting himself is one of his biggest assets, and every year he looks forward to helping the independent filmmakers with these facets of the industry. Business and creativity are not the best of bed fellows, and drawing on his experience with both, Steve is able to help give burgeoning talent a platform and audience at the festival.
As with independent film making, there is no safety net to a freelance life. Both are journeys that are started with a love and passion for the process. When asked what he prefers between the beginning, the middle, and the end, Steve chuckles and opts for the middle, as that is where everything is happening all at once. Noting his love for a Chekov play that is “all middle”, he draws the comparison to writing for writing’s sake and this can also be extended to film making for film making’s sake with the indie filmmakers at the festival. Success is not a given, and Steve believes undertaking any creative venture thinking about success at the end is a fool’s errand. Doing something for the love of the middle, for the journey, is what is in Steve’s heart and is also at the heart of the TOindie.
I feel there is no better way to conclude than to say, head out to the Carlton Cinema after 6pm between September 10th and September 19th. Say hi to Steve when you’re there and watch some of the best independent film from around the world.
-Feature tickets: $10
-80 minute blocks of short films: $10