Rob Heydon is an award-winning filmmaker who boasts over 15 years of experience as Executive Producer, Producer, Writer, Director, Co-Producer, Editor and Production Manager.
Heydon most recently produced and directed the feature film Ecstasy based on the #1 bestselling novella by Irvine Welsh, who launched to international fame in the 1990’s with the film adaptation of his novel Trainspotting.”
As Heydon’s labour of love for the past eleven years, Ecstasy was in some ways difficult to pitch despite its potential as an audience favourite. Indeed, the very quality that promised to bring publicity also made traditional film investors wary of committing to the project: controversy. “I knew there was a market for it and an audience, but because the content is controversial, it was a hard sell for a lot of traditional film investors, and therein lay the problem.” On the other hand, “With material that can be controversial, educational and entertaining, you have a bit more legs with getting press and starting a grass-roots marketing campaign.” Already the film has over 370,000 fans on Facebook.
But the title Ecstasy signals more than just a glib reference to drug culture: “When people think of Irvine Welsh and Ecstasy, they automatically assume it’s just about drugs, but it’s also about the ecstatic state and different modalities of reaching the ecstatic state, whether it be through yoga, meditation, or a trance... The film is, in a sense, about going from the unsustainable love of ecstasy the chemical to the ecstasy of love, and that transformational love story.”
In order to evoke these various states of ecstasy, Heydon drew on the “visual storytelling” skills he developed through his background in music videos and ride films – the term “ride films” refers to audiovisuals that are synchronized with motion simulators to create a recreational ride. And Heydon worked with one of the best in the business, Allen Yamashita, most noted for his contributions to the visual effects featured in 1980’s sci-fi classic Blade Runner.
From this early exposure to the craft of filmmaking, Heydon went on to produce over 100 music videos and commercials. As producer of Edwin's music video “Alive,” Heydon won Best Music Video at the Juno Awards and a People's Choice Award at the Much Music Video Awards.
He has since ventured into the field of documentary production, his credits including the film Go Further starring Woody Harrelson (Audience Award runner-up prize at the Toronto International Film Festival). He also produced and directed Rippin, a documentary on professional snowboarders, as well as the documentary Pleasure Force on the Toronto dance scene.
Not limiting himself to the role of producer, Heydon’s directorial accomplishments include the City TV/Space Network television series Electric Playground. He likewise directedthe opening television pilot of Hairdo for F/X Vision Productions.
Further, Heydon’s extensive experience as both a producer and director of short films has led to lucrative distribution deals and numerous awards. His short film The Magic premiered at Taos Talking Pictures Film Festival in Taos, New Mexico and showcased on Head F*!K on Sci-Fi Network in UK; Viva in Germany; MTV, M2, Much Music in North America; and TVO’s VOLT in Ontario. He also directed and produced Men will be Boys, a 20-minute short film that won 2nd Best Comedy Film and Best Film runner-up at the Canadian International Film and Video Festival. In addition, he directed and produced the 7-minture short film The Silent Pickup Line (Honourable Mention, McGill Film Festival, Montreal).
Adding to his distinctions, he assisted in the production of Save My Lost Nigga Soul, winner of Best Canadian Short Film at the Toronto International Film Festival. He also produced the short documentary Stories from the Land of Cain, for which he took home Best Western Canadian Short at the Vancouver International Film Festival.
His company Ecstasy Film Inc. is currently in post-production on the feature documentary about legendary Producer’s Rep Jeff “The Dude” Dowd. Dowd served as the inspiration for the Coen Brothers’ film The Big Lebowski and has sold and marketed some of the most successful independent films ever (e.g. The Blair Witch Project, Blood Simple, Gandhi, The Black Stallion, Chariots of Fire). While learning about Jeff Dowd for the documentary, Heydon also learned from him. “It was a great learning experience for me to travel him and sit in on meetings with distributors and filmmakers from all over the world.” Heydon quips that it was like “going to the Dude School of Film.”
Some of the best advice Heydon ever received, however, was from Allen Yamashita:
“Look, if you want to be an actor, act. If you want to be a producer, produce. If you want to be a director, direct. But don’t wait tables and say you’re an actor, or you’re a producer…you’re a waiter. If you want to act, be in a play, even if it’s off-Broadway, or off-off-Broadway. If you want to produce, just get out there and produce. And put all the money and love and passion onto the screen.”
With a considerable list of credits now under his belt, Heydon adds his own piece of advice. “Find some material that you can get married to, because it’s like a marriage. It’s a long relationship you’re going to have with the material, and make sure there’s an audience for it.”
Heydon also cites the CMPA as an integral source of support and vehicle for professional development: “It’s informative. It’s enlightening. It’s great networking opportunities that I hope to continue. I’m in it for the long haul now.”