THE DELICATE ART OF PARKING directed by Trent Carlson, written by Carlson and Blake Corbet, produced by Corbet and Andrew Currie, with Fred Ewanuick, Dov Tiefenbach and Tony Conte. An Anagram production. A Cinema Libre release. 87 minutes. Opens Friday (May 14). For review, venues and times, see Movies, page 88. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
When Trent Carlson freaked out on a meter-reader who ticketed his car one afternoon, he unwittingly started a process that may have changed the very nature of parking in Vancouver. "I started thinking, 'Wow, I'm a fairly calm person, so if I'm feeling this, obviously other people are," he explains, perched on a stool in a Queen West coffee shop, his West Coast murmur muffled by the screech of the milk steamer.
His faux documentary The Delicate Art Of Parking starts out sending up parking enforcement officers and ends by embracing them.
It follows Lonny Goosen (Dov Tiefenbach), a hot-headed documentary-maker who decides to film an exposé of the "uniformed tax collectors" in the parking enforcement industry.
He sets out to collect incriminating evidence, but instead he encounters Grant (Fred Ewaniuck), a mild-mannered enforcer who approaches his work with near religious.
"I've done everything from cleaning fish tanks on boats to picking fruit to driving a beer truck in Germany," says Carlson. "And there's always one person who's found a way to be OK with the work he or she is doing. I always gravitated toward that person.
"If you're going to do something, you have to find a way to be OK with it. So it's a bit of an anti-slacker film."
Vancouver meter readers loved The Delicate Art - so much, in fact, that they're planning to use it as part of their recruitment procedure.
"When they interview someone, they're going to have them watch the film, and then ask, 'Are you sure you still want to do this?'"
The film is meant to be a satire, but one of the things that appealed to the enforcers seemed to be its verisimilitude. They told Carlson afterwards that many of the over-the-top verbal and physical attacks the public visits on the enforcers in the film had actually happened to them. According to CNN, death threats have been aimed at Toronto meter readers recently. Parking rage is serious stuff.
"I heard a story about a woman in Ottawa who actually attached a cattle prod to her car's windshield wiper so that when the enforcer reached down to grab it he got a serious shock."
But it seems like The Delicate Art may have done something to cool the public's ticket-fuelled ire in Vancouver. "People have e-mailed me a few times now to say that after they saw the film they got a parking ticket and it just made them laugh."