As Jennifer Mancini learned during her long journey to get her film Flee The Light to the screen, breaking into the movie business isn’t always easy.
After graduating from university with an engineering degree, the Toronto-based writer and president of Mythic Trips Entertainment quickly landed a well-paying corporate job that had her travelling the world.
“I had no complaints,” Mancini says with a laugh. “Then at one point I got this idea to write Flee The Light, thinking that it wouldn’t take long – maybe a couple of months. I figured I’d write a script and see where it goes. It ended up taking 10 years, and being much, much more difficult than I had anticipated. It became an all-consuming activity where I ended up quitting my job to work full-time on the script.”
Today Mancini’s leap of faith has paid off with Flee The Light, a mystical and meditative horror film that has a psychology student trying to make sense of visions that are terrorizing her sister. As the movie progresses, the unravelling of past-life memories leads the siblings to a small town where things take a terrifying and horrific turn. Flee The Light has drawn praise for its thoughtful exploration of reincarnation and the often-misunderstood world of witchcraft.
Writing the film was only the beginning of Mancini’s journey into the world of movie-making. After the script was completed and financing was secured, shooting was suddenly derailed by the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When filming commenced right after lockdown was lifted, Mancini realized that she had finally transitioned into a new career in the entertainment industry.
“The film became a career in the sense that I didn’t just write a movie,” she recalls. “I was producing it, I had a production company, and had other people wanting me to produce their movies. Fourteen years after I left my job, almost to the day, I woke up and went ‘Wow, look at this. I have a production company with a slate of projects, and all these relationships in the industry.’ There were horrible years of uncertainty where I’d go ‘Nobody is waiting for this script, Jennifer.’ It was really, really tough, with that uncertainty being the most difficult part. But I pushed through, and now things are really rolling.”
‘Even with Flee The Light finished, and distributed so far across North America, Latin America, and the Benelux, Mancini is keenly aware that getting a film made involves an endless and ongoing amount of behind-the-scenes hustling.
“I definitely made a lot of mistakes,” she readily acknowledges. “Now we’re doing a second and a third film, and we’re not going to make those mistakes. The first time I didn’t have someone to tell me what I was doing wrong.”
No one makes a movie alone, and indeed Mancini is quick to credit Ontario Creates and the NOHFC for their invaluable support. Mancini, meanwhile, aspires to help aspiring writers and filmmakers navigate the process of making a movie through Mythic Trips Entertainment. “The vision is that Mythic Trips identifies talented writers, directors, musicians,” she says. “I wouldn’t say that we can give them a fast track, but we can give them an easier track toward getting things produced – more so than they would have on their own.”
“We can help them with all that we’ve learned – all the boring grunt stuff,” Mancini continues. “All of the math that goes into a budget, all of the finance planning. We take the headache away. I didn’t have that luxury – I had to do literally everything from the creative to the business to the sales. It was really nuts.”
Mancini’s passion for movies doesn’t stop with writing them and being there as a one-stop resource for those looking to get a project from the page to the screen. She’s also working on bringing an immersive theatre experience to Toronto. Modelled on New York City’s wildly loved Sleep No More at the McKittrick Hotel, the production will have theatregoers wandering through a space where there’s no traditional stage, curtains or other barriers between those onstage and off.
“You walk around similar to the way that you would in a museum, and you are interacting with the actors,” she says. “You can make choices as to which rooms you go into and which narratives you want to experience. So it’s, yes, very immersive and very intense.”
While still in development, Mancini already has ideas for what audiences can expect from Mythic Trips’ immersive theatre undertaking. And, as you might expect from someone who dove into the world of witchcraft for Flee The Light, there will be thrills, chills and some downright scares.
“Most likely it’s going to be an adaptation – Dracula, Frankenstein, or something well known,” Mancini offers. “There will be a lot of moving parts, but I kind of feel like it will be easier than making a film.”
To stream Flee The Light now, or to get in touch with Mythic Trips Entertainment, go to www.mythictrips.com