The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

B.C. student's quest to find Morgan Freeman stretches into new year

  • Print

Ian MacDougall's cross-border odyssey to track down one of Hollywood's premier heavyweights may have turned him into a short-term online sensation, but continues to prove that brushes with true stardom are far more fleeting.

Months after the 22-year-old film student teamed up with a friend to convince Morgan Freeman to narrate a class project, he's still chasing the goal that sent him on his madcap adventure in the first place.

MacDougall plans to devote part of the upcoming year to sifting through the hours of footage he gathered last April on his quest to track Freeman down. He and collaborator MacKenzie Warner are ultimately hoping the 20-minute short film they cobbled together in less than a day can be turned into a full-length documentary, ideally featuring a voiceover from the film industry's consummate narrator.

"I think we really have a solid story regardless of whether Morgan does sign on in the end," MacDougall said in a telephone interview from Barcelona, Spain. "I'm looking forward to just being able to show it."

The story began unfolding a week before MacDougall was slated to hand in his final project for a film course at Simon Fraser University. A hard drive crash wiped out an entire year's worth of work on the film he planned to present just seven days before the scheduled screening.

In a panic, the Yellowknife native called Warner, who had once floated the idea of preparing a documentary on the process of tracking down Freeman and getting the A-list star to narrate the details of the hunt. Classmates had dismissed Warner's idea out of hand, but MacDougall felt desperate times called for desperate measures.

Through some online detective work, the friends discovered Freeman was scheduled to be the master of ceremonies at a blues concert in Clarksdale, Miss., two days after MacDougall's hard drive bit the dust. The pair booked tickets to the show, maxed out MacDougall's credit card on last-minute flights and headed to the deep south to find the star.

Luck smiled on them through most of their travels. A friendly fellow flight passenger hooked them up with a ride to the small town. Some local hotel owners gave the students a steep discount on their accommodations. But luck ran out when MacDougall and Warner missed connecting with Freeman by seconds at the end of the show.

The cycle repeated itself again the next day when they heard rumours that the Shawshank Redemption star was still in town.

The information was accurate, but the star slipped through their fingers yet again. This time, however, MacDougall and Warner convinced his business partner to track him down on the phone, where he referred future inquiries to his agent.

MacDougall and Warner had to take care of the school assignment first and devoted their immediate energies to paring down their footage into something they could screen for the class, but Freeman's words lingered with them after the film was handed in.

"If he really didn't want anything to do with the project, then I guess there's not a whole lot we can do, but we figured he said talk to his agent, so we'll talk to his agent," MacDougall said.

Three days after airing their makeshift short, MacDougall was on the road again, this time bound for Los Angeles to contact Freeman's agent in person.

In some senses, lightning struck twice. MacDougall narrowly missed his quarry in person, but secured a meeting with his assistant and even managed to connect with the agent by phone.

That conversation, too, had highs and lows. The agent expressed skepticism that the project was little more than a publicity stunt meant to exploit Freeman, MacDougall said, adding the frantic travel pace and ensuing sleep deprivation had given him qualms of his own.

"I didn't feel like we were really overstepping our boundaries, but I guess I was questioning the morality of it in pursuing this guy if he doesn't want to be pursued," he said.

Eventually, though, MacDougall was able to allay most of the agent's concerns and secure his agreement to at least view the final product.

MacDougall plans to focus on getting it ready when he returns from some overseas travel, with the aim of having a full-length documentary ready for presentation later this year.

After that, however, he has to come full circle. All the hype over the Freeman short wasn't enough to persuade MacDougall's professor to accept it for his final grade.

He was pleased with the effort I'd put into at least making something... but I wasn't marked on the project because I basically have to re-edit the one that was lost."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Paul Maurice addresses media at end of 13/14 season

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • June 25, 2013 - 130625  -  A storm lit up Winnipeg Tuesday, June 25, 2013. John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press - lightning
  • KEN GIGLIOTTI  WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / July 23 2009 - 090723 - Bart Kives story - Harry Lazarenko Annual River Bank Tour - receding water from summer rains and erosion  damage by flood  and ice  during spring flooding -  Red River , Lyndale Dr. damage to tree roots , river bank damage  , high water marks after 2009 Flood - POY

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google