He didn’t go to university for the degree, he went for the knowledge.
That’s what Shawn Linden told his parents as he dropped out of the University of Manitoba after four years to work in the film industry. They had a lot of faith, said Linden.
"It’s because from a young age, it’s just all I’ve ever wanted to do," Linden said. "It’s the only thing I’m moderately good at… it’s never occurred to me to do something else. That’s gotten me through some of the harder times."
Now all that self-belief and family support is beginning to pay off.
Linden has just returned from the Cannes Film Festival in France, where he was both promoting The Good Lie — which premiered in Winnipeg May 10 — and hoping to gather support for his next film.
He said living the dream is a lot tougher than it looks.
"It’s very different when you’re in the middle of it," Linden said. "There’s always something to do and when you dream about it it’s very simple. It’s just a simple, vague idea of success.
"Then when you’re trying to slog your way through it, you become aware that it’s all kinds of stuff, a lot of sleepless nights. It makes it worth it for sure, but it’s never as rosy as it seems in your head."
Linden has always wanted to be a writer. After leaving U of M, where he studied English, philosophy and film, Linden worked in set design in the local film and television industry for 12 years. He estimates he worked on 150 projects in Manitoba, writing screenplays all the while.
Linden said the script for The Good Lie, a story about a young man who discovers he is the son of a rapist, was written 10 years ago, bought six years ago, developed for another six years, and then shot over two years.
"The wheels of Canadian cinema, they move sometimes slowly," Linden said. "In the States, it’s very money driven so if they have a good idea and a good cast, you can get something done pretty quickly without sacrificing anything because they have the money for it."
Most of The Good Lie was shot in Montreal, but Linden said a few scenes were shot at the corner of Arthur Street and McDermot Avenue in Winnipeg. As a result ,The Good Lie was funded mostly by Telefilm Canada, but Manitoba Film and Music also helped out on the project.
"Manitoba Film and Music has always been a big supporter of mine, ever since I started out with my first film," Linden said.
"So I knew if I got back here they’d probably be willing to support me again."
Linden said it feels like he’s coming full circle when he is able to hire his local friends to work on his projects.
Back in Fort Garry, his parents always had his back, even when times were hard.
"Sometimes work gets sporadic when you’re an emerging artist," Linden said.
"My mother always loved films, loved film-making, loved the whole idea of show business, of acting, so she’s tickled pink about the whole thing."