Distinct Features: Moving from Commercial Video to Feature Films

Originally published in Avid Pronet

Forget Hollywood. The new hot spot for feature films is…
Ottawa, Canada?

That’s the master plan for Distinct Features, a production house that’s starting to get serious attention for its low-budget, high-quality feature films. With two features completed and three more in post-production, it’s moving towards realizing the dream of many small production houses – that of becoming a feature film studio.

Like many independent film studios, Distinct Features began life producing corporate and commercial videos. Derrick Diorio set up shop in Ottawa six years ago with an Avid Media Composer 8000 with the film option, a small staff, and a lot of ambition.

One of the staff was a 20-year-old film editor fresh out of college, Garry Tutte. Like his boss, Tutte wanted to work on feature films, but getting any sort of editing job satisfied him.

“When I first started, corporate videos were great. I was just happy to be working in my field and doing my thing.” Five years later, he’s Distinct Feature’s senior editor\designer. The designer part comes in because “I do a lot of the graphic design work as well as the editing.”

Ottawa is Canada’s capital city. Being a government town, there was a lot of work to be had. For five years, Diorio worked at building recognition with quality commercials and corporate and government work, until it raised the money for its first feature, a 16mm opus called “Two’s a Mob.” A parody of the Mafia movies popular at the time, it was – in Tutte’s words – “a great learning experience.”

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