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Local filmmaker turned law student hoping to debut at TIFF

Forrest Groves, orinally from Collingwood, has made a personal film about struggles with mental health and is hoping to achieve his dream of a world screening at TIFF
Collingwood native Forrest Groves' most recent film is about family support and embracing one’s own flaws to become stronger.

Forrest Groves has always been one to “Go Big or Go Home,” and most recently, going big means going for the big screen. 

The Collingwood native is one of the the former owners of Blueshift Visuals, a boutique production firm that specialized in producing content for Canadian adventure and lifestyle brands. Now in his last year of law school at the University of Toronto, Groves still works on media on the side, and spent the last year producing and editing a short film about living life to the fullest regardless of the circumstances. 

A few weeks ago, he decided to submit it to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) for consideration. 

“I always wanted to apply to a film festival, I think it’s exciting to be a part of something so big,” he said. “It’s also a cool goal and it has made me work even harder to finish the movie in a way that I am really proud of.”

The project has been deeply personal for him.

I Think, Therefore I Am, is the story of Groves’ life so far and the obstacles he has had to overcome to get to where he is today. In the film, Groves opens up about his challenges with mental health for the first time publicly. 

“I’ve always wanted to talk about this stuff, but I was worried it would be a thorn in my side,” he said. Studying in a professional industry, Groves said there is still a lot of stigma around the mental health conversation and found some people are still hesitant to engage in it. 

The story takes place exclusively in Ontario and between scenic footage and sports content that puts Canada’s beauty into perspective, Groves has carefully intermixed personal interviews with his loved ones as he battled through some of the hardest years of his life. Though raw, the story is designed to be uplifting, and Groves said ultimately, it’s about family support and embracing one’s own flaws to become stronger.   

“When these things happen, it’s easy to just go quiet,” said Groves. “I wanted to humanize the mental health issue. Take control of the narrative.” 

Groves said for years, he carried a lot of shame and guilt about the things he went through and in the end, he felt it was a “disservice” not to share. He said he was always known as the kid who had it all, but it just wasn’t true.  

“From the outside, people always thought things came so naturally to me,” he said. I wanted to show people that it’s not always as easy as it looks.

He was worried putting the movie together would bring back old wounds, but ultimately, he said the process has been good for him. “It was therapeutic in some ways and difficult in others, but overall I think it was a good thing,” he said. 

He hopes by releasing the movie, it might be good for others as well. 

“I felt like I had a story that could help other people,” he said. “It’s not about the hand you’re dealt but it’s what you do with it.

“I don’t think everyone will connect with it, of course, but at the same time I do feel like there is a group of people who really will resonate with the message,” he said.

What he’s loved most about the whole process is that he has had full creative control. While he enjoyed making films for clients under Blueshift Visuals in the past, he realized what he really likes about filmmaking is the ability it gives him to express himself. 

“For me, to just have unlimited creative freedom was awesome,” he said. 

TIFF requires the film to be a North American premiere, which means if he is accepted, he can’t show the film anywhere before that. 

“TIFF has always been my dream, so I figured why not at least try,” he said. “Why not put all of my eggs in one big basket.”

If he doesn’t get accepted this year, Groves has a list of other festivals throughout Canada and the United States that he would like to enter. 

“I think it would be awesome to see it on the big screen. It’s a little scary, obviously, but I have gotten more comfortable with it over time,” he said.