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Documentary examines Island musician’s struggle with addiction and road to recovery

‘Inside Out: The Carl Longstaff Story’ plays at the Malaspina Theatre on May 28
Nanaimo musician Carl Longstaff, as seen in his ‘Standing All Alone’ music video, will star in a documentary about his lifelong struggle with addiction and his road to recovery. (Photo by Nathan Reimer, Reimereason Productions)

A videographer and a musician, both from Vancouver Island, bare all in a new documentary about overcoming addiction and trauma.

Nathan Reimer’s 50-minute documentary, titled Inside Out: The Carl Longstaff Story, premieres at Vancouver Island University’s Malaspina Theatre on Saturday, May 28, in a two-film feature event.

The doc details Longstaff’s lifelong dependency issues and his journey to recovery, as told chronologically from birth through interviews with the subject and his family and friends.

“It was just like putting together a puzzle, piece by piece,” said the videographer.

Reimer, who now lives in Sidney, knew Longstaff through neighbourhood church youth groups and school, as they both attended Nanaimo’s Dover Bay Secondary School for a stint.

“He was always just this totally rambunctious, crazy kid who was obsessed with Jolt Cola. And everyone knew him as this ‘over the top’ spark plug,” Reimer said.

Prior to working on the project together, he said one of the last times he saw Longstaff was more than 10 years ago.

“I saw him once – his band was playing in 2008 – and I thought, ‘hey, I haven’t seen Carl in at least 10 years.’ And I went up to him to say hi, and he looked right through me like I wasn’t even standing there. It was so weird,” said Reimer.

Following that encounter, approximately two years ago, Longstaff filled him in on his struggles and “everything that happened.”

“And it all sort of made sense,” said Reimer.

The documentary project started when Longstaff requested Reimer produce a video about his life for him after seeing his previous work online.

The next thing he knew, Reimer said, he was travelling back and forth between Nanaimo and Sidney to shoot interviews every other weekend. The project transformed into “something much more” the deeper he delved into Longstaff’s life, as told by the people around him.

In dealing with generational trauma, a point the documentary tries to address is knowing when to say “enough is enough” and to break the cycle of abuse.

Though the 18 months of production seemed harrowing, Reimer said the doc was a “labour of love;” one he enjoyed watching unfold slowly.

“I thought it was really empowering to hear somebody who was at their lowest manage to pull their life out of the fire and realize their full potential,” he said. “I thought, how interesting of a story would that be to just show somebody systematically and strategically build themselves back up.”

During the making of Inside Out: The Carl Longstaff Story the pair continued to work closely together on five separate music videos for Longstaff that were based on different chapters of his life. Imagery from those videos were also spliced into the doc to aid and illustrate the narration process.

The second film of the May 28 double feature, titled My Beaten Heart: 20-Year Anniversary, was also shot by Reimer and his then-partner, John Silverberg. My Beaten Heart was the first movie Reimer ever made, a ‘mockumentary’ about a fictional rock band called Whips N’ Chains, which premiered at VIU, then called Malaspina College, in May 2002. The 20-year anniversary edition includes added interviews with surviving band members.

The event is from 7-9:30 p.m. For tickets and to view trailers for both videos, search

READ MORE: Singer-songwriters share stage in upcoming Nanaimo show

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Mandy Moraes

About the Author: Mandy Moraes

I joined Black Press Media in 2020 as a multimedia reporter for the Parksville Qualicum Beach News, and transferred to the News Bulletin in 2022
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