Production Story


Oh that burning desire to tell a story on film. If you are a filmmaker you know that feeling. The feeling that doesn’t leave you even in your dreams at night. What do you do when this desire doesn’t go away? You make a film of course. Not wanting to spend years of waiting for someone to back us or buy our story and maybe get it made. We decided to just do it ourselves, even against the odds.

” But this is your first film! You can’t possibly just go and do it, AND you are Canadians, you really don’t think you can do it without government GRANTS!” screamed the filmmaking GODS!

We are the filmmaking Gods and this is the story of our betrayal !

The rear wheel wells were almost touching the tires as Mark and May loaded up film equipment into their Jeep Cherokee, “You’re not supposed to start this way!” screamed the filmmaking gods. Were they actually disregarding the filmmaking gods?! Yes, in fact, they taunted Universal towers as they drove by heading north on the 101 freeway from LA; 1,600 miles to the great white north.”But you don’t have a script!” yelled the god of screenwriting. “It’s okay,” waved May, “we’ve got a long drive ahead, some good tunes, a laptop with 12 volt power and a mad, mad yearning to tell a story.” Yes, Mark & May dove in. Like lovers do. They made the pilgrimage to the films location in Creston B.C., the home town of co-director Mark Hug. The whole thing was as much an adventure then a project. An adventure back to his childhood orchard. An adventure of two filmmakers with a chip on their shoulder, the chip being 1/3″ inch chip housed inside a PD-150 camera. The film started when Mark was returning to his high school reunion, he invited May and she invited her camera. They attempted a short film, but they were unsatisfied, feeling they had a bigger story to tell. They returned to LA and started sketching a story. This is where they really started pissing off the film gods. They had a handful of scenes, one of them taking place around a lakeside campfire, instead of finishing a script they headed up that summer, rented a colossal houseboat and tempted friends to join them on Kootenay lake for a week of partying and a “little” bit of filming. They drove the houseboat to a remote cove only accessible by boat, set up camp, cracked a cold one and started to discuss how this “event” might truthfully be told.

They shot every night, filming improvs and brainstorming until they all felt the scene was real. The filmmaking gods interjected, “This all could have been easily captured in one night with a script and a proper film crew!” They were appalled at the choice of an old friend as the boom operator and an author as a camera man. But it was funnier this way, besides who wouldn’t want to drag out a location shoot on a Canadian lake in late July?”, smiled Mark & May. After two weeks of shooting they returned to LA with about the equivalent of 10 mins. of final film footage. The plan was to make some more money, write the next seasons’ event and return in the fall to shoot it. “You sure don’t make it easy on yourselves, do you?”, the gods shook they’re heads. Mark and May challenged the gods, “Depends on how you look at it. Sure we disregarded the “one location” theory of independent film making, choosing instead to shoot where ever the story demanded. Sure we added an extra curve ball by having the story take place over all 4 seasons, but it’s the seasons that keep the shoots manageable. They allow us to go on the road to make money and also return to LA to write, (It should be noted that the gods didn’t buy this.) Mark & May had a job scouting and casting for Abercrombie & Fitch courtesy
of photographer and friend Bruce Weber. The perfect job for their master plan, it was intense but was
freelance so it allowed them time to return to shoot every season. This cycle would give them just enough energy,story material and money to complete the next seasons’ shoot.
The two lived and breathed the film. It was unshakable, it was taking too long and doubt was looming. After burning through a few cinematographers, they recruited May’s younger brother, Robin Charters. He was as passionate as them.
“Passion is trouble, don’t you know?”, stated the gods. “It causes clashes in opinion to escalate fast, especially amongst siblings, lovers and friends.
Filmmaking is hard enough without personal issues.”
“You may be right,” answered the now three defiant filmmakers, “but our passion and bond give us an approach that feels true.”
Now with Robin who sometimes worked both camera and sound they were all able to shrug off the gods warnings and push on. However, whenever the gods started to ignore them, they would do something that just rubbed the
gods the wrong way.
They didn’t import actors, only Mark Wiebe (who plays Bobby Timmins) but even he was an old college friend. Instead they used local actors and Mark’s friends. Instead of commanding the filmmaking process on these people, they would let them be and just slip the key actors into the already living and breathing moment. Actually any scene that called for extras, they would try to create the real event with the real people. For example, here is one that really annoyed the film gods (actually truth be told they kind of secretly liked it but refused to acknowledge it as a proper way of filming); the ten year high school reunion scene. Instead of re-creating a reunion, they took an actual ten year school reunion (actually Mark’s younger sisters’), convinced
(actually begged) the Grad class representatives that it would be a good idea to let they’re crew into the
event with 4 cameras and 8 actors on radio mics.
“This is suicide,” chuckled the production god. “Try to actually get more than one take off before dinner
needs to be served”. But it was a real life, live atmosphere serving as the natural background it is.
The event served not only as a realistic background for the scene but helped the actors be in the moment.
The serving of dinner did prove to be a problem but the risk was worth it. This was their process in a nut shell. They had returned to Mark’s home town to film a story that has returning home as a theme. They spent hours in Mark’s childhood orchard trying to wrap their heads around what childhood had to do with it all. They continued like this for over a year then started editing. This is when the gods got a laugh, maybe not the last laugh, but a good “I told you so” laugh.
“Why didn’t you stop us and make us write a script?!” Mark & May yelled at the heavens. The story was a little hidden at this moment, but it was there.
The gods banished them from the kingdom, sending them to Mays’ mother’s house in Port Hope, Ontario to write
that script. Mark & May knew what worked and what they loved. So, they wrote the script (sort of) and came up
with a cut of the film that worked, it just had few blanks that needed to be shot. They then went back, again, and filmed some additional scenes and pick-up shots.
“You can’t do that!” screamed the god of continuity.
“Oh, but we can!” exclaimed Mark. The locations were there to be used and May and Mark had taken some
anti-aging cream early on in filming that was still holding on. Robin was meticulous with continuity.
By the end of the film, the filmmaking gods had thrown their arms in the air in bewilderment so many
times they actually couldn’t help but find themselves endeared towards the young filmmakers. “I see love in
a lot of things here” said the God of Camera.

“Love is filmmakers in silence as the sound guy records 30 seconds of room-tone after a long day

of shooting.” added the God of Sound.
For the most part audiences just see the end product of films. We don’t get to experience the life of it. All films have lives, most are incapsulated, where trailers comfort actors and the day is regarded as work. The life of this film was a little different. The life of it was a summer houseboat trip with old friends. It was a sister and brother carrying a family tradition. It was a year of making a soundtrack with a new friend. It was standing in his childhood orchard waiting for the sun to rise. It was friends and lovers doing what they wanted to be doing not because of money but because they loved it and they wanted to make it their life.
“You better love it if it’s going to take you five years from start to finish”, laughed the filmmaking
gods. It seemed like the last laugh but the gods
actually started to cry; for Mark, May and Robin were
discussing their next film…

Copyright © 2011 Lovers in a Dangerous Time