It was Christmas all over again on Friday night in Canmore. An icy chill was in the air as carolers sang, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” under the glow of holiday lights on Main Street. But that’s where the wonderful world of movies kicks in, because really, Christmas was a month ago. The carolers are members of the Valley Winds Choir, conducted by Lee Ann DeCoteau. Jayson Therrien, of Word of Mouth productions, was filming the movie The Night Pond for one night only in Canmore. It was also filmed in Priddis and other areas in Alberta. And he used the Canmore Collegiate High School as a location during the day where he recruited 15 students as paid extras.
Directed by John Kissack and written by Shaun Crawford, The Night Pond is a family Christmas hockey movie, Therrien said. “It’s about forgetting about what you lost and enjoying the spirit that is around you now,” Therrien said.
The 90-minute long production will be released next Christmas. The story is about a 16-year-old character named Bobby Whiteside, who is played by Kristian Jackson.
Bobby is sad because his best friend died on Christmas Eve. So he walks out onto the lake where they played shinny, and as he is shoveling the ice, a magic hockey rink appears in the night, only to him.
As the storyline unfolds it has an uncanny resemblance to a controversy that is taking place right now in Canmore. In the movie, a local developer wants to build on the recreational area. No, Quarry Lake isn’t used as the location of the hockey rink, the lake at Nakoda Lodge is. But that might not stop Peaks of Grassi “no rezoning” supporters from recognizing the similarity. Jackson, a Canadian actor, played the part of Matt on the Heartland episode called “Cowgirls Don’t Cry”, which aired in February 2015.
The cast and crew on The Night Pond are 100% Albertan with the exception of one cast member, Therrien said.
“We’re proud of the fact that we were able to hire all locals,” Therrien said. “There is enough talent here and we were able to do that.” - Trailer coming soon!
Tracy Jacobson is a local film producer who has lived in Canmore for the past eight years. Her company, Namaste Film Productions, helped out on the movie.
“Jayson hired me as associate producer for locations,” Jacobson said. “I have known Jayson for years and we help each other out on projects. He acted in my film Road to Slipstream a couple of years ago. It was a first scripted narrative adventure film using local climbers Margo Talbot, Steve Swanson, Jim Elzinga and Brandon Pullan.”
The recent Golden Globes success of the movie The Revenant, starring Leonardo di Caprio, has boosted the optimism of locals in the film industry. The Revenant was partly filmed in the Spray Lakes area near the Goat Creek parking lot. Some of it was also filmed in Morley and some local First Nations actors were used in the movie.
“Alberta has a lot of potential that isn’t utilized as much as it could be, “Jacobson said. “There are a lot of amazing, talented crew and actors here. I would like to see it a little busier.”
Tab Murphy, an Oscar- nominated screenwriter who has worked for The Walt Disney Company and Warner Brothers, divides his home between Canmore and Los Angeles. Jacobson has considered him a mentor. When contacted in L.A., Murphy was pleased to hear of a movie being filmed in Canmore and Jacobson’s involvement.
“Tracy has a vast amount of experience both in front of and behind the camera, which makes her such an effective producer,” Murphy said. “She is a gifted storyteller and filmmaker who sets very high standards for herself and her projects. And her knowledge of the Bow Valley and its environs, coupled with a passionate devotion to an outdoor lifestyle, makes her a perfect ambassador for Alberta in terms of filmmaking”.
Murphy, who has worked with many A list actors, thinks a movie filmed here with Oscar nods will help the local economy.
“With regard to The Revenant — which I’ve seen four times already — and its impact on other productions coming to Alberta, there’s no question that 11 Oscar nominations will help the cause. But the real factor is economic,” Murphy said. “The strength of the U.S. dollar against the loonie will bring filmmakers and productions north of the border. I know when we were shooting “Last of the Dogmen”, back in ‘94, I was able to add four or five shooting days to the overall schedule just on the conversion-rate alone! That’s a hugely attractive proposition for producers, especially on lower budgeted films. I personally love shooting in Alberta, especially because of the diverse locations available.”
You can follow the progress of the movie The Night Pond by visiting their Facebook page by the same name.