People from small towns often migrate to cities in search of things; excitement, opportunity, wealth...What often brings them back is the sense of community that is so hard to find in the concrete jungle.
One such person is Mark Hug; a young film-maker from Creston who now lives in Los Angeles. For the last few years Mark has regularly been making the trek back to Creston to work on Lovers in a Dangerous Time with co-director and co-star May Charters. “Making the film was an organic experience,” they told me when I called them in LA. “We didn't go the usual route of funding and hectic schedules; instead, we decided to pay for everything ourselves when we had the cash available. We wanted to see where the film would take us and enjoy the experience.” The whole film took around seven years, and recording the original score alone took an entire year. “We worked with an amazing Canadian artist - JBM, to create the right sound for the film. We've ended up with a fantastic album that we now own the exclusive rights to - that doesn't happen with your typical movie production.”
Mark's family orchard was one of the primary locations and he was keen to let that dictate the flavour of the film. “I didn't set out to showcase Creston, but the beauty of the landscape and the community definitely shows. Film-makers don't generally go back to their hometown to make a film unless they love the place - it would be impossible for that passion not to show on screen. We were lucky to find a small group of people who liked the idea of two-hour shoots and hanging out in the mountains. Too often on a film crew, you get to travel to amazing locations, but never get to enjoy them because you're working 17 hour days on set. We'd work a few hours, enjoy a long lunch, then go swimming. It just didn't feel like work in the usual film-making sense,” says Mark.
It's inspiring to think that all this is possible in a small community such as Creston … or perhaps Fernie? “The people were amazing,” says May. “Curious of course, but always helpful. It was really interesting, as someone from the city, to see how everyone wanted to help out to make it happen - they were so supportive and willing to give whatever they could to help out. That only happens in small towns.”
Lovers in a Dangerous Time is the story of Todd (played by Mark) and Allison (May). It's the story of childhood and growing up; of yearning for something you're not quite sure about and learning to understand where you're going. It's the story of community, of small towns and big dreams and of characters you only find at home. It's a story from the heart, a story of the Kootenays.
The film has been doing the festival rounds over the past year and has been getting great responses. “Most recently we were in Luton, near London, in England,” they told me. “Even there, the audience were really enthusiastic - the theatre was packed and 12 people actually stood in the back for the entire film just so they could see it. The film does seem to have a wide appeal, which helps. Some people loved the scenery and reminisced about trips they'd taken to Canada. The younger audience members seemed to get a kick out of the campfire scenes with the drinking games.”
Interested to find out how Mark and May got into film, I asked about their backgrounds. Mark grew up as a typical Kootenay kid, working on his father's apple orchard and playing hockey. It wasn't until he moved to Calgary that he started taking film classes and getting interested in making movies. For May it was a different story - both parents were involved in the movie industry and she grew up surrounded by film paraphernalia. While most of us were banging on pots and pans, May was draping herself in discarded strips of film as they landed on the floor around her. She has fond memories of a movie she directed at the tender age of ten. “It was my birthday party, and I told my Dad I wanted to shoot a story about my baby brother being kidnapped.”
The film will be doing a special two week theatrical release in the Kootenays in May, opening in Creston and winding up at the end of the month. Don't miss your chance to see it right here before it goes to general release in the fall - Digiscreen have picked up the movie and will be releasing it around the country and internationally later in the year.
Lovers in a Dangerous Time is at the Vogue Theatre at 7pm on May 27. $10 per person at the door, Arts Station members - $9. Film-makers Mark and May will be in attendance.