Accent: City remains an untapped resource for filmmakers, director says
Inside The Asylum concert hall, a chilling scene is taking place. Two 20-something women cling to each other desperately as they look up a flight of stairs, their only means of escape, their eyes wide with terror. A man in a pig mask stands behind them, breathing heavily. They prepare to run.
“And action!” calls out John Alden Milne, director and producer of the film being shot. This was one of the many sets of “The Savage Tales of Frank MacGuffin,” a full-length feature filmed in Sudbury last fall that highlights local talent and venues. Besides “Savage Tales” providing opportunities for local artists, Sudbury businesses were keen to support the production to help the city’s growing arts community.
“Sudbury is a producer’s dream location,” says Milne, owner of Greenboots Media Company. The crew was able to travel from one location to another in short amounts of time, never having to deal with big-city traffic jams, says Milne, who has lived and worked in Sudbury for 11 years. And the assistance from The City of Greater Sudbury, including Fire Services and Police Service, was essential to the production.
Sudbury is an untapped resource for shooting films and television shows. It has beautiful landscapes and a variety of venues that were easy for Greenboots to secure. One of them, Respect is Burning Kitchen and Bar on Durham Street, has a moody feel often sought by filmmakers. Its owner, Rob Gregorini, also cooked for the crew.
“I know the players (of “Savage Tales”) through the community,” says Gregorini. “How could I help? I make great food and people need to be fed. I think it’s important for the local community to embrace the fact that the art culture and film is growing in Sudbury.”
Stack Brewing, a northern craft microbrewery, provided beer for some scenes as well as for between shoots.
“He (Milne) was using a lot of local resources that people usually glance over,” says Rob Majury, Stack Brewing’s sales and marketing manager. “When they came in and asked for local products, we gave it to them because that’s what they usually drink. For filming, the canned product was filled with water so that when they were slamming them back, it wasn’t 8 per cent beer they were chugging.”
Mark Gregorini, Rob Gregorini’s brother, is the owner of Verdicchio Ristorante on Kelly Lake Road and has known Milne and Greenboots for years. He says that he and Milne, both big fans of horror movies (“Savage Tales” is a thriller/horror hybrid), were talking about the film one day. “I offered them meals,” says Gregorini, who provided dinner almost every day of the shoot. “They’re a local crew and we try to support them. I think it’s important.
“And it’s important for (Greenboots and crew) to provide jobs for people in the community.”
Pierre Laframboise’s score for the film is his first. He says that if Milne hadn’t asked him to work on “Savage Tales,” “I don’t know how I’d work on a feature.”
“Because it was an independent film, and being local, it gave talented people an opportunity to work in the movie industry without having much experience.”
Laframboise says he viewed the film as a co-creating process from the start.
In helping artists to develop their skills, “Savage Tales” uses local musicians as actors.
“I worked with musicians instead of actors because I knew they could perform. I’ve used them before – musicians as actors,” says Milne. “It’s rewarding to get a great performance out of someone who has never acted before. And it’s natural. It doesn’t feel forced or studied.”
Local musician Clayton Drake plays the film’s main character, Frank MacGuffin. Performing on stage in a band has made him comfortable in front of an audience, he says. “I’m quite used to playing a character in a lot of ways from playing in a band.”
Drake says working in a movie has allowed him to make his concerts more cinematic. He says he doesn’t think he would have had the confidence to be creative if he hadn’t worked on “Savage Tales,” where he had creative control of his role. “Not only the actors had creative control but everyone involved. That’s the way to motivate people. They have control.”
Drake says the film’s greatest contribution to the community will be to encourage a new wave of creative-driven work from the North.
David Anselmo, CEO and president of production at Hideaway Pictures Inc., says that Hideaway Pictures and The Northern Ontario Film Studios are happy to support “Savage Tales” and Greenboots. Anselmo says nurturing local talent, especially talent of this calibre, is very important for the sustainability of the film industry in Northern Ontario.
“I love creating something out of nothing,” says Milne. “It would be great if more people did this “¦ took risks.”
“Savage Tales” follows a cab driver named Frank on a hallucinatory odyssey. Concepts for the story that became “Savage Tales” had been floating around for a few years before the film took shape. Several short-story ideas came together, were refined and further developed into the feature film. The final product consists of different movie genres, including horror, western and fairy tale.
Greenboots Media Company worked with a modest budget funded by private investors for this production. It’s the first feature film directed and produced by Milne and Greenboots. David Anselmo is the executive producer.
This is an original screenplay. Milne had another film idea that was much bigger and more expensive, but he wanted to produce something immediately, which was feasible with “Savage Tales.” Production started on Sept. 5 and took 40 days over the span of two months.
Milne says he hopes to show the movie at this year’s midnight-madness film festivals for genre films. Given the amount of local talent involved, he would love to see “Savage Tales” screen at this year’s Cinefest Sudbury International Film Festival.
Majury says he’s seen a couple of scenes “and they looked great. We can’t wait to see the finished product.”READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE +