Cam Liardi and Shadowlands – A Film in the Making

An upcoming film of blended genres Western and Noir, what are the odds? It just so happens this film is also a music video at the same time. Shadowlands, a film shot in black and white that tells the story of Walter Crane, who is working to bury a body deep in the wilderness of California as he recalls many interesting memories of people who had a big impact on his life. This film’s already gotten quite a fair amount filmed, but given the current pandemic and shutdown, it’ll be a while before anyone may be able to see it completed. But before that happened, I got a chance to speak with director Cam Liardi and producer Jasmin Lyu who told me some interesting details about the shoot. No idea if it’s going to be happening soon, but it’s a pretty cool concept so far.


HNMAG: “What inspired the concept of the film?”

Cam Liardi: “A few years ago, I went to see a band called Run Coyote in Toronto. They claim that they are a Western Noir band. Their music is inspired by songs from Westerns and from Noir, so I frequent a lot of venues and I went into this concert one night and I heard the music and it’s VERY clearly inspired by Noir cinema which I had never heard before. At the time I was studying film history at Carlton University in Ottawa. I was very immersed in film noir, I fell in love with the genre. Now I went to the concert and I was inspired while listening to it to write a film noir. So a few years passed after this concert, and I actually told the film that night that I would be making a film using their music. A couple years passed, and the idea persisted in my mind, and about a year ago when I figured I would be going to VFS and I knew I would be pitching to make a final film for the school, this is the project I wanted to make. So it all stemmed from a conversation I had with Run Coyote’s lead singer Alan.”


HNMAG: “And how did you decide to make it a short film and a music video at the same time? Was it a difficult process?”

Cam Liardi: “Yeah, yeah. Very much so. My favourite films are all heavily inspired by music or have really heavily inspired music scenes.  So I always knew that going forward in my career, I always wanted to make all my films be inspired by either an album or a song or band, or something specific. Now with Shadowlands in particular, making a music video was different. I really like finding bands that not a lot of people know about, that I think have a lot of potential and are really good. So I’m sharing them. In high school I was often the person who would find a cool album to talk about, and share it with all my friends. So I suppose in some way for making a music video for Run Coyote is a more elaborate way of finding a band that I think deserves a lot of notoriety and could potentially go viral. So I give it more exposure in a livelier way.”


HNMAG: “Do you plan to make any sequels or similar films for the future?”

Cam Liardi: “Yeah, Shadowlands is being written as a ‘proof of concept’ for a larger piece. There’s actually a post-credits scene that features the protagonist somehow kind of surviving whatever happens to him at the end of the film. Ideally, then the plan would be taking that to producers around town and seeing if anyone’s interested in picking it up. Also, Run Coyote’s music is diverse. They have a lot of songs on the album, one that’s specifically inspired by a Western and I would like to do a Western piece for them as well. It pretty much fits my inspiration to being a genre filmmaker, and being able to help having music videos made for them.”


HNMAG: “Have you secured any locations or are there any in mind?”

Cam Liardi: “Yeah, we’re shooting at The Dominion building, right across from Victory Square. It was built in the early 1900s so it really fits the period, the office decor is perfect. We’re also shooting at the 2400 Motel, which is a great place for shooting Netflix productions and stuff like that. Also built in 1946, I believe, so it also fits.”


HNMAG: “And how has production been going so far?”

Cam Liardi: “Really interesting. It’s a learning experience with regards to how much red tape there is in filmmaking. Specifically in the script, there’s a scene where someone buries a body and he has to dig a hole to do that. Now, when I was writing that, it was just digging a hole. It didn’t seem like a big deal to me. But then, when getting the city of Surrey to dig us a hole and then the logistics surrounding that and the landscapers and everything, it turns from what is just ten words on a page to about 3 months of trying to cross through different barriers to get that done.”


HNMAG: “How many crew members does your team consist of?”

Jasmin Lyu: “We have 25 crew members for now, but it’s going to be about 30 on set.” 


HNMAG: “And how did you find the ideal actors for the production?”

Cam Liardi: “Casting was difficult, as I had an overwhelming response. We posted on Casting Workbook and all the popular places, that one may post in Vancouver to find actors and we had about 250-300 people coming in to read. But with Noir, there is a very specific cadence with speech and very specific type of dialogue, that Humphrey Bogart-esque type. I found a lot of people weren’t familiar with that, or they only knew Noir through Blade Runner, like a Neo-Noir or something like that. But that cadence of speech isn’t very popular nowadays. So I had to reach out personally to some actors downtown and sit down with them and have meetings and so I was able to get some very notable actors from the Vancouver community. It was a process of realizing that just a general casting call wasn’t going to get me what I wanted.”


HNMAG: “Given how unique a flavour this film has, do you feel it will go far?”

Cam Liardi: “I guess that depends would be how well it does in a festival circuit. I think it has a lot of potential because it stands out from the rest there. It being in black and white, being a period film, being a genre film that has a substantial cast from Vancouver. If the film goes through a really good festival circuit, it will gain a lot of buzz over what my next project is.”


There were plans for the production to be happening later this week, but it may be some time before any filming gets done, unfortunately. Here’s hoping we can all get back outside soon without the anxiety of a virus in the air.

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