Exclusive – Northlander

Our history tells us that we are destined to repeat. The world is billions of years old but the stories are oh so similar throughout its evolution. From the moment we became civilized, we were creating war with those that would oppose us. Those battles have left scars on the world that reminds us indifference is not tolerated and war is inevitable. Civilizations will continue to evolve and expand until another one replaces or destroys it. Sometimes Mother Earth grows tired and cleans house all on her own. The technology and clothing change but the characters remain the same. Similarities between historical leaders/rulers are often compared to present day people in power. However, the heroes are not given the same consideration and attention in our ever-evolving history. They have earned their place in history, but the same similarities are not made for whatever reason as the rulers and leaders.

 

Benjamin Ross Hayden has taken a significant moment of Canadian history and has retold it, far into the future. He wrote, directed and produced the film Northlander. The year is 2961 and Mother Earth watches as history repeats itself, again with the retelling of Louis Riel and his plight to lead his people to freedom and safety. He saw himself as a leader and a prophet. The story of Northlander pays homage to his reputation as a political activist and a great Metis leader standing up for his people for a better life. Seeking nationalism and political independence was his cross to bear.

I was very fortunate to catch up with Benjamin in Mexico. I would have preferred to fly out and discuss the film while snacking on tortillas and salsa but my budget insisted I make a phone call instead.

 

“Thank you for sending me the screener Benjamin. This film is very unique in the sense that it merges the past with the future. What was the inspiration for telling the story in that way?”   

“I wanted to rewrite the rule book for communication based on instincts, desires, what motivates them. It reflects a time where people/survivors were akin with their land and part of it and it was part of them. No matter how much time has passed, what year it is, the earth continues to reclaim the land. I am Metis and wanted to demonstrate history repeating itself through Louis Riel’s heart and love for his people.”

 

Benjamin filmed in four different locations in Alberta. The Badlands of Drumheller, Springbank and Alberta’s majestic provincial parks are a few of the locations utilized for his scenes. Some of forest scenes were very reminiscent of the film, The Revenant.

 

“Having filmed many of the scenes in the forest, did it complicate or pose any problems or difficulties with getting equipment/people to the location?”

“Filming in the forest was actually a great advantage. Every five feet you travel in any direction presents a different setting. We were able to accomplish so many scenes because of the variety of landscapes. It’s also great for hiding equipment and cables.”

 

There are some visual effects used in the making of the film. Benjamin used the same company for the visual effects as he did from his previous film, Agophobia. The film was financed through the Indigenous stream of the Telefilm Canada Micro Budget Program, supported by ADACA film institute, as well as tax credits from the Government of Alberta. The story had captured the attention of Adam Beach, Jim Compton and Jeremy Torrie a year prior to production. Together, they honed the story and refined it.

Because Alberta has a short film season, Benjamin was still finishing up the script whilst filming. It’s essential to take advantage of the window the seasons provide. He also took advantage of the natural light as much as possible. Anytime Benjamin Hayden sets out to write a story, he wants it to matter.

 

“As a Canadian filmmaker, it’s very important to be relevant. Acknowledging the outstanding diversity of our country is essential to Canadian storytelling.”

 

Their distributor is Raven Banner Entertainment and will be released on Itunes and Google Play on May 8. An 11 week theatrical release across 11 cities is sponsored by Raven Banner and will be broadcast for three years on APTN starting in the fall. Their International Agent is Spotlight Pictures. They have introduced the film to the Asian population.

There were five make-up artists and a costume team of fifteen. Benjamin wanted the costumes and make-up to signify that times have changed but the world looks the same. Corey Sevier plays Cygnus, Jordan Forester plays Heretic, Roseanne Supernault plays Mari, Nathaniel Arcand plays Shappa and Kevin Davey plays Marx. There is an abundance of talent in this film and the cinematography is stellar. The cast of approx. twenty make this film convincing and a pleasure to watch.  
Keep up the terrific work Benjamin Ross Hayden.

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