Exclusive – Sanctuary – Population One

Terry Marriott is an Effects Technical Director or Effects TD. He made his first feature, Sanctuary – Population One. It’s a Sci-Fi film with a terrific backbone. It is also the second installment of a future trilogy. The success of the first Sanctuary film has been the gasoline to move this production along and attract some amazing talent in its wake.exclusive

It was an honor to catch up with Terry to learn all about this plethora of mechanisms needed to create a film of epic proportions provided by a small budget and a ton of heart.

“I realize the film is still in post. How fast has this all happened for you and how did this futurist story begin?”    

“After spending a few years working in the Digital Effects Studios, I had a desire to create my own films. I knew every great film had a compelling story behind it. Although I have the visual effects background to apply to my films, I wanted it to have the kind of story that resonated with an audience. It has Visual Effects, but they are there to enhance and move the story forward, much like a song. The music is used to help the lyrics.”


“When I made my first film The Last Train, I had a lot of great feedback and encouragement to keep creating more films. One particular friend and Visual Effects artist John Dowell approached me with a proposition. He wanted work with me to make a Sci-Fi film. I was exhausted from the first film but eager to keep creating, learning and meeting key people in the industry. We took our time producing the first Sanctuary. We hired writers, auditioned dozens of actors, found an amazing crew. I had the very talented and accomplished fight coordinator Ronen Traynor from the Med Evil total war game franchise  come on board with his entire fight team. He created an incredible fight scene that brought the scene to new levels making it a major part of the film. After spending the summer filming it, we put in an additional seven months of visual effects. We wanted it to be good enough to submit to Cannes. It was accepted.”


Terry tells me that Cannes opened his eyes to the world film industry. With a concentration of such magnitude he saw the good side of the industry and the not so good. The film was screened at the Short Film Corner in Cannes. Once Terry arrived back he was inundated with emails from people he’d met at the Film Market. The film had a favorable reaction and distributors were now knocking at the door. Gonella Productions is their International distributor and FilmDoo is their online distributor.

The first Sanctuary establishes that the earth is in its 22 Century. The population has exploded to Sixteen billion. In a desperate measure a vaccine is created to inject every female rendering them sterile for three generations. The vaccine goes wrong and transforms the women into mutants. Soon martial law is enforced and the earth turns third world. The rich and powerful empower the technology to colonize Mars. They all leave and live in their Utopia for a time until they decide to rage war with Earth in an effort to rob them of their few resources they have left.


If this film has a familiar bad taste to it, its not by accident. Terry enjoys tackling social issues and using a great storyline as a platform to bring attention to issues impacting the 99% caused by the 1%. The first film has great legs. I was able to find it using a few links. You can find Sanctuary at www.digimass.com or www.filmdoo.com and www.gonella-productions.com.

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Sanctuary – Population One was originally intended to be a short film. It’s forty minutes long and Terry decided to push it into the feature film realm. Terry created the format of the film in a non-linear fashion. He doesn’t like to spell out the film, he’d rather make smart films that cause the audience to solve the puzzle. He’s a big fan of Guy Ritchie and Christopher Nolan films. Don McLeod is the very capable producer behind the project.


The amount of talent Terry Marriott was able to attach to the film was elite. Jesse Hutch, second unit director on the film. British composer Thomas Ryan had contributed on previous films with Terry. Actor Sean Millington from Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis came on board. Robyn Westcott from Arrow was also cast. The lead, Christopher Foran had to be flown in from the UK.

“Christopher Foran has incredible work ethic and has worked with me on previous films.”


He also got very lucky casting an actress from Australia now living in Vancouver, Ely Jackson plays the antagonist Iran. Terry would gladly make more films with her because of her professionalism and amazing performance.


The film was shot around Vancouver. One street near the Science Centre had some damaged buildings for a great backdrop. Some back alleys in Yaletown made a cameo. A dried up riverbed in Squamish was utilized for a big scene and a factory in Coquitlam was transformed into a menacing looking place of death and torcher. It took nine days of filming and months of tracking down locations and organizing the shoots with a crew of 50 and a cast of 15-16. The team created the illusion of condemned sky-scrapers and a convincing apocalypse with the use of Visual Effects.


Some of the programs used to create the stunning images are Houdini, Maya and Nuke. Terry recognizes that many Indy filmmakers won’t attempt Visual Effects in their own films because of the cost and incredible scale of work necessary to do it. In his efforts to assist Indy Visual Effects filmmakers he created Digital Mass. Based out of the UK, Terry oversees operations from Vancouver. It is a global team with people in Australia, London and Ireland just to name a few. If a client has a request for a flying dragon or a set needs to look in the early 1900’s, Digital Mass will complete the effect at a fraction of the cost.

What an incredibly generous way to pay it forward.


The official trailer for Sanctuary – Population One was released on Sat. Dec. 17. What a great early Christmas gift. The film will be finished post on April 1st. It will screen as many festivals as possible, especially Cannes. Terry anticipates the film will go straight to distribution.

After the making of the third Sanctuary, the entire story is finally revealed and a hero emerges.

Although the anticipation of having the trilogy complete is a huge game changer, Terry Marriott hopes for a day when he can create another Sci-Fi feature, Elderon. He started writing it ten years ago and has had interest whenever he pitches it at the Film Markets. Although the interest is there, the financing has to be attached.


“It’s still a very tough business with ambitious pursuits that may go nowhere. Elderon would be a Pans Labrynth style of film. I don’t just want to create films, I want to create art.”


Having seen the first Sanctuary, I can attest to the quality and gripping storytelling Terry and his team are capable of. Terry Marriott is a terrific director, writer and Visual Effects TD. That’s a triple threat and someone I’ll be watching for in the near future.

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