If you’ve ever grown up in small towns you know how important your good name is. Everyone is so careful to protect their reputation and scandalous rumours can fly like fertilizer on a farmer’s field. Once your last named is tarnished it affects the entire family. People will treat you differently even if you’ve been an outstanding citizen. You are automatically guilty by association. Tarred and feathered, forced to wear the Scarlet letter, never to be trusted or believed. This is small town mentality at its worst. It is mob mentality. It is also the theme for the film, Hollow In The Land.
It’s important to mention that this film is part of VIFF’s BC – focused Sea to Sky stream, which showcases the beauty and complexities of the province. Many of the films highlight the magnificent Indigenous people and art in our province while making British Columbia the key character in the story.
I recently caught up to Scooter Corkle, the writer and director of the film. He was gracious enough to share his experience of making his first feature film.
“Considering this is your first feature film, can you talk me through your experience and how you arrived at this stage of the game?”
“I’d been working on sets for the past thirteen years. I started out in the lighting and gaffer department before working my way up to DOP. I worked as a DOP on a feature and always wanted to make a film in my hometown of Castlegar, BC. Making the film was no easy task but having worked on set for years, it was my strength. The experience teaches you how to work and maneuver a set but it doesn’t teach you how to build a story. That part you have to do on your own. I asked a lot of friends to help me and we all drove out to Castlegar for nineteen days. The town welcomed us with open arms and practically gave us a key to the city. They gave us trucks, pylons, picture cars, locations and they also helped us find more cast from the towns citizens. The film really couldn’t have been made without the assistance of the town.”
I didn’t have the opportunity to watch a screener of the film, so I had to find a description offered by VIFF. It describes it as follows;
When a body turns up in a trailer park and her missing renegade brother, played by Jared Abrahamson becomes the number one suspect, headstrong Alison (Dianna Agron) take matters into her own hands, setting out to track him down and clear his name before the cops find him. Disturbingly, it seems that the deeper this accidental detective digs, the more people turn up dead, and soon she becomes a suspect herself, attracting all the wrong sorts of attention from the local authorities (Michael Rogers and Shawn Ashmore). In this town tucked away amidst the Kootenay Rockies, secrets tend to get buried deep. If Alison’s not careful, she’ll get buried with them.
“How would you describe the genre of this film?”
“I see it as a drama that elevates into a thriller. I really like that type of storytelling.”
Scooter shot the film in the fall of last year but it took three years from start to finish. One year to write the script and another year to gather the financing. He found most of the cast in the US. Although only one actor is American, the rest were Canadians living in the US. Casting was a little difficult and time consuming due to their location. They filmed for nineteen days.
“How did you finance the film?”
“Telefilm helped us out and we also had some private financing out of New York. The studio head, Daniel Levin called Chris Ferguson in Vancouver looking for new scripts. Chris had sent him some up and he chose mine. This business is really about your contacts and relationships you form along the way.”
Scooter tells me, in order to qualify for Telefilm, you must have a Canadian distributor in place as well as the cast. There must be Canadian talent above and below the line. Once you fulfill the requirements and are qualified, they really protect you. Scooter says Telefilm was amazing and he was so glad they got behind the film. Elevation Pictures came in as their distributor and even financed a screening of the film at the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax.
“Most of the people stayed for the Q&A, which was great because it rarely happens and they also asked some great questions.”
Their world premiere was held in Beijing, China. Telefilm financed the travel and the festival supplied the lodging. They also screened in Sudbury and Calgary and there are plans to screen in Austin, TX.
It’s not easy financing your first feature film. This was low budget but sounds like it has a big budget feel. Filming in Castlegar with a population of 20,000 turned out to be a smart decision for Scooter Corkle. His intention was to draw the viewer into the small town and bring authenticity to the film. Castlegar and the mayor were instrumental in allowing them to shoot in multiple locations inside the town. There were approx. 150 scenes. The town even helped them out with casting some locals for the film. Because the story revolves around the town, they allowed them to use the newspaper and signage. Many businesses even allowed them to have their logos in the film.
“It was a real community effort.”
I would call that a great perk of small town hospitality that you can’t find in the city. The film has screened on Sunday, October 1 at the Rio Theatre and will screen again on Monday, October 9 at 11:30 AM at International Village.
Scooter Corkle wants to make a dramatic horror film next.
“I’m really attracted to elevated dramas, thrillers, sci-fi and horrors. The next film will be an elevated genre movie where the horror elements are justified and based around the story at hand and more intentional. Everything that happens, is for a reason.”
Although he loves to direct and write he says he’d be open to directing other peoples scripts. He likes the idea of maneuvering it into his own world. He’s very interested in that.
I’m going to watch this film on Monday and hope you will join me in supporting a local filmmaker with great tenacity.