A grateful film crew would like to say thanks to Prince George.
When their feature-length movie Hello Destroyer makes its appearance at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), a part of this city will be there, too, on the screen. The film has been officially accepted to show at TIFF, one of the most prestigious cinema festivals in the world.
"Films coming out of TIFF will often have their hype and awareness accelerated to lay the groundwork to have a better domestic and international theatrical release," said co-producer Daniel Domachowski. "We are playing in the Discover program which highlights new voices and the future of world cinema and with Kevan Funk's debut feature film (Funk is the film's writer and director), this is a great opportunity for us. Also one other cool factor is Jared Abrahamson, our lead in the film, is one of TIFF's four 'rising stars' which is a great program which highlights actors that they feel are going to break through."
The Prince George public was won over by Abrahamson, Funk, Domachowski and the whole cast and crew of the independent film. A major part of the plot-line involves hockey, but this drama is a coming-of-age story that resonated with local people who opened their doors and minds to ensure the filmmakers got everything they needed. Prince George was selected by the Lower Mainland production team to be one of the filming locations because CN Centre was the kind of rink they wanted to depict, but the filmmakers discovered Prince George offered them much more.
"All of us are missing P.G. dearly and are actually having a bit of withdrawal," said Domachowski. "It was a nice time for all of us cast and crew to be stationed together so far away from our home but to make a new brief home out of Prince George. What we got from shooting in Prince George superseded our expectations immensely. We knew we could come out there and try to gain the support of the community but what we got felt like a political movement, especially when we arrived at the arena for our big hockey scene."
The word had gotten around that the film needed to have a crowd for the big on-ice game scenes.
"I had started a Facebook invite and we had around 600 people confirmed but usually by the time the date rolls around, there's a good chunk of that that drops out, so we thought we'd only get 500 people coming out, if we were lucky," Domachowski said. "I knew that wasn't going to be the case when people starting showing up two hours early in full face painting and custom Warriors (the fictional team being depicted) signs. The movement had arrived and at that moment I had felt that all of our media outreach efforts had paid off. When the doors opened, 2,000 people flooded in and all of us were perplexed. Nearly half the stadium was filled up and because of that, we were able to make the scene look as authentic as possible. That scene is going to be an incredible scene because of the people of Prince George and we couldn't be more thankful."
The shooting schedule for Hello Destroyer had Prince George penciled in for the interior hockey rink shots and a few 'northern town' exterior shots, but as they completed those components, Domachowski said many of the other parts on their to do list just unfolded for them in P.G. with much less cost and much more community support than they could have hoped for in the other locations on their list. They extended their stay and got a leg up on their overall project.
"As we left, we also thought a lot about all the locations that opened their doors to us, all the amazing local actors that offered their acting skills to this production and of course all of the establishments that filled our bellies with great food and beer," Domachowski said. "I have to throw a specific shout-out to Tracy Shaw, Glen Mikkelsen, Susie Jones and Brenda Sieben who were instrumental in helping us getting the right locations for this film. Without their patience and support, there would be no film."
But there is a film. It is boiled down into its final form and ready to tell its tale to the world. The official TIFF schedule is released this week, but Domachowski said the screen date for Hello Destroyer will likely be on Sept. 10 in Toronto. He is also aware that one audience in particular deserves to see the movie.
"We hope to have a Canadian theatrical run after our festival run, and of course we'd love to stop over in Prince George to show the community the film," he said.
Anyone wanting to chart the progress of the show can visit the Hello Destroyer Film page on Facebook or the official website at www.hellodestroyer.net.