A shoestring and a prayer 0
Submitted photo....Volunteer actors check the script during a break in filming for Interlake Christian Film's adaptation of the Book of Job 'Where is my Father'
To make a feature length film requires scads of money, professional actors and production people and big Hollywood backing, right?
Interlake Christian Films, a non-profit ministry, recently completed its first feature, entitled; 'Where is my Father?' based on the biblical story of Job.
The movie, which will show at the William Glesby Centre Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m., was made for about $10,000 of largely donated money, donated materials, a volunteer cast and crew and a lot of hard work.
Director and owner of Interlake Christian Films Randy Hiebert said he was inspired to tell the story of Job, who is made to suffer as a test of his faith, after his own wife suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm in the winter of 2005 and his son suffered a concussion shortly after.
While both his wife and son have made full recoveries, the events had Hiebert thinking about suffering and led him to the Book of Job in the Old Testament.
Hiebert turned from reading to writing and knocked out a screenplay for the movie.
"I don't consider myself to be a writer but the screenplay just came to me," Hiebert said on the phone from his home in Riverton, Man. recently. "You can call it inspiration. Maybe it was therapy, I'm not sure. It's hard to explain. My wife was on the couch recovering and I wanted to be with her so I just did that while I watched her recover."
Hiebert said it was because he wasn't a writer that he chose to do a screenplay instead of writing a novel or something that would have required a lot of description. With a movie, he could write down what he wanted and tell the story through the camera.
The first draft of the screenplay took Hiebert about one or two months, but by the time it got the final draft, many stages later, the writing process had taken about a year.
At the end of 2007, Hiebert said, in consultation with his church, Riverton Gospel Chapel, he decided to go ahead and make the movie together.
"Planning and building sets and everything like that took place in the spring of 2008 and then filming was done in 2008 and two years of editing after that," he said.
Hiebert has a regular job as a resource teacher in Selkirk and considers film making to be very much a hobby so the film was made when he and his cast and crew of volunteers could all find the spare time in their lives.
"Cast, crew and supporters - people that donated groceries for feeding everyone - that came to about 120 (people)," Hiebert said.
The movie has a cast of about 80 including extras.
Most of the shooting was done around Riverton, north of Gimli, using the available forest and abandoned quarries with some green screen shots thrown in to round things out.
In addition to directing, Hiebert acted as director of photography. Although he's done several video projects for his church and the school he works at, Hiebert had never undertaken anything on this scale.
"We had no idea how much work it would be but it was a very rewarding project and we would do it again, although we don't know where we would get the strength to do it," Hiebert said. "It was quite a draining experience."
The project might have been draining, but actress Ashley Toews, who plays Job's wife Sarah in the movie, welcomed the opportunity.
"She wasn't easy to portray because she has a lot of ups and downs in her life and she's very complex, but I found it easy to understand her," she said on the phone from Winnipeg.
Toews said she prepared for the role by reading everything she could find about the book of Job and also by talking to married couples about what it takes to stand by your spouse through the most trying times.
The actress has done some extras work in films but this was her first major role.
Having been to a few screenings of the film, Toews said the reaction to it has been positive.
"In the few showings that I've been to, people always come up and talk to me and tell me how it affects them and that's huge," she said. "That's why we do stuff like this."
One Portager who has already seen the movie is Heritage Book and Gift Shoppe owner Laura Falk, who is selling 'Where is my Father?' DVDs.
Falk said the movie is very well done and looks professionally produced and she was pleased to learn the movie was made completely in Manitoba.
"I think we have to start doing things on our level, where we are at, and not always wait for somebody else to do it and here they actually did all that hard work," Falk said. "It's no easy task."
As for any future projects for Interlake Christian Films, Hiebert doesn't have anything planned right now but he said if someone came to him with a good idea or a good screenplay, he'd definitely consider it.