There is a unique opportunity for residents of Sooke interested in filmmaking to pick the brain of a local film writer and producer.
On Wednesday, April 3, script writer and movie producer Signe Olynyk will show her movie, Below Zero. After the 98-minute film, Olynyk and her fellow producer Bob Schultz will make themselves available to the audience to answer any questions about the movie-making process, from concept to production.
Below Zero is a horror-thriller about a desperate screenwriter, trapped in an abandoned slaughterhouse, paralyzed by writer’s block, and tormented by a character of his own creation. Locked in the slaughterhouse freezer, he sinks into a claustrophobia-induced paranoia where he can’t distinguish what is real from what is written. Though contained in a freezer, it’s quite the mental journey that this movie follows.The trailer can be viewed at belowzeromovie.com.
When first setting out to write the script, Olynyk, like the screenwriter in her film, had serious writer’s block. So she did the obvious: she located a meat freezer in Northern Albert and arranged to have herself locked in for five days. She was not to be let out until she had a script in hand.
“I think we made a better movie because of it,” she says.
“You have to be a little bit crazy when you are a writer.” And when you see Below Zero, you’ll notice that insanity is a bit of an undercurrent throughout the film. The lines between reality and fiction blur.
But movies simply don’t get made overnight. “I’m an overnight success that took 20 years,” Olynyk laughs. But there’s a hard reality behind her statement. Olynyk emphasizes that success happens over a period of time, not in an instant. And key components are developing the craft, nurturing a network, practicing infinite patience, and remaining open to the input from those around you — even when you absolutely know that you are right.
In her five days locked in the freezer, Olynyk came up with the starter script for Below Zero.
“A screenplay is generally between 90 and 110 pages. This one was 104. But it took about three years to get it to 104. There is a craft to this. There is a craft to knowing what should happen on page three and what should happen on page five,” says Olynyk.
Olynyk knows her stuff. She is the creative force behind Twilight Pictures (twilight-pictures.com), a Canadian movie production company, and has worked in Canada and abroad.
Olynyk is also the founder of the very successful Great American Pitchfest, where writers and screenwriters do a type of speed-dating with a number of professionals in the film industry. This highly popular and always-sold-out event has been running in California, the hub of movie hopefuls, for 10 years now.
We are lucky enough to have her here in our neck of the rainforest — Okay, half-time. She lives in Calgary over the summer, and has weathered two winters in Shirley. She’s aspiring to make this area her forever-home.
If you’ve tuned in to the mainstream media lately, you might have heard that there is a growing opportunity for the film industry on Vancouver Island. One production company under the code name “Nautilus” will be in Nanaimo for a two-week stint this spring filming Godzilla. And a Planet of the Apes sequel production will be coming to Campbell River.
But even if you’re not interested in “going Hollywood,” the availability of technology, filming tools and resources these days are phenomenal.
If you want to explore the possibility of using film to promote regional art, a political message, or simply capture a day-in-the-life of your housecat, it all begins with putting one foot forward in a committed direction.
Tap into, and benefit from, the experience and “growth opportunities” of Signe Olynyk on Wednesday, April 3, 7 pm. at EMCS. And enjoy one a great movie.
Warning: This movie is rated R. It contains colourful language and scenes suggesting violence. It is a horror-thriller after all.