Independent film makers invade the Boundary

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
September 2nd, 2010

Wow the cameras, the bright lights, the chance to be an extra in a movie – too hard to resist! After four hours in a small café, reading the same newspaper, hot, fly bitten, and thirsty you have to start wondering about the glamour of being a movie star. Many locals stepped up to experience exactly that as Megami: Search for the Gods landed in Grand Forks to film last week Aug. 23 – 27.   Executive Producer and Director H. Scott Hughes, having just completed the week of on location shooting in the Boundary, is singing praises for the incredible support that the region gave the film. The TV pilot came to the region to film their teasers which they will now use to gain the financial support to return to the area and film the full 90 minute show next year.   “I feel personally blessed to an emotional level on how much people have come together for essentially folks that they don’t even know out of the kindness and interest in the project – it’s very heartwarming,” said Hughes. “People volunteered such wonderful visual things that add value, we’re looking at a $200,000 film on a budget of less than $10,000 – it’s unheard of!”   Hughes, along with his co-executive producer Yvette Lu, of Sees Far Pictures, chose the Boundary area after location scouting in 2009. Producer Nik Green, a local with Global Authority Film, brought the group here after working with them at film school.   “I had attended Vancouver Film School with Hughes a few years back and while I marveled at his creativity, he was impressed by my work as producer on a number of films both in school and since,” said Green. “When he asked me if I would be one of the producers on Megami I said I would as long as he shot 50% of the show in my hometown and area. After a scouting trip last year we managed to make it work and came up with a very large scale production. We shot all over the Boundary and were able to use real landscapes that we could not recreate at the coast.”   They filmed in downtown Greenwood, caves up in the Phoenix area, downtown Grand Forks, and in the open fields east of Grand Forks.   But not only were the landscapes of the area a key to their success in the last week, Hughes and Lu made it clear they couldn’t have pulled it off without the local support they received. From the crew members who jumped in to play key roles, to catering and the welcome help in sponsoring dinners, and accommodations, Lu said the film’s value has skyrocketed.   “We’ve had a lot of challenges with this production because it is split between two cities, so that takes a lot of organization, and also there’s the funding issue because we are a low budget production,” said Lu. “We’ve had to solicit and depend on the kindness of a lot of people and we’re very fortunate that a lot of people have come forward to help us.”   Hughes explained that for their two weeks of work they will have up to 30 minutes of footage for teasers. Some of that will be cut and edited but they will end up with two 10-15 minute segments that give a collage of scenes of a potential pilot and series.   “We filmed, in the first week in Vancouver, ‘Megami: Legacy of the Gods’ and then we had our main cast film ‘Megami: Search for the Gods’ that is it’s own separate teaser and that’s what we shot here in the Boundary. We will have essentially two independent short films that we can now use to promote the project,” explained Hughes.   While some of the cast only filmed in the Vancouver segment of the show, ‘Megami: Legacy of the Gods’, the remaining cast and crew came to shoot the ‘Search for the Gods’ in Grand Forks and were joined by a number of locals who jumped into film crew positions.   The cast list includes a mix of seasoned and new actors involved in the show. Yvette Lu, also co-producer of the film, returns in her role as Sheenyana, the protagonist of the film. Also returning is Beverly Wu, and Tomoko Hanawa rounds out the leading ladies for the film. Wu, is reprising her role as Princess Xionko, as is Stephen M.D. Chang who plays the film’s primary villain, Kanukami (but not in the Search for the Gods,) and Grace Chin who plays Major Hinoki joined the crew. Grand Master Chang also took time out to do a demonstration about kung fu at the local karate dojo.   Of the many locals who added value to the film, some were able to also appear in the film as extras in their café scenes in Grand Forks or the downtown street scenes in Greenwood. Part of the fun of a small indie film is the chance to be crew, but you never know when you’ll suddenly become part of the cast. Members of the crew were transformed at times from make-up artist to commando in a flash. So it’s no surprise when locals like Barb Neilsen will show up as the cashier in the café, and then again as crew providing horse expertise and as a riding double for the lead actors.   “In my sales pitch of the area, I had almost wondered if I embellished the local help side of things. I am pleased to say local response was well beyond what I could imagine. We ended up putting some local folks into key roles on set in certain scenarios. Our volunteers were so helpful they may regret it when I shoot a feature here next year as I will be begging them to return to set,” said Green. “Even with our 30-person crew you can never have too much help locally. They really increased the production value. The film is worth just under $200,000 but looks like a million bucks or more.”   Watch for their filming on location next year, but Green says he’ll also be back in town with another production as well.   “This film was a big step up compared to some of the local short films we have shot. To go from “handicam specials” to a film of this scale was a challenging jump. The next jump is even more of a hurdle as we are aiming to finally shoot our heist feature entirely in the Boundary next spring,” said Green.   “The feature is tentatively called Into Thin Air and is best described as Die Hard in a small town. It’s scheduled as a three week shoot involving real gun specialists, fighting experts seasoned actors and a whole lot of carnage. There’s actually a great story in there to. We will be looking to cast some local men and women in there to as extras, and we need some rough lookin’ dudes.”     Sees Far Pictures extends their thanks to:   Zak Eburne Stoodley,  Location Sound Mixer Gary Smith, 1st Assistant Director Ted Invictus, Location Manager Greg Foley, 1st Assistant Cameraman Les Johnson,  2nd Assistant Cameraman Bob deVries, Transport and Accommodation Brad Lillow, Helicopter Pilot CC Helicopters Ron Wyers, Western Aviation   Barb Nielsen, Jesse Cleary. Jaime Cleary, Robin Armstrong – Horse Trainers and Stunt Doubles   Christopher Stevenson – Greenwood City Councillor and Okanagan Film Commission Director   Mona Mattei – Publicity and Production Coordinator for Crew   Twisted Forks Catering and Craft Services Neil and Andrea Krog Boundary Economic Development Committee Village of Midway City of Greenwood City of Grand Forks Yaky Jacquie’s Cafe Deadwood Junction  Tarnished Turkey Cafe Whatsupingf.com boundarysentinel.com Greenwood’s Japanese culture group – Hosted Dinner Community Futures Boundary Gary Smith’s wife – incredible food 

BACKGROUNDER:   Food for the Gods   Food for the Gods, originally a project by Hughes, Green and Lu for the Vancouver Film School, premiered on Canadian cable, Shaw Multicultural Channel, Sunday, May 25, 2008, as part of SMC‘s and ExplorASIAN’s (a Vancouver-based Asian heritage organization) salute to Canada’s Asian Heritage Month, which takes place each May. It went on to win the Official Selection of the 2008 New Asia Film Festival in Richmond, British Columbia, an Official Selection of the 2008 Route 66 Film Festival in Springfield, Illinois, and an Official Selection of the Vancouver Asian Film Festival in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia on Nov. 8, 2008.    Although it takes place in an otherworldly setting, the film is rich in Asian themes, including a backstory referencing prehistoric Japan, and a fictional subtitled language that is loosely derived from Japanese and other Asian language influences. It was popular among festival judges at the Route 66 Film Festival for its poignant beauty and musical score, co-composed by the film’s director, H. Scott Hughes, and the film’s star and postproduction producer, Yvette Lu. The soundtrack features actress and singers Yvette Lu and Beverly Wu, singing in the Kyontawa language, accompanied by Chinese erhu master Xu Qian of the University of British Columbia‘s Asian Music Studies Department. Food for the Gods first premiered Oct. 19, 2007 at the Vancouver International Film Centre in Vancouver, B. C.     In the story, the Kyontawa are the descendents of a highly advanced Asian civilization from Earth’s forgotten history, which established a deep space settlement on what is now Sheenyana’s planet. The high-tech civilization is no more and the Kyontawa’s knowledge of it is limited to their religious mythology of “Bird Gods” who seeded their people from the sky.   Megami – storyline   Three Short Films, Three Grand Adventures!!


When astronauts from Earth land on a mysterious alien world, Lt. Richard O’Conner (Danny Dorosh) is bewitched by the love and beauty of an Asian warrior princess from a lost civilization. Her name is Sheenyana (Yvette Lu). Beverly Wu and Sanctuary’s Shaker Paleja co-star.


Seven years after the arrival of Earth astronauts on the planet Alpha II, Sheenyana (Yvette Lu) and Princess Xionko (Beverly Wu) must secure the technologies left behind by the Earthers from a grave threat much closer to home: a massive army of Tokono warriors, led by the despotic Wolf Emperor, Kanukami (Stephen M.D. Chang), who is responsible for the killings of both of Sheenyana’s parents. Danny Dorosh (The 4400), Caroline Chan (Broken Trail), and Shaker Paleja (Sanctuary) co-star. And Starring Tomoko Hanawa as Kyshiyo, Princess Goddess of the Three Suns – the Megami.


On Earth, Canadian Forces Major Denise Hinoki (Grace Chin) uncovers an international conspiracy which threatens Sheenyana’s planet–and Major Hinoki’s life. It will lead her to another world and an adventure beyond imagination. Yvette Lu, Beverly Wu, Tomoko Hanawa, and Nik Green co-star in this epic short with the scope and visual style of a major feature.   Links: Follow Megami on Facebook Official Website – Megami / Food for the Gods

Nik Green – Global Authority Media 

Categories: Arts and Culture