By Jessica Brousseau, The Mid-North Monitor
Wednesday, September 21, 2016 9:35:40 EDT AM
Locally filmed, directed and written, REZilence is about to make its debut on the big screen.
It’s been more than a year since Jayson Stewart directed his first film, and it is ready for the public.
The teaser, which is just under 10 minutes, will have its debut at the 2016 Cinefest Sudbury International Film Festival on Sept. 24. The preview, which Stewart described as having a beginning, middle and a cliff hanger (as opposed to an end) was short listed as a finalist for the CTV Best in Shorts (short film) Competition.
In August of 2015, Stewart wrapped up filming REZilence, and in the past year he has been spent time editing what was shot at the Espanola air field.
“Now that we are in the festival circuit, once we start hitting a number of festivals, we are going to be doing public showings.”
When shooting, Stewart thought the short film was going to be “very tiny” production wise.
But with sponsors, grants and donations, he was able to collect roughly $17,000, which Stewart said the film was “much more sophisticated than what we intended it to be.”
A 1:22 trailer of REZilience was uploaded online to give a sneak peek at what Stewart and 120 others were creating.
“Originally, it was 22 minutes,” Stewart said, adding he found it too wordy with not enough action. “I broke the big rule. You show it, don’t say it. A lot was edited out.”
Stewart said it was hard to edit out scenes, not because of the script, but because of the time.
“To think that filming with a large crew, invading someone’s house and it ends up on the cutting-room floor.”
However, Stewart said the homeowner is familiar with the filming process. She was understanding that the scene shot at her home was cut out.
With the public showing of REZilence finally coming, it is time to start working on the full film. However, the script has yet to be finished. A regret of Stewart’s.
“The next step is to get the script done to work with Sagamok to see what their level or partnership is and what government grants are available,” explained Stewart. “Then (we) fill in the gaps to look at sponsorship and crowd funding.”
He is hoping the REZilence clip will help boost sponsorship and donations. The project is expected to take Stewart, cast and crew four weeks to film with a ballpark budget of $250,000 to $500,000. That covers payment of equipment, cast, food, editing and insurance.
“It’s a lot more expensive than people think. We didn’t have to pay for any of the locations.”
He laughs and adds the project will still “rely on the generosity of Northern Ontario.”
If he could get big-name actors, Stewart thinks they would be able to draw more attention to the film.
Remington Louie, who played one of the male leads in the short film, will be back to finish off his role Dwayne Peltier.
“I am super excited about working with jayson again,” said Louie. “It was a great experience and its great to be around people like him who are just unbelievable in everything they do, his work ethic and personality are unparallel and I just cant wait!”
Louie added working on REZilience, Stewart and everyone involved is something he wants to be a part of again.
“Everybody that worked on the film just blew my mind how they came together and worked well together, I cant even begin to explain an experience like it.”
As to who will play the lead female, Waneeka Sainte-Marie, is unknown, but Stewart does have an idea of who he would like to cast, hoping for the current Miss Universe, Ashley Callingbull.
“She would be fantastic,” Stewart gushed, “as someone who used her crown to call out Stephen Harper and demand change for Indigenous people is incredible.”
But for now, Stewart said they will be working on the script in hopes they can start filming for August of 2017.
The Mid-North Monitor asked Stewart, as a father, whether this is a movie that parents should bring their children to see. While he is unsure what the exact rating of the film would be, he wouldn’t recommend bringing any little ones to the screening.
“There are some f-bombs and some blood and gore. The feature would be higher rated. It would be darker and nasty while telling a compelling story.”
He added it is “less gruesome than what you see in the Walking Dead.”
After Sudbury, the short film will be viewed in North Bay during the Northern Freights Festival. Come 2017, Stewart is looking at holding public viewings.
REZilience is about a man named Victor “Doc” Murdoch who is training a young pilot, Peltier, to fly an illicit plane route to haul contraband materials out of Serpent Lake Reserve. But, a military experiment gone wrong has the pilots in a land overrun by the undead.