EDMONTON - Responding to a flood of 3-D Hollywood action films, legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog once said the only thing stereoscopic cinematography was good for was documentaries — and porn. But had he considered the romantic comedy?
What is being billed as the world’s first 3-D rom-com, 40Below and Falling, will be filmed in and around the city and the Rockies over the next month. It’s being helmed by local director and 3-D enthusiast Dylan Pearce.
Starring Firefly’s Jewel Staite and handsome Shawn Roberts — you might remember him as Rogue’s unfortunate boyfriend in X-Men — the story involves snowmobiles, a bear attack and a bride-to-be fighting the elements to get to her wedding, wondering if that’s actually such a good idea along the way.
All this in 3-D, mind you.
Filmed by Edmonton’s Dylan Reade, an experienced IMAX 3-D stereographer, a unique apparatus was even rigged by local tech wizards Larry Kelly and Dale Gregg to make shooting more portable and less prone to mechanical glitches in the frozen mountains around Jasper and Banff.
The film was scripted by Aaron Sorensen (Hank Williams First Nation) and has a local cast who are just about to sign contracts. After two years of research and pre-production, filming begins Monday.
Director Pearce discusses the $1.3-million feature, which will air on Superchannel in the fall.
Q: A lot of cheeseball features get made in Canada — so how do you make a good one?
A: Canadian films often deal with budgetary restrictions; we can’t compete with Hollywood. But we’ve been working on this for two years, piece by piece. In development, we took it to a 3-D media summit in Belgium, found out how to finance it, took it to a producers’ lab in London. Preparation.
Q: There are action sequences, but why make a romantic comedy in 3-D?
A: 3-D, to me, is just another part of storytelling technology. When colour first came around, people said you only used it in certain types of films. When sound came around, they only used it in comedies. People forget when any new technology comes around, it gets a bad rap. People are always resistant to change. Though it’s sci-fi, (the film) Gravity is a good example of more story-driven 3-D.
Q: I think as we go increasingly digital with newspapers, the photos should be stereoscopic. Why not give the most information, including depth?
A: Exactly! As a director, my job is to immerse the audience as much as you can. 3-D is as close as a live performance as you can get, but transport the audience anywhere.
Q: What excites you the most about this film going in?
A: The story. It’s a rom-com adventure, but the heart of it is about not settling. In life it’s easy to fall into a rut, but the movie’s a metaphor for putting yourself on the line. We’ve also got some crazy stunts — snowmobiling, a crazy trapper and they fall through the ice. But all the action sequences are there to push forward the story.
Q: Is this all live shooting? Will there be computer graphics?
A: Everything is being filmed practical. The CGI will probably just be erasing footprints, that kind of thing.
Q: Tell us about the grizzly bear.
A: Randomly, there’s a place in Innisfail that has Hollywood-screen bears. So Wopper the bear is giving us everything we need. (Laughs.)
Q: Do actors need to be directed differently in a 3-D production, lean in more, that kind of thing?
A: We did the storyboards in 3-D — we map our convergence and you go from that; it’s really cool. In Avatar, they set the convergence at the subject’s eyes, so there’s space floating between the people, but we’re setting the convergence behind them, so that pushes the subject out from the screen more than usual. It adds a layer of connection.
Q: Are you trying to shoot the Northern Lights in 3-D?
A: Totally. It’s a huge experiment, figuring out the math. I think we’ve cracked it. And that shot will be built together with a scene. It’s going to be amazing.
Q: What do you have to worry about filming in the cold?
A: Besides the temperature, keeping people’s spirits up. We’ve built some safety nets so if it does get too cold or there’s a blizzard, we can adapt the script to fit. Our crew has been just incredible so far, so I’m not nervous.
Q: Are you a fan of Firefly? You must be excited about Jewel.
A: Oh, huge fan. I’m trying to keep it suppressed as a director, but if you told me a few years ago I’d be working with her, I wouldn’t have believed you.
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Written by: Fish Griwkowsky