Downtown charm perfect for film
Arts: Okotoks sought to serve as fictional town in locally-produced film
Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 06:00 am
Streets in downtown Okotoks closed briefly as cast and crew worked furiously to film part of a full-length supernatural drama for two days last week.
Producer Scott Lepp, who is the interactive producer of the hit television series Homeland and owns production company Iylond Entertainment, selected Olde Towne Okotoks to serve as the fictitious town of Shepard for the movie Ice Blue for its charming appearance, not to mention the rare opportunity to show off his town.
“Okotoks was chosen strictly for the downtown area because I love the character of the town and I want to work here and build a film industry here,” said Lepp, a member of the Okotoks Film Festival board. “This is all part of trying to help build the town’s potential interest in having filming come here. It’s a very valuable financial commodity, it has a lot of economic value.”
Lepp and his cast and crew of about 45 people are filming the drama over 15 days with the majority of action taking place on a farm near Millarville.
They spent April 3 and 7 in Okotoks, which he expects will be portrayed in about 10 per cent of the film.
“Our day on Monday was about as good of a day as you could have,” he said. “We bounced around to the H.C. Pharmacy to Mr. Spud to the fire hall to the Chamber of Commerce back to the pharmacy.
“We were shooting on the street, blocking traffic, we were doing all of that stuff which was an inconvenience to the townspeople but we were only treated really well.”
Lepp said it was a process to get everything they needed to film in Okotoks, but they were well supported by the Town, merchants and public.
“Everybody was so accommodating and very helpful and encouraging,” he said. “Every time I needed something I got it. The business owners and townspeople have just been amazing.”
Ice Blue, written by Jason Long and directed by Sandi Somers, both of Calgary, tells the story of 16-year-old Arielle who lives on a secluded Foothills farm with her father. After having mysteriously disappeared 10 years ago, Arielle’s mother reappears and unveils secrets that leave the teen conflicted.
Okotoks serves as the town of Shepard. It provides a stark contrast from Arielle’s sheltered life at the farm, where she runs errands, attends social gatherings and begins investigating some of the secrets her mom shared about her father, said Lepp.
The movie stars Canadian actors Sophia Lauchlin Hirt as Arielle, Billy MacLellan as her father, Michelle Morgan, also starring on Heartland, as her mom and Charlie Kerr as Arielle’s love interest.
“These guys are used to working for quite a bit more, but they came in and worked for less for us,” Lepp said.
“The reason we got them is because the script is so strong. It’s an opportunity for them to grow their career as well. They are on the cusp of really amazing things.”
Ice Blue received some funding from Telus through its Telus Optik Local program to shoot the film, which will air on Telus Optik Local on Demand in both Alberta and British Columbia.
“We are their first scripted feature ever,” Lepp said. “It’s really great to have these platforms to create this kind of work.
“Telus will feature us with the Hollywood movies, the only difference is ours will be for free on their platform. We hope that it has success and allows us to green light a second project together.”
The movie will also be submitted to major film festivals including the Toronto International Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival and Calgary International Film Festival this fall, said Lepp.
“We are shooting for the stars,” he said. “That’s the only way you will sell it. If you can’t get into the big ones nobody is going to buy the movie.”
Another option is getting a distributor to acquire the rights to the movie, said Lepp, adding he would rather it be picked up at an international film festival as it would be more profitable.
Shortly after Lepp is done shooting Ice Blue he will head back to the set of Heartland for the filming of its next season.
When production is complete for the movie, Lepp said he’ll be ready to move on to his next project.
“It’s always about getting one done so we can work on our next one and continue to build our business model of filmmaking so that we can make a real living at it,” he said.
To watch the progress of the movie or for more information go to icebluemovie.com or find it on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.