Root of the Prob­lem teaches view­ers the value of giv­ing from the heart

Calgary Herald - - YOU - ERIC VOLMERS

Scott Sikma ac­knowl­edges that it’s fit­ting for an indie film­maker to make a low-bud­get movie about a money tree.

Call it a case of cin­e­matic wish ful­fil­ment.

“We have bud­get­ing is­sues and things like that,” Sikma says while on a break from shoot­ing the Cal­gary-based fam­ily film Root of the Prob­lem last week.

“At the end of the day, it was like, ‘If only we could take money from that tree, then it could help us.’ But it’s be­cause it’s so small with this project, it is all the lit­tle things that make it pos­si­ble.”

That’s ac­tu­ally the over­ly­ing theme of Root of the Prob­lem, which wrapped early last week af­ter a 20-day shoot in Cal­gary and at the West Butte Ranch west of Mil­larville. Flash­point’s Ser­gio Di Zio plays Paul Camp­bell, a hus­band, fa­ther of two and small-town real­tor who oc­ca­sion­ally en­gages in shady busi­ness prac­tices. When the un­cle of his wife, Grace (played by Claire Rankin), dies, the fam­ily in­her­its a mys­te­ri­ous plant.

Paul soon dis­cov­ers it’s a money tree, which even­tu­ally height­ens his greed as he keeps its pow­ers se­cret from his fam­ily.

“He doesn’t care about the lit­tle things in life, it’s all his way or the high­way,” Sikma says.

“When he ends up get­ting the beau­ti­ful gift of a money tree, he has to learn the hard way that it’s not go­ing to give you back things un­less you are giv­ing from the heart. That’s the whole se­cret around the plant: It only gives you back what you give from the heart.”

If that sounds like a bit of an earnest mes­sage for th­ese cyn­i­cal times, it’s be­cause Root of the Prob­lem is es­sen­tially a “mes­sage film.” De­signed to be a G-rated project suit­able for the whole fam­ily, Sikma has close ties to the source ma­te­rial. It’s based on his mother’s faith-based novel of the same name. Joanne Sikma, who is now based in Syl­van Lake, is a pro­lific author who be­came a con­sul­tant on the set of the film.

Sikma read his mother’s book five years ago and im­me­di­ately saw its cin­e­matic po­ten­tial.

“I love the mes­sage so much of the novel and I said: ‘We can­not get rid of it in the movie, that’s the whole premise of the movie, it’s based on her orig­i­nal mes­sage,” Sikma says.

“We went back and forth with the writ­ers, al­ways to make sure we weren’t tweak­ing it too far.

“At the end of the day, it does make it eas­ier be­ing her son,” says Sikma. “I can just say, ‘Lis­ten, mom … ‘ I don’t get that priv­i­lege on other movies.”

Root of the Prob­lem is Sikma’s fea­ture de­but af­ter di­rect­ing shorts and mu­sic videos. Grow­ing up in the small On­tario town of Pon­ty­pool, Sikma cred­its his grand­fa­ther for im­mers­ing him in clas­sic films, such as Sing­ing in the Rain, Ci­ti­zen Kane and the work of Al­fred Hitch­cock. He be­gan act­ing at a young age be­fore be­ing trained as an an­i­ma­tor.

He even­tu­ally switched to live­ac­tion and be­gan work­ing on the crew of block­busters, such as In­ter­stel­lar, and tele­vi­sion se­ries like Prison Break, Flash and Ar­row. He was also re­cently the first as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of East Texas Oil, Kevin Sorbo’s low-bud­get Chris­tian fea­ture that shot in Cal­gary and Al­berta ear­lier this year.

As for Root of the Prob­lem, the more overt Chris­tian el­e­ments found in the book have been toned down.

“It’s non-de­nom­i­na­tional so every­body can watch it,” says pro­ducer Carolyn McMaster of Cal­gary’s CHAOS. “Every­body can watch it. I al­ways re­fer to it as a mes­sage-based film. It re­ally is about a fam­ily man who learns valu­able lessons in life and that greed and money aren’t the be-all and end-all of life and that there are more im­por­tant val­ues. From a point of view of val­ues and morals and ethics, there’s a story there for every­body to just heed the cau­tion.”

The film, which also stars Leslie Benn and Ty Loupelle as Paul and Grace’s chil­dren, is aimed at a wide de­mo­graphic.

“You are see­ing a lit­tle more now with the fam­ily, mes­sage-based films and pro­gram­ming that the whole fam­ily can watch with­out wor­ry­ing about what words are com­ing out of some­one’s mouth or if some­one’s head is go­ing to be shot off and the usual vi­o­lent movies,” says McMaster, who is pro­duc­ing the film with her twin sis­ter, Mar­got.

“It’s a fam­ily-based film and we are quite proud of it.”

Root of the Prob­lem is sched­uled for a spring re­lease.

It … is about a fam­ily man who learns valu­able lessons in life and that greed and money aren’t the be-all and end-all.

Scott Sikma is in Cal­gary di­rect­ing his first fea­ture film, Root of the Prob­lem, a mes­sage film based on a novel by his mother, Joanne Sikma.

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