C.B.N. has a role in new film

Di­rec­tor goes for a gritty tale with first fea­ture-length ef­fort

The Compass - - NEWS - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

New­found­land film­maker Justin Oakey is once again get­ting help from the Con­cep­tion Bay North area to see his ideas come to life on the big screen.

Two years ago, he shot a short film called “Flankers” in Ochre Pit Cove and North­ern Bay, us­ing the set­ting to help tell a dark tale.

Now Oakey is just about fin­ished shoot­ing his first fea­ture-length ef­fort. “River­head” is a story about a blood feud that di­vides a fic­tional town.

While most film­ing has taken place in Bauline and the sur­round­ing area, the crew has also filmed scenes in Har­bour Grace, where the second unit is sched­uled to set up this week for the last day of shoot­ing. Oakey is a di­rec­tor, writer, ed­i­tor and co­pro­ducer on the project.

“If I had the money, I would have shot the whole thing in Har­bour Grace, just be­cause it’s such a unique lo­ca­tion. But this one we shot, I’m ba­si­cally us­ing Har­bour Grace as the back­drop, but then for the nitty-grtty stuff, like in­sides of houses and streets, we used Bauline and a cou­ple of other smaller com­mu­ni­ties on this side of the shore.”

With the 30-per­son crew mostly liv­ing in the St. John’s area, Oakey said it was ul­ti­mately more fea­si­ble to work in Bauline.

Be­yond uti­liz­ing Har­bour Grace as a back­drop for film­ing, “River­head” also fea­tures a cou­ple of ac­tors from the Con­cep­tion Bay North area in fea­tured roles. Evan Mercer is from Shearstown and Stephen Oates hails from Car­bon­ear. The film also stars Lawrence Barry, Steve Lush, Des Walsh and Al­li­son Kelly.

With the project al­most ready for edit­ing, Oakey is pleased to have in the can a story that’s atyp­i­cal from what’s nor­mally pro­duced in the prov­ince.

“There’s a lot of cultural stuff that I’ve al­ways been in­ter­ested in — the CatholicProtes­tant clashes in New­found­land and things that are just rarely talked about or ex­plored in films in New­found­land. Peo­ple are so in­ter­ested in do­ing that tourism com­mer­cial or comedic ver­sion of New­found­land that I feel like they for­get there’s a lot of pretty in­ter­est­ing dark streaks around the bay.”

Vi­o­lent turns

Ton­ally it may share char­ac­ter­is­tic with “Flankers,” which won a Peo­ple’s Choice Award at last year’s Nick In­de­pen­dent Film Fes­ti­val in St. John’s, but “River­head” is not a fea­ture-length ver­sion of that movie. He even took some in­spi­ra­tion from con­ver­sa­tions with his grand­mother about the North Shore, where his fam­ily has roots.

“I think with the orig­i­nal short film ‘Flankers,’ I thought that it was fun to ex­plore peo­ple not lik­ing each other from dif­fer­ent sides of the shore, dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties. And then in this one, be­cause it’s a much longer time, I’m able to throw in a bit of why they might not like each other. It sort of takes the tone of a blood feud. The first one, while it is dark, is lighter than (‘River­head’) — let’s put it that way. This one turns into a pretty vi­o­lent story.”

There will be plenty of foul lan­guage in the fin­ished prod­uct, and ac­cord­ing to Oakey, a lot of that comes from im­pro­vi­sa­tion.

“A lot of char­ac­ters are played by ac­tual peo­ple from around the bay who are very fa­mil­iar with the types of char­ac­ters they’re play­ing. Once they get into that, the lan­guage sort of flies off the rails. There’s def­i­nitely no way to keep it light, lan­guage-wise.”

Oakey hopes to have the film ready to screen this fall for Cana­dian film fes­ti­vals. He’ll likely ar­range for a pri­vate screen­ing in New­found­land as well, and would even con­sider set­ting up a road­show pre­sen­ta­tion in mul­ti­ple com­mu­ni­ties.


The crew of “River­head” film­ing at night in Bauline.


Evan Mercer of Shearstown and Car­bon­ear’s Stephen Oates are co-stars in a new fea­ture film called “River­head.”


Lawrence Barry is the star of “River­head,” Justin Oakey’s first fea­ture-length film.

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