The artistic team behind a locally-produced film are gearing up to unveil the highly-anticipated project next spring.
Matt Grue, in association with Ozmosis Entertainment and The Matchbox Theatre Foundation, announced the film adaptation of Year After Year in 2010. Shooting followed this past summer and the film’s release is expected next spring.
Ignition Theatre staged Year After Year in 2010 – the story chronicles the dissolving years of friends in their late 20s as they navigate the waters of hollow careers, lost ambition, forgotten dreams and the relationships that matter most.
Bill is celebrating his 28th birthday with his closest friends. Hunter is a successful photographer living in London, Todd and Rachel are a couple on the edge of divorce, Peter and Laura have been dating since college and are looking towards the next step and Kate, who has known Bill for years, is trying to negotiate her love for him and her need to let go.
The film version was directed by Dustin Clark and Joel Crichton, who played Bill in the stage version, resumed the role for the film.
From the start, Grue and his team have been overwhelmed by the support shown for the project. Grue also wrote Year After Year, while Curtis Labelle penned the music. The lyrics were written by Spencer Pasman and Stephanie Ridge.
“About a week into the shoot we were doing some paperwork and I realized that we had more than 300 people working on this production in some capacity,” he said.
“So, I look at it a little bit like a miracle. So many scripts are written and never see the light of day. So many films get into pre-production and fall apart because it is mind-blowingly difficult to assemble such a large team and yet, with a limited budget, we were able to make it happen.”
Grue said not only have expectations been met, in many cases they’ve been exceeded.
“The last shooting day I remember thinking to myself ‘we did it’. Seems simple, but throughout the entire two year process, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some doubt,” he said. “So, when the film finally wrapped, those three words were the most important, the most gratifying and the most emotionally overwhelming. Then I slept for a month.”
He also couldn’t have been more pleased with the cast. Casting calls were held in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton and Grue said his first choices for all the parts committed to the project. “They are all so uniquely gifted, that all we needed to stay out of their way and let them work.”
He also couldn’t be more grateful for all the help shown along the way.
“No matter how ambitious something was, there was always someone there that believed in what we were trying to accomplish and moved mountains to give us what we needed,” he said. “We had entire families show up to be extras in the film, we had very difficult locations go out of their way to accommodate us, we had several financial benefactors from the community and Red Deer College in particular was extraordinary in their support. Even now, the support and feedback from the release of the trailer has been overwhelming.”
Grue said plans are also in the works for a gala screening in the spring before launching the film on the festival circuit. He’s confident that audiences will enjoy the finished product. He recalled seeing a sample of the footage on the big screen and knowing it was something special indeed.
“To see some semblance of this dream that we’d been thinking about for the last two years (was) incredible. The trailer had a very similar effect.”
Having Clark at the helm was also critical to bringing out the best in the actors and the story itself. “His methods are experimental but rooted in a deep love and appreciation for the method. So when we would watch back footage and I would see what he was actually able to capture, I knew, as I always had, that we had the best possible person at the helm of the project.”
Grue had no qualms about not directing the project himself, as he’s a theatre specialist. “I think to be a successful filmmaker you need to me five steps ahead of yourself at all times, whereas in theatre, you work moment to moment,” he explains.
“And there is a science, a math, a technical precision to filmmaking that is outside of my wheelhouse, so it was great to be on set to learn. That and Dustin and I have such a strong creative relationship that he involved me in everything, would get me to watch particular shots and ask my opinions so I always felt involved creatively, even though I wasn’t calling the shots.”
There is also no doubt that bringing Crichton in for the title role was the only way to go as well. “We needed someone charming, somebody who struggles with vulnerability without denying it, someone intelligent who can take surface level writing and find depth and meaning in it and translate that to an audience, a great voice, lots of energy and someone, who quite frankly, could understand where I was coming from.
“So, when you write with all of that in mind, and then you flesh it out in even greater detail and depth for the screen, it would have been impossible to go with anyone else. Anybody who has seen his work knows he’s brilliant. So, of course, we had to do whatever we could to land him for this project.”
Ultimately, he can’t wait to finally show folks what has been such a consuming, challenging and richly rewarding project.
“I hope that they’re entertained. That’s got to be the fundamental goal. I don’t want them to like to movie because they know how hard we worked or what an achievement it was. I want them to genuinely have a good time and I hope it resonates with people the way the stage production seemed to.
“We are dealing with a lot of universal themes and approaching them in a different, exciting but ultimately honest way. So I hope people are able to see themselves on screen, I hope the songs get stuck in their head and I hope that they tell their friends.”
For more information or to check out the trailer, visit www.yearafteryearmusical.com.