Ignition Theatre, in association with Ridge Enterprises, has announced that principle photography on their second feature film Break on Through runs Aug. 27th through Sept. 17th with an anticipated October of 2017 release.
A group of strangers find themselves trapped in an isolated, abandoned farmhouse during an unknown but potentially cataclysmic world event. As they attempt to unravel the mystery, their fear and confusion mounts and they must learn to trust one another if they have any hope for survival.
The director for Break on Through is Dustin Clark, while Matt Grue (Ignition’s artistic director) has penned the script and has taken the role of producer.
“In terms of the process, it was particularly interesting,” explains Grue. “Dustin and I are long-time collaborators and I think we were both feeling a little creatively stagnant and we made a decision that we wanted to begin development on a new feature film.
“Over the course of several months, after several pitches back and forth and even a handful of different screenplays, we hadn’t found a middle ground. We struggled to find something we were both passionate about. So, I dusted off an idea, a framework of a story I had initially conceived as a play – and brought it to Dustin’s attention.”
That was in May of this year.
“We sat on a patio, enjoying a coffee and we bounced ideas for hours and basically took a framework and built a house. From that point, I went and began work on the first draft – which was completed in about three weeks and from that draft we decided to move forward into pre-production with a goal to shoot this summer.
“So, from inception to wrap – five months. Crazy.
”I’m always fascinated by stories that involve strangers learning to cope with one another. I’m fascinated by stories that invite you to participate in a meaningful way. I’m fascinated by what makes people tick and how I can alter that rhythm. Things I hope we have and will accomplish with Break on Through.”
Ignition’s first feature film, Year After Year, screened in several film festivals across five countries, was nominated for five prestigious AMPIA awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Actor and Best Editing and most recently completed a three-month television broadcast.
For Break on Through, the cast includes Amber Bissonnette (Caution: May Contain Nuts, APNTV), Robert Van Der Linden (Lassie, YTV), Sebastian Kroon (Arrow, The CW), Merran Carr -Wiggan (Love of My Life, Paragraph Productions), Evan Hall (The Glass Menagerie, Ignition Theatre), Christoff Lundgren (The Flash, The CW) and introducing Shelayna Christante and Minyang Dau as THE BOY.
“It’s a story in which perspective is very important, environment is very important, intricate subtlety is very important,” explained Grue on why the story will translate well to film format. “These are things you just couldn’t achieve in another medium. It’s also as much a mystery as it is a psychological drama and mystery is a genre that plays significantly better on screen than it would on stage.
“Our goal is to make a film that was as open to audience interpretation as possible without becoming obscure or vague. We want you to have a ‘good’ time going on this journey with these characters, we want to keep you constantly guessing and we don’t want to give away all the answers, or we want to hide the answers from plain sight,” he said.
Grue said the making of Year After Year provided a terrific foundation for this new venture.
”Year After Year was a masterclass in filmmaking,” he said. “We learned so much about both the artistic process, but as much about the commercial process. We made a lot of mistakes, we teetered the line between ambition and insanity – but I’d still rather be telling these stories rather than thinking about how great it would be to tell these stories. It was a grueling process, during both photography and post production.
“But in the end, after what was essentially a four year process we had a film that was celebrated worldwide, winning awards at various film festivals and being nominated for a handful of AMPIA awards. We were nominated (and lost) in the same categories as Fargo and Heartland – let’s say two of the most critically-acclaimed American and Canadian productions at the time. It was the injection of spirit we needed. It affirmed for us that not only were we capable filmmakers and storytellers, but in fact we had something to offer.”
Grue said this time around, the scope is much more realistic.
“I think, as I guess would be expected, we’re more mature filmmakers. We’re four years removed from making Year After Year. During that time there was a lot of creative and personal growth and we get to not only bring that, but experience to this production as well.”
Meanwhile, with principle photography about to start, there is much to keep in mind but Grue is thrilled to hit the ground running. “I’m always thinking about the next setup, the next shot, the next day. Producing a film is an exercise in staying one step ahead of everybody else at all times.
“It’s about anticipating problems and solving them before anybody else ever realized there was an issue. I think having run a theatre company for the past decade, it’s a skill set I’m particularly proud of. But, having also written the film I have to be conscious to compartmentalize my brain – sometimes I need to be a writer and sometimes I need to be a producer and it’s hard to be both at the same time.”
Ultimately, Grue said what also fuels his inspiration is that he has made a commitment to the local community.
“When I made the decision to start Ignition, one of the more important mandates I set for our company was that we were going to create meaningful, professional art in this community,” he said. “We will bring artists to Central Alberta and we will develop artists to send across Canada and the U.S. (and beyond),” he said. “A really fine example of this is our director of photography Adam Cummerford – we met Adam during our production of The Shape of a Girl; a show we collaborated with LTCHS on.
“From that point he showed a real interest in the arts and came to us looking for future volunteer opportunities. We brought him on board as a teenager to work backstage, to run lighting, etc. Since that time he moved to Montreal, to Toronto and now, in my opinion, is now one of the hot young filmmakers in the country and he’s coming back here, back to Ignition, six to seven years later to shoot our flick.
“I’m not suggesting we’re responsible for his success, but I think we certainly introduced him to the possibility. How cool is that?
“I’m just always pumped to get going. We always manage to assemble such amazing teams of artists and watching them work, collaborating with all these geniuses everyday for a few weeks is a tremendous pleasure. It’s an honour, quite frankly. To breathe life into characters I created – it’s a rush you can’t describe.”