September 4, 2018
Four years ago, Jen Walden was sitting at her kitchen table drafting a script for a short film about a young boy who encounters a mythical creature while camping with his family. Next month that film, now extended to feature-length, will open the Yellowknife International Film Festival.
(Photo: Caitlin Cleveland)
Elijah and the Rock Creature – previously titled Dark Sky – was written and directed by Walden and produced by Jeremy Emerson, both mainstays in the territory’s growing film industry. As a result, the film’s northern roots run deep. Walden estimates that roughly 85% of its funding support has come from donors in the north. On screen, viewers will recognize the film’s settings – in Fort Smith, Wood Buffalo National Park and Yellowknife – as well as many familiar faces.
“Nearly all of the actors, film crew and support staff were from the NWT. We had a special effects make-up team come up from Vancouver to help create our ‘creature’ and that was great because they were able to train our Yellowknife make-up team in that special effects style. Now they have that skill set for future projects.”
(Photo: Caitlin Cleveland)
“I also have to recognize Ben Naugler,” Walden says. “He’s a local Yellowknife boy who plays Elijah and he completed wowed us. He’s in nearly every scene of the movie and really carries the entire story. It was easy to forget that he had just turned 12 when we were filming because he was such a dream to work with.”
“Elijah and the Rock Creature is so connected to the territory, I’m honoured that we’ll be able to premiere it in the north. It’s a way for us to thank everyone for their involvement and their incredible support.”
The film was made possible, in part, through Indiecan20K, which provided the film with in-kind production, post-production and mentorship services valued at $250,000. The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment’s (ITI) NWT Film Commission was pleased to partner with Indiecan20K to provide funding to support the work. ITI also provided assistance through the Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development’s NWT Film Industry Funding Contributions.
(Photo: Sean Daly)
For Walden, making the film is just the first step.
“A big part of the mentorship from IndieCan is coming into effect now as we’re going to film festivals and navigating distribution,” Walden explains. “Next week I’ll be meeting with international sales agents at TIFF and IndieCan will be there to provide guidance, help me navigate those meetings and hopefully sell my product.”
“Filming Elijah and the Rock Creature was such an incredible experience. Of course there were a lot of stressful moments but I truly loved every minute of it.”
(Photo: Bill Braden)
Elijah and the Rock Creature will premiere at the Capitol Theatre in Yellowknife on Wednesday, September 26 at 7:00pm with a second showing on Sunday, September 30 at 3:30pm. Each screening will be followed by a Q&A with Walden, Emerson, Naugler and other cast members.
Visit www.ykfilmfest.com for information about tickets and the full festival schedule.