A film inspired by B.C.’s wildfire seasons makes its world premiere Saturday, Sept. 16, in Vernon.
Dragon Fruit is a short sci-fi independent film from West Kelowna writer-director J. Brown.
The film follows a single mother trying to survive in a violent and dystopian world as she desperately tries to grow a small dragon fruit plant to sell it for cash.
It explores the sacrifices people make for a better life, and what happens when that tenuous work-life balance is upended by a demanding side hustle.
Starring Yvonne Chapman (Street Legal, Kung Fu), as the mother, the film explores the sacrifices a person must make to work for a better life. The smoky, apocalyptic world the mother and her son live in was inspired by British Columbia’s annual wildfire season – well known to Brown who was born and raised in West Kelowna.
“If you’re from the Okanagan, you know the eerie orange hue the world gets when the smoke rolls in,” said Brown, whose parents were still on evacuation alert as of Sept. 10 due to the McDougall Creek wildfire.
“It literally feels like a sci-fi movie, but whether it’s a wildfire or a pandemic, we all still have to go to work tomorrow. I think that’s an interesting jumping-off point.”
Turning that inspiration into a multi-year film production, however, was a Herculean task.
“One member of our cast called it ‘The Lord of the Rings of short films,’” he said with a laugh. “Once the ball started rolling, it just got bigger and more complex, and a 12-page script turned something much more ambitious. Luckily, people got excited and wanted to help, or I’d still be spray-painting props in my bathroom.”
The team was shot-through with Okanagan talent.
From the beginning of production, Brown was joined by Jen Araki as producer – friends since they were children at Glenrosa Elementary School. Araki and her husband, actor Dylan Playfair (Letterkenny, The Mighty Ducks, from Fort St. James), supported Dragon Fruit through their production company Crystal Mountain Films.
When it came time for music, Brown again leaned on childhood connections, recruiting KSS grad Shawn Penner, as composer.
“The film has very little dialogue, so the music has to do the talking. What he came up with is incredible,” said Brown.
Dragon Fruit’s World Premiere will take place at The TV Fest in Vernon at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at the historic Vernon Towne Theatre. Free admission, 19+ only.