Movie producer Jason James and director Cam Labine are getting into character. The creators of Mountain Men, the feature movie that starts filming in Revelstoke on April 5, have grown beards during weeks researching and scouting here.
Including me, that makes three bearded men sitting around a table at the River City Pub, drinking Mt. Begbie Brewing Co. beer – comfortable in our masculine Revelstoke pursuits, just like the main characters in their film – before the plot thickens and things go sideways.
Mountain Men tells the story of two brothers who have taken different paths in life returning home for a wedding. One has rejected his roots. While home they travel into the backcountry to a remote cabin, where things go badly wrong. While evicting a squatter, they burn down the cabin and face trial by wilderness.
“It’s about changing definitions of manhood and manliness. It’s about manhood and what that means,” Labine tells me of the script, which he wrote. “It’s about family – it’s about surviving family. It’s about finding your place in this landscape that we all live in – a majestic, beautiful landscape and what it all means to us.”
And by that landscape, they mean Revelstoke. Mountain Men will be filmed here and set here. They’re creating an opening sequence montage of historic images and archival footage, and the filming will be take place at Revelstoke landmarks.
“So much of the opening of the film is getting the texture and the colour of the town, so we’re also just running around with the camera just shooting the architecture, the people, the landscape,” Labine said
The actor, director and screenwriter rewrote the script to better reflect Revelstoke after scouting here.
“I love how this town wears its history on its sleeve,” said Labine. “Every single place you go you’ve got these photos on the wall, and there’s this sense of pride about where this town has been and where it’s going.”
Their Revelstoke showcase will get an audience. They’re taking it on the fall film fest circuit, but they’ve already secured funding for the $1 million production through deals with Movie Central, the Movie Network, Pacific Northwest Films and Telefilm Canada, amongst others. It means distribution across Canada and beyond.
The film stars Cam’s brother Tyler Labine, who’s best known for his starring role as Dale in the 2010 cult favourite Tucker & Dale vs. Evil.
James and Labine connected through the tight-knit Vancouver film and TV industry. James runs Resonance Films, and has produced and directed on projects like Da Vinci’s Inquest, Robson Arms, Ice Pilots, This Space for Rent, Repeaters and Cole.
James brought the film here, in part through a family connection.He’s the son of former Revelstoke mayor Mark McKee, although they were introduced for the first time about four years ago. Since then, they’ve made up for lost time getting to know each other – a homecoming, in a sense.
(Both James and McKee tell me they’d have to check with the other before getting into it. For short, James, who is approaching 40 years old, said he was thrilled to find out his dad – a businessperson and politician – was a dynamic and accomplished person. Always a Revelstoke booster, McKee notes James loves it here, and that he’s been helping him with introductions and location scouting. McKee may not accept a part as an extra in the movie; he got cast as one in James’ last project, but his scene “wound up on the cutting room floor,” and he hasn’t forgotten the snub.)
James estimated they’re spending about $250,000 of their budget here, and had nothing but praise for the many local contacts who’ve helped out with the project.
They’ll be busy around town in the first week, then switch to more remote locations, where the bulk of the movie takes place.
Revelstokians interested in getting in on the show can dress up for the movie’s big wedding scene next Wednesday, April 9 at the United Church. Contact local extras casting director Lyn Kaulback at the Revelstoke Theatre Company for more info.