DEBERT – Darkness surrounds you while walking through numerous sets of doors into the former Cold War bunker here.
When you finally reach inside, people are scurrying around, talking non-stop into their headsets. Lights are propped up, supplies are in the halls and the production manager works diligently.
It’s what you see when you enter the set of Bunker 6, an independent film written and directed by Greg Jackson and produced by Rebecca Sharratt.
“It’s been going amazingly well,” said Jackson, on the sixth day of filming the psychological thriller below the ground. “Things are coming together really nicely. I would say, with the challenges, especially the budget, we’re moving at a pace that’s essentially terrific.”
Jackson talks while his film crew, which can reach about 25, quickly moves from one scene in the hallway of the shelter ruins to the next.
“Because it’s a low budget film, I basically wrote to budget. Working with Rebecca, she was able to help me out with what would be doable, and what wouldn’t be. We purposely kept things small.”
Jackson wrote the first draft of Bunker 6 to submit to the First Feature Project, and was awarded $115,000 during the 2012 Atlantic Film Festival for production.
“We wanted to be able to keep the filming in one small place, and another writer – Iain MacLeod – tipped me off to this place last winter,” Jackson said about the bunker. “I didn’t know it existed until after they announced the First Feature Project and I thought, ‘maybe we can shoot it here.’”
Bunker 6 follows the story of 21-year-old Grace, who has lived in nuclear Bunker #6 since she was nine. After the death of Lewis, her mentor, father figure and the bunker’s technician, Grace is left to take charge of the mechanics. As things begin to breakdown all around her, and thoughts of the outside world haunt her, she must continue her struggle to not just survive, but to live.
For Halifax’s Andrea Norwood, filming inside the bunker has been “amazing.”
“We are so lucky to have this and to be able to use it,” said the 31-year-old, who plays Grace. “You can’t build this kind of set, so we are immensely fortunate. Every room is perfect.”
Along with Norwood, cast members include Daniel Lillford, Molly Dunsworth, Shelley Thompson, Glen Matthews and Jim Fowler.
Being a fan of genres, such as science fiction and thrillers, Bunker 6 appealed to Norwood from the start.
“I’m a huge fan of horror and fantasy films, so this film was right up my alley. I thought it would be a good chance to be involved in a feature film.”
Because she’s the main character, Norwood appears in almost every scene.
“That’s new for me, but it’s been going really well. It’s hard work, which I love, and I’m happy to do.”
Taking a break from watching filming, Sharratt said everyone is working hard on the production, which is the first to see Sharratt and Jackson work together.
“Everything looks really good and the actors are fantastic,” she said about Norwood and the other four main characters.
Sharratt said she and Jackson were in talks last year about other ideas when they started to talk about the First Feature Project and what it would mean they could do together.
“We had wanted to be in a place where we could move around. We knew we’d work with a small crew and cast.
“There are lots of sets so if we were to film this in Halifax, we would have been filming in basements, bank vaults and even tunnel systems. We’re glad we’re here – the production value is great and it really adds to it,” she said.
The biggest issue to contend with while filming in the bunker is quite often the coldness that settles in when temperatures fall to -20 C and below.
“It’s hard for the cast,” when it’s that cold. “But the characters are wearing the types of clothing where we can hide leggings, long johns or even hot packs on their backs,” Sharratt said.
With filming expected to wrap up the middle of next week, Sharratt said editing will continue until about April.
“In May, we’ll be applying for screenings, including the Atlantic Film Festival. We’re aiming high. As long as someone sees it, that’s all that matters.”
- Bunker 6 is a psychological thriller about a girl who takes over the reins of the bunker after its technician dies.
- Written and directed by Greg Jackson, produced by Rebecca Sharratt, both of Halifax.
- Halifax’s Andrea Norwood, 31, stars as Grace.
- Filming is currently being done inside the Cold War bunker in Debert; filming started Feb. 14 and is expected to wrap up the middle of next week.
- The editing will continue until the spring, which is when Sharratt and Jackson will be applying for screenings, including the 2013 Atlantic Film Festival.