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Local actors featured in The Only Game in Town


By Carol DunnThe News - TATAMAGOUCHE – When Jessie Craig was a young girl, she loved to perform. 

“I was always putting on shows and making stupid little videos in the basement that will probably haunt me when I’m older,” she said.

Now 19 years old, Craig wants to turn her passion for performing into a career and she’s hoping that her role as Odette in The Only Game in Town will help her achieve that goal.

“I’m really hoping this is what’s going to be my career for the rest of my life. Honestly, right now I’m living my dream.”

Craig is from Seafoam, and is one of several Pictou County actors who have major roles in the feature film that’s produced by Simple Films and being shot in Tatamagouche.

The comedy centres on Cormack Vertue, played by Jesse Hemmings of Merigomish. Cormack has Asperger’s Syndrome, is a whiz at the game Solitaire and is in love with Odette.

Hemmings is also hoping the film will jumpstart a career in acting. “I’m hoping it leads somewhere,” he said. “I really like being able to step out of myself and being something else.”

For Aldo Orsi and Josh Fifield, involvement in the film has allowed them to get a look at what happens behind the camera.

“For me I like to be able to see all the behind the scenes and it’s been really awesome to see what everyone does, asking questions. It’s really cool,” said Fifield.

He’s acted in high school stage productions several times, and notes the differences between the two mediums.

“With my previous theatre experience – you have to memorize the whole thing, so scene by scene is easier, and you get multiple takes.”

Orsi, who has had roles in plays at Northumberland Regional High School, said: “When you’re on stage, you can’t do it again.”

Continuity is also something new for them, but extremely important. Because the scenes weren’t shot in order, the actors are responsible for keeping track of their outfits day by day.

“We get to pick our outfits but we have to make sure the continuity is right. We have to remember what we wore on that day,” said Fifield.

He plans to study screen arts at the Nova Scotia Community College in the fall, and said getting to be part of the film so close to home is great.

“I plan on furthering my career in this and I feel it’s a great stepping stone. So far I love the experience.”

Filming for The Only Game in Town was expected to wrap up Thursday, after 14 days in Tatamagouche, with total filming time of about 20 days. This includes work at several other locations – River John, Scotsburn, Onslow, Malagash, and the Pictou County Wellness Centre back in May.

The feature film is being shot in a condensed time frame because of several factors, said Stuart Cresswell of Simple Films - a film, TV and DVD production company with offices in River John.

“Due to the cost of hiring the equipment and accommodations – the longer it takes, the more expensive it is – it all adds up,” he said. “We saw a narrow window of opportunity to make the film.”

Another key consideration was the availability of the cast members, and the fact that they didn’t want to film on weekends during the school year.

“You don’t get continuity on weekends,” he said.

Cresswell is the feature film’s scriptwriter, producer and director. He took on the role of director when Cory Bowles of Truro (Trailer Park Boys) wasn’t able to do the job because of scheduling conflicts that occurred after the project was delayed due to uncertainties surrounding the Nova Scotia Film Tax Credit.

Cresswell moved from England to River John in 2006, and chose to film in Tatamagouche because the area is both beautiful and welcoming.  

“The scenery up here is stunning,” he said, adding the community is extremely supportive. “You face all sorts of challenges when making a film, and to have the community on your side, it seems to be a no-brainer.”

Cresswell expects to have a rough cut of the movie in about 10 weeks, with a possible release date in the summer of 2016.

 

----

SIDEBAR: A morning on set

 

BY CAROL DUNN

THE NEWS

“Let’s stand in the shade,” suggests Craig Gunn after we stood baking in the sun while the cameras got set up and the lighting checked.

We’re working on the second shot of the opening scene for The Only Game in Town - the beginning of the school day.

Gunn plays teacher Alex Crowley in the film. We chat for a bit while the crew gets set up and I find out he’s a financial advisor originally from Scotsburn, but now living in Dartmouth, who was bitten by the acting bug. He’s taken his week-long vacation to play the role in the movie.

The scene we’re in features Gunn as Crowley walking across the schoolyard and discovering a fight going on between the main character and a bully.

I’m an extra, which wasn’t what I had planned when I arrived on the set to write a story.

Thursday’s call time was 8 a.m. for the actors, extras and the crew. As everyone trickled into the Tatamagouche Centre, which is doubling as the school in the movie, director Stuart Cresswell asked me: “Do you want to be an extra?”

So I found myself playing the role of a teacher, walking up the driveway into the school over and over again. The camera had to be set up in several locations for different angles, and several takes were shot each time the cameras moved.

From the time I found out I would be an extra until we finished filming the one scene, it took an hour and a half. The footage will likely be less than a minute long in the final product.

The weather co-operated - although some time was spent waiting for the sun to come out from behind clouds - as these scenes couldn’t be filmed when they were originally scheduled because of rain.

It got hot standing around in the sun waiting, mosquitoes kept biting my feet, and high heels perhaps weren’t the best choice for the many walks down the driveway.

But the minor discomfort and short time I was involved doesn’t compare to the work done by the main cast since filming started about two weeks ago.

Their days are long – usually beginning at 8 or 9 a.m. and continuing until 9 or 10 p.m. And a lot of that time is spent waiting, so the teenage actors find ways to amuse themselves while standing in the spots where they’ll appear in the movie. Dancing, singing, making shadow puppets and play fighting take place, along with memorizing lines and rehearsing the scenes.

The actors told me their longest day of filming was a road trip to Antigonish, getting back to their sleeping quarters at midnight.

“It’s exhausting every day,” said Jesse Hemmings, who plays the lead role.

While most of the actors don’t have vast amounts of experience with filming, they seem to understand that the waiting around is just part of the job.

“Setting up a perfect shot saves hours and hours of editing,” said actor Aldo Orsi. “I’ve come to understand the final product is made up of so many hours. What it takes to make this is really mind blowing.”

“I was always putting on shows and making stupid little videos in the basement that will probably haunt me when I’m older,” she said.

Now 19 years old, Craig wants to turn her passion for performing into a career and she’s hoping that her role as Odette in The Only Game in Town will help her achieve that goal.

“I’m really hoping this is what’s going to be my career for the rest of my life. Honestly, right now I’m living my dream.”

Craig is from Seafoam, and is one of several Pictou County actors who have major roles in the feature film that’s produced by Simple Films and being shot in Tatamagouche.

The comedy centres on Cormack Vertue, played by Jesse Hemmings of Merigomish. Cormack has Asperger’s Syndrome, is a whiz at the game Solitaire and is in love with Odette.

Hemmings is also hoping the film will jumpstart a career in acting. “I’m hoping it leads somewhere,” he said. “I really like being able to step out of myself and being something else.”

For Aldo Orsi and Josh Fifield, involvement in the film has allowed them to get a look at what happens behind the camera.

“For me I like to be able to see all the behind the scenes and it’s been really awesome to see what everyone does, asking questions. It’s really cool,” said Fifield.

He’s acted in high school stage productions several times, and notes the differences between the two mediums.

“With my previous theatre experience – you have to memorize the whole thing, so scene by scene is easier, and you get multiple takes.”

Orsi, who has had roles in plays at Northumberland Regional High School, said: “When you’re on stage, you can’t do it again.”

Continuity is also something new for them, but extremely important. Because the scenes weren’t shot in order, the actors are responsible for keeping track of their outfits day by day.

“We get to pick our outfits but we have to make sure the continuity is right. We have to remember what we wore on that day,” said Fifield.

He plans to study screen arts at the Nova Scotia Community College in the fall, and said getting to be part of the film so close to home is great.

“I plan on furthering my career in this and I feel it’s a great stepping stone. So far I love the experience.”

Filming for The Only Game in Town was expected to wrap up Thursday, after 14 days in Tatamagouche, with total filming time of about 20 days. This includes work at several other locations – River John, Scotsburn, Onslow, Malagash, and the Pictou County Wellness Centre back in May.

The feature film is being shot in a condensed time frame because of several factors, said Stuart Cresswell of Simple Films - a film, TV and DVD production company with offices in River John.

“Due to the cost of hiring the equipment and accommodations – the longer it takes, the more expensive it is – it all adds up,” he said. “We saw a narrow window of opportunity to make the film.”

Another key consideration was the availability of the cast members, and the fact that they didn’t want to film on weekends during the school year.

“You don’t get continuity on weekends,” he said.

Cresswell is the feature film’s scriptwriter, producer and director. He took on the role of director when Cory Bowles of Truro (Trailer Park Boys) wasn’t able to do the job because of scheduling conflicts that occurred after the project was delayed due to uncertainties surrounding the Nova Scotia Film Tax Credit.

Cresswell moved from England to River John in 2006, and chose to film in Tatamagouche because the area is both beautiful and welcoming.  

“The scenery up here is stunning,” he said, adding the community is extremely supportive. “You face all sorts of challenges when making a film, and to have the community on your side, it seems to be a no-brainer.”

Cresswell expects to have a rough cut of the movie in about 10 weeks, with a possible release date in the summer of 2016.

 

----

SIDEBAR: A morning on set

 

BY CAROL DUNN

THE NEWS

“Let’s stand in the shade,” suggests Craig Gunn after we stood baking in the sun while the cameras got set up and the lighting checked.

We’re working on the second shot of the opening scene for The Only Game in Town - the beginning of the school day.

Gunn plays teacher Alex Crowley in the film. We chat for a bit while the crew gets set up and I find out he’s a financial advisor originally from Scotsburn, but now living in Dartmouth, who was bitten by the acting bug. He’s taken his week-long vacation to play the role in the movie.

The scene we’re in features Gunn as Crowley walking across the schoolyard and discovering a fight going on between the main character and a bully.

I’m an extra, which wasn’t what I had planned when I arrived on the set to write a story.

Thursday’s call time was 8 a.m. for the actors, extras and the crew. As everyone trickled into the Tatamagouche Centre, which is doubling as the school in the movie, director Stuart Cresswell asked me: “Do you want to be an extra?”

So I found myself playing the role of a teacher, walking up the driveway into the school over and over again. The camera had to be set up in several locations for different angles, and several takes were shot each time the cameras moved.

From the time I found out I would be an extra until we finished filming the one scene, it took an hour and a half. The footage will likely be less than a minute long in the final product.

The weather co-operated - although some time was spent waiting for the sun to come out from behind clouds - as these scenes couldn’t be filmed when they were originally scheduled because of rain.

It got hot standing around in the sun waiting, mosquitoes kept biting my feet, and high heels perhaps weren’t the best choice for the many walks down the driveway.

But the minor discomfort and short time I was involved doesn’t compare to the work done by the main cast since filming started about two weeks ago.

Their days are long – usually beginning at 8 or 9 a.m. and continuing until 9 or 10 p.m. And a lot of that time is spent waiting, so the teenage actors find ways to amuse themselves while standing in the spots where they’ll appear in the movie. Dancing, singing, making shadow puppets and play fighting take place, along with memorizing lines and rehearsing the scenes.

The actors told me their longest day of filming was a road trip to Antigonish, getting back to their sleeping quarters at midnight.

“It’s exhausting every day,” said Jesse Hemmings, who plays the lead role.

While most of the actors don’t have vast amounts of experience with filming, they seem to understand that the waiting around is just part of the job.

“Setting up a perfect shot saves hours and hours of editing,” said actor Aldo Orsi. “I’ve come to understand the final product is made up of so many hours. What it takes to make this is really mind blowing.”

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