By Lauren Eedy
Many have noticed a film crew at locations around the town and on social media in recent weeks working on ‘The Sanctuary’, an AKoolfilm Company Inc. production which recently wrapped shooting here in St. Marys. You may have also recognized some locals around these sets. Recently, I had the pleasure of discussing this project with three local men who came out of their retirement to volunteer their time and services into making this film a reality.
Lyle Fisher, former financial advisor at the Vancea Financial Group Inc., in Stratford, Frank Scott former owner of the Creamery and manager of the maintenance department at Cooper Standard and John Thompson who worked at the Honda Manufacturing plant in Alliston all left their sunny days of fishing, golf, billiards and happy hour gatherings to learn an entirely new skill set of the movie business. Assistant director, Yaz Lachporia, reached out to these friends for their help on the film, and all three were happy to oblige.
Yaz states, “Allen (Kool) was very persistent that I come out of retirement as the last TV show I directed was 23 years ago and the last time I AD’d was 25 years ago. Allen promised me that the politics that are usually found on film sets and the drama associated with it would be nonexistent. He created a fantastic environment that was so inclusive. I also was really intrigued by his insistence that we employ newbies with little or no prior film experience and create a situation where we Oldtimers could impart our knowledge to them, guide them, encourage their hidden talents and continuing interest in making movies; being part of a team, working hard, long sometimes exhausting hours all for a common shared vision.”
Here’s where we come to our local focus. “As for the bar rail boys, I knew they love movies and TV but until you work on a set, one doesn’t have a clear idea of how it is put together. All three of them like to know how things work, Frank from engineering, John from high performance technology and Lyle because he likes to know everything he doesn’t already know.” Yaz did an excellent job of hitching these men into roles he perceived would interest them by “Keeping their strengths and to expand hidden talents that may have been dormant or nonexistent until they were thrown into a situation that needed a thoughtful and aware approach to problem solving. They were fantastic. I can’t wait to play with them on the next one”.
I asked each of these men Yaz chose to work on the film about what their expectations were, the realities they experienced and what they learnt as a result.
Ever the comedian, Lyle, the property master, says his expectation coming into the project was to ‘mostly become famous in some small capacity versus infamous’ and that his job was to ‘ensure there wasn’t a repeat of the Game of Thrones’ coffee cup incident’.
John is the head driver in charge of talent, he explains that he ‘wanted to see how much information I could assimilate and how many weird and interesting people I could meet-I certainly did. The talent on the set is incredible and the attention to detail is phenomenal.”
Frank as the transport coordinator, “Expected to learn something more about the movie industry. I never took it in school, and it is a point of interest for me. It is a lot of work but was worth it. We are all very grateful for the opportunity to work on the film and for the opportunity this has brought to St. Marys. We also appreciate the town volunteering their services.”
Days are long, ranging from 8-20 hours in some cases- but the unanimous response was ‘Absolutely!” when asked if they would repeat this opportunity as ‘it was like we became a family for 12 days’. There are already talks of plans to film here again with some of the crew also looking to retire in town.
It is both motivational and inspirational to see three local retirees devote their time to making this project possible, as well as enjoying the experience enough to be eager to repeat it. Lips are tightly sealed as far as the story of the film is concerned but it is described as a PG13 Thriller. The suspense is certainly real, and we are all looking forward to release date sometime in the Fall as well as seeing some familiar names in the credits!