Don’t miss your chance to see this locally-produced film
By Lauren Eedy
Last Thursday, the Independent as well as cast, crew and families had the privilege of being invited to watch the premiere of The Sanctuary, an AKOOLFILM COMPANY INC. production, directed by Allen Kool and screenplay by Robin E. Crozier at the Stratford Cinemas. The movie itself was filmed primarily in St. Marys and surrounding area this past summer and the plot has been shrouded in secrecy. The anticipation to view the completed project was palpable and the Independent was there to take in the buzz and get the reactions of actors, crew and all who made this brilliant project possible.
As someone from St. Marys, the film thrilled me on two levels: firstly, in excitedly seeing the familiar St. Marys landscape and buildings utilized in the movie, often from different angles than I’m used to; and secondly, in getting wrapped up in the intrigue of the film itself.
Director Allen Kool must be praised for how beautifully he captured the essence of small-town St. Marys in some of the most incredible shots and views of our area I have seen. An underlying theme from everyone was how amazing the cinematography was from the very first shot until the end, a lot of which was drone footage. Director of Photography David O’Keefe must be commended for his insights in many of the amazing shots of both actors and our locale.
Some wonderful takeaways from the film were little nods to St. Marys throughout. Rather than point out these ‘Easter Eggs’, I’ll leave them for you to enjoy as you watch the film in Stratford.
The secrecy involved with regards to the plot was well-maintained throughout filming, even to those who acted in the movie. It was interesting to speak with actors who saw the movie for the first time this past Thursday night. The resounding consensus from the audience was that we were all wrapped up in the twists and turns throughout the viewing.
James Jenkinson, who plays the role of a Scottish grandfather and narrator, mused, “My character doesn’t have a lot to say; a lot was done in visuals, but he pieced the story together… the film strikes me as a more Hitchcockian story, where instead of having blood and guts everywhere, it more relies on the mental anguish aspect of the characters.” ‘Grandpa’ seems to know a lot of the backstory! After watching The Sanctuary, you will be scratching your head trying to figure out who he really is as it’s a classic round-the-campfire scary tale.
Rick Amsbury, who plays protagonist Harley Whalen, commented, “There is a lot of interpretation going on…It was a great film. There are a lot of people in the movie I am just meeting for the first time [tonight]. So, it’s weird because in the end when you see the finished product; it takes you by surprise.” He added an ominous line from the film, “The worst type of evil is when it presents itself under the guise of innocence.”
Speaking to another lead, John-Riley O’Handley, who plays the new guy in town, Sheriff Nate Fields, shared, “Loved it! There was a tremendous amount of work which everyone put in from beginning to end and you can see that.” Upon asking his impressions, “You’re on the other side of the camera so you just don’t know what to expect, this film was a unique dramatization of something no one expected. When it came down to the end, no one in the audience had a clue and it was about ¾ of the way into the film when people were starting to piece it together.”
Among the many people from town who were on the film crew were Campbell Levitt and Mason Pridham, who went to school together for film in North Bay. Assistant Director Yaz Lachporia, with his knowledge of the town, aided in finding some amazing locations for filming. Sarah Harrigan and Sara Case were local make-up artists hired for the actors, with The Sanctuary being their first time working on a movie set. AKOOLFILM COMPANY INC. did a great job of not only showcasing the beauty of the town, but also providing a wonderful opportunity for talented local people to showcase their skills.
Screenwriter Robin E. Crozier remarked at the final product, “I’m relieved. You don’t know if people will get it. To recognize the older buildings in town and those who helped make this film possible was important to me.”
Overall, I highly recommend making plans to visit Stratford Cinemas. The Sanctuary is truly a homage to not only our town but to the thriller genre.
AKOOLFILM COMPANY INC. would like to thank the town of St. Marys, and all the local members of the crew that came out to work on the movie.