The Yukon was lucky to have been chosen as the location for the filming of Anash and the Legacy of the Sun-Rock.
Yes, we have talented film people here in the Yukon – both in front and behind the camera – and, by all reports, the production was handled smoothly.
But we have to admit that it really would have been an easy choice to produce Anash in Vancouver. And we admit this because we need to acknowledge it was the generous decision of Carol Geddes, the producer/writer/director and a daughter of Teslin, that gave her Tlingit First Nation the chance to tell its own story, and the local film industry a chance to prove its professionalism. Meanwhile, the entire Yukon earned the spin-off dollars.
She had the belief that her First Nation and her territory could pull this off. And this is one of the reasons why I agreed to be an extra on a Sunday. We couldn’t let Carol down after she showed so much faith in us.
And let’s face it, I haven’t done anything lately to shake myself out of my comfort zone. So, when casting director Arlin McFarlane left a message for me, saying, “You would make a perfect Russian sailor,” I was compelled to say yes.
“Don’t shave until then. We want you scruffy,” she said. OK, so being a “perfect Russian sailor” wasn’t really a compliment. At least I could tell people over the next few days, “Sorry about my appearance; it’s for my next role.”
Sunday arrived and two dozen of us were shepherded into the costumes room and then into makeup and then onto the set.
It was surreal. There were two sets that were actually large green screens with green boxes to stand on and spare props to work with.
I was told to sit in one of three chairs by the secondary stage.
Sitting beside me, dressed as a Russian sailor, as well, was Dave Haddock. The last time I saw him, I had to pay money. So this was a treat (even if he didn’t have his guitar).
So there I was, reading my Globe and Mail as the Russian Orthodox priest walked by munching on a Nanaimo bar; the ship’s captain paced; and the Tlingit warrior listened to his iPod.
Slowly, some of these faces came into focus as I recognized one after another. Over there was a local barista, and beside her was a Whitehorse Star reporter and on the stage, already, was a teacher.
I chatted with many and was shocked to learn that none of us knew how much we were being paid. It seems we all had similar motives for being here: something exciting to do.
Yet, I did have one other purpose that I think was unique; you see, my daughter has chosen film and theatre for a career and has just started university in Winnipeg. I wanted to see what kind of work environment she will be spending her time in.
Pretty funky, I found. You could see that there were rookies who were very earnest. And there were highly trained technicians who just always got the job done. And the directors were not the kind you see on television: they shook our hands and offered instructions without yelling.
You could just see the respect from bottom to top, and from top to bottom. This, right here, was where imagination met technology. It was very cool to watch.
When my turn came, I pretended to watch a parade, pretended to watch the shore as my ship pulled into port, pretended to sit in church, pretended to move cargo from one pile to another and then ran excitedly down a gangplank.
But the most difficult thing I had to do was to walk across the stage. Really. Imagine having a high-definition camera pointed at you and you have all of the time in the world to think about it.
Well, that was enough excitement for one day.