HAVELOCK – Havelock is now a movie.
David Saulnier of Meteghan and his son Michael have chosen the name of a rural Digby County community for the title of their amateur horror film due out in May.
“The word Havelock was so unique, we decided to use it for the film,” says David. “It just has a ring to it. When people from Halifax or Moncton hear that word, it’s something they don’t know. I said it to some people in Yarmouth who had never heard it.”
The tiny community about 15 km south of Weymouth on Highway 340 boasts a community centre, a fire department, a handful of mink ranches, a mink feed supplier and maybe a few more than 100 residents.
Havelock also has one weather beaten old farmhouse that looks like it’s right out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.
It has a Mansard roof that reminds people of the Bates’ house on the hill in Psycho, but the curled up red shingles and Victorian mouldings, the red trim faded pink, the boarded over windows and crumbling chimney, all add to its creepiness.
“It has a good creepiness,” says David.
The two men have never made a movie before but, together with a group of 20 amateur actors from Clare, they are producing a full-length thriller with just a $10,000 budget.
While David created the script and screenplay, played the part of a scary character named Silas and is the producer, his son Michael filmed and directed.
“It hasn’t hit me yet, but I know someday in the future, it is going to be so cool to sit back and look at this and realize how special it was to do this project with Michael,” says David.
It all started two years ago, while Michael was studying film making in high school.
“He came home and says, Dad, we should make a movie,” says David, a draftsmen by trade. He’s also a bluegrass musician and he has painted, in the past, he says.
But he didn’t know the first thing about making a movie.
“I’m a horror movie buff, I’ve watched a lot of movies. And Michael knew about the camera and shooting. I personally didn’t know anything at all but when he said that, I got kind of stoked.”
David started the writing and he knew early on they were going to need a scary house. So he jumped in the car and went for a drive down the 340.
“This house had its own character,” he says. “I knew as soon as I saw it, it was the house I was looking for.”
He got permission to film a few outside scenes on the property in Havelock but for most of the interior shots, they used an empty house in Meteghan – closer for all the actors and crew – and just as scary inside.
Michael found 20 friends from school interested in acting and filmmaking and they started filming in May last year.
“It wasn’t easy to get all these teenagers in one place and at night, but we did it,” says David.
A lot of the scenes had to be shot in darkness so that meant waiting until 9:30 at night and shooting until the wee hours.
“We didn’t go into this thinking it was just our first movie, we went into it thinking we were going to hit it right out of the park,” he says. “So if we shot something and it wasn’t good enough, we would shoot it again and again until we got what we wanted.”
They finished most of the filming by the end of August and David is now working on the editing and scoring with a musician friend from Cape St. Mary’s, Mark du Cap.
They posted a trailer for the movie on YouTube on New Year’s Eve and it has been watched 2,600 times already; the movie’s Facebook page has 750 likes.
The trailer is just over three minutes long and it took them a month to put together.
The movie will be at least two hours and David plans to have it finished for a premiere screening in May at the Universite Ste. Anne theatre, which holds 250 people.
“I personally want to treat this like a Hollywood premiere,” he said.’ The kids involved, they worked so hard, we’re all volunteers, they deserve it.”
The premiere will be semi-formal affair and David plans to deliver his cast to the theater in limos.
Afterwards he is planning a wine and cheese with some special wine – Annapolis Highland Vineyards is preparing a Silas red and a Havelock white for the occasion.
In the movie, Silas and Mrs. Krall own a run down house in Havelock and a group of students from a nearby school are assigned to paint it.
Although one scene in the trailer shows corpses scattered around a field, David says the movie is not a slasher and does not contain a lot of blood and violence.
“We went more for a psychological horror movie,” he says. “We throw some twists in there. When I was reading the script to the cast, one of the twists, they were jumping up and down they couldn’t believe this head turner we have in there.”
David plans to have a second showing at the university and to enter the movie in the Atlantic Film Festival and some festivals in the States as well.
“There is a screening process and if it’s not good enoughl, it doesn’t get in, but hopefully our movie does,” he said. “We want to make it so unbelievably cool that everyone will want to see it.”
David says this part of the province is a great spot for making movies: the many old, empty houses with character make great movie locations and the people here are extremely willing to help and generous.
“It would be great if we could spark an interest about what can be done locally here, and even better, if we can make Southwest Nova a place to make independent films,” he says. “There’s a guitar in every second house, we have art galleries, there’s a lot of talent here and this is just another form of artistic expression.
“This movie will be proof, if you want to do something, just go out there and do it.”
Havelock Movie Premiere
Friday, May 15 at 8 p.m.
Salle Marc Lescarbot, St. Anne University. Church Point
Semi-formal with wine and cheese immediately following the movie. Meet and greet with cast and crew.
Regular movie showing
Saturday May 16 at 8 p.m.
If more people want to see the movie, a Sunday showing is possible.
Havelock YouTube trailer: http://youtu.be/hJmZ2ylQJTg?list=UUrXdpZQGyRjDiE76PjxYYaQ
Havelock Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Havelock/221050188087731