East end actors check-in at the 'Family Motel'
By Wes Smiderle
©Photo by Darren Brown
The movie is "Family Motel," a docu-drama that's still being shot at a local motel and several other locations (including one scene to be shot in mid-October in an orthodontist's office on St. Joseph Boulevard).
Earlier this week, 14-year-old Rockland resident Justin Laférière became the latest of many east end residents to enjoy his film debut. Laférière played a small role during scenes shot at a motel, the titular setting of Family Motel.
The movie is a speculative drama set in a world where hundreds of Canadian families have been evicted from their homes because of soaring rents and lack of affordable housing. With shelters filled to bursting, city governments are forced to rent out cheap motels to accommodate homeless families.
The result is an uncomfortable assortment of the working poor, new homeowners caught unable to make mortgage payments and others with troubled pasts caught in precarious circumstances.
The main characters are a family from Somalia, new to the country and Ottawa. The family is being cast by the producers (in consultation with the Somali community), but all other speaking roles were cast by Orléans-based photographer and filmmaker Lois Siegel.
by Darren Brown
Although she originally auditioned to play a social worker, Rutherford landed a role as an extra. She played an anonymous civil servant, essentially part of the background during scenes used to establish how one of the main characters must work two or three jobs just to make ends meet.
Rutherford and her fellow movie extras had to be "absolutely quiet" during shooting as the sound technician recorded the sounds of the bus's engine and its wheels rolling over the road. Shooting lasted from about 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on a bus.
"We thought we'd be in an office, but the focus was more on going to work," she said.
The docu-drama is co-produced by the NFB and Instinct Films, a company based in Montreal.
A docu-drama is a film that blends documentary and fictional elements. Generally, the setting or story being told is fictional, but the actors involved are "real" -- meaning they are non-actors representing their own views and values through a fictional setting and story.
Actors aren't required to memorize any lines but instead improvise scenes and, to a large extent, represent their own opinions and reactions to what happens in the scene and the actions of other characters.
Rutherford said when she auditioned for the role of social worker, she didn't recite written lines but had to interact with another character. She found the audition especially to be interesting insight into filmmaking.
"It was a fantastic experience," said Rutherford, an Orléans resident and retired school principal. "It was just fascinating."
Shooting for the film is expected to last at least another six weeks.