A large chunk of the Mills family (Brad, his wife Elizabeth and their daughter, his sister Jacquie, their Dad, Tom) is crowded around two tables pushed together in a downtown coffee shop, busily discussing promotion ideas for the midnight premiere of The Legend of The Psychotic Forest Ranger.
The Ranger himself, Michael J. MacDonald, is nearby on a stool at a counter tapping away on a laptop.
The film, both a send-up and loving recreation of the blood-drenched horror fests of the 1980s, is finally hitting the movie screens of the town it was shot in three years ago.
What took so long?
“It was three years of lots of hard work and dedication,” explains writer/director Brad Mills, “trying to make a professional quality movie on a guerrilla film budget.”
While shooting the film, they had a crew of thirty to forty people, afterwards in post-production, which in major studio productions there might crews in the hundreds, they had four people.
His sister, Jacquie, who was the director of photography on the film, explains a lot of the post-filming period was spent working on getting the right sound for their film.
After filming, she explains, there is a pile of images that filmmakers can whittle down into a structure. But as for sound, there is basically nothing to work with, and it has to be created virtually from scratch.
They flew the entire cast (mostly Cape Breton performers) to Halifax to re-record their dialogue in two sessions.
Toronto composer Duncan Scott created a full professional soundtrack for the film. Musician Josh Gillard of Baddeck composed a theme song for the Forest Ranger in classic ’80s style.
The Mills’ father, Tom Mills (of the roots duo, Wills’ Addiction), contributed two songs, and their brother David (a.k.a. “Daix Murderer”), with friend Mark (“Of The Beast”) Scott, of the band Ballarina, contributed some tracks with a “hard ’80s kick,” Brad says.
Besides the soundtrack, the two Mills siblings followed their film through every stage of post-production to end up with a product of Blu-Ray quality, fit to be shown to a hometown audience.
They hope that ticket sales for the two Sydney shows, along with others scheduled for Halifax, Montreal, and London, Ontario, will pay for the last little bit of promotion (including visits to the right film festivals) to land them a limited domestic theatrical release and a worldwide release on DVD.
“We’re hoping to attract the attention of a certain prestigious distributor who will come on as an executive producer,” Brad says. “They’ll take the finished product and distribute it.”
Both Brad and Jacquie are overwhelmed by the support their project has received from their friends in Cape Breton. Brad jokes that if they had stayed home, they could have finished the film in a year and a half.
Jacquie says they are insanely excited to be showing it here. Brad adds they’re excited to make Cape Bretoners proud of the movie, saying, “It’s a cult classic in the making right here in Cape Breton!”
Forest Ranger has two showings at the Empire Theatre Sydney Studio Ten on Wednesday, August 17, and Saturday, August 20, both at 11:30 pm.
Stand up comedian, Nick Beaton, will host the evening and there will be poster and tee-shirt giveaways. Tickets are $15 and are available at Mary Jane’s (Sydney), Ollie Round (Sydney and North Sydney locations), and Flavour (Sydney) and online at psychoticforestranger.com.
Brad adds a final inducement: “Come and get your picture taken under the axehead of Michael J. MacDonald!”