From the very beginning of this project, we've been yearning, needing to go out West. For my part, I've been yearning to reconnect with the geography of my childhood, where I chose to set my (fictional) story for this film. For Barbara's part, she's been needing to see for herself just what is so freaking special about the prairies and why I insist on setting my story way out there anyway.
Since words alone don't adequately describe how those razor-thin horizons and those endless skies can inspire both optimism and oppression in a person all at once, we just had to go there.
And by the grace of positive funding answers from Telefilm and SODEC, we finally did.
Two Wednesdays ago, more secure than ever in the knowledge that WE ARE GOING TO MAKE THIS MOVIE, Barbara and I flew to Winnipeg to meet our prairie co-producer, Liz Jarvis of Buffalo Gal Pictures and make the acquaintances of some of the other people and places that this part of the prairies has to offer.
After checking us in to our colourful downtown hotel, Liz took us to the Buffalo Gal offices overlooking Winnipeg's historic "Exchange District".
It may be a relatively small city, but The Peg's well-preserved period architecture has helped it pass for the likes of Chicago, New York and the American Mid-West in such major motion pictures as, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" and "Capote".
But, would it serve the barren, 70's suburban/frontier vision I have for "The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom"?
When the rest of our posse (Claudine Sauvé - Cinematographer and Normand Sarrazin - Production Designer) arrived from Montreal, we spent three very long days in a van with Liz and location scout, Sarah Jane Cundell trying to find out...
Here's some of what we saw...
At the end of our third day of cinematic "sight-seeing" - with some casting and creative crew meetings thrown in for good measure - we had not yet found everything we came looking for, but we did get a little bit closer. Closer to our goals and closer to each other.
Many thanks to my posse, and to all the Winnipeg'ers who made our first adventure out West one well worth repeating!