Musket is the first feature film for writer/director Shane Monahan, who grew up in Chilliwack.
He started working on his crime-thriller script a couple of years ago, and imagined a story dominated by an old rifle and the intertwined lives of six compelling characters.
Originally he figured he shoot in the western Interior, something like the setting of No Country for Old Men. But in the end, the stunning landscape of the Chilliwack area won out, and it plays a starring role in the film with local landmarks figuring prominently like downtown Chilliwack’s The Royal Hotel, Cultus Lake or Bridal Falls.
“There’s nothing that looks like Chilliwack,” he says.
It’s a great place to be from, Monahan figures.
“What’s cool is that this project 100 per cent Canadian from pre-production to post-production,” he says.
And that’s the kind of latitude a young indie filmmaker has when the project is do-it-yourself.
He and the co-producer met at Vancouver Film School, as did some of the cast and crew.
The soundtrack is by The Corrupt Gentlemen, “friends of mine from high school,” says the Chilliwack senior grad.
The idea started percolating after he saw an old gun hung up on a wall in the Bear Claw Café in Cache Creek.
“It looked iconic,” he remembers. “I took the idea and imagined making a movie out of it.”
Musket mixes the elements of suspense drama, horror and crime thriller and each member of the ensemble cast represents a different genre.
The script has already undergone 30 different re-drafts, and Monahan plans to start shooting next month.
“What we have now for a script is gold,” he says.
They’ve shot a few teasers to entice peeps.
The original version of the script actually made it to the quarter finals of the most prestigious screenwriting competition in L.A., ranking it in the top 10 per cent.
“That blew my mind,” he said. “Just getting there was an honour for me.”
He kept going.
“I shopped it around Hollywood and said, ‘That’s not for me.’ If you have a vision, you can sell yourself.
“But it’s all American politics.”
There were nibbles about “optioning” the film “but has been no appetite to make this film Canadian,” he says.
As a young Canadian filmmaker that fact burns like a sliver.
“I see Canada as not having an identity,” he says.
“Despite IMAX and the modern day cinema which are Canadian inventions, there is little as far as content goes. Director James Cameron made his biggest films in the U.S. Colin Firth lived in Maple Ridge for three years and couldn’t get a job.”
Monahan wanted to make a film that says “Canada has talent” with a shoestring budget of about $10,000.
It hasn’t been easy, that’s why crowd funding has to happen, he says. “It’s the only way.”
He’s been trying to raise funds for the film in a novel way since January, and a campaign runs until April 23 at indiegogo.com. So far they’ve brought in more than $3,000 for the project.
“Even Telefilm says our budget is too low for them to help us, which is crazy. But I guess that’s the way they look at it that more money means better product.”
The story deals with everything that already been dealt with before “but in a new way,” he says.
“The themes of the movie are fate and love, done in a way I haven’t ever seen before.
“It talks about love between two sisters who can’t ever be together again.”
Check out the YouTube link for the teaser: youtube.com/watch?v=TOo4kzvEqxs&context=C352aaafADOEgsToPDskKhqemFUAc5NVlzwwYMbplh or check out the Musket page on Facebook.