Cochrane area residents have an opportunity to attend a special screening of the soon-to-be-released suspense-thriller "Abducted" on Nov. 7 at the Cochrane Movie House.
Cochrane's own Steven McMichael was involved as action director, stunt coordinator, and one of the producers for the film that was shot in Central Alberta with an all-Alberta cast, crew, and post-production professionals.
Writer/director Daniel Foreman, lead producer Sharlene Millang, McMichael, and several members of the crew and cast will be in attendance. A short Q& A will follow.
Abducted tells the story of Derrick Desjardins (Joel Oulette) who is faced with the mysterious disappearance of his drug-running sister Lakota Sampson (Olivia Kate Iatridis). He wants to save her and prevent this from happening to other women.
The film is loosely based on actual events and was inspired by the crisis of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls. It addresses issues of police brutality, racism, and a boy on the cusp of manhood.
It's been well researched for almost 10 years by Foreman and Millang. Part of that research included speaking with street gangs and police detectives.
Foreman says the seed was planted in 2011 when he read about a well-organized gang of girls in Edmonton who were wreaking havoc. A serial killer/s in the Edmonton area who has been hunting at-risk women for decades provided further inspiration.
Foreman, who only discovered he was Metis in 2009, says the topic could be challenging for some people.
"It's challenging because there is some material in there that may cause some triggers, but at the same time, people have to be aware of this. A guy I work with, for instance. has been asking. He has no idea what happened at the residential schools, and a lot of people don't."
Foreman says he argued regularly with his dad about what occurred for years. His father was in denial.
"The reason we thought this film was so important to make was not to tell people, but do it in an entertaining way so they can kind of see it and they can kind of understand it. That way, it sticks a lot more with them, rather than standing on a podium and saying this is what happened."
Millang says they're excited to bring the film to Cochrane.
"We really hope that the community comes out, and comes to appreciate the film. I can't say enjoy, because even though I've seen the finished production many times, at the end of the Edmonton premiere when we got up on stage and was about to say thank you, I couldn't. The end of the movie is very impactful. I thought I was done the crying, but nope, it made me cry."
McMichael said the story struck a chord with him when he first read it.
"When I read Dan's script, I was like, holy crap, man, this is a story that needs to be told. I didn't realize it had been going since the mid-to-late 70s. I had zero idea. So it's important for the Indigenous community, and Dan needs to get it out of his brain and on to film."
Having worked on such films as The Hobbit, X-Men, and I Robot, McMichael is no stranger to big-budget productions. He's gained a new appreciation for low-budget productions.
"As you're going through the process of trying to make a film, it's easy to throw money at it to solve your problems. With something like this, you don't have that ability, so you have to be creative. Between Dan and Sharlene and the creativity they put into it, it opens up a whole new world."
"At the end of the day, these two pulled a rabbit out of their hat, and they came out with a fantastic production."
McMichael is proud to say it was the first shooting to resume in North America after the COVID shutdown, other than a commercial in Drumheller.
The film was shot in various locations, including Leduc and Strathcona counties, Vegreville, and Edmonton.
He's thrilled to be able to bring it home for viewing in Cochrane.
"It's just a little bit of love to everybody and for them to be able to see what you can actually accomplish with a lower budget film."
Foreman says McMichael coming onboard immediately escalated the quality of the movie.
"It was going to be your typical low-budget Canadian feature with very low production values just because that's where we were. When he came on board, all of a sudden our action scenes are seamless. Shooting at night is a problem, to begin with. There's a reason you don't shoot water action at night very often because it's difficult, but we pulled it off, and a lot of that was Steve."
The film has several major film festivals on the horizon, including the American Indian Film Institute in San Fransico and Red Nation Film Festival in Beverly Hills. It has been well received and nominated for multiple awards, including best picture and best direction, in addition to several acting nods.
You can check out the trailer on the official website: www.abductedthemovie.com and sign up to the contact list or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request an invitation to the screening or to hear about other opportunities to see the film.
Horned Serpent Productions is a subsidiary of Treaty 6 Productions, an Indigenous film corporation operating out of amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton).