Current Temperature


July 14, 2024 July 14, 2024

Local film set to screen at the Palace

Posted on February 29, 2024 by Taber Times
Times Photo by Cal Braid Cerebral Palsy Awareness day: Myers student Abigail Morgan promoted Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day Monday morning. (Above) Abigail (front and third from the left).

By Brylan Span
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A locally produced film with local actors will be screened at the Palace in Taber on March 2.
The indie film, produced by Tanner James and starring Wild Bill Lawson, “is a mockumentary” says James. “Kind of reimagining the Bill Lawson that we know as a formerly famous Canadian musical artist icon whose been fictitiously hiding out in Taber Alberta away from the spotlight and then who kind of through social media gets rediscovered and kind of comes back for one final kick at the cat, one final kind of comeback show.”

Lawson, who stars in the film, has had to explain to many people that “it’s not my story. It’s not a real documentary, it’s a mockumentary. We hope there’s a lot of humour in there and we hope it’s kind of heartwarming. It tells a good story in a fun way, with good music and good humour and it speaks to community and getting involved. It speaks to the arts and you know that just anybody can do it if they feel like it.”

While the film may not be based on fact, James feels that the film shows the fame that he believes Lawson should have. “You know it’s a mockumentary but also you know Bill is a great musician in real life. I always tell people “it’s more fictitious that Bill isn’t famous”. So it’s a mockumentary that gets dangerously close to a documentary.”

James says that through the marketing and production of the film, he has seen Lawson receive more recognition from a wider audience. “I think there’s going to be a tipping point where the story we’ve made up becomes not so made up anymore.”

Both James and Lawson are looking forward to having the film screened at the Palace, and feel like it’s a perfect place for the film. James, who toured as a musician, feels the method of taking the film on the road similar to a band, rather than the traditional method, will prove to be successful. “Traditionally when you make a little indie film you submit it to a bunch of festivals and it costs a bunch of money and it feels really bad because you get shut down by most of them and it feels like a lottery system and I just hate that,” said James. He explained that “film is just the same as music, it’s more fun with other people and the jokes land better when there is a room full of people. And if everyone is having a beer and we are in a venue and Bill already has the sound system in there for the infrastructure so it’s not hard, it’s not expensive.”

This idea of screening the film at a bar has others in the film industry interested. “No one else is doing that in film so we are getting treated like we are mavericks, but we are just borrowing an old method of distribution that is from music,” said James.

For Lawson, who hosts karaoke at the Palace, the opportunity to have the film at the bar has him very excited. “I’m super stoked about it,” said Lawson. “I’ve had so much fun doing it, that I’m excited to bring other people in and have them enjoy.”

Lawson has a whole day planned for the screening. There will be a jam session/open mic starting at 1:00pm (which is done every two weeks), then a first screening of the film at 4:00pm followed by a question and answer period, another screening at 9:00pm, and karaoke to wrap up the night.

The fact that there will be many familiar faces and local music in the film is another reason Lawson believes that people will enjoy the film. “(James) used music from local bands as the background music, and he’s got members of local bands in the thing,” said Lawson. “We’ve got some of our karaoke regulars in and some local theatre people in, and just some good friends who have never done anything of the sort before.”

James enjoyed the entire creative process for the film, which involved him doing a lot more himself than he had envisioned. “Originally I thought we’d have a bigger budget for this film and we got skunked on a few grant applications,” said James. “I didn’t originally intend to film this myself, I thought I’d have a director of photography with me and I’d get to direct the actor. But I ended up doing all, almost all of it, shooting all of it myself which was a super big learning curve but was great. I ended up loving that part, production was a lot of fun.”

According to James the whole process “felt like a series of miracles that it all worked out. I think your job as an indie filmmaker is to put out fires, so I just kept on waiting for fires and backup plans and just nothing went wrong.”

The collaboration between the Taber locals went just as they had hoped, and both James and Lawson share an admiration for one another. Speaking on James, Lawson said “To watch how he works, and to be part of it with him is amazing. I mean I wouldn’t care, if it wasn’t this film and he needed help, I would carry the camera bag, I would park the car, I would go get the coffee. He just kind of exudes that “we’re in this together” and “lets do it” and “it’s going to be great, it’s going to be fun” and “people need to hear this.”

Lawson had great praise for the character and the type of person that James is, stating “I’ve seen people just bend over backwards to do whatever they can for him, and with good reason. He just fills you full of excitement with this project and for any project. He is always really positive on stage, he’s a super talented guy. He can do anything, he’s versatile. Author and musician, and band leader and side guy, songwriter, screen, film. He’s so versatile, a new father, a beautiful child, and a beautiful family. You know, what’s not to love? I mean I love this project, but it wouldn’t matter what the project was, if Tanner James is involved, I am there.”

James shared the same appreciation and praise for Lawson, saying “He just had a really positive attitude from the get go, he kept telling me, we had a whole bunch of stuff to get, it was going to be a 12 hour day of shooting in Calgary and we only had one kind of kick at the cat to get certain scenes based on our limited budget. I’d be kind of almost stressed out about it, but he’d just be like “I can’t believe we get to do this”, and just kind of reframed it as an absolute privilege to get to make a movie, not something that you should be stressed out about or worried about. Because really what it boils down to is, it should be fun. Just everyone that was around him kind of that energy was infectious and we all just had a great time and just made it feel like we were making something with a bunch of friends which we were.

Lawson hopes that viewers enjoy the film, and he hopes “we can push it a little further. I know we want to get some of the music recorded, we’d like to go up to Calgary with the band or maybe Lethbrdge or some place and do some recording and get some of the songs from the show recorded.”

With the screening date rapidly approaching, Lawson says “It will be nice to see it in this atmosphere, in a bar with some of the people who haven’t seen it, don’t even know that they’ll be seeing themselves for a second. I’m hoping to have that atmosphere. Come in and watch it with us and enjoy it with us.”

Leave a Reply

Get More The Taber Times
Log In To Comment Latest Paper Subscribe