Dalmatian Coast Productions creating their first feature film
The basement of a house is crammed with a film crew, equipment and actors. Black curtains or cardboard sheets cover the windows to block out daylight and a large camera stands on a dolly.
Actors are told to move into their first position, a crew member yells “Action!” and another day of filming begins on the production of the working title Followed, a psychological thriller produced by Calgary’s very own Dalmatian Coast Productions.
With four short films in his pocket, Kruno Malnar (right) is directing his first feature film for Dalmatian Coast Productions with the help of cinematographer Brad Stuckel (left).
Photo courtesy of ROSS Photography
The crew looks young, and the director too. When hearing the word “filmmakers,” one may think of names such as Christopher Nolan or Martin Scorsese. But these filmmakers are younger than what may be expected. Calgary holds opportunities for ambitious young people hoping to share their work with others, but not without some drama along the way.
“The goal of this film is festivals. The goal is Sundance Film Festival,” says Benjamin Hayden, actor and chief editor of the film. “The goal is to get this film seen in as many theatrical situations as possible…. We want [people] to be informed by our visual storytelling.”
The psychological thriller is Dalmatian Coast Productions’ fifth project but first feature film and their largest attempt yet.
Hayden describes his character in the film simply as a ghost, not trying to give too much of the plot away.
“I’m everywhere and nowhere at the same time, because I am one of those ghostly entities that just stalks the characters.”
Director Kruno Malnar is one of two co-owners of Dalmatian Coast Productions and director of the first four short films the company has produced. The first short film Cold in early 2009 led to the creation of the company.
The three-minute film Screw The Promise was in the Calgary Film Race, a 24-hour filmmaking competition, in the summer of 2009 and won the audience award when it premiered at the festival at the Plaza Theatre.
“We did four shorts [but we said] let’s move on to something bigger and better, and as a director I kind of wanted to take on that challenge,” he explains, talking about the move to a feature film.
Malnar, 25, also spent two years in a film and video production program at SAIT Polytechnic and was able to direct a couple of projects there as well.
He says he’s always loved films and the technical aspect behind it.
“I thought doing it now would be the best time. And it’s with a lot of things like wanting to be a cop, an actor or a lawyer. It’s always good to start early so you get the experience,” he explains, adding that he wishes he had started when he was 18.
As far as the future goes for Dalmatian Coast Productions, Malnar says they want to get to a point where they can just make feature films and bring more people in to be a part of it.
The psychological thriller, Followed, is being filmed in and around Calgary.
Photo courtesy of ROSS Photography
“‘Oh, let’s make it like Warner Brothers or Paramount Pictures,’ – right now that’s very tough to say, but that’s kind of one of those things you put in the head and say, ‘Let’s try to make it for that.’
“Who says we can’t? And if we can’t, let’s try to make it a production company that gets noticed internationally rather than locally,” adds Malnar.
A director, he says he hopes to jump into bigger features and work with larger crews.
“I just want to make it to a point where I’ll be a filmmaker people will know and who people get inspired by and say, ‘Hey, I want to make a film like that guy,’” he says, explaining that he is still in the learning process.
For the feature film Followed, he says he hopes it and Dalmatian Coast Productions receive some recognition and maybe get their foot in the door. Winning awards would be an added bonus.
Malnar and the other co-owner of Dalmatian Coast Productions, Josip Condic, came up with the story idea, while Malnar took on the role of writing the screenplay.
Condic says film is the one art that is collaborative. Like Hayden, Condic is taking on two job titles for the film. He is the lead actor as well as the producer.
“Artists can draw on their own. Musicians can play on their own…but with film you need a team,” he says. “The one thing I learned is you rise together or you’re not going anywhere.”
Hayden, also a director, says it’s better to pursue filmmaking as a collective and to create films as a group so people can fall back on each other.
He gives the example of Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider, who work together on multiple films.
Brendan Prost, 21, another Calgary independent filmmaker, says being young in the industry can be tough.
“Who wants to gift $10,000 to some young nobody to make a movie, no matter how talented or hardworking they might be,” he asks.
Not only is producing a film hard enough, he says, but there are other factors that add to the difficulties like raising money, finding and scheduling crews, and scouting locations.
“After that you have the nightmare of trying to share your movie with people once it’s finished. The whole world is so saturated with media and commercial art, it’s really difficult to get what you’ve created noticed,” Prost explains.
Meanwhile, Malnar says Followed will be approximately 90 minutes in length when it comes together. The 55-page script will be filmed over the course of approximately four weeks, then post-production will start shortly after, and between October and December the film should be done.
“I’ve always loved movies and always wanted to [direct],” says Malnar. “There are a lot of people that feel the same way: passionate about this industry.”