To team members of comedy thriller Outrunners, the first day of filming in downtown Kamloops, B.C., looked like a family reunion after months of being out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, the all-Canadian cast and crew began shooting the film, which is based on a screenplay set in the pandemic, written by Kamloops-born Ken Hegan. The 90-minute independent movie is expected to wrap up production in early November.
“Everybody was so excited to be there, because all the artists were unemployed for four months,” said Tracey Power, casting director for the film.
Working on Outrunners also brings relief to the supporting staff, many of whom lost work as the province’s COVID-19 restrictions made the reopening of some arts and entertainment venues too prohibitive.
“I just feel like I’ve come back to life,” said costume designer Marian Truscott, whose six job contracts fell through because the theatres she works with remain closed.
“I literally have been trying to keep myself busy, sewing masks and giving them away, and getting to do Outrunners has been the exact thing that I needed to just reignite my creativity and my brain,” Truscott said.
Opportunities have also become more difficult to come by for actors as the pandemic drives the casting process away from physical audition rooms, according to Matthew Graham, who plays the male lead in the film.
“Auditions typically are online, so you’re not just competing against people in your own city,” said Graham.
The B.C. government requires motion picture companies to make workflow adjustments to prevent the spread of COVID-19, one of which is providing pre-packaged meals and snacks to crew members.
“Hand sanitizing, lots of plastic packaging, lots of waste,” said craft services worker Cindy Croken. “That’s the worst part about it for sure.”
This is in addition to the pandemic protocol that everybody in B.C. has been following.
“We have got to make sure we have our masks. We got to make sure we have the team members in place reminding us to wash our hands and be safe,” said actor Amanda McEwan, who plays the female lead.
It’s worth all the effort, as the cost of not playing it safe is too high.
“Nobody wants to be the one to shut the production down,” said Graham.
Outrunners will also be filmed in Vancouver and Pender Harbour on the Sunshine Coast.
Tap the link below to listen to CBC Daybreak Kamloops story producer Jenifer Norwell’s conversation with the Outrunners crew members: