About three years ago, Jeremy Lutter and Ben Rollo sat down to write the script for their first feature film.
Having a track record of creating dramas with a fantasy element, the pair decided it was time to do something scary, but they wanted to include the same fantasy elements they’re known for.
A year later they started filming with a crew of about 50 people. Now their three-year project, The Hollow Child is about to make its big debut at the Victoria Film Festival.
“Seeing the end result in front of an audience is probably the best part,” said Lutter, who directed the film, produced by Broken Mirror Films and Like Minded Media, and has watched it more than 100 times.
“I am totally excited. It’s been a long haul on this feature for sure.”
The Hollow Child is about a troubled teen named Samantha whose position in her new foster family is jeopardized when her new sister Olivia goes missing in the woods, only to reappear, apparently unharmed, days later. When Samantha suspects that what emerged from the woods is not Olivia, her investigation brings her face to face with an evil presence that’s haunted their town for generations.
Originally, Lutter wanted to shoot the film on the Island, but the youngest actress, Hannah Cheramy, lives on the Lower Mainland and goes to school. The rest of the crew for the film, (a Telefilm Canada micro-budget production) either lives in Victoria or has a Victoria connection — just like Lutter and Rollo, who met at Cedar Hill Middle School, forging a friendship that continued on to university.
With Rollo’s vivid imagination, the pair eventually created a short film in 2011 called Joanne Makes a Friend, which won the audience choice award at the Victoria Film Festival, along with the audience choice award at the Toronto Iinternational Film Festival’s Kids International Film Festival — a nod that came as a surprise for Lutter.
Since then, the duo have made several short films that have appeared in a number of international film festivals. For Lutter, however, the first day of shooting is just exhilarating as the big debut.
“You came up with an idea a year ago and probably spent a year trying to plan it or in our case pitching it to get funding, then getting all the things aligned so you can actually shoot it,” he said.
“All the adrenaline is running. Ben and I create these fantasy characters so it’s really cool to see that stuff come to life.”
The Victoria Film Festival takes place Feb. 3 to 12 at various locations throughout the city. This year’s festival features 124 films, including shorts and features from local, Canadian and international filmmakers.
The Hollow Child screens Thursday, Feb. 9 at 9 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 11 at 4 p.m. at Silvercity. For a full list of films and locations visit victoriafilmfestival.com.