HUNTSVILLE – The filmmakers of Algonquin wanted viewers to feel like they were part of Algonquin Park’s iconic waterways.
Producer Joel Irwin said the film, being premiered at the Huntsville-based international film festival Film North this weekend, not only expresses the power, beauty and importance of the park’s water. It also presents it from a unique perspective.
“What we wanted to achieve in this short, landscape film was an experience for audiences where they themselves were part of the water system. So it traces the origin from the park’s highlands,” said Irwin. “We’re consciously trying to act as though water is the body that is viewing the landscape.”
Irwin said director Jeremy Munce and cinematographers Andrew Sheppard and Hugho Kitching really knew how to create that effect through imagination, technique and technology.
“They definitely succeeded,” he said.
Irwin said he organizes art exhibitions in Algonquin Park. Incorporating film as a form of art was the next step.
The 2012 art exhibit theme was water, and he and others involved with the park decided to approach filmmakers about a headwaters project.
Irwin spoke with Huntsville native Munce, who won best director at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in 2005.
“I told him about the idea and he already had an interest in Algonquin Park from being raised just outside of it,” said Irwin. “He jumped at the opportunity.”
The cinematographers were brought on board and the fun began.
Irwin said a lot of people do not realize the important role the park plays in waterways in North America due to its elevation.
The height of the park means its water originates largely from rain, he said. The water collects in the park’s highlands before travelling to Southern Ontario, the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.
Several different techniques were used to shoot the film, including perspective, time lapse, dollies and motion capture devices.
“We all recognize the potential of film as a medium. These guys I’m working with are incredibly talented in devising new ways to frame the wilderness,” said Irwin. “There are all these devices and techniques they’ve used to create these new aesthetic experiences for audiences. And that’s the idea we’re driving toward – showing them something new, water like they’ve never seen it before.”
The 30-minute film gives viewers an opportunity not only to view water from a new perspective, but also see places in the park that are not necessarily easy to get to.
Team members were filming in remote locations for about a year leading up to the premier.
Irwin noted that the crew are all environmentally conscious and they wanted to have an impact with their film. He said they hope to use the film to foster a stronger connection in people with the land.
“Water is a very significant environmental issue right now, but rather than make a film that addresses all the politics surrounding water as a resource we wanted to enhance people’s connection to water in an aesthetic way,” said Irwin. “Water isn’t just a resource that can be exploited. Water is something that shares so much with the landscape and with us. That is sometimes lost when you get into the politics.”
Algonquin screens at Film North in Algonquin Theatre, 37 Main St. E., Huntsville, on Saturday, Sept. 22, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available through the theatre’s box office, by calling 705-789-4975, or visiting www.algonquintheatre.ca.
Film North happens in Huntsville from Sept. 20 to 21. For full details on films, visit filmnorth.net.