By Jonathan Lawrence, BeatRoute Magazine
CALGARY – It’s a surprising fact, but there hasn’t been a feature film made in Alberta by a female director in up to fifteen years. That is, until now. Ice Blue, directed by Sandi Somers and co-written by Jason Long (Chokeslam), is the first film to kickstart what producer Scott Lepp hopes will be an upward trend in female directors in the industry.
Ice Blue, summarized as a “supernatural drama” by Lepp, is about a 16-year-old girl, Arielle, who lives a normal life on a secluded foothills farm with her seemingly perfect father. The mother has been out of the picture for ten years. Growing tired of wondering what happened to her, Arielle decides she wants to find her. Consequently, the mother mysteriously reappears back into their lives and drives a wedge in between the established father-daughter relationship which unwinds a plethora of secrets over the course of the film.
“So, it has supernatural elements to it?” we ask.
“Yeah,” laughs Lepp. “We always say that. It’s more drama than anything but the audience is certainly going to get the feel of supernatural from the film.”
Although he’s been working on Heartland’s production team for ten years, this is Lepp’s first-time as a feature film producer that he’s developed for his own company, Iylond Entertainment. Relieved to wrap up an intense 16 to 20 hour a day shooting schedule, he spoke about the changing landscapes for gender involvement in the film industry.
Sandi Somers, the first female director of a feature film in Alberta in nearly fifteen years, is cited as the he creative soul behind the Indie Blue. The cast and crew, including Lepp, had nothing but good things to say about their fearless, inspired leader.
“In my opinion, [Sandi] is the story of this movie. She’s the backbone. She was calm and cool and in control all the time. We only went into crew overtime once which was remarkable on an indie film,” he stated. “I think her career is going to go crazy from here because she’s so talented… She’s made more than seventy short projects so she has a wealth of experience but has never made a feature.”
When asked about the history of gender discrepancy in directors, Lepp explained that there have always been fewer women doing the job but there hasn’t been the opportunity either. It’s only been recently in media broadcasting, he explained, that women were becoming more present.
“Sandi is trying to change that. She has a workshop called Herland, this great mentorship program where they bring in woman to learn from people in the industry and then send them out the door ready to work.”
Despite the current inequality, Lepp is hopeful for the future.“It’s going to take some time,” he assured. “But I think were going to see more woman getting a lot more opportunities to direct.”
And despite the smooth production, Lepp assures that it was certainly an exhausting one. “We shot for fifteen days, we used every ounce of our time. 122 scenes in fifteen days,” he says, almost in disbelief. “We shot in Millarville mostly and we also popped into Okotoks for a couple days, we started on March 27 and finished on April 14. We were doing a lot of nights and crazy hours. I’m very proud of what we accomplished.”
Ice Blue is currently looking at a fall release and possibly a part of the festival run later this year.