By Lauren Graham and Shelley Arnusch
When Rick Alyea, a 26-year-old first time feature film writer/director set out to shoot Part of the Game , he had no idea the film would end up competing for the inaugural $10,000 Philip Borsos Award for Best Canadian Feature Film at the Whistler Film Festival.
After all, the films entire budget wasnt much more than the prize. Alyea shot the entire film in four weeks last summer in Vancouver for $15,000 Cdn. This may seem like a substantial bit of money, especially to the struggling Whistler ski bum crowd, but in the film world, its pocket change.
Its quite an achievement to have such a high quality production come from such a low budget. Alyea was fortunate to have a talented cast and crew to help bring his script, a hard-hitting look at the modern drug scene, to life.
Shot entirely on digital video with the Panasonic DVX100A, the visuals were concocted by a pair of brilliant artists, cinematographer Scooter Corkle and camera operator Laura McGuire. The two were Alyeas key creative partners on set and were instrumental in creating Part of the Games stunning, yet all too accurate portrayal of the drug problems in Vancouver.
The film stars Richard De Klerk as Robert, a character struggling to deal with his younger sisters heroin addiction. The director says he deliberately set the film in suburbia in an attempt to avoid a cliché setting where a drug user comes from a broken home.
"Whether its society or pop culture, we glorify the use of drugs in film sometimes and the message gets forgotten that sometimes peoples lives get lost," said Alyea. "We need to be more aware."
Despite his no-holds-barred approach, he maintains he did not set out to make a film with an anti-drug message.
"I didnt want it to be stereotypical," Alyea said, " I wanted it to be about family, and people can take away what they want from it."
Part of the Game is the first of the six Borsos-contending films to screen at the festival. New this year, the contest is open to all genres of feature film including documentaries having their world premiere screening at the festival. The contests namesake, who died of cancer at the age of 41, is best known for his Canadian classic western film The Grey Fox (1982) and the ambitious Bethune , the Making of a Hero (1990), an historical film set in China starring Donald Sutherland as the titular doctor.