Published October 19, 2012 on Vancouver is Awesome.
It’s not often in this series that I get an opportunity to talk about movies where Vancouver plays itself, but once a year several locally-filmed features are screened at the Vancouver International Film Festival. This year I got to see director Katrin Bowen’s sold-out Vancouver film Random Acts of Romance on my third try last Friday night.
“Sex, Abduction, Stalking and You Thought Romance Was Dead” is the tagline. The film opens in east Vancouver’s Waldorf Hotel with our two married couples out for the evening: Amanda Tapping’s Dianne married to Zak Santiago’s younger man Matt and Laura Bertram’s young wife Holly married to Robert Moloney’s David. Elsewhere in the restaurant is Ted Whittall’s single sleezeball Richard, breaking up with his latest conquest. Add Sonja Bennett’s single, completely wacko stalker Lynne and Katharine Isabelle’s lesbian Bud to this mix of interconnected Vancouverites and you get random acts of violent romance.
At last Friday’s screening, the very tall Katrin Bowen (below) spoke about the importance of setting her movie in Vancouver in all its “rain, sex and awkwardness.” She wanted the city to “take on a personna”. It helps that 95% of the movie soundtrack is music from Vancouver indie bands, many discovered at the Biltmore and Cobalt Hotels. And that there are so many scenes set in recognizable locations like the denouement of an abduction under the south end of the Burrard Bridge.
But the big question for the director last Friday was: how did you get Vancouver’s Sci-fii Queen Amanda Tapping to star in your movie? It turns out Katrin Bowen and Tapping became fast-friends years ago when Bowen worked as Tapping’s photo double/standin on the first Stargate TV series, Stargate SG-1. And Bowen offered Tapping a heck-of-a-part: both heart-breakingly real and hilarious, especially Dianne’s one-night stand depicted below in a photo handout from VIFF.
With a $1 million budget, plus generous loans of equipment from companies like William F. White, Bowen had 17 days to film her movie, co-written from Scotland by Kevin McComiskie and Jillian Mannion. One notable shooting day had to be the 10 pages of uncomfortable, zero-chemistry sex scenes between Laura Bertram and Robert Moloney (on the far right of the photo above). Or as Moloney put it: a whole day of showing “my skinny white ass” on camera.
So funny. It’s a pity Vancouver will have to wait to see this film in theatres again, but that’s the way of homegrown indies. Finished just over a month ago in time for its world premiere at VIFF, Random Acts of Romance will be submitted to other key film festivals from Sundance to South by Southwest. Hopefully that will lead to theatrical release but if not, Bowen can always rent a Vancouver theatre for a couple of nights and split the proceeds with the owner like she has done before. Whatever happens, eventually we will get to see this crazy, obssessive, uproarious Vancouver film on DVD, Amazon and Netflix.