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BIG READ: Vancouver Indie EADWEARD Stars Michael Eklund as Photographer, Cinema Pioneer & Murderer

Published August 1, 2013 on Vancouver is Awesome.

A local biopic of 19th-century-photographer, cinema pioneer and murderer Eadweard Muybridge wraps filming today in Vancouver. Muybridge got away with killing his wife’s lover as the last American to ever be acquitted on the grounds of justifiable homicide for such a crime. With a story like this it’s no wonder that award-winning short filmmakers Kyle Rideout and Josh Epstein chose to make an ambitious, epic, period drama for their first feature film.

Michael Eklund stars as Eadweard Muybridge, almost unrecognizable under white hair, moustache and bushy beard, with Sara Canning as his errant wife, complete with large bustle on her lavender gown. The two leads posed for me last week in a break between scenes shot at the Roedde House Museum in the West End as the Muybridge home.


Director Kyle Rideout and camera and sound crew lined the west wall of the small living room to film the scene of Eadweard Muybridge (Eklund) tapping his projected motion picture device with a hammer, oblivious to his wife (Canning), who walks out of the house, slamming the door behind her. The rest of the crew crowded into the dining room to watch the monitors with producer Josh Epstein. There I spied some dailies of earlier scenes of the Muybridges lying on their backs on the porch, looking happier in their marriage.

Director Kyle Rideout, star Michael Eklund & producer Josh Epstein. Courtesy of Edwuard
Director Kyle Rideout, star Michael Eklund & producer Josh Epstein. Courtesy of Eadweard

The story: Engliish by birth, Eadweard Mybridge comes to the U.S. as a young man and starts photographing nudes and people with deformities. He becomes world famous for his Yosemite, California landscape photography and pioneers motion photography by capturing a horse in action with multiple cameras and his own zoopraxiscope device, which projected motion pictures. This is how Muybridge becomes known as the godfather of cinema.

The cast: Michael Eklund is Eadweard Muybridge Sara Canning, his wife Flora; Christopher Heyerdahl, Pepper; Ian Tracey, the governor of Stanford University; Jodi Balflour, one of Mybridge’s nude models; Torrance Combs, Bell; and producer Josh Epstein has a cameo as Edison.

The cinematography: To get the right look, they called on Once Upon a Time’s second unit director of photography Tony Mirza to be their cinematographer and used RED digital cameras to give the movie more takes and “gorgeous” footage”, Epstein said.

The locations: Not only did the young filmmakers co-write the Eadweard script after acting in the play created by the Electric Company Theatre, they scouted all the locations themselves. “We wouldn’t be able to offer regular rates,” Epstein explained, about filming on a beautiful farm in Langley as Muybridge’s photography studio at the University of Pennsylvania; in Hycroft’s University Women’s Club as Stanford and Pennsylvania Universities and in the Roedde House as the Muybridge home.


The homegrown filmmakers wanted to make the movie here to “bring attention to Vancouver and show it to the world.” Just look at Eadweard’s final location today for scenes of a younger Eadweard Muybridge (Michael Eklund with brown hair) at work on his landscape photography.


The 24-Day Shoot: Filming in Vancouver does have drawbacks unless you like rain and a certain dark creepiness. That’s why Eadweard chose to film in July. It’s a time of year in the BC film business when everything is at a premium, but they needed summer and got it in spades — an entire month without rain.

The Tweeting Crew: Eadweard has a facebook page, a Twitter page, an Instagram account and a hash tag for what could end up being a working title for the film. Everything helps get the word out on a small-budget project so the crew is encouraged to tweet as well, which is not something they’re used to doing in their regular jobs at big American movies and TV series  shot in Vancouver.

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