Just a reminder to watch the movie, The Phantoms, tomorrow night (Sunday November 18th) on CBC tv at 8pm (8:30pm NFLD)
Coaching consultants Glenn State and Alan Doucet and in the middle is Sudz Sutherland the director. I actually know Alan but not sure if he would remember me because its been many years.
Today I am honored to be able to have this Q&A with the director of the movie The Phantoms on the blog today.
Why did you want to direct The Phantoms movie?
I wanted to direct the Phantoms movie because I was blown away by the grit and determination of the boys that achieved what some thought was impossible. This is a story of overcoming incredible odds, but more than that, it’s a story of the resilience of the human spirit. I like working in the area of raw emotions in the dramas that I direct, especially watching men deal with emotions. This gave me the chance to work with young actors, pushing them to the furthest limits of their ability. Of the 5 young actors who played the leads, only one of them could play basketball. They were hired for their acting abililty. The producers had set aside some resources to run a basketball camp for the actors and the Bathurst area students who would be playing their opponents. The actors took the camp seriously, and the truth is that I bought them all epsom salts at the end of the first week. They all used them! They gave of themselves truly 100 per cent, as did the crew and the rest of the cast. This was not just another movie, it was a tribute and we were shooting it in the community where all of it took place.
How important was it that this movie be filmed in the community?
It was incredibly important that The Phantoms be filmed in Bathurst. There was a lot of controversy about the film and the producers Tim Hogan and Rick LeGuerrier were extremely sensitive about the delicacy of the situation. They understood that there were raw feelings and everyone was sensitive to that. No one wants to know the pain of losing a child and we didn’t want to exploit that. The film isn’t so much about the tragedy, as it is about the community coming together to heal. Andrew Wreggit, the writer of the fabulous script, focused on that and it shows in the finished film. The Phantoms crew and cast lived in Bathurst during the shooting of the movie and we shot scenes in the actual gyms and classrooms where the story took place. That added a level of authenticity and we honestly had a sense of mission every day when we went to work. This wasn’t just an ordinary movie that we were doing. This was special.
What was the community’s reaction to having you and the production team there?
Complex. There were people for it and there were people against it. Understandably so. There were seven mothers affected personally by the tragedy and they were split down the middle, some were for it, some against. I cannot imagine how tough life is for these women. One of the moms was on set, and we were shooting a scene in the gym. I went over and talked to her, introducing myself. I asked her if it was hard for her being in the gym again. She said of course it’s hard. It’s hard every day. She also said that she has other kids though. And they played basketball, so she had to go back to the gym for them. She said that when you have kids, you can’t just stay in bed and be depressed, you have to go on, you have to live for them. And she said that she knows without a doubt that her son would have wanted her to be there, for him.
Director’s note: This was truly one of the best personal experiences that I have ever had in my life, film-related or not. I learned about our human community during this production and I will treasure it. This is a movie that the whole family can enjoy. There is something for everyone, and yes, the basketball is good quality! Two words of advice: Bring Kleenex.
Thanks so very much Sudz for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to sit and do this for me. I have no idea how I am going to handle watching the movie because I am practially in tears doing all these posts. I know it will be an amazing movie and the Boys in Red are looking down on us smiling.
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