Cobble Hill-based Empress Avenue Media Inc. has completed its first independent feature film, Fragile Seeds. The movie, shot entirely within the Cowichan region, is set to make its world premiere at the Hamilton Film Festival on Nov. 13.
“From a filmmaker’s perspective the Cowichan Valley is a magical place,” said Mia Golden, the writer and star of the film. “It truly does have everything. Joseph Boutilier and Emrey Wright who founded Empress Avenue Media also live in the Cowichan Valley so it was a no-brainer, but as an outsider I feel so lucky that this is the backdrop to Fragile Seeds.”
According to their media release, Fragile Seeds is a dramatic thriller that follows protagonist Ryann Temple, a therapist working with sex offenders.
Playing the male lead is none other than Cowichan Valley product Sean Baker.
“Temple uncovers haunting secrets about her own past through the disturbed men she counsels,” said the release. “Ryann is falling head-over-heels for her colleague, Gavin, but she’s also distracted by the growing problems at work, plus her own dysfunctional family. Ryann’s worlds collide, as a client takes a morbid fascination with his next victim.”
Golden, who lives and works in Victoria, said the movie focuses on the cycle of trauma and violence that she’s witnessed in her own, real life as a professional counsellor.
“As an actor getting to know your character is the ultimate goal in being able to give a real performance,” Golden said. “Because I wrote the script, I knew every nuance of not only the character I played but all the other roles. But getting to play Ryann, who is a complex character and also knowing her so well, was a dream.”
Joining Golden in front of the camera is Vancouver Island resident Joey Cramer, star of the ’80s Disney classic Flight of the Navigator.
“Joey’s journey from childhood actor through his challenging adulthood are highlighted in the new documentary Life after the Navigator. Now residing on Vancouver Island, Fragile Seeds is Joey’s first return into acting for the silver screen,” said the release.
Fragile Seeds also features television actors such as Amos Mitchell (Unspeakable), Panta Mosleh (Deathstroke, Supernatural) and Darren Adams (Supernatural, The Arrangement).
Viewers will notice Providence Farm, The Old Firehouse Wine & Cocktail Bar, Drumroaster Coffee and Empress Avenue Media’s own studio in Cobble Hill as they watch.
The film came together quite quickly, according to Golden.
“We went into pre-production less than a month before we began shooting the film. Emrey is known to be able to whip a film together quickly. Ana-Maria Butcura, our fourth producer flew out west and she and Emrey nailed down locations, crew etc. Joseph who brilliantly directed the film focused on the shot list and I had to put down my producer hat to focus solely on learning my lines and what I needed to do as an actor (which I have to say was hard but I trusted my fellow producers with all my heart),” Golden said. “We shot the film in 10 long days. Our cast and crew treated this film like it was their own passion project and they gave their all. We repeatedly heard from our team that the message behind the film was what drew them to the project.”
While working around the pandemic did have its challenges, the circumstances were also what ultimately made making the movie happen, Golden admitted.
“Ana-Maria and I had planned to shoot a feature years ago. Life happened and it was put on hold and she moved to Toronto to open restaurants. COVID-19 hit Toronto really hard and she called me up and said let’s make a movie. I introduced her to Joseph and Emrey and the rest is history.”