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Bone Cage screens VOD at the 2021 New Jersey International Film Festival this Friday, June 4!


By Al Nigrin

originally published: 05/31/2021

Bone Cage screens VOD at the 2021 New Jersey International Film Festival this Friday, June 4!

Still From Bone Cage.


Bone Cage screens Video On Demand at the 2021 New Jersey International Film Festival this Friday, June 4! Here is my interview with Bone Cage Director Taylor Olson and Producer Melani Wood:

Nigrin: Bone Cage is a sensitive examination of the parallels between the toxic ideals of masculinity that children are taught who become men, and how this goes hand in hand with the destruction of our earth. Tell us why did you decide to make this film?  

Olson: To be honest, I think this is the main problem that we face in a lot of areas in the world where we see destruction, whether that be physical, emotional, or spiritual. The culture created around power and masculinity goes hand-in-hand with racism, homophobia, sexism and of course our ailing planet. We are now creeping up to the place where we’re not gonna able to fix the problems that we’ve created, we’re eventually if we continue on this path there won’t be any hope left. I don’t wanna say that the film is a warning, but in a sense it’s part of a global wake up call. Here we see the potential that Jimmy has to be his core self, the sensitive part of himself that goes into the destruction and finds injured animals and tries to rescue them, however he’s blocked by this performative masculinity that was used as a shield to survive in his community, now welded to him, and the ripple effect of destruction this creates, not only for him but those he loves.

Nigrin: Taylor, was it difficult to play the lead actor in a film that you were directing?

Olson: I have to say that I was incredibly lucky on this production to work with such a great team who supported me around this endeavor. I’ve been directing myself in my own films for a number of years now, and there comes a point where it’s second nature. For me I love to be in the trenches with my other actors, it’s a great feeling to be grinding it out together. And this way we can trust each other and influence each other in very subtle and organic ways. Truly, it’s something that I really really enjoy. However, another productions I’ve also really enjoyed not being in the thick of things, so it’s always a balance. I’m Bone Cage I was lucky enough to be surrounded by an incredible team like Melani and Kev who made my job easy.

Nigrin: The three other lead actors Ursula Calder who plays Krista, Amy Groening who plays Chicky and Sam Vigneault who plays Kevin are really wonderful. Tell us more about them and how they ended up playing in your film?



 
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Olson: These are all incredible Nova Scotian actors. Sam Vigneault as Kevin was easy casting. We had done the stage version with Matchstick Theatre here in Kjipuktuk/ Halifax and he was brilliant. I was lucky to have worked as an actor with Amy Groening (Chicky) in a feature film, Hopeless Romantic, and we immediately clicked. I knew right away I wanted her in the film then; she went on to get nominated for a Canadian Screen Award in Bone Cage. Ursula Calder was a revelation as Krista and I got lucky. Found her as she was leaving DalTheatre and we had instant chemistry. There’s big talent here. People rarely take notice, so thank you to New Jersey International Film Festival for taking notice! Greatly appreciated. 

Nigrin: The smooth yet shaky handheld camera work by DP Kevin Fraser is really great at underscoring the instability of the characters. Was this style of cinematography intended?

Olson: Well as you mentioned Kevin is an incredible artist. Very, very early in the process Kevin and I started talking about what we thought the film would look like and our vision. And, we knew it was gonna be a great partnership right away because our visions were very similar. We wanted the film to be in these long unflinching handheld takes so that it felt very real and intimate and close and personal. Throwing wide lenses into the mix added to our immersive style while allowing us to capture the beautiful and the desolate landscapes in the background. The camera never really leaves our characters, intentionally so that we feel what they’re feeling and an almost documentary style and the subtle float to the camera movements was designed to help our audience connect to the cameras fixed perspective, hopefully creating a feeling of claustrophobia. 

Nigrin: Where did you shoot your film? The views of nature are just gorgeous. Given that the film was based on Catherine Bank's play of the same name, did shooting in the real outside world open up the filmic possibilities for the subject matter?

Olson: Thank you for these kind words! You know, as I mentioned before I am such a big fan of Catherine Banks and her work, and this play of hers was so personal and resonated so deeply with me. A big piece of her writing and where some of her brilliance comes from is that she’s able to capture so specifically a sense of place, and that sense of place is rural Nova Scotia. We shot on location where the play was written and in the world of the folks the play depicts in Stewiake, as well as a number of other local rural communities. We even shot on the bridge that is the bridge the play is based on. We wanted to create a feeling of authenticity that would make the real life ‘Jamie’s’ and ‘Chicky’s’ feel seen and proud. What filming in these locations really opened up was a tangibility for actors to connect with. By being able to feel and touch and see and smell the landscape. Kevin, Melani and I spent months location scouting to make sure that we had just the right locations that would work with the style the film and how we wanted to capture these moments. Honestly, I’m nostalgic for it, shooting on these incredible locations.

Nigrin: Are there any memorable stories while you made this film or any other info about your film you would like to relay to us?

Wood: One fun fact is that we actually only shot one full day in the clear cut. 



 
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We were going to start our shoot with the clear cut scenes because it was a super unpredictable location to lock. We were following a real clear cutting operation, and they could never guarantee where they were going to be from one week to the next. I went to scout the location with our 1st AD while Taylor and Kevin were in cast rehearsals. We drove 1.5 hours to the last main road, then hopped in the back of a pickup truck for another 20 minutes down a logging road. When we finally got to the spot where the machinery was, the bugs were so bad no one could or would get out of their trucks. You actually couldn't open your eyes. We knew immediately there was no way we could ask our crew to come out here, on day one no less. No one would come back for day two! So we moved some things around, took our chances and pushed the clear cut to the very end with fingers crossed the weather would improve and the bugs would disperse. We had a very smooth 14 day shoot, ending on day 15 in our clear cut. Turns out it all worked out for the best, the operation had moved on to a closer and less buggy location (not no bugs though!) and we had beautiful weather. It was a daunting risk to change our plan so close to day one of filming, but it worked out for the very best. We also have our fantastic crew, cast & one hawk to credit with being such great sports about working in the wilderness with us. 

The touching animation film First Light will also be playing with Bone Cage. Here is more info on this screening:

Friday, June 4, 2021 - $12=General

Films will be available on VOD (Video On Demand) for 24 hours on this show date.

To buy tickets go here.


For more info on the 2021 New Jersey International Film Festival go here:


First Light - Amy Lee Ketchum (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Rising from the sea monster of death, a young woman’s ghost leads her grieving sister through the heart of darkness in search of light. The story of First Light is revealed through a synthesis of music and art; a hybrid of traditional hand-cut puppet and hand-drawn 2d character animation with digital effects, and an original classical score. Its poetry is sung by Maren Montalbano and Jessica Beebe, vocalists in Grammy® Award-winning ensembles. 2020; 9 min.

Bone Cage - Taylor Olson (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada) In this gorgeous feature film from Nova Scotia, Jamie works operating a wood processor, clear-cutting for pulp. At the end of each shift, he walks through the destruction he has created looking for injured animals, and rescues those he can. Jamie's desire to break free from this world is thwarted by the very environment and circumstance he's trying to escape. Bone Cage is a sensitive examination of the parallels between the toxic ideals of masculinity that children are taught who become men, and how this goes hand in hand with the destruction of our earth. 2020; 79 min.

Bone Cage screens VOD at the 2021 New Jersey International Film Festival this Friday, June 4!


Still from First Light.



Albert Gabriel Nigrin is an award-winning experimental media artist whose work has been screened on all five continents. He is also a Cinema Studies Lecturer at Rutgers University, and the Executive Director/Curator of the Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, Inc.

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