In Part 1of this exclusive interview, screenwriter, independent film director and producer Philip Spink discussed sci fi TV and films, coming home and filming his indie film, The Godchild. In this final segment, Philip reflects upon his cast, the film music and the filmmaking model used to make The Godchild.
Philip Spink on The Godchild Cast
Casting was critical for the project to go ahead. The audition process was long but gave Philip an opportunity to pick the best actor for each role. “I was so lucky with some of our main actors. Once I had them, I knew that I could do this film.”
The role of Peter was portrayed by Grant Spink (Knights of Bloodsteel). “I needed someone who could spend incredible amounts of time doing special effects with, would always be there, explained Philip. “It worked out perfectly for that. He fit the part perfectly.”
Kari Townsend (The Call, Who Dressed You This Morning?) was cast as Sister Beth Myers. “She brought ferocity to the character,” remarked Philip. “She really empathized with the character who is a strong-willed woman who has had a tragic past.”
“I knew I wanted someone exotic,” said Philip regarding the role of Peter’s doctor, portrayed by Steve Dhillon (Money, ODC, 419: The Nigerian Scam). “I needed someone who could play a brilliant, dedicated doctor who has some guilt about leaving his homeland…When Steve showed up, he was perfect.”
Michael Heltay (Knights of Bloodsteel), who plays Sister Meyer’s friend Bernie, has worked with Philip Spink on several productions. “I wrote the part for him,” he said. Bernie does provide some comic relief in The Godchild. “I knew Mike could pull that off really well.”
Riah Fielding-Walters (The Wizard's Christmas) played Peter’s teacher. “It’s a character who is constantly battling her insecurities and her fears and trying to overcome them,” said Philip. “She brought such sensitivity to the role.”
Hazel Valdez is fairly new to the acting scene. As Sister Valdez, she is a balancing effect on the rest of the teaching staff. “You could really see her commitment on screen,” he said. “She has a very good technique and wonderful comic timing.”
When writing the screenplay, Philip, with help from co-producer and wife Zuzana Novak, kept each actor’s talents in mind. “I was able to hone the script and craft it to their strengths. They did a great job.”
Music Production for The Godchild
The film music for The Godchild was composed by Canadians Peter Jancewicz and James Guttridge. “With the combination of Peter and Jim, I was able to get the music I needed for the film without monopolizing their time.”
The Godchild marks Jancewicz’s debut into film composing. “It’s like having Chopin or Beethoven in the same city,” said Philip. “He brings such a sense of gravitas and sensitivity to his music.” Jancewicz is a Calgary-based composer, music teacher, clinician, writer and adjudicator, whose compositions are published by Alberta Keys and Alfred Music Publishing.
Heavy hitter indeed. Guttrridge won a Leo Award for Best Musical Score (Once in a Blue Moon) and an International Television Award (Dinosaur). He also received Gemini, Leo, and Grammy nominations for his work on Voyage of the Unicorn and Kung Fu Killer. Most recently, Guttridge scored the music for Sy Fy Channel's TV drama Riverworld (2010), which stars Tahmoh Penikett (Cold Squad, Battlestar Galactica).
Modeling The Godchild on Quebec Film Productions
“Wouldn’t be nice if we could make our money back in Alberta like they do in Quebec?” posited Philip. “Quebec filmmakers are supported by Quebeckers.” He set out to achieve that with The Godchild. “We can prove that you can make a film in Alberta, make your money back and then start marketing it beyond the province.”
Another goal for keeping a low-budget independent film was to keep costs affordable to viewers. At $5 a ticket, “it’s a pretty good deal,” said Philip “Hopefully it will move you and in the end, you say, ‘I’ve got my money’s worth.’ ”
The Godchild premiered in Calgary, Alberta on Saturday, October 9, 2010, which I reviewed on my Stumbling Still blog. This sci fi fantasy film was written, directed and produced by Philip Spink and stars Kari Townsend, Steve Dhillon, Riah Fielding-Walters, Michael Heltay, Grant Spink and Hazel Valdez.
Originally published October 16, 2010 on Suite 101. Updated March 22, 2013. All rights reserved by Rhona-Mae Arca.