“Maddie” (Melanie Rose Wilson) enjoys a serene moment in the upcoming Telefilm Talent to Watch feature film, All-in Madonna, written, directed and produced by Susie Winters, Arnold Lim and Ana de Lara, respectively, and executive producer Robin Chan. (Photo courtesy of Blue Lake Films Ltd.)

Black Press videographer leads Island-made film

Local filmmakers, writer partner for feature film

As the year comes to a close, so does the work of an all-Island crew and cast as they shoot the final pieces for the feature film All-In Madonna.

Hoped to be released by the spring of 2020, All-In Madonna is the story of 17-year-old Maddie growing up in the fictional Vancouver Island town of Blue Lake. Having been home-schooled, Maddie enrolls in public school for the first time. There she discovers dark secrets about her father and Maddie now has to reconcile the father she knew with the person he is.

Director Arnold Lim (centre) on set for Telefilm Talent to Watch feature film, All-In Madonna.
(Photo courtesy of Blue Lake Films Ltd.)

The script was written by University of Victoria graduate Susie Winters and this feature film is four years in the making. It started when Arnold Lim, executive producer of the Black Press Media Video Network, partnered with Winters and producer Ana de Lara and earned one of the last grants from BravoFact (worth $32,500) to create a short film of All-In Madonna.

READ MORE: CineVic contest pairs filmmakers with local musicians

The team then used that 2018 short film as proof of concept and submitted it to win one of 38 feature film grants from the Telefilm Canada Talent Fund worth $125,000, and a B.C. Arts Council grant of $25,000. It’s this, plus donations and sponsorships that are helping de Lara, Lim and another producer, Robin Chan, bring All-In Madonna to completion, de Lara said.

“Cast and crew work on a fair deal agreement where everyone gets $100 per day,” said de Lara, a longtime member of the Victoria scene and who is also a comedian turned actor and writing teacher. “We do get grants to make the projects but they’re small compared to what the actual cost is of the project.”

The movie is entirely shot on the south Island and all cast and crew are Island-based except for one actor from Vancouver.

As members of the “small Victoria independent-film community” De Lara and Lim have combined on several shorts but this is their first feature-length film.

“It’s just not a big community so we’ve supported each other on each’s projects,” de Lara said.

It’s part of a third-calling for Lim, who found his second-calling when he moved into photojournalism 12 years ago after a career as a restaurateur. Lim is a regular photographer at the Olympic Games, will shoot the Tokyo Games in 2020, and is a winner of numerous Canadian Community Newspaper and Ma Murray (B.C.) awards.

While reporting for the Victoria News in 2011, Lim wrote a piece on the CineVic Reel-to-Reel music video contest. Before the contest closed, Lim signed up to create an entry with the band Step Back Dave. The video was judged as the audience favourite by the 2011 jury.

“I thought about the contest but I got busy, and when I filed the preview story, CineVic told me all the available artist songs were already chosen. But I called back anyways and was told, ‘actually there is one video left.’”

So Lim entered that contest, won the audience favourite prize, created contacts with CineVic, and opened doors to more.

“I had grown up more as a documentarian, and through that, then with Reel-to-Reel I got a taste for narrative which I’m really passionate about,” Lim said.

READ ALSO: Black Press videographer wins TeleFilm grant to direct full-length feature

Lim is the director of All-In Madonna. The team has completed principal photography and is awaiting one cast member to re-grow his beard so they can complete the “pick-up shoots” before the year ends.

After that, it’s a matter of getting the film into the festival circuit. Otherwise, getting eyeballs on Canadian independent features is challenging, Lim said.

Once this movie is complete, Lim and de Lara will soon turn there focus to a web-based comedy series they’ve partnered on called Best Friend Me, a comedy about depression and self-compassion.

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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