Filming Slash/Back: Day 22/33
We're filming a movie in the arctic, and I feel like nothing could have prepared me for this.
It feels like forever ago now, but on July 5th I landed in Iqaluit, Nunavut, and a few days later traveled to a tiny northern community of Pangnirtung with 60 other crew members. It's one the most dramatically beautiful places I've ever seen, and nothing has been more exhausting.
Pangnirtung is a small town of 1300 people. There are no hotels here. No car rental companies, no restaurants (save for KFC). We're sleeping in high school classrooms. Early on, fog delayed a food shipment by several days - by the time it arrived the produce has spoiled and chefs had little to work with other than beans and potatoes. The remoteness of this place adds a level of challenges which make making a movie feel like a monumental effort.
We started with a 26-day schedule, five days on, two days off. On July 20th we started filming. Not even a month has gone by, yet in that time we have added two days to the schedule for safety, and how naive we were then! On August 10th a lead cast member became quite ill. There is no hospital in Pangnirtung, and she had to be medically evacuated to Iqaluit. On August 13 she was flown to Ottawa. At this point we would have been 12 days away from completion and there is no word on the severity of her condition, let alone a return date. Production is paralyzed. For the sake of insurance we have to slug through and keep filming. Film reverses with a body double. Film every shot that doesn't include our lead. Each day we know days are being tacked on at the end of the shoot. Our very tangible "hard out" is now being pushed further and further back. At this point we have been away from home for a month and a half, and the prospect of being near completion was instrumental for morale. The once majestically beautiful place we were so lucky to be in starts to pale in our eyes.
At the time of this article she has made a full recovery and came back to Pangnirtung. We’ve added on an extra week of filming. It doesn't sound like a lot, yet now we are holding our breaths. Please don’t let anyone else get sick. Please let us finish this movie that we’ve worked so hard on.
Making movies is difficult, but the emotional commitment is so much more.