On November 6 at 7 p.m., as part of the Hamilton Film Festival, the Elaine May Theatre will host the Canadian independent feature Common Chord. Made in Alberta, Common Chord is a heartfelt story about a struggling musician, Kyle (Jason Cermak), who takes care of his young daughter, Teigan (Ashlin Malik), after the death of her mother but Tegian’s grandfather, Bill (Pete Seadon), wants to be her sole caregiver. Their conflict, with the child caught in between and Kyle attempts to become a responsible parent, is what drives the movie. Co–writer and director Deric Olsen hopes viewers will take away a message from Common Chord. “So many young adults, both men and women, are putting off or completely absolving themselves of the commitment of marriage and parenthood for many reasons,” Olsen explained. “As a family man, I really hope that audiences connect with the theme that the sacrifices of those commitments are worth it. That our greatest joys and fulfillment come from the love and relationships we share with our families.”
“Like the majority of independent productions, money was extremely tight,” Olsen said. Calling it a “grassroots kind of initiative” he and Producer George Gallant wanted to make the film locally to “development talent and establish a more cohesive production environment in southern Alberta. Local businesses and individuals were very supportive of the production. We raised much of the funding privately through fundraising events as well as crowd–funding campaigns. Many of the resources we needed were also secured through agreements with the University of Lethbridge, where I am a professor.”
Near the end of the film, Kyle faces a difficult choice between following his career or staying with his daughter. Actor Cermak explained his character’s headspace in that moment. “Kyle loves his daughter and truly believed he was going to end up causing her harm. Not knowing how to fix the situation, he thought it would be better for everyone if he removed himself from their lives and take the only other real opportunity that presented itself. He was ultimately motivated to leave because of his love for his daughter.”
Seadon who plays the grandfather butting head with Kyle said, “It was fairly easy to not make Bill the villain as I believe he was a victim of life. His wife and daughter were taken from him. His health and finances and faith were failing and now he might lose his granddaughter. He feels as though life has turned on him and he believes Kyle is the reason.” He tried to “portray Bill as a good man who was in over his head but did not know how to ask for help. A lot of us older buggers think we have all the answers. We don’t, we are still learning.”
Young actress Ashlin Malik plays Teigan and her mother Jesy revealed “We missed the first auditions so we put one up on YouTube done from our kitchen table and sent out the link. From what has been said to us by the director and producer, they knew right away that she was the right one for the role.” Jesy said Ashlin “was pretty low key” about her experience making the movie. “She knows that most kids will never get to be an extra in a feature length film, never mind being a supporting lead but at the end of each day she’s just an ordinary girl who likes to hang out with her friends, play soccer, and talk on the phone.”
Olsen said he was “drawn to this project because of the portrayal of the importance of fatherhood not only to children but to fathers as well.” Now Hamilton residents have an exclusive opportunity to see that tale.
For more information visit www.commonchordmovie.com and for scheduling for the 8th Annual Hamilton Film Festival go to www.hamiltonfilmfestival.com V