A short film that was shot near Thamesville earlier this year will make its world premiere at the Chatham-Kent International Film Festival next month.
War Games will be shown on Friday, Oct. 6, at the Kiwanis Theatre at 7 p.m., the second of the annual four-day festival.
War Games, a dark comedy anti-war short story, was filmed at Tim Gillies’s rented property on Selton Line over two days in late January.
Adam Benish, director and co-writer of War Games with Michael Martin Dillon, looks forward to the world premiere in the community where the movie was filmed.
“We had a great experience going to Chatham-Kent,” Benish said in a phone interview from his Benish Films’ Toronto office.
“Everyone treated us well,” added Benish, who has worked on the production crew for hit movies like Mean Girls and Suicide Squad outside his production projects.
The 17-minute film is a comical take on the 1914 Christmas Truce when British and German soldiers played an impromptu soccer game in No Man’s Land during the cease-fire.
The storyline is based on the Krampus and Father Christmas bringing this miracle to the front lines of France on Christmas Day. Krampus is considered Santa’s evil twin, a half-goat, half-demon monster that punishes the misbehaved at Christmas.
Benish said he was looking for a trench to film the cease-fire scene and was directed to Gillies’ property, which has two World War One trenches that have been featured in six previous movies as well as two more upcoming films, ‘The Last Trench’ and ‘Milton Gregg Story.’
Gillies also supplied actors to play the role of soldiers, uniforms and props through the Canadian Great War Society. This local non-profit group participates in World War One commemorations.
The filmmakers hired local technicians to assist in the production.
Except for a brief indoor interrogation scene filmed in Dundas, most of the movie was shot at the Selton Line property.
Benish said he and Dillon plan to develop War Games into a feature movie and hope to return to Chatham-Kent for filming.
“We’re definitely going to pursue coming back to Thamesville,” Benish said. “When you look for venues, you’re looking for places that can accommodate people and deals to help offset the costs of going somewhere remote.”
Mayor Darrin Canniff made a point to attend the set to thank Benish, Dillon, the actors and the crew for choosing Chatham-Kent to film the movie. The mayor tabled a successful motion at the Sept. 11 Council meeting to hire a person to oversee the FLICK (Film Local In Chatham-Kent) program to attract production companies to consider Chatham-Kent as the economic spin-off that would “provide significant benefits” to the municipality.
“Chatham-Kent is trying to become a film city, so we’re going to reach out to them, and we hope to connect with the festival community when we’re down there for the premiere,” Benish said.
“Chatham-Kent is a city that has a landscape that needs to start getting showcased in film,” he added.
Benish said War Games will be making the rounds at local festivals for about six months before it is available for public viewing, as he is discussing distribution with production companies.
“We’ll have to decide where it’s published, whether it’s something like CBC Gems or something as simple as YouTube,” Benish said. “Our goal is for everyone to have access to it, and people can throw it on every year at Christmas and have a laugh.”
“People like to watch Christmas movies, and we want to be a part of that Christmas tradition,” he noted.
For more information on the Chatham-Kent International Film Festival, visit www.chathamkentiff.com
For tickets to the War Games’ premiere and other events during the four-day festival, visit www.cktickets.com
Michael Bennett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News