Think of it as a blast from the past with a modern twist: a dedicated summer student at the Windermere Valley Museum with a penchant for media production is set to release a short historical film featuring iconic figures from long-ago Invermere. Peacock feathered hats fit for a royal soiree? Bowler hats, suspenders and handlebar moustaches? A backdrop of wooden planks sidewalks and storefronts straight out of Invermere’s pioneer days? Oh yes, all that and more.
Invermere local Greydon Rohrick graduated David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) and has begun media studies at the University of Lethbridge. This summer he’s been working at the museum while doing courses online (due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic). Partway through the summer, Rohrick was puzzled by a conundrum: Invermere was fill to the brim with visitors seeking a pleasant mountain respite from their new COVID-19 lives in Calgary and elsewhere, but the museum was empty every day, despite having all sorts of pandemic appropriate measures in place.
“Why weren’t they coming? It was packed in town, and we have this really great museum here, but nobody was visiting it. I thought maybe people just don’t know about it. We didn’t have any modern advertising,” said Rohrick. So he stepped in and made a short commercial style promo video for the museum. It went splendidly, and so he pitched something a little more ambitious: an actual film. They museum gave the green light, and quick as a wink, Rohrick had written a script, had rounded up local actors, recruited a few friends, dug up some period-specific costumes and the cameras were rolling.
“It’s going really well. Filming is wrapped up and we are in post production. It’s still the early stages of post production, but it looks like it’s going to work out,” Rohrick told the Pioneer. “The purpose is both education and entertainment. I want to get people excited to see the museum and learn about Invermere’s history… The hardest part was coming up with the plot.”
The film follows four main characters and a scattering of minor characters through various points in Invermere’s history, depicting how their lives change and how Invermere’s situation evolves as the decades march by. Some of the characters are literally taken from the pages of history: there’s the famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) Robert Randolph Bruce and the iconic Blanket Jones (who made his name by making long forays into the alpine high country with little more that a blanket on his back). Other characters are based on Rohrick’s creative imaginings, such as local shopkeeper who plays witness to Invermere’s changes.
Rohrick admits that the film is a ton of fun for a history buff like himself, adding “the museum was the perfect place to film this. The site is like walking back in time into a Western.”
Filming took place on Saturday, August 22nd and was done in just four hours, which Rohrick concedes is lightning speed, even by the standards of a short film.
“It all came together quite quickly, but it worked out. The costumes, for instance, came from everywhere. We pulled stuff out of our own closetses, and then actually scavenged most of the rest from the museum basement,” he said. “The moustache I wore, I literally took it off a mannequin in the museum. And it was great. I mean, I wish I could grow my own handlebar moustache, but sadly I can’t yet, so it had to do.”
Rohrick is not sure exactly how long it will be before the film is launched on Facebook, Youtube and other platforms, but he’s hopeful he’ll get it out pretty soon. Follow the Windermere Valley Museum’s Facebook pages to catch the film when it does come out.