Short movies include a re-imagining of storied moments in Invermere’s past as well as a special effect pirate extravaganza

By Steve Hubrecht
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Last summer the Pioneer reported on Invermere local Greydon Rohrick’s work to create a short film, shot on location at the Windermere Valley Museum, depicting the history of Invermere. Greydon finished work on it earlier this winter, and began promoting it last week.

From left: Oliver Breeze (playing Blanket Jones), Rohrick (playing Robert Randolph Bruce) and Scott Field (playing a miner) engage in a heated debate about agriculture in the Columbia Valley and about whether Bruce has purposefully duped would-be settlers in Discovering Our History.

The film, titled Discovering Our History, is a riot of period-perfect costumes (handlebar moustaches and peacock feathered hats) and great setting (the museum serves excellently as turn-of-the-20th-century Invermere). Rohrick, who is currently studying media and education at the University of Lethbridge, worked as a summer student at the museum last year and created the film to help raise awareness about the facility.

Rohrick plays the famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) Robert Randolph Bruce, the iconic and raffish pioneer who helped spur Invermere’s early growth. The film follows Bruce’s exploits, through his encounters in a saloon with four other characters, and traces his attempts to make a fortune at Paradise Mine, the transportation woes at the mine (getting mined ore to markets in Europe before the railway came was dauntingly difficult) that turned him to other pursuits, and finally his efforts to attract settlers here by promoting the valley as a place newcomers were bound to strike it rich with fruit orchards (efforts that some critics say were dubious and purposefully misleading, as valley then — as now — does not exactly have the climate and soil conditions to support masses of money-making orchards).

Judith Reynolds as Mrs. Santo in Discovering Our History.

In the film, Rohrick does an excellent turn as Bruce, and doesn’t shy away from the controversy surrounding his character, with two of the other characters badgering Bruce about one of his promotional brochure, telling him he’s exaggerated his claims of the valley as a ‘land of milk and honey’ for would-be fruit-growers, then wondering aloud if Bruce faked one of the brochure’s photos by hung potatoes from the branches of a tree in order to make it appear like a bountiful apple tree. “This place ain’t fit for fruit farming, and you know it,” one of the characters shoots at Bruce. Rohrick plays up Bruce fantastically in response, returning the zinger with a hilariously dismissive roll of his eyes.

“It’s exciting to finally share the film,” Rohrick told the Pioneer. “Overall, I am very pleased with how it turned out. Everybody who has seen it on YouTube has said it’s great. It doesn’t have a whole lot of views yet, but I’m just starting to promote it.”

Discovering Our History isn’t the only film Rohrick has released recently, as earlier this month, he finished a seven-minute short film titled Hand’s Off for one of his University of Lethbridge media classes.

Hand’s Off depicts a salty old dog of a retired pirate in a dimly lit bar, regaling those around him with an outlandish tale from his youth, detailing his battles in the icy northern Atlantic with the fearsome privateer Captain Scarborough and — the pirate promise viewers — explaining how he came to lose his hand. Rohrick is clearly enjoying himself playing both the pirate and the dread Captain Scarborough, and the costumes are once again fantastic: full pirate attire, roguish hairstyles to match, and pitch-perfect pirate accents. Oh, and a climatic sword duel to boot. Astute viewers will quickly cotton on to the fact that the pirate gives his multiple accounts of how his hand came off (orcas ate it, frostbite claimed it, etc.) yet appears on the next frame of the film with his hand still intact. What really happens? You’ll have to wait until the last few seconds of the film to find out.

Rohrick explained to the Pioneer that he’s always had an affinity for pirate films and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make one himself. And since, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has kept Rohrick studying online while at home here in the valley, he had no choice but to play both roles, the main roles — in fact all the roles ­— himself.

“I couldn’t have actors, so I just had to do it myself,” he said. “It actually became a lot of work to blend the characters together, and have them interact on screen. It takes awhile to get used to having a sword fight with yourself. But I really wanted to push the limit a little bit, and see what I could do.”

Rohrick made much of the film in his grandparents’ basement with green screen digital compositing, but some Columbia Valley scenery does make it into the film. The ice-coated reaches of the Northern Atlantic, as seen in Hand’s Off, is in fact the frozen surface of Lake Windermere, albeit with an enormous pirate schooner composited on top.

Split-screen image shows Rohrick in a full pirate costume, standing on frozen Lake Windermere (which doubles as the frigid North Atlantic) in Hand’s Off. The lefthand side of the image shows the action as seen in the movie, with a wrecked treasure ship digitally composited onto Lake Windermere, and with the mountain backdrop altered to be more dramatic. The righthand side of the image shows the scene as filmed without digital compositing.

“It’s been very well received. My (university) instructors have been enthusiastic, and my classmate have voiced a lot of support,” Rohrick told the Pioneer, hastening to add that credit for the costumes goes in large part to his mom.

Rohrick also got a shout out from HitFilm, the company that makes the special effects software he used in Hand’s Off, when the company featured the film in its community spotlight.

Greydon Rohrick’s storyboard for Discovering Our History.

Both films are made under the name Chisel Peak Studios, a name Rohrick chose because it reflects his Columbia Valley roots. “I really wanted a name that identifies with the valley. And who knows, maybe one day it may even be possible to have a small (film) studio here in Invermere,” he said.

To watch Discovering Our History and Hand’s Off go on YouTube and search ‘Chisel Peak Studio’. Or visit: