'22 CHASER' Special Presentation Draws Sold Out Crowd on National Canadian Film Day
By Cory Angeletti-Szasz ● April 19, 2018 14:30
A still of Ben (played by Brian J. Smith) in 22 CHASER
Yesterday evening, we hosted the first-ever Special Presentation of high-octane tow truck drama 22 CHASER, the 22nd feature film to be developed and financed for production through CFC Features, at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto as part of the fifth annual National Canadian Film Day (NCFD).
The screening drew a sold out crowd filled with the film’s cast and crew, CFC friends and supporters and Canadian moviegoers eager to support this new Canadian feature on a day that is entirely devoted to celebrating and championing Canadian film.
22 CHASER is a gripping and emotionally charged drama centred around Ben (Brian J. Smith), a struggling tow truck driver who risks everything in order to become king of the road and piece together his broken family.
It is the feature directorial debut from Rafal Sokolowski (Three Mothers, Seventh Day) and is based on a screenplay by CFC alumnus Jeremy Boxen (Imposters, Orphan Black). The film stars Brian J. Smith (Sense8, SGU Stargate Universe), Tiio Horn (What Would Sal Do?, Hemlock Grove), Raoul Trujillo (Sicario, Cowboys and Aliens), Aaron Ashmore (Killjoys, Regression), John Kapelos (The Breakfast Club), Aidan Devine (October Gale, Suicide Squad) and Shaun Benson (The Girlfriend Experience, Saving Hope). The film is produced by CFC board member Don Carmody (Shadowhunters, Resident Evil franchise) and CFC alumni Daniel Bekerman (The Witch, Bang Bang Baby) and Aeschylus Poulos (Mary Goes Round, Sleeping Giant); is co-produced by Brendan Carmody (13 Eerie, Home Again); and is executive produced by Justine Whyte (Rhymes for Young Ghouls, Adventures in Public School). The film was edited by CFC alumni Kye Meechan and Jane McRae (who earned a CCE Awards nomination for their work on the film), and also features appearances by CFC alumnae Lisa Codrington, Camille Stopps and Emily Piggford.
(From L to R): Wole Daramola, Shaun Benson, Rafal Sokolowski, Tiio Horn and Aidan Devine
Following the screening, audience members had the opportunity to participate in a Q&A with director Rafal Sokolowski and cast members Tiio Horn (who plays Avery), Shaun Benson (who plays Elvis), Aidan Devine (who plays Ray) and Wole Daramola (who plays Kaleb), as well as Director of Photograhy Cabot McNenly, that was moderated by CFC alumnus and Canadian filmmaker Warren P. Sonoda.
Here are a few of the highlights from and topics that were discussed during the Q&A.
Learning about tow truck culture
Sokolowski explained that in order to prepare for the film and to gain a better understanding of the subject matter, he spent several nights on the road with various “chasers” – tow truck divers who chase after accidents to be the first on the scene – discovering the realities and demands of their work, “one of the first things that hit me was how stressful their reality is,” shared Sokolowski. “I was intimidated to arrive on the scene of an accident where real tears, real stress, real tragedy unfolds, and these tow truck drivers dive in – and some of them are amazing heroes, and some of them find a way to squeeze a buck out of human tragedy,” he continued. This reality is reflected in the film with Ben (played by Brian J. Smith), who (initially) represents an honest and honourable by-law tow truck driver, versus Elvis (played by Shawn Benson), who is a ruthless and hostile chaser. “It’s freaky the way this (tow truck) world works. It was eye-opening to me to get to know this culture and see what they do and what rules this world,” added Sokolowski.
Family story at heart
Sokolowski discussed how the narrative is layered – there is of course a storyline about tow truck culture and the challenges of that lifestyle, but at the centre of the film is a family story about a man, Ben, who will do whatever he needs to in order to be able to provide for his family and, ultimately, keep his promises to his son, “it puts you in a really vulnerable position because you want to perfect and, consequently, you fail at everything.” Sokolowski explained that the various layers in the narrative existed at the outset in the script that writer Jeremy Boxen penned, and how he really connected with the family storyline as soon as he read the script, and how important and relatable he feels that the human element is to the overall narrative.
Getting into character
The actors present at the Q&A explained a little bit about how they approached their respective roles:
Tiio Horn as Avery, Ben’s wife and mother to Zach (played by Jack Fulton)
Tiio shared that she largely got into her role by approaching her character as being a mom and a woman who needs to keep it together in order to keep her family together. She elaborated to say that she found it easy to get into character because of how was easy it was to connect with her fellow actors, mainly Brian J. Smith.
Shaun Benson as Elvis, the hostile and menacing chaser
Shaun looked beyond his character’s rough and evil exterior to approach his role – he looked inside to the human element and focused on why his character behaved the way he did, which was ultimately to pay for his life and what he loved.
Wole Daramola as Kaleb, a mechanic and garage owner
Wole explained that reacting to the energy of his fellow actors and scene members provided him with inspiration and fuel for his character.
Director Rafal Sokolowski answers a question during the Q&A after the Special Presentation of 22 CHASER
Working with a limited budget to manage so many moving parts – like night shoots, a cast of 39 vehicles, multiple road scenes, etc.
“A lot of planning, being very clear with the producers as to what is required, being very clear about what can happen within the budget, being good with adapting and working with plans B, and C, and D, and E … Asking people for a lot of commitment and sacrifice and working really hard until we got the shot,” explained Sokolowski.
On striking a balance between two storylines that’s didn’t compete, but rather completed each other
“In production, things happen so quickly that there isn’t that much space to find the balance,” shared Sokolowski. He went on to explain that a lot of the balance came from the writing (in the script) and in the editing process. In the writing, Boxen worked to ensure that the family drama is well established so that the audience understands the stakes and the emotional core of the story, while building up the tensions and action in the tow truck storyline. Furthermore, the design in the editing was really to balance these two worlds – between tender family moments and high-speed, dangerous moments in the tow truck world.
Can’t wait to see 22 CHASER (again or for the first time)? Stay tuned for information on 22 CHASER’s theatrical release; levelFILM is expected to release it in Canada sometime this summer!
Thank you to everyone who joined us yesterday evening for the Special Presentation of 22 CHASER. Huge thanks to REEL CANADA for organizing another successful National Canadian Film Day and to all Canadians who supported Canadian film yesterday (and hopefully everyday!).
22 CHASER was made possible thanks to the generous support of our CFC Features program sponsors: development at CFC Features is supported by the Government of Ontario, and production support and financing are supported by The Movie Network, a division of Bell Media.