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'Unseen' film largest English-language movie to be shot in New Brunswick in more than a decade

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It’s the largest English-spoken film to be filmed in New Brunswick in more than a decade.

“Unseen,” starring Canadian actor Taylor Olson (who also wrote and is directing the project), is in its final week of filming in Saint John, N.B. The movie follows Taylor’s character Gideon, who is a dedicated father and swim coach, but a few financial decisions leave him on the streets, battling the tough reality of invisible homelessness.

“Gideon’s plight as a regular citizen of Canada who winds up living in his van and hiding this fact from his friends, colleagues, and family members was very pressing and timely,” says Sandy Hunter, one of the films producers. “As we know, for many with rising housing costs, this situation can be a paycheque away for many Canadians and many New Brunswickers.”

Producer Steve Foster says he and Olson spent time with those who work with and live in encampments in Saint John leading up to production. Empathy towards those in a tough spot is the film’s overarching message.

“Homelessness can fall into four categories,” Foster notes. “There’s sort of the addiction and mental health, there’s the nomadic life in people who choose to be homeless, and then there’s folks who are one bill away from being homeless and that’s where we find ourselves in this story.”

The feature is a joint effort by Nova Scotia film company Brass Door Productions, New Brunswick’s Hemmings Films and Cazador Inc. Vortex Media will also play a role in distributing the film once completed.

On Monday the team was at the Irving Field House shooting a scene, one of the many locations used in Saint John for the movie. Other locations include the Canada Games Aquatic Centre, Parkway Mall, and various locations in the cities uptown.

Sean Moore has been an extra actor in various scenes along with his two daughters. He is looking forward to seeing the Port City feature on the big screen.

“What’s going to be a lot of fun when we do finally get to watch is going, ‘I know that spot, I know that spot, I grew up not far from there,’” Moore says with a smile. “It’s going to be really, really cool.”

Moore and his two daughters are just a few Saint Johnners who will make their “acting debut” in the film playing extras. “Unseen” also has hired professional actors from across the country for production, including a pair of young actresses from Halifax.

“It’s been amazing and really fun,” says Polly Gallant-McLean, who has had a variety of previous roles. “Honestly you would not have to pay me to do this.”

“I like how it’s, like, you can act, like, character out,” says her colleague Cora Wintringham, who also comes to the set with plenty of experience. “And you can express the characters feelings and personality.”

Foster says he among others have been working hard over the last few years to revitalize the film and television industry in New Brunswick. Working with the province, Media New Brunswick has been revived, giving the sector one voice to help communicate with the legislature.

He hopes this film signifies the return of large-scale filmmaking in his home province.

“I like to think this is one of many more to come and we are really excited about this,” says the Saint John native. “Sandy and I really wanted this and it was actually a non-starter, we needed this to be in Saint John. Just the amount of access and the amount of people who have come out to support this has been really nice to see.”

“Saint John has also been able to provide us with the breadth and spread of locations that you can’t get in a lot of places,” Hunter points out. “You’ve got you heavy industry, you’ve got your uptown, and high end locations as well as one of our favourite chestnuts the Parkway Mall.”

“Unseen” is slated to make its debut at film festivals next year, and will shortly after hit the big screens in theatres and be available to stream through Crave

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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