On Apr. 9, the last day of spring break, a masked film crew could be found huddled together in a corner of the Cold Lake Museum, intently watching Cold Lake actor Patty Srisuwan push open a door with Russian lettering under flashing red lights in what is supposed to be a Soviet-area control room.
“Did you want another take,” one of the crew members asks director Chris Cowden, another Cold Lake resident and husband of Patty Srisuwan, who was watching the scene from a monitor with his back towards the live action on set.
“No, that’s fine,” he said. “The actors hit it out of the park. It was fantastic.”
Cowden, a Bonnyville high school teacher by day, is using his five days off on spring break to film what will be a television pilot for a proposed series called Rebar.
If successful, and the series moves into full production, it will be a female-led action thriller about human trafficking.
In the pilot, after Srisuwan’s character, who shares the same name as the series, escapes the enslavement of a Russian crime syndicate, she returns to her captors to save a teenage girl.
A camera on a dolly track is wrapped around the set.
As the actors prepare to go through their next set of lines, Craig Konechny, also of Cold Lake and who is working as art director, tinkers with the door that won’t stay latched.
The door is part of a false wall that has a different set on the other side—made to look like a kitchen. Since it is not in use, one of the crew members, armed with a hot glue gun, is working on two models of Cold Lake’s radar dome, which will be blown up later that day.
Most of the usual museum artifacts are pushed aside and covered in protective plastic.
Cowden is creating the pilot on spec in hopes that it will be picked up by a broadcaster or streaming service after the modest achievements of his feature film, Moments in Space Time, which was also shot in Cold Lake and starred Srisuwan.
It won the Remi Award at the Worldfest Houston International Film Festival and was also accepted by the Montreal Independent Film Fesitval.
The film was later picked up by Shaw Cable for streaming.
The movie is now available on iTunes and the Cineplex Store.
“After the success of Moments in Spacetime, we want to continue building this (film) industry in the Lakeland,” said Cowden. “There are so many valuable resources, skilled and talented people, and beautiful locations here. It is an incredible place for producers to make a movie or television series.”
Kinosoo Productions, Cowden’s company, invested $100,000 of its own money into the pilot episode of Rebar.