Vancouver Writer Brings Film To Sault Ste Marie


On day five of the 21st Annual Shadows of the Mind Film Festival, hosted by the Grand Theatre on Queen Street. SautOnline was on the scene Saturday, February 29, to capture one of the many films, Brotherhood, directed and written by Richard Bell. Brotherhood, set in the 1920s, the film is a recreation of the true story of a group of boys at a summer camp on Balsam Lake in the Kawartha Lakes, who had to fight for survival when an unexpected thunderstorm overwhelmed their canoe trip.

In a five minute interview, SaultOnline had the opportunity to discuss with Richard Bell, why he pursued such a tragic tale and the sense of why he wanted to capture this story in the first place. Richard Bell speaks so passionately about the story and highlights the real complexity of brotherhood and what it truly means.

Question: What was your inspiration beyond retelling this tragedy?

“My inspiration was, I read a story about it many years ago when I was living in Toronto come summertime. It was a tiny story in a newspaper about an 80th anniversary mass for the boys who drowned on Balsam Lake. I just thought that would be such a great idea for a movie. It has all the elements of a great film; it’s a very transformative story, it’s like all these phoenixes rising up from the ashes. And these boys, having to be forced into adulthood and while the clock is ticking. It’s a true story about, just this beautiful, and kind of dignity and heroism – a feeling of putting yourself above others inspired me. I went on a treasure hunt, I went exploring for the true story, and I filled in all the blanks.” 

Question: While writing this film, did you feel connected to the story? 

“I was totally connected to the film and the story. I’m not too sure why. The theme of brotherhood and brothers and brotherly love has been something that has always interest me. It might be because I’m the middle child of two brothers. I have an older brother and a younger brother. I always say to them; I’m a lucky brother because I get to be an older brother and a younger brother. I’m pretty close with my brothers, and I feel that bond with them.”

Question: What are your ties to Sault Ste. Marie and having the film premiere here? 

“I’m from Vancouver, and I discovered this story when I was in Toronto, and I had to finance it the film by going back and forth and ping-ponging between Vancouver and Toronto. We received funding from Ontario Creates and NOFHC, and we went on location scouts. A lot of people when they are making films and shooting up north, they tend to go to Parry Sound and Sudbury, and that’s it – We kept going. I was pushing my location scout and my producer to find the lake and find the sight that sparkled. Nothing was giving me that wow factor, but when we got to Michipicoten Lake just outside of Wawa, that’s when I had the moment of wow, just wow. The connection to Sault Ste. Marie, of course, is that was part of our travel day, we had an office here, we had many meetings here, and we got a lot of the talent and people from here.”