British Columbia

'We just knew it had to be shot there': how Prince George, B.C. inspired the makers of an award-winning film

The director and producer of Canadian Screen Award-nominated 'Hello Destroyer' say they wanted to film in Prince George because it captures a part of Canada not usually seen in movies.

'Hello Destroyer' nominated for four Canadian Screen Awards, selected as one of 'Canada's Top Ten' by TIFF

Hello Destroyer tells the story of a hockey player who finds himself increasingly isolated from his teammates and the world. (Tabula Dada & Type One)

The makers of the award-winning film Hello Destroyer say the city in which it is set — Prince George, British Columbia — played no small part in the movie's success.

"There wasn't really any other place like Prince George, to be honest," said director Kevan Funk. 

"There's something about that big landscape up north that isn't populated with a lot of people."

The creators of 'Hello Destroyer' say the Prince George landscape has a very specific Canadian quality they wanted to capture in the film.

The movie itself tells the story of a junior hockey player on the fictional Prince George Warriors who finds himself increasingly ostracized by his community after a violent incident on the ice. 

Funk said he needed a place large enough to support the movie's story line but remote enough to visually reflect the growing isolation of the main character.

He also wanted to showcase a landscape he thinks of as authentically Canadian.

Listen to Kevan Funk and Daniel Domachowski explain what they liked about filming in Prince George.

Raised in Banff, Alta., Funk has many memories of driving across the vast landscape of western Canada's provincial north.

"I spent a lot of time on school buses out in the middle of nowhere," he said.

"I wanted to show a part of Canada that just doesn't get put on screen a lot... and that is my Canada in terms of what I think of as truly being Canadian."

Producer Daniel Domachowski said filming in Prince George also came with advantages.

"Everyone was so open-armed with us being there," he said. 

Director Kevan Funk became familiar with Prince George as a child, visiting his uncle who worked in a mill there. (Hello Destroyer)

"We had over 2,000 people show up at the [CN Centre] arena for [a] massive scene that we shot... that would have never happened in Vancouver. That sort of support only happens in towns like Prince George."

The pair also faced challenges. Domachowski said it was hard to convince financiers that a film so rooted in a northern B.C. landscape and story could have success on a national and international stage.

"Hockey isn't a huge sport internationally," he said. "But hockey is the backdrop so we're hoping it will get the support it deserves."

"We didn't shy away from saying this is Canadian... we really wanted to embrace our Canadian heritage."

So far the movie is getting support, at least in Canada. It's been selected as one of the ten best Canadian films of the year by the Toronto International Film Festival and earlier this month was named Best Canadian Film by the Vancouver Film Critics Circle.

It's also nominated for four Canadian Screen Awards, including best picture and best original screenplay.

The movie is currently touring across Canada as part of TIFF, followed by several international dates in Europe.

Both Funk and Domachowski say one of their biggest priorities is bringing the movie back to the city in which it is placed.

"We really really want to have a screening in Prince George," said Domachowski. "That will happen... It's sort of our way of show appreciation to the city for everything they did for us."

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