After 20 years working as a Hollywood film and television actor, Steve Shellen has discovered the simple life in New Denver.
Since returning to Canada, the 55-year-old originally from Victoria, has shifted his focus to creating his own work in visual art and filmmaking, in a style that distinctly non-Hollywood.
“The problem with Hollywood films is they really spell everything out for people,” he lamented. “What I do is more abstract, with a lot of metaphors and strange stuff happening.”
He compares his work to that of surrealist filmmaker David Lynch.
“You don’t always understand everything in a David Lynch film and it kind of lets the audience participate by forming their own idea what the movie was about.”
Shellen is currently working on a short film that he plans to shoot in New Denver this winter. It will be set in 1890 and, in 11 minutes, will tell the story of a man who comes to town intending to kill the owner of a mine but decides against it during a poker game.
“It deals with some time travel and some really strange mysterious event,” he said.
Shellen is both writer and one of four actors in the piece. His friend Isaac Carter will direct and help edit the piece.
It’s the first serious film he’s worked on since moving to New Denver six months ago. He intends to show it at international film festivals, as well as organizing local screenings, in 2013.
“The advantage with doing short films, rather than feature films, is you can throw them together real quick, so people don’t have to wait forever to see the thing,” he said.
One of Shellen’s earlier short films, Mélancolique in Chicoutimi, was screened at the Festival du Court Metrage in Clermont-Ferrand, France. He hopes his current film — which he doesn’t have a title for yet — will enjoy similar success.
“You don’t need to be in a big city and have a big budget to make a great film, not with the technology available today,” he said, though it seemed the reality of that statement hadn’t truly set in for him yet. “It’s crazy, saying that. But if this film goes somewhere, I’ll prove it’s true.”