Glen Tanner and Sean Swift have dreamt of creating their own fantasy adventure film since they were children at Mile 108 Elementary.
They were inspired by Dungeons and Dragons campaigns and movies like Conan the Barbarian and Star Wars Episode Four: A New Hope. Now, almost four decades later, they are in the midst of bringing their dream to life.
The two have been shooting a pilot for an online TV fantasy show, Rozvardo: Into Hellborn Night, in and around the Lac La Hache Community Hall.
“In a way, we’re kind of reliving our childhood here. We used to play this stuff without any of the equipment and now here we are trying to create that same game we did when we were kids but in a more adult-controlled environment,” Tanner, 53, said. “We’ve been dreaming about this for so long but it’s time to finally stop dreaming and actually do it.”
Although the two friends went separate ways after graduating from Peter Skene Ogden Secondary, their dream continued to percolate. Tanner, a ski and snowboard instructor at Mount Timothy Recreational Resort, joined the Society for Creative Anachronisms as a heavy fighter, fighting in medieval armour under the name Petro Rozvardo.
Inspired by Tanner’s SCA character, Swift, who graduated from Vancouver Film School in 2008, seized the opportunity to build a story around him.
Rozvardo: Into Hellborn Night follows a group of adventurers thrust together by the gods of the realm to take on an evil Lich. All of them are anti-heroes who fall into certain fantasy archetypes including that of the dwarf, the bard, the half-orc and the cleric. Swift avoided revealing most of their names to build interest for future episodes.
“We’ve been volunteering from then on, missing work, and so far the sacrifices we’ve made have paid off big time,” said Swift, 52.
The pair, who founded Axe Water Entertainment, plan to spend the summer filming. They have distinct roles: Swift is the writer, producer and director of the show, while Tanner leads the cast as Rozvardo and works behind the scenes as the property manager and director of photography.
All the actors are volunteers and include several locals. Sarah Carter, a recent PSO grad, auditioned after seeing a casting call on Facebook and plays a cleric elf named Asha Willowbrook, one of the show’s main characters.
“I think it’s really awesome we’re doing this,” Carter, 18, said. “There’s not a lot of acting or big fine art projects up here in the Cariboo, I find, except for community or school productions.”
Carter said the small size of the project has allowed young actors like herself to gain experience both in front of and behind the camera.
“My character is skilled with a bow and really smart. She thinks she’s smarter than everyone and most of the time she’s right. It’s a very fun part.”
Many of the older actors, meanwhile, have martial arts and sword fighting experience that’s bringing realism to their fight scenes, Tanner said.
“We got some really great actors here who are really investing in the parts.”
Tanner said that they plan to wrap up filming by the end of August. Swift will then edit the hour-long pilot, with plans for an October premiere at the Lac La Hache Community Hall.
The pilot will be available to purchase online, where Tanner and Swift plan to post and sell the rest of the series. They’re confident it will be well received.
“This entire project has been a super domino effect. There have been no blockages, no stops – it’s just been flowing constantly,” Swift said. “Every time we step into it, it just gets better.”