Born and raised in Hay River, Kelvin Redvers plans to direct a feature film inspired by the Northwest Territories highways, titled Cold Road, in and around the town in March.
“It feels really meaningful to be able to shoot the movie on the highways that inspired it,” he said.
That plan received a financial boost in the form of a $25,000 grant approved by Hay River’s town council during a special meeting on Monday, January 31, as first reported by NNSL.
Redvers said he booked a flight to the territory the morning after the council motion passed.
“It was kind-of just a feeling of comfort and a feeling of coming home,” he said. “Just having the support of people who know you behind you.”
Redvers, who is a member of the Deninu Kųę́ First Nation, recalled “making movies at Diamond Jenness Secondary for many, many years” before moving to the west coast to study film production in 2005.
He went on to work in film and TV, and created the non-profit We Matter, dedicated to supporting Indigenous youth, with his sibling T’áncháy Redvers.
“All that time since I left Hay River, the goal has been to make feature films, that’s always the dream,” he said.
The idea for Cold Road came to Redvers in 2019, but it wasn’t until a different project fell through in 2021 that he said he decided, “this should be the first feature that I try to direct.”
While the film is inspired by the NWT’s highways, especially those around Hay River, shooting was originally planned to take place in northern Alberta. After confronting several hurdles in the province, however, the production team decided to pursue filming in the territory.
“There’s just a certain vibe and a feeling of these NWT highways that you don’t really feel anywhere else,” Redvers said.
“They’re definitely something special. Both that in winter, if you’re not prepared, they could be pretty dangerous. But also if you’re just driving by yourself, there’s just so much solitude and contemplation, I guess. I just haven’t seen them on screen.”
The film’s story follows an Indigenous woman as she drives to her remote First Nation community on a journey to reconnect with her home and identity — all while she’s being followed by a stranger in a semi truck.
Filming is expected to take place over a two-week period, according to details shared during the Hay River council meeting. During that time, the 20-person crew is expected to spend around $80,000 in town.
Redvers also plans to hire and enlist the support of locals who are interested or have experience in film production, including pulling a few actors from the high school.
The production team will also be looking for specific on-set support including catering, carpenters, semi truck drivers, and the use of a winterized RV and a coach bus.
“When we are closer to the shoot, we’d be hopefully pulling in extras as well. Not just people, but also like vehicle extras,” Redvers said.
“As we get closer, we’ll be asking for those sorts of things too, from folks in town who want to come be part of a movie.”
Anyone interested in supporting the project can reach out to the production team.