Many people know of Mt. Pearl’s Matt Wells, from his days in the Newfoundland band Bucket Truck (who shared stages with the likes of Slayer and NOFX), or his days as a Much Music and MTV TV Personality. He has gotten quite a few film credits to his name since then, as a writer, actor, director, and even producer.
You can check out his latest effort, Crown & Anchor, tonight, at the Nickel Film Festival (8:50pm at the LSPU Hall). The film was co-written by, and co-stars Michael Rowe — also a local musician turned actor, and former member of Bucket Truck.
Rowe is best known for his portrayal of the iconic DC Comics’ antihero Deadshot in Arrow. Unlike his former bandmate, Rowe’s intro to the film business wasn’t through Much Music, but rather, a sibling. After Bucket Truck broke up, Rowe headed out west to Vancouver where his brother, Andrew, was beginning his career as a filmmaker.
Andrew also has co-writing credits in Crown & Anchor, and directed it. You might have heard of the Rowe bros’ last project, Vehicular Romanticide, as its played at local festivals here recently.
In Crown & Anchor, Michael plays the role of James Downey, a straight-edge cop, confronting family demons as he returns home for his mother’s funeral. Wells plays his firecracker cousin, Danny, who drowns out their family drama with drugs and booze.
When their lives intersect, and the past collides with the present, the two unravel with violent and tragic consequences. The intense drama is set in St. John’s, and set to a blistering soundtrack.
Crown & Anchor then, is the product of two brothers and two former bandmates, coming together in a fully charged action film. Their union started with a script Wells was writing for himself and Michael.
“Since the band ended,” Wells says, “we are constantly looking for projects to create together and I had an idea loosely inspired by some personal experiences from witnessing addiction in my family. I was interested in examining how people who are close can deal with shared trauma very differently.”
He says Michael became very involved in the writing process, and suggested Wells send it to his brother Andrew for notes. “Michael and Andrew had been making some really cool short films together in Vancouver, and eventually the 3 of us did one called ‘The Business of Acting’ that Andrew wrote. There was a special energy on that shoot and I knew it was the first of more projects to come.”
Naturally, there are some perks of filmmakers knowing each other well, in terms of pulling off a movie together. “Trust is the biggest thing,” Andrew says. “There was no need to spend any time building a level of trust because it was already so strong.”
Andrew says this trust allowed them all to be comfortable, “and when you’re comfortable, you’re able to do your best work on a movie set, because you’re not afraid to try things.”
Andrew also points out that as a writer, it helped to know Matt and Michael so well because he could tailor the roles to them, and as a director, “it was extremely easy to communicate with them, and they with me, so we could work at an extremely quick pace, which was very necessary given our short shooting schedule.”
The trio were also comfortable sharing a pen on the script. Wells says, “When I gave Andrew my version of Crown and Anchor for notes, he connected with the characters and the sentiment of my story, but suggested telling it in a different way. I’ve known Andrew for a long time, trust him, and believe he is one of the most talented writers I know. He eventually rewrote the entire thing with a much more interesting focus towards deep character development, and a much darker storyline.”
Within 6 months, they were filming with Andrew directing. Tonight’s screening will act as the Canadian Premier of the film, and Wells, Michael Rowe, writer/director Andrew Rowe, and Andy Jones will be in the audience for a Q&A following the film.
Michael lives in California, Andrew is in Kenora, and Wells is in Toronto, but it was important for them to film this one at home. “We wanted to connect with the growing and thriving film community at home in the same way we did with the music community as 2 guys in a local band,” Wells says.
“With Andrew in the mix we all had a shared desire to make a film in St. John’s that showed a different side, a darker side, and not focus on the postcard shots. St. John’s is beautiful but it’s also raw and edgy. We wanted to make a movie that tapped into that edge and that was visually unlike anything else we had seen filmed at home before.
Other actors in the film include Natalie Brown (The Strain), Robert Joy (CSI: NY, The Hills Have Eyes) and Stephen McHattie (Orphan Black, Seinfeld) and our very own Andy Jones.