Kingston Ontario – The lights in the theatre dim, the audience munches on buttery popcorn, and a narrow beam of light from the projector hits the large screen.
From blockbuster Hollywood hits to independent films – magic happens on the silver screen. Some of Canada’s best independent films will be celebrated at an upcoming festival.
The film ‘Sir John A. And the Curse Of The Anti-Quenched’, written and directed and produced by Adam Kirkey, will premiere at The Kingston Canadian Film Festival this March. Adam Kirkey is an Ottawa filmmaker who grew up in St. Andrews West.
This comedy horror is based off a short film of the same named that won The Kingston Canadian Film Festival Best Local Short in 2015.
‘Sir John A. And the Curse Of The Anti-Quenched’ has an entertaining plot and premise. The film follows two brothers in Kingston who are out for an evening of drinks in celebration of a recent promotion, when they fall into a one hundred and fifty year old curse that was started by Sir John A. The curse states that those not inebriated within the city limits of Kingston will turn into soul-sucking demons. Through a series of events, the brothers become the city’s only hope to break the curse and stop the demons.
‘Sir John A. And the Curse Of The Anti-Quenched’, is a low-budget film, but it has an impressive cast of well known Canadian actors easily recognizable from the Trailer Park Boys, Kenny vs. Spenny, and Fubar.
“We were really lucky to get the cast we did; this film is very low budget, and the mere fact we were able to get anyone well-known is still amazing to me,” stated Adam Kirkey.
Sir John A. And The Curse Of the Anti-Quenched features John Dunsworth, famously known as Mr. Lahey on Trailer Park Boys, Spencer Rice of Kenny vs Spenny, Paul Spence ‘The Deaner’ from the cult classic Fubar, Kathleen O’Hurley, @Slashleen, a largely popular twitter personalty from Toronto, and an ensemble cast of Kingstonians and other very talented Canadians – including Brock Terriah from Cornwall Ontario.
John Dunsworth, aka Trailer Park Boys Mr. Lahey, was a voice actor in the film and portrayed Canada’s first Prime Minister in ‘Sir John A. And the Curse Of The Anti-Quenched’. Dunsworth was very impressed with Producer Adam Kirkey’s professionalism.
“He asked if I’d be interested in doing the voice, and I said sure. So we made an appointment and went to the studio. He stayed up in Toronto and I did the voice in the studio. It was good to work with him, he knew exactly what he wanted,” recalled John Dunsworth.
Adam Kirkey was just as enthusiastic to work with the Trailer Park Boys comedic actor.
“Early on in making the film we all made a wish list of Canadians we thought would be perfect for the voice of Sir John A. We got carried away with names like Ryan Reynolds, but one name kept coming up: John Dunsworth! We thought it would be perfect for Canada’s favourite drunk guy to play Canada’s favourite drunk PM. So we reached out with nothing to lose, and we were thrilled when he said that and he would be ‘pleased as punch to do it’. Dunsworth was great to work with — very professional and collaborative. He brought an essence to the film which I think will ground it a bit and really play up the comedy,” said Kirkey.
In addition to playing up the comedy, the horror film will also be playing up the history on the eve of Canada’s 150th anniversary. Canada’s first Prime Minister was considered a bit of a drunk by nineteenth century standards.
“The infamous bit from Canadian history was that Sir John A. was a bit of a drunk. But one of the things that also kept coming up was his apparent dislike of Louis Riel. We thought it would be interesting to add this aspect of his life to the film, and it makes for a fun way to ‘explain’ why Sir John A. was inebriated all those years,” explained Kirkey.
In addition to John Dunsworth, ‘Sir John A. And the Curse Of The Anti-Quenched’ also features Spencer Rice who was recently interviewed in The Seeker Newspaper for his music tour. In the film Rice’s character is the owner of the game store where the two main protagonists work.
“We worked with Spencer Rice early on in the project. We knew he had a busy schedule, but he took the time to come to set twice. He was very collaborative and engaged. We really think his role adds a comedic element to the film. People will get a kick out of him for sure,” mentioned Kirkey.
It was a thrill for Cornwall born actor Brock Terriah, who played the character of Barry, to work on a scene with Spencer Rice.
“The movie has been so much fun to film. I got to meet some amazing people and even got to work with Spencer Rice! All I could think in my head was “I’m being yelled at by Spenny!” Luckily he was only acting…. I hope,” said Terriah with a nervous laugh.
The very talented Kathleen O’Hurley will add yet another comedic element to the film. She plays the girlfriend of Tim, one of the main characters.
“I’d worked with Kathleen once before in the past on another project, so we got along really well and she understood the vision for the part right away. She is a really talented and genuinely funny person,” marveled Kirkey.
Paul Spence from Fubar was a late addition to the cast. He has a small but memorable role in the film.
“Paul Spence was a late addition to the cast and his part is small in the film, however, I think people may remember his part the most! I won’t give any spoilers, but he cracked us up a lot on set and it’s really going to be a memorable part of the film! His talent really shines through – he brought a lot of creativity to a small role,” said Kirkey.
Paul Spence was impressed by the imagination and effort put forth by filmmaker Adam Kirkey.
“Adam was awesome. It’s fun to see what people are capable of doing with limited budget but unlimited imagination and effort. The fact that they brought their entire crew to me in Montreal for a few hours of shooting, along with the backdrops needed, was really impressive. They were able to turn a warehouse that was storing t-shirts into a convincing back stage area of a strip club in about 45 minutes. The fog machine definitely helped,” stated Paul Spence.
Paul Spence plays a DJ at a Strip Club in ‘Sir John A. And the Curse Of The Anti-Quenched’. It was an interesting character for the ‘Deaner’ to play.
“I play a strip club DJ who is experiencing some issues with his personal life. What I like to do is meet the director in person and get a sense of their directing style, and then adjust the improv with that in mind. Some directors just want you to go off, others have a certain vision of the comedy. Adam wanted to keep it within the realm of the realistic, but still pushing the boundaries of humour, so we tried a bunch of ways to get across that my character’s wife was cheating on him. The irony being that he’s a strip club DJ and almost entirely unsympathetic. But those are my favourite kinds of characters. The ones who seem so unlikeable, but somehow are human enough to elicit empathy,” reflected Paul Spence.
Audiences will recognize Paul Spence as Dean on Fubar, but is it refreshing for him to play other roles?
“Yeah, especially roles that involve strip clubs,” said Paul Spence with a smile. “They can expect to see mammoth production values, 5-star acting, with a dash of hard nosed realism,” he added with a chuckle.
The genre of horror comedy has been popular for decades, and several filmmakers have influenced and inspired Adam Kirkey over the years.
“Early Kevin Smith was a big inspiration, and although I’m not a huge fan of his recent films, I think it’s import that there is a filmmaker like him out there. I loved a lot of John Carpenter films, some of Romero’s stuff. Robert Rodrigez’s ‘Rebel Without a Crew’ style of film making has also been a huge influence on me. The movies that influenced ‘Sir John A. and the Curse of the Anti-Quenched’ though were films like Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Goonies,” reveled Kirkey.
Making an independent film like ‘Sir John A. And the Curse Of The Anti-Quenched’ has its highs and lows. Some of the highs are the interesting stories working on set. For example, while filming in front of a closed down store the crew saw two people having ‘relations’ in a nearby car.
“We filmed outside of a closed-down movie store in downtown Kingston one night, and usually nothing goes on there. It’s close to a fast food drive thru and is about 100 yards from Princess street, which is the main street in Kingston. Normally the building is abandoned, but that night a theatre group was using it. We decided to wait in the parking lot for them to clear out. They said they’d be wrapped up in an hour or so. During that hour, a gentlemen pulled into the parking lot about 5-6 parking spots away from our production van, and a few moments later a lady pulled up next to him. She exited her car, entered his, then they proceeded to have relations. Right there in front of us! They finished, she exited his car, got in hers, and the two drove away. I guess that brings a new meaning to the term ‘Drive Thru’,” said Kirkey with a smirk.
Every indie filmmaker faces challenges putting a movie together. There were many challenges putting ‘Sir John A. And the Curse Of The Anti-Quenched’ together – from finishing production, to budgeting, to working around schedules, to filming outside with increment weather. Despite the adversity this film was successfully completed on time.
“The biggest challenge was finishing the production! Budgeting for the film and figuring out how to accommodate everyone’s schedules was tough. We needed to film sporadic weekends throughout the spring, summer, fall, and even as late as December. Coordinating work schedules, figuring out locations, and watching the weather made for some stressful days,” reported Kirkey.
It helps to have supportive people when working on a larger project like this. According to Adam, the biggest support he had through this endeavor was his girlfriend.
“My girlfriend, Leanne, has been a big support through this endeavor, she’s been there every step of the way and has put up with me working all hours of the day and night. She also helped set design a few scenes in the film as well. My family and close friends have also been an immense source of support,” disclosed Kirkey.
Adam Kirkey has been keeping busy. His other recent work includes producing corporate videos for local businesses and filming and editing the Epic Meal Time pilot project “E-lebrity” that was picked up by CBC. The filmmaker is thinking ahead to future projects such as ‘Broke & Educated’, and possibly a sequel to ‘Sir John A and the Curse of the Anti-Quenched’ if the first full length is successful.
“Matthew Bell (one of the film’s main characters) and I have a script we’ve been trying to get made for a while now entitled ‘Broke & Educated’. It’s about three friends who are fed up with their jobs and decide to rob a bank. We’d love to do that film. If ‘Sir John A and the Curse of the Anti-Quenched’ is successful though, I do like the idea of Matt and Tim taking on some other supernatural beings. The two brothers are a natural pair, and we all love making each other laugh and coming up with fun ideas for films,” said Kirkey.
‘Sir John A. And the Curse Of The Anti-Quenched’ premiers at The Kingston Canadian Film Festival which commences on March 2nd. Adam Kirkey is excited about the upcoming premier.
“We’re so excited to premier the film at this year’s Kingston Film Festival. It’s been an insane endeavor to get it to this point and we can’t wait for people to see the film! Audiences can expect a fun adventure film. There’s a lot of humour, a lot of history, and for people who know the city of Kingston, there will be a lot of familiar settings. Every single PM gets mentioned in the film in some capacity, so festival goers can keep an eye out for that,” concluded Kirkey.
The Kingston Canadian Film Festival is the largest festival in the world dedicated exclusively to Canadian film. It takes place March 2nd to March 5th, 2017. For more info on the festival visit their website.