Tramping through the wintry northern Ontario woods as a vampire is paying off for Red Deer actor Alyx Melone.
Melone will make her film debut in the atmospheric short film o negative — and the 13-minute thriller about desire and dependency is premiering next week in the Toronto International Film Festival’s Shortcuts program.
“For me it’s been such an exciting journey,” said the Red Deer College theatre graduate, who plans to attend the red-carpet event on Thursday (Sept. 10).
Melone hopes her performance in o negative helps her gain a toehold in an industry that’s been difficult to break into — even though she graduated from the prestigious National Theatre School in Montreal in 2013.
The story for the short film came out of a discussion Melone started with her actor/musician boyfriend, Steven McCarthy, a couple of years ago, while both were living in Toronto.
“We started planning and thinking about characters” along the theme of addiction, she recalled.
A germ of an idea began emerging about a man who becomes so smitten with a female character that he’s willing to do anything to keep her alive.
This simmered in their minds until Melone decided to move back to Red Deer to spend some time with her family last spring. Suddenly it became a matter of now or never. “I said, ‘If we’re going to make the movie it has to be done by this date,’” she recalled.
And the complicated filmmaking process was set in motion. McCarthy, who previously appeared at TIFF playing opposite Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) in the award-winning 2012 feature Picture Day, wrote the wordless script for o negative. He also decided to direct and act in the short, playing the besotted male protagonist.
Melone, 28, was cast as his female object of desire who’s soon revealed to have a vampire’s addiction to blood.
McCarthy brought his pal Cabot McNenly (The Animal Project, You Are Here), onboard as cinematographer. McNenly is considered a young Quebec filmmmaker to watch.
McCarthy’s doctor friend Eric Haapala and his wife Corinne Wilkerson, were lined up as producers, and Quebec actor Stephane Lafleur took a supporting role.
o negative was shot in four days last March in a motel room, bar and forest near Bruce Mines, Ont., on the north shore of Lake Huron. It was a cold, bleak time of year. Malone believes this added to the murky atmosphere of the film, which has also been accepted into Sudbury, Ont.’s Cinefest.
Intimate camera angles make the viewer feel like a voyeur, and the music and sound design create a potboiler mood.
Although the $15,000 film can be viewed as a straight-ahead vampire story, she believes the short also serves as a metaphor about what people are willing to compromise to satisfy their addictions. She believes parallels can be drawn between the man’s intense love for the female and the vampire’s lust for blood
“There’s the idea of what do you do to feed your desire? Is he willing to lose his humanity?”
After working Toronto’s film festival circuit for the next two weeks, Melone is hoping to get an agent to help her line up other cinematic projects after she moves back to Toronto in November.
The actor, who went to Notre Dame High School in Red Deer and acted in such RDC productions as Romeo and Juliet and Blood Wedding, is thrilled whenever she comes across another Albertan in Toronto. “It makes us kindred spirits in this big city.”
She hopes o negative can be screened online or even at a local movie theatre after festival season is over.
This is a big year for McCarthy, who is also acting in a feature comedy getting shown at TIFF, Andrew Currie’s The Steps. It co-stars Christine Lahti and James Brolin.
To see the trailer for o negative, please visit https://vimeo.com/135418038. More information is also available at www.onegativefilm.com.