Shadow of gun violence

Four “children of the forest” live in innocence until they stumble across a dead man — and a gun

Four “children of the forest” live in innocence until they stumble across a dead man — and a gun.

That’s the premise of a Umbrageous, new short film by Red Deer filmmaker Jesse Pickett. The 27-year-old, who divides his time between Red Deer and Vancouver, won a $10,000 Telus Storyhive grant to make his new eight-minute fantasy film.

“It would have been really hard to make this happen without the money,” said an appreciative Pickett. Besides covering costume costs (the forest children are dressed in animal skins), film equipment rentals, and some catering during the three-day shoot early in January, he noted the Storyhive grant comes with distribution opportunities.

The live-action short will get shown on Telus Optic TV — and potentially Air Canada flights and other places if it gets picked up from there.

Pickett, who began telling “visual stories” with a video camera while attended Hunting Hills School, worked for a time at McBain Camera in Red Deer while investigating which film course to pursue.

In 2011, he opted to enroll at Vancouver’s Capilano University because its motion picture degree program would allow him to work on his own project in his last two years of study. Pickett created a 20-minute sci-fi film called Caulder’s View, about a man climbing one of the last remaining mountains in North America at time when most mountains have been mined as an energy resource.

The film says something about conservation — and the filmmaker admitted he tends to be drawn to message-oriented projects.

Umbrageous (the title means ‘under a shadow’) will show what happens when wilderness dwellers, who share the innocent traits of children and animals, get access to a weapon. Pickett said he was influenced by gun violence in the U.S., as well as Japanese fantasy films.

“The story was written a couple of years ago. Initially, it was a larger concept, but I was isolating it along the theme of the gun… I was thinking about what was happening, societally, with guns in our culture and how accessible they are.”

The short will be filmed in Maple Ridge, B.C. next month, and will be shown on Telus’s Optic TV in the spring. Pickett then plans to enter it into film festivals.

After finishing up a contract on the Reality TV show Chopped, he’s looking forward to working on his own project with a large crew of 30, mostly former classmates.

Pickett, who has four other films and comic book stories “in development,” credits Central Alberta’s diverse landscape and the people he met while growing up in here, for influencing the development of his characters, stories and themes.

He will be attending a two-month film residency in France next fall.

For more information about Umbrageous, visit www.storyhive.com/project/show/id/774 or jesselcpickett.wordpress.com.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com