Jesse Pickett’s lived in Vancouver for nearly a decade but is often drawn back to his hometown of Red Deer for his film projects.
“I think it’s the diverse landscape,” reflected Pickett, whose latest works are showing this week at the Central Alberta Film Festival (CAFF).
He believes the Red Deer area offers interesting topography so that “everywhere you look it’s visually stunning.”
Two of Pickett’s latest films are being screened for Central Albertans this week. CAFF showed the feature Blue Hour on Wednesday and will be running his short mockumentary Eddie Goes to Space on Friday.
Blue Hour (which can also be viewed online Friday when it’s screened in the Ontario International Film Festival) is about a rural Albertan with a road construction job, who dreams of becoming a writer.
The young man is “trying to find his own voice and advocate for himself,” said Pickett, the film’s writer and director. The story also says something about “toxic masculinity and gender stereotyping in a blue-collar working environment.”
Pickett was nominated for a B.C. Film and Television Industry’s Leo Award for his screenwriting on Blue Hour. The male lead, Evan Rein, also from the Red Deer area, was nominated as best actor for his performance in this 142-minute film, which was shot in and around Red Deer and Vancouver in 2019.
Eddie Goes to Space is a 16-minute flick shot in mockumentary style. Pickett, the director, said it’s about a down-on-his-luck cinematographer who agrees to film an eccentric old man who thinks he’s about to get abducted by aliens.
“It’s kind of an absurdist comedy,” he explained of this project, written by Brendan Lee and starring Calgary actor Andy Maton. Pickett reveals there’s a twist ending in which the cinematographer comes out on top.
The former Red Deerian, who relocated to B.C. about 10 years ago to get a Motion Picture Arts degree from Capilano University, previously won a Telus Storyhive grant to make Umbrageous, a short film about children of the forest.
He also travelled to China to film a documentary, Still Turning, about the 23rd descendant of a 16th-century waterwheel maker who’s carrying on with this ancient craft.
Pickett is hoping to have Red Deer screenings for his next projects — Reformat, a sci-fi film about artificial intelligence, and Jalopy, about an older man whose body begins to act up, just like an aging car.
Meanwhile, the Central Alberta Film Festival is running until Saturday in Red Deer. For more information about the diverse film line-up or ticket bookings, please visit cafilmfestival.ca.