Hell or Tide Water
Victor Bohm’s days at his fabrication company are usually taken up building pipe and mechanical systems for food processing or manufacturing plants.
So he never imagined he’d get involved fabricating something completely different: a movie set, complete with a full-size futuristic submarine and robots at his West Hamilton shop floor.
But then Bohm is no ordinary CEO.
Back in the ’90s, Bohm was an actor, with roles in short movies and commercials. Then he got what he calls ‘sidetracked’. Following in his father’s footsteps, he trained as a millwright at Dofasco, became an Operations Manager for an ironworks in Alberta – and ever the entrepreneur – went on to found Veritech, a successful engineering business.
His love for the silver screen came tugging back in February when local writer-director Scott C. Newman suggested they became partners in a film production company, and White Dwarf Pictures was founded.
And Bohm himself isn’t just behind the scenes, he’s in them too.
“I get to play the bad guy in a leading role! How cool is that?” he said.
Ironically, he gets to be a CEO again in Newman’s script, Hell or Tide Water.
This time he’s a Norwegian businessman heading up a fictional oil company that runs a fleet of SULCCs (Submersible Ultra Large Crude Carriers). Aside from learning lines – and running his own company all the while – Bohm is up for the added challenge of the character’s Scandinavian accent.
Hell or Tide Water is an action movie about a Canadian energy company trying to build an oil pipeline to a BC fjord. There’s espionage, talking robots that go rogue, and fight scenes among the submarine crew (choreographed with the help of a local stuntman).
But the film carries a serious message too. It explores the relationship between Indigenous communities and Canada’s expanding industries, both past and present. Before sitting down to write the script, Newman meticulously researched nautical details and historically-accurate information for the movie’s 1877 flashback in Canadian history.
That’s when the British Royal Navy conducted one of its last and little-known military actions on the BC coast. The isolated Bella Coola village was bombarded, and its indigenous peoples killed, or captured and cruelly treated.
Newman had been a news video editor at CBC TV’s The National and worked on documentaries at Global before setting out on his own. Several passions led him to write this feature-length script: his strong sense of social justice, particularly for Indigenous peoples: a concern for the environment – and the potential to film in the currently mothballed Chedoke Hospital buildings on the mountain’s Sanatorium Road.
“If you’ve ever been in one of the boiler rooms there, with its huge pipe networks and giant tanks, you’ll see how it sparked my imagination,” he said.
Working on a shoestring, he began finding and storing props more than three years ago in preparation for his first feature, including upcycling his treadmill so it could be built into a robot.
Bohm’s engineering skills – and stamina – became invaluable.
“We literally built the props and set from scratch with pieces sitting around my workshop, or things Scott’s been collecting,” said Bohm, “and we got hardly any sleep for weeks!”
Almost everyone and everything involved in this movie is Hamilton-made: the actors, crew, studios, costume and set designers were local, and post-production will be taking place close to home. A variety of local artists created original works for the film, including a special sculpture by Hamiltonian Martyn Kendrick.
Even Bohm’s employees found themselves involved in the project, helping to build the set, and some are even making their acting debuts.
Whether you’re looking for Canadian content, an action film, or a thoughtful look at our past, Hell or Tide Water promises a bit of something for everyone.
But Bohm is holding back on the spoilers.
“Let’s just say the film asks: what would the world be like if back in the 1600s, the Indigenous people knew we were heading their way?”
The movie launches on a new (also homegrown) ‘Netflix’ start-up called Eyeball TV. with a December 15th release date, in time for Christmas.
“I love how this is a Canadian story, hand-crafted in Hamilton,” said Bohm.
And it literally is.