Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Ghosts of Oakalla and our Heroes in Kandahar

Gas masks for horses? Too surreal, and yet very real. The old OAKALLA PRISON was also HQ of the mounted troop of the B.C. Provincial Police between WW1 and WW2. The BCPP equestrian troop did practice for crowd and riot control, [I've hefted one of their 4 foot leather truncheons] but did not have teargas hoods for their mounts.

The ghosts of Oakalla are alive and still waiting to be caught on camera. When I began the OAKALLA Doc project I understood its potential, but could not guess so much worthwhile material would emerge or that scores of fascinating people would call me with great stories. After many consultations by phone, email or visits, I have chosen more than a dozen candidates for on-camera interviews. Script development is going well and I'm sure that most of what will appear on screen has never been seen or heard by the general public. Where my initial film, OAKALLA, was largely historical in content, the feature will delve into cases and issues which will make some uncomfortable. Several ex-staff who worked at Oakalla Prison have mentioned the "gag" provision of their employment contract, while others don't care. It is clear we have a common need to get these stories out.

OAKALLA : This is the DVD cover printed for distribution of a preview disc. Only a few copies are in circulation and a few were produced for legal deposit in B.C. and Ottawa. I have been offered a first screening at a Burnaby theatre.

Many unique photographs and artifacts have turned up, and generously offered for my use in the feature documentary. They will amaze even those who worked inside Oakalla, because it is a graphic record which is simply not supposed to exist. That it does exist is a credit to the foresight of a few individuals.

TF 3-09 KANDAHAR BOUND - One of the interests around the Jack household is following Canada's war in Afghanistan. Our daughter, Capt. Elizabeth Jack, left this week with the current rotation of troops which is designated TF 3-09. We are very proud of her and we fervently wish all of the brave men and women of the Task Force the best of luck and great success in their work.
To improvise or to modify? Student director Philip Jack has been spreading cash at TOYS R US, the HOME DEPOT and anywhere he can find bits and pieces needed to assemble props needed for his grad-film. He loves making props. (This bullpup is half completed, and will get a longer barrel and target designator.) The script for his Science Fiction story IMMINENT CONTACT is tweaked, the film is cast, and his crew at Simon Fraser University begin shooting later this month.

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