VFS Acting for Film & Television graduate and instructor Duncan MacLellan is currently preparing for the upcoming release of Jackhammer, a film in which he appears and co-wrote. We chatted with Duncan about his experience making the film and his deep-rooted and long-standing connection to Vancouver Film School.
You have been connected with VFS for many years. Tell us about that.
Tell us about Jackhammer – what’s it all about?
Duncan: The movie is an absurd comedy with out of this world characters. The film centres around an out-of-work actor named Julius (VFS grad Guy Christie) who gets blacklisted from Hollywood by Casting Director Lance Selmour (Jamie Kennedy) only to find refuge in the form of his estranged older brother and male peeler Jackhammer (Mike Hanus). You can only guess what happens next.
How did you get involved in this project?
Duncan: After Guy Christie was cast in the film, he hired me to be his personal acting coach. After working very diligently on the scenes, we came up with a few re-writes and ideas. This caught the attention of the film’s writer, director, producer, and star Mike Hanus. Mike is an amazing young filmmaker and together we re-wrote most of the movie, earning us co-writing credits on the project. That was almost three years ago. Jackhammer will be released this Fall.
There are a lot of celeb cameos featured in the film. How did this come about?
Duncan: When the film was almost complete, Mike Hanus sent it to Telefilm and “the little indie that could” gained more attention and received more funding. Mike (or “Hammer” as we call him) wanted to stay true to his Canadian roots so he and co-producer McKinley Hlady signed Robb Wells (The Trailer Park Boys) to play a new character we wrote.
The production value was now beginning to look even better as some of the scenes were being re-shot. It was at that point Nicole Sullivan (Mad TV, The King of Queens) expressed interest and was cast in the film as well. This was a dream for me because she was my favorite comedic actor growing up and my character in the movie, Jason Harinals, has a scene with her.
Soon after, Jamie Kennedy (Scream, The Jamie Kennedy Experiment), Pamela Anderson, YouTube sensation Peter Chao, and Erin Cebula (Entertainment Tonight Canada) were brought on by the producers to make cameos in the film. It’s really a testament to the filmmakers who believed anything was possible and then went out and proved it.
What is the VFS connection?
Duncan: Guy Christie and I are both VFS Acting grads. Jose Sobrinho, who did the sound design, is a Sound Design for Visual Media grad.
How is VFS supporting this venture?
Duncan: VFS has been absolutely amazing in allowing us to use their Green Screen and various pieces of equipment. A school that not only helps its students out during their tenure but also beyond graduation is very special.
Thanks for speaking with us Duncan and best of luck with the release of Jackhammer!