The Communitas Film Club has completed its latest film, a western called The Drifter.
The film is set in 1860 Oregon, and the story follows the Drifter, played by Darrin Riga, who is known as the fastest gun in the west. He’s also a loner.
While on his way north to Canada, he is ambushed by thugs, and kills one of them. The thug’s brother, Doug Dekker, seeks to avenge him.
“It’s a classic action western film,” says filmmaker Brian Cucek, who also works for Communitas Supportive Care Society, an organization that supports people living with developmental disabilities.
The film club makes its own movies, and the actors who participate live with a variety of disabilities and abilities.
Their first original film was an eight-minute short called Batman’s Revenge.
When the film wrapped, they began brainstorming ideas for their next project, and decided to do a western.
Riga came up with the character whose reputation as the fastest gun in the west made others want to challenge him.
“That’s how it started but the script evolved as we went along,” Cucek says. “I wrote the general story and it was written to include as many people as possible. And whenever someone asked if they could be involved, we’d write a part just for them. There are nearly 30 people included in the production.”
Riga, who lives with autism, last year fulfilled a dream of hosting his own radio show, which he did on CIVL radio in Abbotsford. Transitioning to film felt natural.
“I came up with idea from watching old westerns,” he says. “I love being the star of a western!”
Ryan Vis, who also lives with a disability, plays the role of the villain and says he enjoyed the experience of being on the movie set.
The Drifter was shot on location in Langley, on the same set used by When Calls the Heart, a Hallmark film.
The property, owned by Rod Macinnes, has been in use since 2005 for variety of films. The Hallmark producers have expanded the set, building a church and finishing the interiors of many of the other buildings.
Because most professional film productions don’t shoot on weekends, Macinnes opens it up to students from Capilano University or to other independent filmmakers.
Cucek was thrilled to have such an amazing set to use as the backdrop for The Drifter and is grateful to Macinnes for opening up his place to people who live with disabilities.
A private screening of The Drifter was held at Communitas Supportive Care Society at the end of April for all the actors and crew and their closest fans.
The film can be found by searching “Community Inclusion Film Group” on YouTube.