Friday, 15 December 2017
Moncton Finally Growing Op
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 00:00

Growing Op PosterMoncton has already seen the lights and camera, and now we’re finally getting a chance to see the action! On Saturday, March 14, Empire Theatres Trinity Drive is holding two very special screenings of Growing Op, a movie that was filmed entirely in and around the Moncton area. The audience will also be treated to a chat by the film’s writer/director Michael Melski who will be on hand after the show.

“What started it all was a letter of complaint sent to the Times & Transcript,” says Empire’s General Manager Steve Malloy. “This movie had been made in Moncton and there was no attention paid to it. There was no showing here.”

Malloy was surprised to find out that a film with so much local content had received so little local coverage. He vowed to do his best to show the film in Moncton and only two weeks after making that vow his hard work has paid off. Local audiences will get a chance to see the film that has received glowing response across the country by selling out the Atlantic Film Festival (Halifax) and the Vancouver Film Festival late last year.

Growing Op is a poignant coming of age comedy about a sheltered, home-schooled teenager named Quinn Dawson. His parents operate a marijuana grow-op out of their suburban home, but all he wants is a normal life. Escaping his parent’s private jungle becomes even more tempting when he falls for Crystal, the new girl next door. In order to get closer to her and rebel against his parents Quinn enrolls in public high school and take on a more wholesome identity. Instead he finds himself involved in deception and realizing that perhaps his freethinking family doesn’t have it so wrong after all.

Despite the drug related situation the characters find themselves in, writer/director Michael Melski feels that his film is not a movie about drugs, but about love and family. In his own words “It’s a story about Nature – about a young man growing through change, about the inexorable pull of first love, and the power of family.” Described as heartfelt and hilarious, Growing Op has garnered comparisons with great films like Garden State and C.R.A.Z.Y.

The film stars Hollywood heavy hitters Rosanna Arquette, who most people will recognize from films like New York Stories and Pulp Fiction, as well as CSI star Wallace Langham. They play Quinn’s pot-cultivating parents who just can’t understand their son’s disdain towards their lifestyle. Toronto native Steven Yaffee is Quinn, and another recognizable face is that of Canadian Rachel Blanchard, star of Snakes on a Plane and Where the Truth Lies. It’s almost hard to believe we had such international talent in our own backyards for the duration of filming! Not to mention the appearance of several newcomers from right here in the Maritimes.

The soundtrack is also homegrown and all-Canadian with contributions from Matt Mays and El Torpedo, Joel Plaskett Emergency, Classified, Jill Barber, Amelia Curran, Nathan Wiley, and Teenage Head. The original score by Andrew Scott (Sloan) with Ian McGettigan help to enhance the more sensitive scenes of the film.

But what’s really getting Moncton audiences going about the film? Location, location, location! “From what I understand, anybody watching it will instantly recognize locations around Moncton,” says Steve Malloy. Shot in 2007 L’école Odyssée, Moncton High School and the suburbs around Magnetic Hill are among some of the local spots that will be splashed across the big screen.

Malloy’s excitement about being able to offer the film is definitely contagious.  “I’d really like to see us sell out both shows because it shows our support for something that was done in Moncton.”

Scene from Growing OpIt’s hard not to see Malloy’s passion for bringing excitement back into a night at the movies. In fact, he’s responsible for starting the popular Fanboy Fridays, a midnight event that brings back cult-classic and hit films. Now dubbed Empire Fan Favorites, the concept has gone company wide but was started here in Moncton. “We’re making it a cool place to come again. We have events now that people actually look forward to.”

Tickets for Growing Op are on sale now and can be purchased either at the box office or online at empiretheatres.com at the special price of only $6.99. For only $10.51 you can get a combo that includes the ticket plus a regular size drink and popcorn to munch on. Proceeds from one of the showings will be donated to a local charity. Show times are Saturday, March 14 at 4:30 p.m. and 10p.m. and Michael Melski will be in attendance at both screenings to take audience questions and comments.

Meet Director Michael MelskiDirector Michael Melski

Born and raised in Sydney, NS, Michael Melski is definitely a local success story. An award-winning playwright and director he has received critical acclaim for his short films Serenade and Lift Off. He’s also been involved with such high profile projects as televisions Robson Arms. Growing Op is his directorial debut on a full-length film and Melski took the task seriously by writing, directing and co-producing the feature. His efforts have paid off in the form of high praise and big laughs from audiences across the country.

On Saturday, March 14th not only will Moncton get the chance to see familiar places on the big screen, they’ll also have a chance to talk personally with this talented filmmaker. Melski will be in attendance at both screenings of Growing Op and is happy to be able to chat with audience members after the show.

I recently had the chance to ask Michael Melski a few questions about the film and the upcoming event!

SF: Were you surprised to hear that the film had never been shown in Moncton?

MM: I'd been aware of a significant groundswell to have Growing Op screen in Moncton, but I was very pleased to hear that it was actually happening. The film has been so popular right across Canada and I'm really looking forward to bringing it back to where we shot it… to 'complete the circle'.

SF: This is the first time Empire Theatres in Moncton has held an event like this, giving people the chance to meet and chat with the director of a film. What did you think when you were approached to do this event?

MM: I was just really pleased so many people want the film here. The province of New Brunswick was such a key financial player in making the film happen - we shot completely in Moncton and Tracadie - that I welcome any chance to thank them for their investment. I’d also like to mention that this couldn't have happened without the terrific support of Steve Malloy at Empire Theatres and our distributor, Mongrel Media.

SF: What was it like filming here in Moncton?

MM: I think some of the crew from Halifax came to Moncton with the 'Hali-centric' idea that we were going to shoot in some kind of backwater. But by the end of the shoot, pretty much everyone had fallen in love with Moncton - the acting talent, the hospitality, the social life of the city, the tolerance of neighborhoods to our late night shoots. It's just a very warm place, and I think that vibe shows up in the film. So you could say that, even though we don't name it as Moncton, the city is somewhat of a character. The only small downside was the wind...it's a windy place. It's like the Wichita, Kansas of Canada.