ERIN LINN MCMULLAN
Special to the Westerly
Anticipation builds as an artificial moon shines down on mist-cloaked First Street. On this otherwise typical mid-summer’s night in Tofino in 2018, the street has been blocked off as Come to Daddy’s film crew prepares for their night shoot.
The small local crowd gathered in front of SoBo titters as the fog machine is cued, without irony, to magnify West Coast ambience. Tendrils of fog swirl like tentacles.
Out walks Elijah Wood, dragging his way towards a derelict car.
An operator swoops in close with the camera, moving crane and jib balletically after several rehearsals. Director, Ant Timpson, whose passion project this is, watches the monitor in video village, under a porta-tent curbside.
While secrecy surrounds this father-son reunion story with horror overtones, Wood, producer Mette-Marie Kongsved and crew quickly settled into our “thickly woven community almost overnight,” according to Oak Hygaard, owner of Pai, one of the “local film junkies huddled together in silence admiring the fabricated moonlit car crash scene” that night, Hygaard says stories traded amongst locals helped: “from a bizarre run-in involving rainy-day Margarita mix at LA Grocery, and surf culture rumours of Elijah spending three-hour sessions without a wetsuit shooting ocean scenes, to dining in on the regular for cult classic Tofino dishes amongst other resident foodies.”
As estranged son Norval, Wood builds his canon of fish-out-of-water characters from Frodo in Lord of the Rings to quirky turns in I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, TV adaptation of Douglas Adams’ series.
When Come to Daddy debuted April 25th this year during Tribeca’s Midnight program, the filmmakers credited Tofino for helping achieve the aesthetic and celluloid look to illustrate Norval’s isolation.
“Come to Daddy was filmed in a stunning, stilted house overlooking the sea and backdropped by forest and beach in the tiny town of Tofino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. ‘It was perfect,’ Timpson says. ‘I can’t imagine the film working elsewhere now.’”
Vancouver Island Film Commissioner Joan Miller emphasizes that the production team—a Canada-Ireland-New Zealand co-production—were “very determined” to film in Tofino, despite the challenges of tourist season and creatively problem-solved issues like accommodation, office space and accessing film locations.
“I doubt that any of us will ever forget spending the better part of two months in Tofino,” says Kongsved, who discovered the location during a mini-vacation.
“Waking up everyday and going to work with people you love on a project you love in place that is so beautiful and in a community that is so small and intimate just made for a very memorable experience. We all felt like locals by the end and I know that I definitely miss it a lot.”
“The immersion in the surrounding stunning nature, mixed with the lovely community and ever-growing culinary scene made Tofino a special and unforgettable spot to me,” says Wood.
“In Tofino, we pride ourselves on hosting guests well, and that includes filmmakers,” says Mayor Josie Osborne. “I’m really looking forward to seeing the film myself and I wish them well as it rolls out across North America.”
READ MORE: Tofino council debates film permitting fees