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L.A. Beat

Lethbridge movies starting to take off

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Several local film makers have found their muse in Lethbridge.

One of them, director/writer Gianna Magliocco, who goes by her director’s name, Gianna Isabella, just wrapped up 

shooting on a new 15 minute short to be called “Dilemma,” which is based on a true story about a bar fight which ended fatally in Lethbridge.


“It’s about  a girl, Abby, who comes over from England to visit her cousins and accidentally kills a guy outside a bar. That results in her dilemma— should she stay or should she go,” she described, taking a break at Average Joes/ Joe’s Garage where her crew were shooting the nightclub scene, over the Labour Day long weekend while  a couple dozen volunteer extras chow down on free pizza and beer.


“It’s based on a real event iDilemma director Gianna Isabella discusses a scene with her crew on set. Photo by Richard Ameryn Lethbridge about eight or nine years ago. I read an article about a guy who was punched once and hit the ground and died. So I thought I’d write a back story about it,” related the University of Lethbridge new media graduate. She wrote the story back in February, but not the script for the production. Her group has been working on the film since June and expect it to be released by October.


“It’s gone really  well. You expect a certain amount of things to go wrong,” she said adding some lights fell during the murder scene, the Saturday night before.


“And It’s difficult to deal with a film on little or no budget,” she said adding her brother, local realtor Riccardo Magliocco, fronted her most of the $2,200 budget to make the film, plus they held two fundraisers and corporate sponsorship kept the extras in pizza and beer.

Actors film a scene in Dilemma. Photo by Richard Amery

They plan to release the film online and plans are in the works to submit it to film festivals. They have already submitted it to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City Utah, which takes place Jan. 20-30 next year.


“I’ve enjoyed everything. Being able to be around a bunch of  great people who are committed to reaching a common goal,” she continued.

“We are trying to make a name for ourselves and want to make a few more films in Lethbridge,” she said.

Hoodoo Voodoo, a full length action film  filmed by a group of local film-makers using Lethbridge cast and crew in the community of East Coulee, near Drumheller mostly last summer, premieres this week at the University of Lethbridge beginning, Sept. 23.


“It started out as an action film, but we don’t have a Hollywood budget, so it ended up  a little more Evil Dead than Die Hard,” said director Aaron Kurmey, who spent two years of his life, all of his life savings and a $10,000 Alberta Foundation for the Arts grant to make his first full-length action film with  co-director/writer and star Ryan Hatt and writer Kevin Johnson.


“It was a $30,000 budget, which is a lot to us, but nothing to Hollywood. They pay that much just for their food budget,” he said adding he is looking forward to seeing how audiences react to the film.

“I didn’t think we’d get grant money for it  because it isn’t what you usually think of as ‘art’ in the traditional sense,” Kurmey said.

“It’s nice they believed in us,” Haat added.


“It’s about an ex-soldier who is in the middle of the badlands when he sees a mob hit,” Kurmey described adding he dropped out of the New Media program to make this movie.


“We wanted to create the type of movie that we’d want to watch and we like action movies,” Hatt added.

“It’s a  very simple story and  a character driven film. We created the characters before we created the story,” Hatt continued adding he and the rest of his cast did their own stunts, which took a toll on his  body.

“There’s a sword fight scene and I don’t know how to use one of those things,” he said adding he injured his leg  jumping out of a moving vehicle for another shot. 


Aaron Kurmey, Ryan Hatt and  Kevin Johnson from Hoodoo Voodoo. Photo Submitted

“We had to do 10 takes of it. These are real action sequences,” he continued.


“We wanted to make it look as real as possible. There were no phantom punches,” Hatt continued adding he had never acted before let alone in a starring role. He found working with actors and actresses, mostly from the University of Lethbridge Drama program brought his game up a notch.


“Being around people  who want to do this for a living, they brought a lot to the table,” Hatt said. The 10 person cast included Hatt, as well as University of Lethbridge Drama students, three drama professors and New West Theatre veteran Scott Carpenter, who all volunteered their time and their summer to be part of the movie.


 “I had never done any real acting, so working with all of these actors  who have experience and who want to do this with their lives, kept the pressure on me. I didn’t want to make them look bad. But it was fun,” he continued.


They plan to submit the film to film festivals including South By Southwest in Austin, in addition to creating merchandise like T-Shirts and DVDs of it. They will be screening it at the university over the next week.

“It’ll make you laugh and it’ll make you cringe,” Hatt said.


Hoodoo Voodoo, a film by local independent filmmakers group Rambunxious Skuter Productions INC., will be playing Sept. 23, 25, 27, 29, 30 and October 1 and 2 in Ballroom B (next to the Zoo) in the U of L Student Union Building.

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. sharp, with Q&A to follow.

More information on Dilemma will be available on and is available on their facebook group.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

A version of this story appeared in the Sept. 22,2010 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times 

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