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Re: Uniting film highlights Bowen locations & people

Film starring Island locations and actors screened at Austin and Whistler film festivals

A new film features Bowen Island - along with several of those who call it home - as its main characters.

Re: Uniting, from writer and director Laura Adkin, released in theatres earlier this year. In addition to being filmed almost entirely on the island, the movie also stars several Bowen actors. Together, the ensemble cast film follows college friends as they gather for their 25 year reunion and examine how life has gone for each of them over the decades.

Adkin, who grew up in Vancouver, was always destined for a career in film, something she knew since her first Christmas play at preschool. “I still remember to this day standing out on the stage and looking out at all the people and thinking, Oh I really like this a lot,” she says.

Laura did indeed end up working as an actress, and through this process realized that she had a passion for writing and directing. She shifted her focus to working behind the camera (though she still does spend some time in front of it) and following her directorial debut with The Goodnight Kiss Laura was hooked on bringing her stories to life on the big screen.

Adkin officially began writing Re: Uniting in 2019, but the idea had been formed much earlier during a 25th anniversary screening of 1983 movie The Big Chill at the Toronto Film Festival. “I just remembered how much I loved it and how much I loved those types of movies. The 80s and 90s had so many of these ensembles where people talked about stuff through witty irreverent dialogue. And I just thought to myself, why don’t we make these movies anymore?” says Adkin.

She also had a specific focus for what stage of life to write about – a person’s late 40s and early 50s – a period she said isn’t portrayed as much in ensemble films. This was partly inspired by observing her students at the Vancouver Acting School, many of them in their late teens. “I look at them and everyone’s so excited and the possibilities are endless. I started to think about myself when I was that age, and the things I wanted and what has come true and what hasn’t,” Adkin explains.

“The film is really about that later stage of life of reassessing and deciding what to do next – looking at your decisions and living with the decisions and the consequences of the things that you did when you were younger, and how you want to move forward,” she adds.

With the story set, it was time to begin filming. A friend’s home on Bowen was the main setting for these life decisions to play out. Laura had Michelle Harrsion in mind for a lead role, and through her landed Jesse L. Martin – also living on the island – for another lead. Before long more local actors including Matthew Harrison and Michael Richards had joined on for the ride. Adkin points out that the group much preferred the island commute to their usual work treks to the mainland.

The island’s tight-knit community also came in handy during filming. “I think my favourite thing about Bowen is everybody knows everybody and everybody’s willing to help. I went to talk to Caro (Johnson) from Squirrel. And I said ‘Caro, I need a dock. Who do you know that has a dock?’ recalls Laura.

A message went out from Caro to a friend, and before long the film had its dock. And even better, “We realized after that it was literally across the street from the house that we were filming at. So that was really cool for all of that to come together,” says Laura.

There were hangups of course, namely the fact that the pandemic was still in an advanced stage during filming. Temperature checks, travel permissions, distancing, Covid tests, and more were part of the daily reality on set. The team banded together though and completed most of the filming during Summer 2021. After a few more scenes were shot in the fall, it was off to the editing room for sound mixing, colouring, music additions, and much more. Adkin says her team tinkered for about a year before the final version of Re: Uniting was ready to go.

The film hit the ground running, and last year was in the Austin and Whistler Film Festivals. This year it arrived in movie theatres to a very positive response, even being held over past its original distribution run. “As a Canadian Indie film even getting into the movie theatre is crazy. So mad props to our distributors for that. And then people coming out and we got held over… that only happens if you have good box office numbers,” says Laura.

“It’s really a testament to the Bowen Island and Vancouver community for coming out and supporting this film. It’s been wild,” she adds, noting in particular the group of Islanders who showed up to the film’s screening in Victoria.

And for Laura, who started working in a Cineplex when she was 17, it truly brought her career full circle. “It was so cool to be in a Cineplex introducing myself, or going to a Cineplex and seeing our movie. It’s honestly been the craziest thing,” she says, adding that there will be a Bowen screening of Re: Uniting at some point in the future.

“It is definitely a love letter to Bowen Island,” says Laura.

For now, folks hoping to watch the film will find it available on Apple TV, or to rent or buy on video-on-demand platforms.