A Calgary short film that was recently shown at the Cannes Festival was partly filmed in the Olds College meat processing facility.
Not Far From the Abattoir director Kyle Thomas and producer Cameron Macgowan were looking for an available meat plant during the fall of 2010 when they contacted Olds College.
“They were phoning around plants and no one would let them in, because meat plants don't like to have cameras in them,” said Brad McLeod, coordinator of Olds College's meat processing program.
“We at the college have a total open-door policy. They were desperate so I let them in.”
Not Far From the Abattoir tells the story of Warren, a slaughterhouse worker who works and lives in a small Alberta town. He is played by Calgary artist Kris Demeanor.
The film's cast and crew spent about four hours in the college's meat processing facility in November 2010. As the short film was shot, Olds College students were butchering cows for a final exam.
McLeod found himself advising the film's cast and crew.
“They had some different ideas about how they should dress and stuff,” said McLeod.
“We fixed all that and we made it more realistic.”
For example, Demeanor was wearing a funny-looking outfit and no hairnet.
McLeod says that, while the short film doesn't show the industry in as good a light as it could, it doesn't show the traditional slaughterhouse horror movie stuff.
“I tried to make sure that they were realistic,” he said.
“I wanted to show how it really was, because we are not ashamed of what we do up here.”
During his time in the meat processing facility, Demeanor cut a cow's tongue and liver.
“We got the actor to get a little dirty and a little bloody,” said McLeod.
As to how many slaughterhouse scenes are in the short film, McLeod does not know. He has only seen the trailer so far.
“I think the slaughterhouse clips of this 15-minute short will be less than one minute long probably,” he said.
Meanwhile, Not Far From the Abattoir has been making the festival rounds since premiering last September, earning Thomas and McGowan awards at the Calgary International Film Festival, the Edmonton International Film Festival, and the Alberta Motion Pictures Industry Association. Last April, Telefilm Canada chose Not Far From the Abattoir to be part of the Not Short On Talent section of its Perspective Canada screenings at the Cannes Festival. The short film will next be screened at the Sled Island Festival at the end of June.