Mad Ship careens along a journey of artistic struggle - on and off screen

The upcoming drama Mad Ship tells the story of a struggling family that immigrates to Canada only to have their dreams dashed in the drought of the early 20th century depression. However the tragic tale could just as easily be an allegory for filmmaking in Canada.

“Anybody who wants to make films anywhere has some form of significant struggle,” said star Gil Bellows, perhaps best known for his work on TV’s Ally McBeal. “It’s especially hard to make films when you’re telling stories that may have some level of poignancy because there’s that debate of the commerciality of them.”

Co-written and directed by David Mortin and Patricia Fogliato, Mad Ship is proof of artistic struggle. Taking six years to bring to the screen, the film focuses on the protagonist’s mad mission to build a ship and sail out of his prairie misfortune.

“The whole purpose of storytelling is, in a way, to remind audiences that they’re not alone,” said Bellows of the film’s tragic themes. “When one is able to convey a bleak and tragic story in an effective manner, it’s almost cathartic for the audience because within that story, they recognize that aspect of themselves or people that they love and it relieves them of some of the isolation.”

With over 20 years of experience in Hollywood, Bellows clearly has an understanding when it comes to storytelling. This perception has even led him behind the camera where he just finished directing a dark comic thriller called Three Days in Havana.

“I sort of toyed with directing a few different times and I like it,” said Bellows admitting he’ll keep acting. “I look forward to having those opportunities but I’m not somebody who once they’ve tasted that fruit, that’s the only fruit they want.”

A few parting words from Gil Bellows

  • Bellows on the Depression: “It definitely represents an aspect of the dust bowl experience,” said Bellows of Mad Ship. “People were struggling and families were torn apart, people were put in a position that they never imagined.”

  • Bellows on playing a not-so-nice guy: “Clearly he’s not doing honourable things necessarily in the story but I wanted to get more into the feelings of why he’d do something,” said Bellows. “I wanted to really show somebody that you didn’t necessarily like but maybe you understood.”

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