News / Saskatoon

Backstage Pass: Canadian Light Source Synchrotron both set and star in new film

By Hollywood standards, Singularity Principle had a relatively small budget, estimated at just over $1 million.

However, if the creative forces behind the film had been forced to build their main set from scratch, that number would have increased by roughly 200.

The film, shot two years ago in and around Saskatoon, was set mainly at the Canadian Light Source Synchrotron at the University of Saskatchewan. David Deranian, who co-wrote, co-directed and co-produced Singularity Principle admits the facility wasn’t just the inspiration for the movie; it is, in many ways, its star.

“I thought, ‘What kind of a story would match this character? Let’s create a story around that,’” Deranian said. “Normally it’s the other way around. You write your script and then you find your set.”

Deranian, who is from Los Angeles originally, had done some film work prior to this project, but by day he is a scientist at the CLS.  He pitched the idea of setting a film at the facility to his producing partner Austin Hines, who reacted enthusiastically, as did Deranian’s bosses at the synchrotron.

Not only did they agree to allow the CLS to be transformed into a movie set during a regular shutdown period, they also helped provide technical advice for the film, which deals with the idea of parallel universes and how scientists could potentially find them.

“We sent the script through a lot of different people to get their opinion and we tried to make it as plausible as possible,” Hines said. “The CLS isn’t experimenting with parallel universes, but if you were to, our film explores the way you would do it.”

Deranian and Hines were able to line up an impressive cast, including veteran character actor John Diehl, who’s appeared in films like Jurassic Park 3 and A Time to Kill, as well as William B. Davis, who is best known as Cigarette-Smoking Man on The X-Files. The majority of the rest of the cast and crew were from Saskatoon.

The producers recently signed a deal with Big Screen Entertainment to handle domestic distribution and foreign sales rights for the film. This is a big step for something that Deranian says was originally envisioned as “a project to do on weekends for the fun of it.”

“We’re amazed, it’s not that easy to get distribution or representation for a film,” Deranian said. “When we see the cheque, we’ll be really excited, but so far, it’s looking really good.”

Actor looks for the humanity

The CLS isn’t the only “character” in Singularity Principle with Saskatoon roots. Michael Denis, who was born here and now lives and works in Vancouver, was faced with the daunting task of playing a physicist, and all of the scientific jargon that accompanies the part, as well as the emotional side that came with portraying a man who fears he may be losing his mind.

“Yeah, there’s a lot of mumbo-jumbo,” said Denis “But with any text I always go back to ‘What’s the humanity in here?’”

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