A Yukon bloodbath

Moira Sauer just spent three days coughing up blood. "And it was an absolute joy," said the local actor. "In fact, there was never enough blood - you always want more blood.

Moira Sauer just spent three days coughing up blood.

“And it was an absolute joy,” said the local actor.

“In fact, there was never enough blood – you always want more blood.”

Sauer isn’t a masochist. It was just another day on the Fragments film set.

Shot in the Yukon, the horror flick is based on a real event from the morning of January 18, 2000.

That’s when a 150-ton ball of space rock came hurtling through the earth’s atmosphere at 108 kilometres an hour and smashed into Tagish Lake.

Neil Macdonald, then a senior at FH Collins Secondary School, was sleeping through a morning spare when the fireball ripped through the sky.

Dave Hamelin was at school.

Neither saw the meteor, which was so bright that it turned “night to day.”

But the two filmmakers admit being heavily influenced by it years later.

“It was a pretty big deal for a small town,” said Macdonald explaining that an army of scientists and chemists flew to the Yukon afterwards to research the 4.5-million-year-old meteorite.

“It was the largest thing to enter the atmosphere in the last 100 years.”

It also happened to be the perfect scenario for a low-budget horror film, one that involved sci-fi fantasy and lots of blood.

In 2008, with film degrees freshly in hand, the two friends started writing a screenplay about the Tagish meteorite.

The movie is from the point of view of a 10-year-old girl, played by local actress, Kestrel Martin.

While waiting at the bus stop one morning, the girl sees a meteor flash through the sky.

A fragment of the meteorite lands in the woods and the girl pockets it before getting on the bus. She decides not to tell anyone about it.

But during the day she starts to get sick from a red powder on the surface of the rock, forcing her mother, played by Sauer, to pick her up from school.

That’s when things get gory.

“It was quite spectacular because the first attack scene was in Neil’s car,” said Sauer.

“I had tubes in my shirt and there were guys below with giant syringes pumping the blood through with Kestrel attacking me from behind.

“The blood was really sticky and it gets on everything.”

Most horror movies are about a damsel in distress or bad guys lurking in the woods, said Macdonald who is 28.

“Ours is different,” he said.

“This movie is about the genesis of a monster, an innocent girl turning into a bad guy.”

They compare their work to flicks made during the “golden age of horror,” like John Carpenter’s The Thing.

“We’re going for a campy horror feel,” said Hamelin.

They don’t want their work compared to the horror movies coming out of Hollywood today.

“Saw and other new horror films are like torture porn,” said Macdonald.

“We’re more old school. We like gore but we try to build up suspense at the same time.”

However, they freely admit horror isn’t an easy genre to work in.

“It’s a minefield of cliches,” said 27-year-old Hamelin.

They would know, the two used to stay up late watching back-to-back slasher and sci-fi flicks during their summer holidays.

“My sister got me into horror films and that got me obsessed with the idea of gore,” said Hamelin.

Macdonald and Hamelin met in Grade 7. And by junior high they were making films.

It began as a way to get out of writing papers for a French immersion class, said Hamelin.

“We’d film ridiculous movies, like a covert special-ops film about mercenaries breaking into enemy compounds to retrieve a disk with enemy intelligence on it,” he said.

“Or (we’d make) a homage to Monty-Python films with different skits that ultimately made no point (the film was called The Film With No Point).”

The pair didn’t have fancy editing equipment like FinalCut or iMovie.

Instead, they used to edit their videos using two VCRs.

Since then, they’ve come a long way.

Fragments will feature special editing and green screen tricks to create effects like a meteor barreling through the night sky.

But like all good movies, you also have to have good actors.

Hamelin and Macdonald say they were lucky to come across Sauer and 11-year-old Martin.

“Originally the movie was supposed to have a boy, not a girl,” said Hamelin.

“But while I was working on the set of Red Coat Justice (a movie shot in the Yukon last summer) I saw Kestrel and immediately picked up the phone and called Neil.

“I told him, ‘We have to get her on our film.’”

Martin’s parents, however, were a bit hesitant about the idea.

“Her mom and dad were a little trepidatious,” said Macdonald.

“Her dad asked me, ‘What kind of psychological effect is this going to have on her?’”

But when Martin’s parents came out to see the shoot, they realized the movie wasn’t particularly violent – even when they saw their daughter covered in fake blood.

“It would take us about 10 minutes to apply the blood,” said Macdonald.

“But as soon as we yelled ‘Cut’ everyone would start laughing.”

That blood, as ridiculous as it seemed to the cast, was still real enough to scare unsuspecting bystanders.

They shot part of the film near the entrance of the Whitehorse hospital.

“I had a giant gash on my throat and Kestrel was covered in blisters and we’re both soaking in blood,” she said.

“Everyone going into the hospital was … well, we definitely got some second and third looks!”

“There were people walking into the hospital who thought she was an accident victim and they kept stopping to look,” said Hamelin with a laugh.

So far, they consider the movie one of their better filmmaking experiences.

After making films for university classes it was nice to be able to do whatever we wanted, said Hamelin.

The seven-to-eight minute horror short will be a teaser for a longer version of the movie Hamelin and Macdonald hope to make.

They expect to have their movie done by the fall.

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com