Hearing of the devastating loss of government funding a few years ago echoed around the province but didn’t hit home until reading about the making of The Only Game in Town told in the soon to be released The Only Film in Town. While artists and creators in all genres felt the effects of such a political decision the impact effected people like Stuart Cresswell tremendously.
Being asked to read and review this book I wasn’t sure what to expect but was immediately enthralled, as a writer, as a resident of Nova Scotia, and as a reader. It tells the story of perseverance, dedication and loss through the history of Cresswell, writer-director and producer for the novel we all should have the honour of reading.
Usually films are adapted from books but this is a book about a film.
The Only Film in Town book contains a lot of familiar names to anyone who lives in Pictou County including the likes of Jake Chisholm, Jesse Hemmings, and Amanda Gillis of the New Glasgow Youth Theatre. The story tells of Cresswell’s life in England and quick decision to move to Canada with his two teenage boys and wife.
Cresswell says about the decision to move his boys, “I cannot believe we put them through the move at the stage they were at in their lives. It’s a wonder we didn’t destroy them and it’s a credit to them both that they are building their own lives here and have matured into fantastic young men.”
It may seem, at first glance, like he made a selfish decision but not, settled here and running Simple Films / Only Me Productions now for 10 years you can be assured his dedication to our community is far from all about him. Cresswell faced many obstacles, plenty of which are described in his second book (he clarifies the story of his first), one of which was the Liberal’s reversal of their support for the film tax credit.
Jesse Hemmings, a local high school student cast as the leading role “Cormack,” learning how to put himself aside and focus on becoming someone else, had this to say about working for Cresswell, “He always knew what he was talking about so it made it easy to understand when he gave me instruction or direction.
“He was always really fun… there was never a time when I was upset him, and I don’t think there was a time when he was upset with me! He was patient and professional.
“Perseverance! When the weather wasn’t great and things kept happening, that almost made it seem like the movie wasn’t supposed to get made, it just made us all want to make it even more.”
Casting more than 40 high school students in the area, filming at the Tatamagouche centre, hosting cast parties at a local restaurant, and relying on word-of-mouth as well as many local businesses to help make this movie a reality, Simple Films brought River John, Pictou County, and our province as a whole to life. Spending it’s budget of $250,000 in our province, Cresswell is a gem we all should meet, at the very least, to thank him, and laugh along with him as he is a very humourous man.
“Nigh impossible” was a common phrase throughout this story, and his life in general, which is an old-fashioned word that can mean something difficult to accomplish. Working with people like Cory Bowles and John Dunsworth were two such experiences for Cresswell. Despite all obstacles, the project that was more than four years in the making is now in post-production thanks to the dedication of the writer-director and producer, and his wife as well as the interest of many who read the script before it was shot.
The book was written for the aspiring writer-director and producer as it gives a realistic view of what comes with each aspect. The movie, about a solitaire phenom who happens to be on the Asperger’s scale, not only mirrors the popular card game with sports but also mirrors the life of the author. While Cormack plays a game of solitude he is also surrounded by people rooting for and supporting him. Cresswell is not a solitaire player himself, without his sole determination and focus for his project, which was supported by many peers, this movie and book would have never happened.
After reading the book and talking to Cresswell, I can’t wait to complete my own trifecta by watching the movie! I highly recommend this story of perseverance and dedication. The Only Game in Town may have been the only film in town during the political upset and for that it was certainly an important one!
For more about the movie please visit onlygameintownfilm.com and watch for the book launching May 30, 2018!