Grand Bank -
The fate of the old cottage hospital in Grand Bank has been sealed. The building, the last of its kind in the province, will soon be demolished. However, before the landmark fades into the history books, one final hurrah, a flurry of activity reminiscent of days gone by, will fill the hallways.
Next month, independent filmmaker Martine Blue is planning to shoot a short movie there.
After moving to the area last year, Blue started up 'Dream Shake Video' - her own video production service company, and has become a regular story contributor for CBC's 'Here and Now' evening newscast.
It was in the latter role shooting a piece on the opening of the new health centre in Grand Bank late last year, which first captured her imagination.
"I went into the old cottage hospital, to take some shots and do somewhat of a comparison, and I fell in love with it as a film location the moment I saw it.
"I thought it was gorgeous. The equipment is really old, some of it, and there's an atmosphere in the place. Cinematically, it's striking."
Blue began tossing around some ideas for a short film with Levi Curtis, local purveyor of everything artistic, which was solidified when she saw a series of ghostly pictures shot at the hospital by Grand Bank photographer Travis Parsons.
She settled on a ghost story - appropriate, she thought, given the legend the spirit of Dr. John Burke is said to still walk the hospital's corridors.
"My idea came to me right away and the whole concept for the film came out of those pictures. I thought a ghost story was the most appropriate thing to do because people had seen the ghost.
"So, I wanted it to go along with the folklore that exists there already."
Blue indicated a script came pretty fast after that and a stroke of luck helped secure permission to use the hospital.
She learned permission would need to be gained through Cyril Parsons, Travis's uncle, who had worked at the hospital for many years and as it turned out was quite receptive to the idea of preserving the site in a film.
Although she had feared much of the old equipment had been removed from the facility that wasn't the case.
It had been, however, shifted from the rooms.
Parsons - his familiarity with the hospital a bonus - helped arrange to put the equipment back in the original positions in rooms she will use during the shoot, scheduled over three days next month.
"Cyril's been so co-operative and helpful. He came in and made sure everything was the way it was when it was in use. So, he's also our location manager on this shoot."
Blue, who recently moved from Grand Bank to her dream home in Epworth with husband Isaac, is tightlipped on details of the film's plot, but provided a few tidbits of information about the 20-minute flick.
"I can't give too much away. It's a ghost story and it's a dramatic short. A couple of the actors from the Grand Bank Theatre Festival are the two young leads. Levi Curtis plays the doctor. It's going to be along the vein of a campfire ghost story.
"It's going to be fun."
The filmmaker has applied for funding and should know this week if it has been granted.
"Unfortunately, the funding, a lot of it, seems tied in together. I've gotten partial funding, but if I don't get the rest of the funding that I fought for then the other funders won't come in. I have received some private funding though, but in order to do it the way I want to do it ... to do it justice, I would need the total funding that I've applied for."
To help out, two fundraisers were scheduled - one at Pub Beau Bois in Marystown Apr. 24 and another at The Rec Room in Grand Bank the following evening - each featuring a showing of three of Blue's short films, along with music from Klokwork Blues Band, and raffles for prizes donated by businesses in both communities.
"There are amazing prizes to be won and everybody's been really, really helpful, interested, keen and co-operative."
Once complete, she plans to submit the short to film festivals far and wide, both in this province and elsewhere, with hopes a distributor will show interest and come on board to help get the movie in the hands of a station that airs short films.
It will be Blue's first movie shot on the Burin Peninsula, which she has been looking to do ever since she first arrived.
She feels shooting at the province's last remaining cottage hospital was a good decision, especially in light of that fact as well as the connection many people have to the historic building.
"There's definitely a lot of interest in seeing the film get made for all those reasons."