(Publisher’s Note: Originally published in May of 2013)

“It all comes down to notes we choose to play.”

This is the tagline to the Lethbridge, Alberta film Common Chord, a touching story about fatherhood, redemption, and forgiveness.

Producer George Gallant and director Deric Olsen have collaborated on a film that they hope can reach an audience who can relate and ultimately feel the trials and tribulations presented in the moving story. Common Chord focuses on a five-year-old girl, “Teigan”, who loses her mother and winds up in the middle of a custody battle. Her father, aspiring guitarist “Kyle”, begins a journey to become the father he never truly was. Teigan’s grandfather, “Bill” has a different plan, trying to remove Kyle from the picture completely and gain sole custody. Dreams, love, and family play important roles as the struggle for Teigan intensifies, and the characters fight for their opinions and the people in their lives.

Common Chord has been in the works for the past few years, and is designed to serve as an educational project which partners with The University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College. Producer, writer, and director Deric Olsen’s first feature, 2006′s The Phoenix Agenda, screened in festivals and events across Canada. His follow-up film has been in development for nearly 7 years. Trevor Carroll penned the script for Common Chord, and worked with Olsen to get it into production. From there, it became a true community event with producer George Gallant stepping in to help get the word out and raise funds. News about the local film project began to spread through radio stations, news coverage, and social media sites like Facebook. Donations began to pour in during the fall of 2011, while the primary roles were filled with local actors, including Peter Seadon as Bill, and Ashlin Malik in the pivotal role of young Teigan. Open casting calls were held, and promotions began to spread in February of 2012. Common Chord was in full swing, and Lethbridge locations were scouted out for all scenes. By April, the cast was finalized, featuring many local residents who acted in their spare time, or were simply interested in becoming part of the project. May 29th marked the first day of shooting, which lasted until the end of June. Local businesses and restaurants chipped in to help feed the cast and crew, supplying meals for everyone involved. All of the scenes were shot in the Lethbridge area, including city streets, buildings, and houses, thanks to the generosity of many local store and home owners. What made the project such a great chance for students was the opportunity of filming news stories and behind-the-scenes footage.

Many college broadcasting students learned the ins and outs of reporting and editing by filming short stories and features about the film. Each video was published on the Facebook page, keeping the public informed of every stage of the shoot. Once the post-production phase began, these students continued to cover the process as Common Chord neared completion. The University of Lethbridge also provided a list of candidates that could help edit the film. Student Laura Gosselin was chosen and taught by Olsen to become part of the editing process. The end of 2012 marked the first time the crew saw a rough cut. Final touches were put on at the beginning of this year, including the key soundtrack by Thilo Schallar and actor/composer Joshua Fritz.

A test screening is scheduled, and a festival campaign is currently in the works. The key word is “local”, because that is what this film has always been. Common Chord provided small town people with a start in the business, or a new experience that they would otherwise rarely get. Local students received the chance to practice their filmmaking and broadcasting skills, while local actors had a chance to further their career. Local musicians, catering companies, restaurants, and business owners all got involved — creating an unforgettable experience not typical of small Canadian towns. Typical Hollywood blockbusters are on closed sets, fueled with ridiculous budgets, and created by many A-List stars and filmmakers. This project was the complete opposite — providing jobs, education and memories for years to come. After all, the filmmakers have been dedicated to getting the message of the importance of fathers in a child’s life out to audiences. Producer George Gallant has stated that they hope the film will touch people and encourage them to think about the importance of strong fathers and families in the lives of our children. Watch out for the small film with big heart, Common Chord, this year at upcoming festivals or local theaters.