The Diefenbunker served its original purpose over the weekend of May 12 when it sheltered four people from a dangerous energy mass outside.
At least, that’s what a local filmmaker’s script outlined as a small cast and crew shot the climax of Manotick resident Dale Windle’s first feature film in the bowels of Canada’s cold war museum in Carp.
Windle’s sci-fi thriller “Rulers of Darkness” follows Dan Thomas, a young man from Chicago as he tries to uncover the truth about his mother’s strange and untimely death in Falcon Lake, Manitoba two years prior.
The plot grows from the documented “Falcon Lake Incident” of 1967, during which a Winnipeg prospector reportedly witnessed two glowing and very hot unidentified flying objects land near the lake before he was badly burned by the vessels.
When documents of the RCMP investigation were de-classified several years ago, Windle heard the story on CBC and was inspired to write a film based on the events.
Central to the story is the idea that the prospector saw a glowing mass leave the ship, which in the film Dan’s uncle, a plasma expert, believes is an inorganic plasma life form. The uncle moves to a cabin on Falcon Lake, just over the hill from an abandoned uranium mine, to conduct experiments. He excavates his way into the nearby mine’s power plant through his basement, and sets up a laboratory.
When Dan arrives at his uncle’s cabin in Falcon Lake, he heads into the woods to find the spot where his mother died of strange burns. But instead of finding answers, he discovers the energy mass that killed his mother, which starts chasing him and his love interest, Cheyna. They descend into the uranium mine to escape it – “where terrifying events unfold,” according to Windle.
The Diefenbunker’s electrical room, where the generators, air ventilation, water intake tunnels and other necessary infrastructure still exist, posed as the abandoned lab, and the climax of the movie was shot there over the course of two weekends in May. Other scenes were shot in a wooded area in Ottawa and at a cabin on Bobs Lake west of Perth.
Windle, 58, said he’s wanted to be a filmmaker since he was a teenager making home movies. However, his father sent him to become an architect instead, and he spent 15 years doing a job he didn’t enjoy. He then left to start an IT company – another job he didn’t really want to do.
It wasn’t until about four years ago when he began to experience a series of personal tragedies that he started to consider making movies like he’d planned.
First he lost his best friend, and then his father and another friend in Ottawa. Two years later before an annual memorial for his best friend, three childhood friends that were going to host him were killed in a car accident.
“It just starts a process of thinking about what is the meaning of life, what am I doing here, why am I doing these things I don’t want to do,” he said.
Two years ago this April, he finally acted on the conviction that had been growing since the death of his best friend.
“I got up one day and I said, ‘You know what, I’m going to make sure that I go and do the things I really want to do,’” he said during a break from filming on Sunday, May 13.
He attended a film school in New York City and last year he made his first film, a 22-minute comedy which is now on DVD and on demand in the US.
He approached this first feature film as a kind of test run, to learn the process of making a feature-length movie.
“I literally made a business decision to make a sci-fi thriller. I was driving along, I heard that story about the Falcon Lake incident on CBC, I researched it and I thought, ‘what a perfect way to inspire a story,’” he said.
He said the film should be ready for release in July, at which point he hopes to have a Canadian distribution contract for DVD or even limited theatrical release. In October he will travel to California to secure US licensing as well.
As he still works full time with his IT company, he said he aspires to make one film each summer.
Next year’s project is already in the works – a project he’s especially passionate about that features a recovered alcoholic living on the street, who discovers $2.5 million in abandoned drug money. When he decides to take it, of course, his life is significantly affected, Windle said.
This year’s sci-fi thriller will likely be shown at the Mayfair when it’s finished, Windle said.
For more information about the film visit www.rulersofdarknessmovie.com/blog.