Posted by: cherylyoung | May 10, 2012

A Story about a whale and the unique quality of a realionship between himself and the people he touches


  A whale of a project for actor Ryan Reynolds

  Documentary will tell the story of Luna the whale

 By MICHAEL D. REID, Times Colonist (PREVIEW)

Ryan Reynolds is working on a film about Luna the orca whale.

Photograph by: ., Handout/Postmedia News

VANCOUVER — A decade after Luna first showed up in Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island’s favourite young orca is going Hollywood.

The killer whale, whose life story was chronicled in the documentary Saving Luna, is heading to the big screen with Vancouver actor Ryan Reynolds and starlet Scarlett Johansson on board as executive producers.

Reynolds, 33, has signed on as narrator and will co-executive produce the documentary The Whale with Johansson, his wife, and Eric Desatnik.

 Local filmmakers Suzanne Chisholm, 40, and Michael Parfit, 63, directed the new film, an 89-minute reworking of their acclaimed 2007 documentary about the killer whale who mysteriously appeared in Nootka Sound in 2001 after being separated from his pod on the west coast.

The Canadian actor reportedly became involved because he felt a personal connection to the story set so close to his hometown of Vancouver.

 Parfit himself narrated Saving Luna, the couple’s account of the playful whale whose antics on Gold River’s docks delighted tourists, baffled scientists, angered fishermen and boaters, and sparked a “tug of whale” between Department of Fisheries and Oceans officials and Mowachaht/Muchalaht band members.

It culminated in the whale’s death when he was fatally injured by a tugboat propeller four years ago.

“As rambunctious and surprising as a visitor from another planet, Luna endears himself to humans with his determination to make friends, which leads to laughter, conflict and unexpected consequences,” declares a news release for The Whale.

The filmmakers said they were thrilled to get the chance to reach a wider audience in the U.S. and abroad for their labour-of-love inspired by a trip to Nootka Sound in the spring of 2004 to do a story on Luna for Smithsonian Magazine.

They were hooked and moved to Gold River for two years, planting the seeds for their film that has since taken on a life of its own.

 Saving Luna has earned accolades at festivals from Victoria to Abu Dhabi and was broadcast here and abroad.

“Ryan and Scarlett are both amazing in the range of their abilities,” Parfit said.

 “It’s not as if they’re strictly pop culture people.

 They had so much respect for our vision.

 It’s been another of those creative joys.”

Parfit flew to New York last December to begin recording Reynolds’s narration.

They continued recording last April in New Orleans, where the actor was shooting the Warner Bros. blockbuster Green Lantern.

Reynolds first saw Saving Luna after it won the audience award at last year’s Environmental Film Festival at Yale.

Desatnik, the festival’s founder, sent the actor a copy and signed on as executive producer and U.S. sales agent for a new version.

 “We were open to anything that improves the storytelling and chances of distribution,” Parfit recalled.

“Ryan loved the film and we asked if he’d be interested in narrating.

 He said ‘yes’ and we didn’t say no.”

Chisholm said having Reynolds narrate was “the icing on the cake” for them.

“This is a Canadian film at heart, so the fact he was Canadian was the extra wow.”

What differences can audiences expect between The Whale and the original?

“Although it’s still the basis for the storytelling, there’s less wildlife management politics,” Parfit said. “Ryan gives it a different kind of energy.

 He and Scarlett really paid attention to the storytelling.

We got comments from them on filmmaking, and how to make the story as strong as possible.”

For the retooled version, Chisholm and Parfit also found themselves interviewing each other as “characters” in the film.

“In losing some of the politics, the underlying thematic stuff shines through,” Parfit said.

“The themes of friendship across the species.

The heart of the story is the unique quality of the relationship between Luna and the people he touches.”

Chisholm dismisses suggestions the husband-and-wife team are selling out.

“To this day people tell us, ‘I don’t want to hear about a new version,’ ” she said.

“We have to coach our audiences.

Give this a try.

We love the new version.

 In a lot of ways it’s more powerful.”

Having to let go of certain elements of Saving Luna to reach a wider audience goes with the territory, they said.

“The hardest thing to let go was our sanity,” laughed Chisholm. “How crazy are we to work so long on one story?”

Added Parfit, tongue-in-cheek: “The hardest thing to lose was my ego.

 Not only am I not narrating it, going in front of the camera is a deflating experience.”

The losses, they added, are outweighed by the virtues.

“You don’t think of what you’ve lost but what the film has gained,” Chisholm said.

 “It’s huge.”

The filmmakers are hoping for U.S. theatrical release this fall or next spring, with PBS International handlng foreign sales.

Reynolds, 33, was raised here in B.C.

The Definitely, Maybe star graduated from Kitsilano secondary school in 1994 and has enjoyed an A-list career on the silver screen.

 He was named one of People magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive in 2008 and 2009.


Cheryl Young, REALTOR,





  1. Watched the movie Luna. Liked it a lot. Thank you Luna.

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