When Newton’s Grace premieres this May, the deCoste Performing Arts Centre audience may see a few familiar faces on screen. One of them belongs to actor Kevin Gerrior.
Now living in the Halifax area, Gerrior grew up in Pictou County, bouncing around the upper towns and Springville, and sang in the local band Critical Angle in the mid ’80s.
Now acting, and with a growing list of credits to his name, he can often be found on YouTube either on his own channel Saltbox97 or in collaboration with Chris Cuthbertson and “Officer” George Green of Trailer Park Boys fame on the AmazingFilmsNS channel, and can also be recognized from Haven and a popular Eastlink commercial (“Smart. Smart.”)
Gerrior said he can’t recall just how he became aware of the movie — which was then called But Now I See — but he remembers corresponding with the film’s director John Jackman via email, securing the role of ship’s doctor with a headshot and CV, and possibly his demo reel.
“A lot of stuff shoots in Halifax,” Gerrior said, “or is based out of Halifax, so it shoots in Windsor. They shoot a lot of stuff in Lunenburg for the visuals, but this was obviously neat because John Jackman needed that notion of a ship, and with a low budget movie you can’t really take stuff out into the water and all of that. So it worked out perfectly. I thought it was cool to head down to my home base of Pictou County. I didn’t have to pay a hotel bill, I stayed at my mom’s.”
What Gerrior remembers most was how much Jackman and company were able to do with their fairly limited budget.
“What amazed me,” he said, “was he came with a small little team. He brought everything he could think of in his truck and trailer and whatever other vehicles they hauled with them. He was working off everything he saw from photographs, or what was sent down to him, and he had to think through everything.”
Working outside of Halifax in an area not known for filmmaking meant the Newton’s Grace crew had few local resources to draw on, while its budget didn’t allow for “tonnes of millions of bucks” to be thrown at any problems that may have cropped up.
“I do some filmmaking here myself with friends,” Gerrior said, “and I can run home and get stuff or I know where I can find stuff locally. They did everything themselves. The locations, all the gear and everything literally came with them from the US.”
Jackman’s wife oversaw the film’s period wardrobe and made alterations on the spot for any potbellies or stubby legs among the cast, caterers became actors and, in Gerrior’s case, actors became grips and practical effect assistants.
“Obviously that wasn’t a day I was doing any acting,” he said, “but I just felt like helping (Jackman) out. He was such a nice man, he was good to the folks and always concerned (about) how the actors were feeling. I really liked working with him.
“He was a nice, gentle man,” he said of Jackman. “I don’t know if it’s the religious background … but I just thought he was really nice, gentle, very thoughtful and very concerned with the actors.”
Gerrior said. “It felt like a big production with a tiny budget.”
Newton’s Grace, partly shot in Pictou in 2013, will hold its Canadian premier on May 13.
Newton’s Grace lead actor Erik Nelson with Kevin Gerrior on set in 2013. (Submitted photo)