** feature image c.MLH Productions **

John Fort as Shell Shocked Tom - c. MLH Productions
John Fort as Shell Shocked Tom – c. MLH Productions

The Canadian Mental Health Association defines Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as follows:

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness. It often involves exposure to trauma from single events that involve death or the threat of death or serious injury. PTSD may also be linked to ongoing emotional trauma, such as abuse in a relationship.

World War One, The Great War; it was a galvanizing time in our nation’s history. But, more than that, it was a tumultuous time in the homes of the people with loved ones returning home from Europe, as many were suffering from shell shock (PTSD). Local Filmmaker and Author Margaret Lindsay Holton has brought this subject matter to life in her first narrative short.

The Story

“It’s an unpleasant, uneven beginning,” says Holton. “They’re in the tailwinds of war.” Her film, The FROZEN GOOSE follows the story of a family in the 1920’s coping with life after war. Holton scouted locations in North Burlington and Milton, as well as Westfield Heritage Village in Hamilton.

“We shot in the first week of February, in less than perfect conditions. But we did it,” Holton

Rod McTaggart as Uncle Harr at Westfield HeritageVillage -- c. MLH Productions
Rod McTaggart as Uncle Harr at Westfield HeritageVillage — c. MLH Productions

says. The entire process took about one year.  But it didn’t begin with a script; rather, it began with a story.  Holton is an artist by trade; she has received a number of awards for her work. On top of her work in the visual medium, she is also an author.  She has written a number of short stories, one of which was The FROZEN GOOSE.

“I was fortunate to have one of my short stories entered into a World War One anthology called Engraved: Canadian Stories of World War One,” says Holton.  Her piece was featured at the end of the anthology, an honour she says she is proud of.

During the time she was writing The FROZEN GOOSE, Holton was working as a Freelance Photographer for a few local news outlets.  She soon noticed herself drifting from still photography to motion photography; “On the strength of [my story being published], and my dabbling in the documentary field I thought, ‘why not take the plunge?’”

A challenging learning curve

Holton on set -- c. MLH Productions
Holton on set — c. MLH Productions

Holton first developed the screenplay.  A challenge in itself, Holton says she wrote as close to the dialogue of the time period as she could. The screenplay was circulated and critiqued. What followed, Holton says, was a wealth of new experiences. “It was my first narrative short, and I kind of learned on the job.”  Casting, writing a script, scouting locations and hiring a crew; she took this all on herself. They filmed it over the first week of February this year.  Then it was off to the cutting room floor.

Music was big to Holton.  She says that it enhanced the feel of the film, making it better suit the time period. “I wanted World War One ‘ditties’ to accompany the story, and was very lucky to link up with David McLean,” she says.  McLean is a fiddler with a group called Whiskey Epiphany.  They provided some beautiful renditions of the classic ‘ditties’ of that time.

After the film was finished in June, it premiered at the AGB.  Both showings were sold out, receiving good reviews, says Holton.  She then rendered everything down to DVD format and begun circulating it into the festival circuit.  Though she has only recently been accepted into the Canadian Film Market, she says she will keep working.

There will be a public screening of The FROZEN GOOSE on Sunday December 18th at 3pm.  The screening will be at Cinestarz at 460 Brant Street. We encourage everyone to come out and support local artists!