Lights, camera, action! Production begins on documentary set in the 1990s at Beal

Production has begun on a unique documentary project that looks back at social justice and heartbreak at a London high school in the early 1990s.Shannon Walsh is the writer and filmmaker behind London Calling, a project that is near and dear to the H.B. Beal Secondary School alumna.”It was purely magical,” Walsh exclaimed about filming at the school over the weekend.”Beal has such a special place in my heart,” she said. “I think it’s a kind of a hidden gem here in London, one of the only schools of its kind across the country. So lots of memories there and just so incredible to work with all the kids and run those halls again.”London Calling is a hybrid of fiction and documentary that explores a story that happened in the early 1990s, when Walsh had a high school crush who ended up getting involved in a police beating at the Western Fair.”It explores this moment of early love and an experience of injustice, and how that worldview shifts when you’re a teen,” said Walsh. “The special part of it is I decided to use young people today to enhance the story, to be behind the scenes, to create characters with me.”Walsh won the Governor General Award in 2023 and was asked by the Canada Council and the National Gallery to do some outreach work which led to the idea of creating an educational workshop for young people to take on roles with the film crew and learn film production.Shannon Walsh and Alex Tan with part of the production crew in a hallway at H.B. Beal Secondary School, in London, Ont., shooting a scene for London Calling. (Instagram)The production team for London Calling includes five professionals and nine students, including Beal student Alex Tan who began working on the film as a location scout.”I was running around the building looking for good places to shoot scenes, looking for lighting, windows beyond the ambience, and any sort of points of interest that Shannon might need,” said Tan. “During production I did a little bit of grip work that was just carrying some camera equipment, moving stuff from one room to another room and also dressing the sets.”Tan said he also worked as a production designer, making things look like the 1990s, including wardrobe choices to reflect the time period.”I’ve learned so much working with Shannon and the people involved. Everyone was so professional. It was such an amazing opportunity to really get behind the scenes and see how a film actually gets made,” he said.While filming has wrapped up for scenes at Beal, the production will return to London in September, where the crew and actors will film at the Western Fair.London Calling is expected to be released sometime in 2025.Walsh’s latest film, Adrianne and the Castle, is premiering at Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto on April 26, with the television version is set to air on the CBC’s The Passionate Eye in the fall.

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