Local filmmaker mines divorce for 'Storyhive' film

If Krista Rand’s performance in Lead and Follow comes across as gut-wrenchingly authentic, that’s because it is.

In the emotional short – one of 10 funded in part by TELUS’ Storyhive competition, which handed out $100,000 to Vancouver filmmakers this past spring – the actress and emerging screenwriter plays out a scenario she actually lived: A revelatory evening from the final days of her first marriage. 

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“[My ex-husband] had an affair, and it was a real struggle to figure out how to stay and if I should stay,” says Rand, seated beside Lead and Follow director and co-writer Orsy Szabo (co-writer and star of the critically acclaimed In The Deep) in a Kitsilano tearoom. “I was working in a restaurant at the time, and this film is based on this one night where I realized I had enough strength to walk away.”

It was Szabo who first prompted Rand to put pen to paper and knock out a screenplay, any screenplay; Rand’s impulse was to write about that night, then seven years behind her.

“The first time she told me the story, it was such a cinematic story,” says Szabo. “I could see it. It had a really clear beginning and a really clear end.” 

The final script was close enough to reality that Rand was able to bring some gritty emotions to her portrayal, but fictionalized enough so that everyone’s privacy was protected. 

Still, the script demanded that Rand dive feet-first into a place of searing vulnerability. It’s a gutsy choice for a project that marks both her screenwriting debut and her first time in a leading role – although it’s hardly her first taste of the film biz. 

Rand’s credit list reflects her innate versatility and passion for film: Producer of the award-winning web series, The Last Falls of Ashes; director of A Night at the Theatre; actress on Mr. Young and Hiccups; make-up artist on Hitler’s Canadians; stand-in on Some Assembly Required and Sanctuary

It was during her time standing in for Amanda Tapping on Sanctuary that she first encountered celebrated Vancouver actor Ian Tracey (Continuum; Da Vinci’s Inquest), whom she and Szabo later tapped to play the role of the charismatic restaurant patron who turns Rand’s character’s head that fateful night. 

“You’ll see him in a different light,” says Szabo. “You’re not used to seeing him as the romantic lead. He has some sexy moments in this.” 

They filmed the bulk of Lead and Follow at Gastown’s The Diamond over two days last May. 

Dozens of familiar faces from the Vancouver film and television scene (including Leah Cairns, Lane Edwards, Sean Amsing, Matty Granger, Broadus Mattison, and David Lewis) converged to participate as cast, crew, and background performers. 

For Rand, the experience of making Lead and Follow was as life changing as the events depicted in the film. “It just gave me more confidence, and to know that literally anything is possible,” says Rand. 

It’s also given Rand the chance to revisit and move on once and for all from that messy chapter in her life. 

“These things happen in our lives, and they’re horrible, but you can get stuck in it and get really bitter, or you can choose to look at it and say to yourself, ‘well, that happened, and that was really awful, but I’ve learned something from it,’” says Rand, who remarried earlier this year. “And that part of my life has made me what I am. In a strange way, I’m happy for all of it.”

Lead and Follow and the nine other Storyhive-funded films will screen at a special premiere party at The Imperial on Sept. 22, before beginning their regular rotation on TELUS’ Optik TV (and anytime on demand). For more, visit Storyhive.com

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