Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody's new movie shot on Vancouver Island

You won't find it on the provincial government's list of Olympics spinoffs, but the 2010 Winter Games were partly responsible for Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody's latest movie being filmed on Vancouver Island.

You can also thank Kyle Mann's Victoria in-laws for inadvertently inspiring his decision to shoot Wrecked in these parts.

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(His wilderness thriller, opening today in Toronto and April 8 in Los Angeles, has no local release date yet.)

The Vancouver producer originally eyed Squamish as the location for the film starring Brody as a man who awakens in a wrecked car in the forest at the bottom of a steep ravine with no memory of who he is or how he got there. Bloodied and bewildered, all he knows is his leg is trapped under the dashboard and there's a corpse in the back seat.

"We had some financing fallout and Adrien's next window was during the Olympics, but we couldn't shoot on the Sea to Sky highway," recalled Mann, who shifted his focus when director Michael Greenspan visited him at his in-laws' place in Oak Bay.

"He was determined to meet me face-to-face, and his first exposure to B.C. was on Vancouver Island," said Mann, who had tea with the Montreal-born director at the Fairmont Empress.

"It's ironic because I was talking about how we needed a rainforest with big trees and rich textures. It was a study in delayed reaction. I should have thought about shooting here originally."

Neither Mann nor Island North Film Commission chief Joan Miller will forget their weeks of soggy location scouting starting in November of 2009 before Mann settled on Parksville's Little Mountain, Mount Prevost, Englishman and Nanaimo rivers, and downtown Duncan for a car chase and bank robbery.

"It was our peak storm period," Miller recalled. "It rained non-stop but these guys had a very tight timeline. We looked at every cliff, old-growth forest, every mountain. We were literally driving through rivers in Strathcona Park."

Mann said it had to be conceivable a person could survive the rugged terrain they chose.

"We needed a place that was accessible but looked inaccessible, with 360 degrees of forest and a daunting cliff."

Indeed, the striking visuals, described by the Hollywood Reporter as "a beautiful yet hostile environment," are as much a character as the resourceful amnesiac Brody embodies in screenwriter Christopher Dodd's crisp, absorbing thriller.

The crew fared better weather-wise during their 18-day shoot while the world watched the Olympics.

"It was 15 Celsius one day, the nicest weather I'd seen in years," Mann recalled. "It made me look good because I kept telling Adrien's agent the Island had the warmest temperatures in Canada."

Mann, who was an undergrad in history at the University of Victoria and attended UBC Law School before the late producer William Vince took him under his wing, arranged a meeting with Brody through his agent, whom he befriended while handling business affairs on Capote.

"He was also Phillip Seymour Hoffman's and Chris Cooper's agent," said Mann. "Adrien had said he was looking for something where he'd be on screen 95 per cent of the time, something he could sink his teeth into."

Mann and Greenspan met Brody at Shutters in Santa Monica, and a deal was struck.

"It's my favourite script since The Pianist," Brody told Mann.

He also said it was his most collaborative experience yet.

The method actor travelled with Greenspan to Parksville, familiarizing himself with locations before filming began. He even spent a night alone in the woods with a sleeping bag, flashlight and film director Werner Herzog's biography

"I felt it was very important that I understood, on a deeper level, how difficult his situation was," Brody said in a release from Alliance Films.

Although he had a stunt double, he did most of his own stunts, ate insects and submerged himself in the raging Nanaimo River in frigid temperatures.

"The fact they threw me into whitewater rapids in a glacial river in the middle of February in Canada is crazy," Brody said.

"He punished himself, but it's what was required for the role," added Mann.

The filmmakers expressed appreciation for the community's co-operation.

"Adrien really likes to be able to focus on the work. We were very well respected," he said.

Neighbours baked cookies for cast and crew during filming at Top Bridge Park, recalled Miller, whose team also treated them to Fanny Bay oysters, lemons, shuckers and wine.

The star expressed his gratitude by buying everyone sushi.

Still, it was an arduous shoot with challenges — like an obstinate mountain lion.

"You can't talk to it because it doesn't listen to reason," said Mann, laughing. "It has its own agenda. When you're a 260-pound mountain lion, you can pretty well be the boss."

Trailer for Wrecked

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13EP2An4GTg

mreid@timescolonist.com

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