We travelled across the Maritimes, auditioning over 50 Indigenous teenagers in various reserves over a week and a half - the largest casting search ever for Indigenous talent on the east coast.
Our filmmaking philosophy from day one was to push against conventional filmmaking processes whenever possible and adopt a more Indigenous way - sharing, collaborating, and adapting. Instead of providing sides, we gave them the character descriptions and invited them to share with us which character they related to most, and why. Instead of them presenting a character, they shared their own unique life’s story. Through this process we got to know their true personalities, struggles, and dreams. The courage that all these kids displayed in sharing their stories - sometimes heartbreaking, and very often hilarious - was one of the highlights of the entire film. We wish we could have cast everyone. They certainly all deserved it.
We also scouted for our non-indigenous characters in strange places. We found Avery at a kids Muay Thai class, and Brodie is a local Halifax musician and a friend of a friend.
LINK: Sulian “Guillermo” Knockwood
Sulian “Guillermo” Knockwood was born in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia where he currently lives with his father. Guillermo is a member of the Indian Brook First Nation Band Council.
Guillermo is a competitive soccer player, playing for his high school team. He was also recently scouted by a modelling agency in Halifax, Nova Scotia – a career he intends to pursue.
“I joined the film to get out of my comfort zone and try something new. I relate to Link a lot. We both experienced hardships growing up and we’re both looking to connect with our mums. I learned a lot from the experience, like how we have to do scenes multiple times and from multiple angles to get it right. I also learned how to tap into my emotions by drawing from my real life relationships and memories. It was hard, but now I want to be an actor.”
PASMAY: Bobby Pierro
Bobby Pierro was born in Ottawa, Ontario. At a young age, he travelled throughout Canada with his father, a powwow dancer. His family then went on to settle in We’koqma’q, NS, where he currently lives. Bobby is a member of the Wagmatcook First Nation Band Council.
His interest in acting grew after enrolling in a drama class at school. He continued to take drama classes for the next 4 years and has performed in various plays. Bobby is an avid traveler and powwow dancer. He commits his summers to the powwow trail, performing in various communities across the east coast every weekend. He’s also passionate about surfing, fashion and music.
"Talent can come from anywhere. My experience on set was a dream come true. Being from a small town with little opportunity, I personally never thought that I would be on a film set. I was also interested in the film because of the story. I can relate to Pasmay in many ways. Besides the fact that we’re both dancers who travel a lot, like Pasmay I use humor to cope with serious situations. It's just how I was brought up. On set I realized that location doesn’t matter. Dreams can come true for kids on the Rez.”
TRAVIS: Avery Winters-Anthony
Avery Winters-Anthony was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Wildfire was Avery’s first acting role. Serendipitously, two weeks before he was cast he mentioned to his parents that he wanted to become an actor. Avery has been playing guitar for two years and practices Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu.
From Stefanie Winters, Avery’s Mother -
“Avery connected with everyone on set. It was such a beautiful experience for him. Going into the first day he said, “I hope I can make friends with the other guys acting, because it wouldn’t be very fun doing a movie with your enemies.” Then as he was leaving on the last day he said, “I loved it, but I’m just so sad I won’t see anyone again.”
ARVIN: Brodie Peterson
Brodie Peterson is originally from Charlottetown, P.E.I, but currently lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. He’s played music for over 19 years, and regularly is the bassist for Mo Kenney and Matt Mays.
His background in music lead to a small part in the Hallmark Christmas MOW, “Christmas with Holly”, where he played a band member performing on stage. The movie was released in 2012.
“It was really fun being on set. Conjuring my character to scream at children was a trip.”