Brock grad shoots feature-length horror film

Lani Akande (BA ’12) had 11 days to bring his vision to life.

The clock began ticking as soon as the Brock Communication, Popular Culture and Film (CPCF) graduate yelled ‘action!’ with his crew working quickly to tell the story of The Guest at Ol’ Copey’s.

Principal photography on the independent horror movie — Akande’s first feature-length film — was wrapped in time for him to begin the third year of his PhD in cinema studies at York University.

The film tells the story of a Canadian university professor who, enticed by money, delves into selling African artifacts. She quickly finds out that “some artifacts are not meant to be sold,” Akande said.

The Guest at Ol’ Copey’s is expected to hit the festival circuit in 2018.

“It was a lot of work and took a lot of sacrifice from everyone involved. It was a great experience, but it was long, too,” Akande said.

The shoot was not always easy. Issues related to locations and last-minute casting changes popped up, with very little time available for problem-solving.

A supportive cast and crew helped Akande keep everything moving forward.

Akande is no stranger to setbacks. After coming up with the movie’s concept in 2014, he had planned to film in Nigeria and secured a small crew to assist.

“When I decided to shoot it in Canada, I had to completely rewrite the script and give up the former crew,” Akande said. “Only two crew members remained to work on the film: Anele Onwuka, the cinematographer, and Pat McIlroy, working on visual effects.”

McIlroy, also a graduate of CPCF (BA ’06, MA ’08), met Akande back in 2010 while working as a teaching assistant, which he did in addition to day job as a professional visual effects artist.

When Akande sought him out to work on The Guest at Ol’ Copey’s five years later, McIlroy was happy to come on board.

CPCF Chair Christie Milliken said she’s always excited to hear about projects former students are taking on.

“But when alumni from our department reconnect and work together in the industry like this, it’s gratifying in a different way. Both Lani and Pat were particularly strong students in our Film Studies program and, beyond that, had a real love for the art and craft of filmmaking.”

Akande credits his work at Brock with shaping his path toward both filmmaking and graduate studies. “It was at Brock University I decided I wanted to pursue film practice as much as I pursued film theory and history, and develop my interest in the application of film theory to film practice,” he said.

“That’s what I’ve been pursuing ever since.”

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