CANMORE – Ryan Correy dreamed of being part of a film that someday would end up in the world-renowned Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival.
In late 2017, with the help of friend and Canmore based filmmaker/photographer Jeff Bartlett, the pair started to hash out a rough idea for a bikepacking film featuring routes Correy created.
At the time though, Correy was battling colon cancer. He was hoping to make a return to cycling and eager to document his return to the sport. Unfortunately, Correy lost his battle against cancer in April 2018.
“The film was originally supposed to be about Ryan’s return to cycling, but through a cruel bit of fate we weren’t able to make that film,” said Bartlett.
Despite Correy’s passing, his dream was kept alive with the short film Choosing to Live. Bartlett and Kelowna-based filmmaker Matthew Clark were determined to document Correy’s wife Sarah Hornby’s attempt to ride all 10 of the routes that her late husband developed.
“Sarah had this great story that she was going to go out and do and it was a way to also stick to Ryan’s idea of getting a local film into the festival,” said Bartlett.
Hornby’s goal for 2019 was to ride the 10 routes established by Correy.
“I set a big goal for myself every year and I was thinking about the routes that Ryan had set up shortly before he passed. It just clicked as a way for me to move forward while dealing with my grief and not wanting to leave the memory of Ryan behind,” said Hornby.
Hornby described Correy as a “film buff” and a “big dreamer.” She added that despite not being a filmmaker, he was determined to get a film into the festival.
“The most exciting part about this film getting into the festival is that it fulfilled Ryan’s dream and it tells his story and mine at the same time.”
Hornby’s story transformed from sadness and loss to a celebration of life.
For Bartlett, having the film selected for the festival helped him to check off one of his career bucket list goals.
Primarily Bartlett has been focused on working with commercial and tourism-based clients, but after dipping his toes into the documentary field, he is eager to dive back in.
The creative freedom and ability to wear multiple hats in the production of the film was a rewarding experience for Bartlett.
“Typically when I work on a film I am working with a creative director highlighting a certain product or tourism activity. But with this film, we had the freedom to develop the story the way we wanted to and it was fun to take on all those roles. It was definitely the most personal project I have worked on.”
The seven-minute film was shot over 30 days in 2019 across all four seasons in the mountains and valleys of Alberta and B.C.
Besides the unpredictable mountain weather, coordinating the schedules of three busy individuals was the most difficult part of production, admitted Bartlett.
“We locked in the dates really early and that meant that we weren’t able to make decisions about the weather. In some of those cases, if I was Sarah, I would have rescheduled and I’m sure she would have too, but we were committed to the specific days we agreed on.”
Bartlett said the online format of the festival this year does not detract from the honour of being selected. He is excited about the festival and said there will be opportunities for Zoom conferences during the festival.
“I think the fact that the festival is online – it opens up the possibility for more viewers, which at the end of the day is what filmmakers want. There will still be some opportunities to soak in some of the atmosphere and the benefit of being a finalist, which is an exciting prospect.”
Choosing to Live will be screened in a package of short films titled Out the Back Door.
Visit www.banffcentre.ca/banff-mountain-film-book-festival, for more information on the festival.