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The making of Present from the Past

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At BIAFF 2013 Shaun Labrecque won   The Daily Mail Trophy (best in festival), an IAC Diamond Award and the Best Story prize with Present from the Past.
The film also won the Best of Festival and Best Story Awards in the American International Film and Video Festival
SPOILER ALERT: the article reveals plot points, so do watch the film first:

Present From the Past was made for the 2011 Christmas Guerilla Filmmaking competition in Saint George, Utah. It won the Jury prize.

Still from 'Present from the Past'.I wanted to do a story about a pair of siblings losing their dad. Time travel was on my mind. Back to the Future is my favourite movie and has been since I was a little boy. As a kid I would play the movie on loop, which I think drove my parents crazy. I was 3 years old when the film was released to theatres in July of 1985 but I didn't discover it until its VHS release. Years later all three films aired on TV and I wanted to record them. Not having a blank tape, I carelessly recorded over home video tapes. When my dad found out, he wasn't too happy.

The concept and script for Present From The Past took only a couple of days.

I knew I wanted the dad in the film to come back at the end so the time travel idea was obvious. The two kids in the film were named after my twin sister and I. She was frequently drawing and I was constantly watching movies. So I thought: what if they both wrote a letter to Santa asking for the same thing but in a different way?
Still from 'A Present from the Past'.
The film takes a major shift in tone when we meet up with 3 teenagers out to shoot birds in the cold snowy mountains of North Pole, Alaska (actually shot in Pine Valley, Utah). Though the two stories never really cross, I thought it was an effective way to introduce a problem with Santa's delivery of Shaun and Sarah's Christmas presents. Since the audience is left wondering what Shaun asked for until the end, it gave me a chance to squander away Sarah's magic dust that was meant to raise her father from the dead. Still from 'A Present from the Past'.

All works itself out when Santa is accidentally killed and the dust is used to revive him, thus putting him on the path to deliver Shaun's gift. I thought this was a fascinating idea because as a twin growing up, my sister and I often thought about the same things at the same time. So, had there only been one child, the father may have never come back.

Still from 'Present from the Past'.The film was shot over the course of four days and filming went relatively smoothly. I was very impressed by first time child actors Lux and Jordan. Shooting the scenes with the 3 teenagers proved to be difficult as I was not prepared with snow gear. It was a cold day and I found myself running in circles trying to keep warm. One of our actors actually fell in the stream trying to retrieve a fake dead bird for the shot. 

I am really proud of this film and was very lucky to have Mark Haas compose an original score. He got what I was going for and completed the soundtrack rather quickly. I can't remember the exact camera the film was shot on. I borrowed it from a friend. I know it was a Sony HDV camcorder and I was very impressed with the picture quality I was able to capture. Editing went smooth and only took a day to complete. One thing I like about the writing and directing process is I'm able to really prepare myself early on for a fast, low-stress, editing process.

As far as current projects I am working on...I have recently finished Over the Hill with The Space Between Theatre Company I am developing a short film which takes off from a Bill Cosby standup routine done in 1982. I also have a Back to the Future fan film I am working on. I have written the script and feel it's something special. It's an ambitious project that I am so excited to complete. 

Thank you again for your kind response to my film and I wish all you filmmakers the best in your creative endeavours. 

Director, Shaun Labrecque

Still from 'Present from the Past'.
Still from 'Present from the Past'.
Still from 'Present from the Past'.
Still from 'Present from the Past'.

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Page updated on 22 April 2013
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