By Joel van der Veen
DAVIDSON — Bullying and mental health aren’t the easiest subjects to raise with kids and teens.
But producers of the film Milton’s Secret say they hope it will serve as a starting point for some crucial conversations.
The film, released last year, was co-produced by Davidson native Ryan Lockwood.
He and his co-producer, Stephen Huszar, visited Davidson School on Oct. 2 as part of a presentation, focusing on mental health, bullying and mindfulness.
Students in grades 4 through 12 were in attendance for the presentation in the school gym, which included a video preview of the film and a Q&A session with the producers.
Students from Craik travelled to Davidson on Monday for the presentation, while others in Loreburn watched the proceedings online through a live video feed.
Both presentations were organized by Stephanie Prpick-Boss, who grew up in the Davidson area, later spending 20 years in the Northwest Territories before relocating to Saskatoon seven years ago.
Prpick-Boss had attended school with Lockwood, but the two lost touch after graduation.
They reconnected four years ago, when Lockwood had reached out to Prpick-Boss online as he began crowdfunding for his latest film project.
“As soon as I heard that, I phoned him up,” said Prpick-Boss. “From then on, it’s been a great journey.”
She advised the students to cherish and embrace their communities, as well as to follow their dreams and embrace the arts.
Principal Jason Low introduced Lockwood, who graduated from Davidson in 1991.
“We sat here in the school together,” recalled Low, who graduated a couple of years later. “I stayed, and he’s out making movies now.”
Lockwood and Huszar met while attending the University of Saskatchewan. Eleven years ago, they formed the production company Hulo Films.
Milton’s Secret is based on the book by Robert S. Friedman and Eckhart Tolle.
It tells the story of Milton, a 12-year-old boy who is anxious about his family’s future and plagued by bullying at school.
His life changes when he connects with his grandfather, played by Donald Sutherland, and witnesses his unorthodox approach to life.
Huszar, who is also an actor and currently appearing in the series Letterkenny, said the script went through 48 drafts before production began.
The film also features William Ainscough as Milton, along with actress Michelle Rodriguez, best known for her appearances in the Fast and Furious series.
Huszar met Rodriguez at a party and convinced her to join the project. When actors are passionate about a subject, he remarked, “they’ll jump on board.”
The film made its premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival on Sept. 30, 2016, and has since been released internationally.
The company has donated a DVD copy of the movie to the school, as well as a link to watch the movie online. An educational guide has also been developed for teachers to use in sharing the film with their students.