Thirteen Explores Family Disintegration During The Okanagan Forest Fires

Capilano Alumni come together to create a film about family ties 

Jayde Atchison // Staff Writer 

The cruelty of being a teenager is, for many, a time we’d rather leave in the past. Teddy Edwards brings to light the trials of being a 13-year-old boy in his latest short film, Thirteen. Based on memories of his childhood, this is the CapU Motion Picture Arts (MOPA) alumnus’ most personal project to date. The film follows two brothers coping with their father’s absence when the Okanagan’s destructive fires first began in the early 2000s.  

Thirteen is inspired by Edwards’ own experiences; at nine his family home burnt down in a forest fire, which led to his parents getting divorced.The film is composed of 13 scenes cut together in a way similarly spliced to how the brain retains memories. “I could only remember glimpses, moments and certain beats and then I thought that could be a brilliant way to structure a short film,” explained Edwards. 

Over shots of younger brother Finn (played by Caden Hergott) smiling in the rearview mirror, viewers can hear sounds of media reporting on the fires in the Okanagan. While there is no direct visual reference of fire until an intimate moment between brothers at the end of the film, the underlying sound of fire is intertwined throughout the film. 

The experience of filming Thirteen was a moving one for Edwards, one that he was able to share with his fellow MOPA alumni. The entire crew was composed of Edwards’ classmates, an experience that allowed him to be surrounded by friends as he reflected on the feelings the shoot brought back. “It was very moving to feel things that I hadn’t felt in a long time,” he said. “I was trying to, in a spiritual aspect, come to terms with what I was feeling and how that was influencing what we were filming.”

Brothers Finn and Wes share moments of happiness while shooting cans, heated fights in the kitchen and an emotional dialogue while playing ping pong. The unbreakable bond between the boys is clear through the quiet moments of grief spread through the seven minutes. Both Hergott and Peter MacLeod (who plays Wes) are active Kelowna theatre actors. “I found it super compelling to [use local Okanagan actors] because they hadn’t really done film before,” said Edwards. “It was refreshing to witness people experience the magic behind the way we make [films].” 

Thirteen is premiering at Cineplex Odeon Park & Tilford Cinemas on March 4, prior to the screening of Portrait of a Lady on Fire as part of the North Vancouver Arts International Film Series. Tickets for the screening of Thirteen and Portrait of a Lady on Fire can be found on the North Vancouver Arts website. Thirteen is also available for viewing on the Yellow Chair Films Website.

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