REGINA — When Curtis McGillivray was a student at the Estevan Comprehensive School, the aspiring filmmaker came up with the idea for a series named Pothead: Your Local Superhero.
Now Pothead has earned McGillivray and some friends a provincial award.
Pothead: Your Local Superhero won the Audience Choice Award at the Saskatchewan Independent Film Awards recently. It was voted on by people who were in the audience or watching from home for the awards. Pothead was also a finalist for the Top Long Form Project.
“It’s about a wacky individual, your average Joe, who one day decides to become a superhero, so he wears a pot on his head, kind of like a little pun we have fun with there,” said McGillivray.
The whole series features some unique characters and some potential villains are introduced.
“It’s a big underdog story about some people finding their way, and wanting to improve their city,” said McGillivray.
One of the last films he made before graduating from ECS was Pothead. McGillivray was looking for a superhero name that would cause people to judge the character when they hear the name for the first time.
But it’s actually quite wholesome, innocent and comedic, he said, and the more common meaning of pothead isn’t addressed in the series. When he talks to people about the project, they often think about marijuana.
“They start imagining what Pothead Your Local Superhero must look like, and then once they see a picture … or they see the … poster we have, and they see it’s literally just a character who wears a pot on his head, then they usually start to laugh and they see the joke in the matter.”
McGillivray created the first full episode for his final project in film school. Then he received funding through Creative Saskatchewan and some other people to make three more episodes. They were released earlier this year.
Everybody who has worked on it is happy with what they were able to produce so quickly after graduating university.
It took a lot of people to make Pothead possible. Some were volunteers. Fifteen to 20 people worked on the crew as audio recorders, cameramen or more.
McGillivray noted Vincent Dupuis, who hails from Estevan and also went to film school, was a big part of the success. Others stepped in to be part of the cast for the show.
“A lot of friends that I grew up with, that I went to high school with and that I’ve known for my entire life took on roles,” said McGillivray. “My parents and family members and friends and fellow filmmakers from the Saskatchewan film industry stepped up to fill in roles, so there was quite a bit of people involved who made it possible.”
People have been enjoying the project because it makes them laugh, he said. One of the jury members said it was well done and fairly ambitious for recent film school grads.
“They seemed to really enjoy the writing and the spirit behind it, and the overall characters and the development. It seemed like it was just a really enjoyable watch for people,” McGillivray said.
And there was a good feeling to hear people laughing during the trailers and the clips.
Four episodes are available in what they call Season 1. The episodes can be found on their YouTube channel. It doesn’t include the original video he made in high school.
“It’s the most ambitious project that I’ve tackled and our crew has tackled to date. I’ve always been one of those people who says it’s better to shoot high and try for the most ambitious stuff because you learn a lot more doing that, even if you do have some upsets or some failures along the way.”
Episodes are around 28-30 minutes, and the fourth episode is about 40 minutes. McGillivray noted it would be rated PG-13 or TV14 for violence and coarse language.