An unflinching slow-burn indie drama, Crown and Anchor stars Mike Rowe and Matt Wells in a lover-letter to The Rock of an entirely different kind
Passion project for long-time friends Mike Rowe (best known as Arrow’s Deadshot), actor and television personality Matt Wells (MTV, Much Music), and director Andrew Rowe (yes, Andrew and Mike are brothers) – Crown and Anchor is a gritty and balls-to-the-wall fairytale that explores the largely unknown underbelly of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Tough & Unapologetic
Making its Canadian debut at the annual Nickel Independent Film Festival on June 22nd, Crown and Anchor is tough, rough and unapologetic, a love letter to Newfoundland and Labrador that you won’t find in tourism commercials or downtown murals.
“In every sense of the word this is an independent film,” shares Wells. “When people are going to movie theatres and they’re trying to find the non-Hollywood, tied up with a bow movie, and if you like dramas from the ’80s and ’90s that are not a perfect 90 minutes, you’re going to like this movie.
“In terms of Newfoundland audiences, yes this is Newfoundland made, full of Newfoundland, but it’s not a postcard for Newfoundland the way a lot of movies and films shot there are,” he adds. “It’s still a postcard in the way that we’re still proud of where we’re from, we’re still proud Newfoundlanders. We just came home and made a movie that relates to us more and is the movie we’d want to watch. You’re not going to see this as an ad on the airplane to invite people to go to Newfoundland, but it’s a really solid movie and I think that’s what people need to know.”
For writer and director Andrew Rowe, who makes his full-length feature film directorial debut with Crown and Anchor, the opportunity to work with family and friends in his home province was too much to pass up.
“It took a lot of the fear out of it, because it’s a huge leap to go from a short film to a feature film,” he says. “I think I told everybody on set for the fourth day that this was the longest I’ve ever been on set for a movie I was making. I think the first day we shot more pages than any script I shot as a short film. It was uncharted depth. Having friends around makes that seem like it’s no big deal. There’s always a little bit of nerves when you’re working with like Stephen McHattie, Andy Jones and Robert Joy and it’s like, oh jeez, these guys have done 150 movies, I’m going to look like some bush league amateur here. Right away you realize everyone is the same and everyone wants to make the movie as great as possible. It was so collaborative and it was a dream to work on, and I think it makes for a better set.”
The film follows two estranged cousins whose lives are forced to intersect once more; James Downey (Rowe) is living a disciplined and straight edge lifestyle as a result of growing up with an abusive-alcoholic father, while his cousin Danny (Wells) drowns his own trauma with drugs and alcohol. As he watches his cousin unravel, James’ past returns with violent and tragic consequences.
With a score comprised of cult favourites from the punk and hardcore movement that perfectly set the tone, the film is a slow burn examination on grief, tragedy and violence.
“We’re not sure how people are going to take the film,” Mike Rowe says with a laugh. “It’s not easy to watch. It’s a pretty
intense story of people who have dealt with trauma and have led messed up lives. It’s a messy story with a hard R-rating. Anyone going to see this story be ready for a lot of scenes with bad language and hard to discuss topics. But this is the story that we wanted to tell, and it was important for us to try to describe what was in our heads.”
While anything but your traditional Newfoundland based production, Crown and Anchor is a project deeply rooted in this place, make no mistake.
“A big part of what we wanted to do was make it at home and make it with this growing local filmmaking community with all of these great actors, and that’s what we did,” shared Wells.
“Ninety-five per cent of this film is Newfoundland made. Whether it was local businesses, so many local actors. My mother- and father-in-law did catering on the thing. This was so locally made. That’s what we wanted to do from the beginning, and that’s what we ended up doing.”
For tickets to the screening at the LSPU Hall which features guests Mike and Andrew Rowe, Matt Wells and Andy Jones, visit nickelfestival.com and crownandanchorfilm.com