In Hollywood, it costs millions of dollars and a team consisting of thousands of people to create an action film.
But some local talent has challenged that approach by creating an independent action film using only the resources the Okanagan Valley has to offer.
Vernon born and raised director Mitchell Vanlerberg has created the film Young Ronin, alongside David Scarlatescu and Peter Kaz.
The movie, starring a pair of teenage martial artists, had producers team up with Kees Tae Kwon Do to choreograph all of the action pieces in the film. Along with hot spots like Kalamalka Lake, locals will recognize locations and faces as Vernon stars in the movie.
Young Ronin will be screened at the Vernon Towne Theatre on Friday, Oct. 14, at 6 and 8 p.m.
“Orphan martial artists, Nate and Tobey, are in a race against time to secure enough funds for their ill friend Maya, who is in desperate need of an operation,” the synopsis reads. “A mysterious stranger offers them a job to go undercover at a local high school to kidnap a teenage celebrity sensation, Lucy Hampton, and hold her for ransom. Desperate and out of options, the boys accept the job.
“As Nate grows closer to Lucy, he begins to doubt if their reasons can justify their actions.”
This is Vanlerberg’s second locally-produced film, following Spider-Island, screened in November 2021. From a young age, Vanlerberg says he had a burning passion for storytelling, especially in film, adding he’s proud to produce films in the community he loves.
For Vanlerberg, Friday’s screening marks the culmination of a two-year-long passion project.
He says he underwent six months of training with Kees Tae Kwon Do in order to make the action scenes he stars in look realistic.
“My character had to know how to use the nunchucks, which I’ve never used before in my life, so basically five months learning how to use the nunchucks … that was quite the adventure,” Vanlerberg said.
A huge fan of Bruce Lee, Vanlerberg has had a love for martial arts since he was a kid, when he achieved a red belt after seven years of martial arts training.
Vanlerberg says they will potentially enter Young Ronin into some film festivals in Canada and are also looking into options for streaming services, but nothing is set in stone yet.
A dozen or so martial arts students — some of whom appear in the movie — were showcasing their skills in front of the Towne Theatre to promote the movie on Friday, Oct. 7.
For tickets, visit TheTowne.ca.