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THE MESSENGERS

The Scaring Point
"It's rugged. It's dirty. It is dark and sharp-looking. There are no soft edges. It is like everything on the farm – hard, like the scythes and the sickles and the old dead tractor.” This is how Stewart sees Jess' new home and new world.

The farmhouse is old and battered and dark brown, juxtaposed against all those beautiful sunflowers, says Miller. And on the inside, it tells a far different story from the outer world.

The interior sets were all about "circles of movement so that everything opens into some outer space,” says Production Designer Keywan. "There are no dead ends. It helps construct tension, the sense that there could always be someone immediately outside of a doorway, in any other room… the illusion of the unknown always lurking.”

After the Solomon family moves into what they had hoped would be their dream house, "they start to feel everything strange and more and more things emerge out of the dark corners into the light,” says Danny Pang. "It is all about reaching the scaring point.”

That point is enhanced by color as well as light, notes Director of Photography Geddes. "In Chinese mythology, the power of the ghost is relevant to color and the strongest is green.” The whole house, adds Keywan, was designed in shades of green with wood accents. "The darker the lighting and shade of green, the better,” says Geddes.

"There are a lot of spooky things inside the house and the lighting is all done through the windows. It has a very realistic feel of being in an old, smallwindowed farmhouse with little shafts of light coming in,” Keywan says. "The dark elements make for a moody ambience which adds to the aura of mystery.”

There was more to light than just a tweak on the genre. Since the film was shot in Canada at a time of the year when there were only about four hours of darkness with daylight stretching until 10:30 and 11 p.m., the filmmakers had to deal with guild rules that allowed child actors to only work until midnight. "It worked to our advantage that daytime was scary as well,” Geddes says.

The film was shot about 100 miles north of the Montana / North Dakota border in Canada's central plains region, just outside of Regina, the provincial capital of Saskatchewan. A farming region, Regina's central crops are wheat, canola, flax and sunflowers. "We needed a place where we could have a sunflower farm at the exact time we were shooting the movie,” says Producer Shuman. "Saskatchewan happened to be a place that had vast lands, could afford our sunflower timing and is movie-friendly.” It is home to Canada's Saskatchewan Production Studios, which house state of the art soundstages, editing facilities and currently produces the popular television series CORNER GAS, a parody on Canadian prairie life.

When Keywan took the Pangs to scout the farmhouse location on the land just outside Indian Head in the Qu'Appelle Valley, "it was winter and they had just arrived from Hong Kong via Los Angeles. Someone wrapped them up in borrowed down coats and told them to get on the snowmobiles and hang on,” she recalls. "At that time of year, none of the roads coming in were roads you could actually drive on, so it was five miles in the snow. When we arrived they didn't say much, just got off and walked around. After a few minutes, Oxide said `there's nothing like this is Southeast Asia. I've only seen this in movies.' I said `well, now it's in yours'.”

Shuman, who was along on the scouting expedition, remembers coming upon the exact hillside. "We looked out at this huge, vast expanse and the Pangs knew exactly where they wanted the house. It was fascinating,” he says, "because there was absolutely nothing there except open land and snow. It was snowing. They knew they wanted a certain distance from the house to the hill and they knew exactly where<

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