Madeline Wahl talks with Darlene Henley of Penticton who plays the nursing instructor in the film. Mark Brett/Western News

It’s a wrap for Okanagan actress/director Madeline Wahl

Madeline Wahl who grew up in Naramata and now lives in Vancouver shot a film in Penticton recently

For the best.

Those words are often used to explain away a hurtful choice, as a way of coping with the pain of loss so life can continue.

For the Best is a short film by Naramata born and raised actress Madeline Wahl, which examines the soul searching that comes after that decision is made.

For the 28-year-old McGill University graduate who now plies her trade in the studios and theatres in Vancouver, the film is very near and dear to her heart.

Set in the late 60’s and early 70’s, it’s about nursing student Paula’s (Wahl’s character) journey as an unwed mother and (at the time) the accompanying stigma and the eventual adoption process.

“It was inspired by my mother, who went through something similar and I was just very connected to it because of that,” said Wahl, who hopes to enter the finished product in film festivals in 2019 and 2020. “It really spoke to me, it was definitely a story I’ve known my whole life because of mom, but it’s only been the past year and a half I’ve been thinking I would like to write it and create something.”

Actress and director Madeline Wahl reviews a scene on the monitor during the filming of her latest work, For the Best.Mark Brett/Western News

She described her character as: “Quite similar to me, a young woman who has fun with her friends and just want to live her life and be an independent woman. The character is the most similar to myself than anything I’ve ever played.”

Initially, Wahl had planned only to pen the script, but as the process continued she decided it warranted much more and, in the end, decided it would best be done as a film.

Because of the sensitivity of the subject to her, and her family, she decided to oversee the entire project.

“I’ve always been a writer, so I decided to write this script and then it just snowballed into, I’m going to produce it and OK I think I should direct it because I love the script and then I wanted to be in it,” said Wahl.

“I actually discovered how much I love producing and that sort of thing because as an actor you have zero control over anything, you’re auditioning for projects and you’re just hoping to get cast in something, but when you’re producing and directing, I was so happy to be in control and deciding.

“I got to wear all the hats so I was extremely fulfilled and discovered a new passion and new career path possibly.”

Madeline Wahl (centre) and crew review a scene shot at the Shatford Centre. Mark Brett/Western News

Wahl’s other film roles have included a “church girl” and “hipster” and she has also worked as a set decorator.

“This one is definitely a role I’m more proud of than the other ones, but every product I’ve been involved with I’ve learned so much and met amazing people,” she said.

Graduating in 2008 from Penticton Secondary School, it was during a visit to Penticton in July for her 10th annual grad reunion she discovered the ideal location for the film’s inside shots.

Related: Creative Community: Shatford is a destination for creativity

“One of my classmates who organized the reunion rented the Shatford (Centre) and I hadn’t been back in the building in 10 years and I was walking around and I was, like this is the perfect spot for my nursing college,” said Wahl. “It was very sentimental to be back at my old high school, the Shatford Centre.

We were the last grad class to leave the old Pen High before the new school was built. Those are the same halls I had classes in, I walked those halls for four years, it was just really really special to be able to come back and be able to do it here.”

Make up artist works with co-star Marnie Mahannah.Mark Brett/Western News

Self-financed, shooting in Penticton was also less expensive than Vancouver, but she also felt it was a good opportunity to showcase what’s available locally to other producers.

Related: Revisioning the Okanagan School of the Arts

“I also thought it would be a great opportunity to have so much extra help,” said Wahl. “My mom was instrumental in feeding the entire crew.”

Many of the film’s extras were from this area as well, including family friend John Moorhouse, whose wife Jen was Wahl’s Kindergarten teacher at Naramata Elementary.

For now, the next step will be to secure an editor to complete project along with the ongoing auditions of a “struggling actress” trying to make her mark in the film industry in Hollywood North.


 

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Setting up the next shot on the set of For the Best at the Shatford Centre. Mark Brett/Western News

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