Film set to ignite Ludwig tale

LISA WILTON

, Last Updated: 5:57 PM ET

CALGARY -- In a wooded area, just west of Millarville, a film crew scurries about, moving lighting equipment, testing camera angles and touching up costumes and makeup.

Every once and a while, a crew member will soak in a few moments of warmth in a heated van before heading back into the cold.

The film set, it seems, is the only place in southern Alberta where it is snowing.

Despite numbing toes and running noses, the cast and crew are working hard to recreate one of the most interesting and controversial stories in Alberta history.

Burn: The Robert Wraight Story is a fact-based account of the Wiebo Ludwig saga from the perspective of the man who blew the whistle on convicted eco-terrorist Ludwig.

"Robert (Wraight) just wanted the best for his family," says Jonathan Scarfe, who plays the lead character.

Wraight initially befriended the environmental activist when he found out his family was experiencing the same health problems as Ludwig's.

Eventually, Wraight turned to the authorities. Ludwig ended up jailed for vandalizing two oil- and gas-well sites, as well as explosives-related offences.

"(Wraight's) family had health problems, he had no money, no way out," says Scarfe, who met with Wraight before filming began. "I think it's easy to paint Robert in an unfair light and to say he was greedy or just in it for the money. If you spend two seconds talking to the guy, you know that's not true."

Burn -- directed by Stefan Scaini (Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story) -- is a co-production between Tapestry Pictures and Alberta Filmworks.

Filmworks producer Randy Bradshaw says the movie will not only appeal to Albertans who are more familiar with the story, but also to Canadians who are faced with the Kyoto issue.

"This is an incredibly timely story," he says. "The whole country is trying to wrestle with the Kyoto Accord, trying to understand why some people like it and other people don't."

TV viewers may recognize Scarfe from The Sheldon Kennedy Story, in which he portrayed the troubled hockey star.

Although he has worked steadily as an actor for the past decade, Scarfe is particularly excited about Burn as it marks the first time he and his father, veteran actor Alan Scarfe (Once a Thief, Lethal Weapon 3) have worked together.

"It's the best thing ever," gushes Scarfe, whose mother, Sara Botsford (The West Wing), also has a role. "We don't live in the same area, so getting paid to be in the same place at the same time is a treat."

Alan Scarfe is equally thrilled to be sharing the screen with his son. "It's like working with any other particularly good young actor," says the senior Scarfe, who plays Ludwig. "But when we're doing the scenes together, we're not thinking about that. We're trying to remember our lines and mundane things like that. But it's terrific because we get to have some fun."

The $4 million production is set to wrap this weekend after 20 days of filming. Although no air date has been set, CTV is aiming for early spring, Bradshaw says.


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