Director George Lessard’s short film/music video, Gallows Pole No More, is approaching its one year anniversary of completion.
A nearly eight-minute short, the project highlights a cover performance of Gallows Pole by Ryan Dempster and Chris Jonah, otherwise known as Rollin’ Hitch, in the Yellowknife Co-op tunnel.
“It’s a great piece,” said Lessard. “The best pieces I do and the ones I like the best are the ones where the muse is in it, and strong, and that had it. Those guys had the muse for themselves, and I just feed off the energy that they got from that.”
Though originally recorded on Aug. 9 of 2020, the project wouldn’t officially be completed until Aug. 30 of 2020 (according to the project’s Film Freeway page). Now, a year later, the success of the artistic endeavour is nothing to sneer at.
The project has been officially selected for festivals such as the Venice Shorts and Canadian Shorts – Canadian & International Short Film Fest in 2020. As well, it was a finalist for the One-Reeler Short Film Competition and a semi-finalist for the Rocky Mountain International Film Festival in 2021.
“It was part of a project that I got funding from the Arts Council for last summer, under the COVID funding that they had available for artists,” said Lessard. “So, I was meandering around Yellowknife, taking pictures of any artwork that I could find.”
“That day [Aug. 9], NACC [Northern Arts and Cultural Centre] had its events on the Frame Lake trail,” continued Lessard. “Since most of them where in the handicap inaccessible part, and I’m handicapped, I was going around on the part of the trail I could access.”
Lessard would eventually find the performance that was taking place in the Co-op tunnel.
“There was the group [Rollin’ Hitch] getting set up … ,” said Lessard. “I started taking some pictures. I saw Ryan, we started chatting for a bit and I said, ‘Hey Ryan, how ‘bout if I record this, that okay?’ and he said yeah. So… I stayed there and recorded that, and it tickled my muse, and away it went. That’s the result. I just happened to be there. There was no planning involved to do it or anything like that. I just took the inspiration from the song and the moment.”
Dempster, also known by his solo act Elbows Crooked Toes Wilson, was at the event with Jonah after being hired by NACC to preform on the Frame Lake trail series.
“I just happened to ask Jonah to accompany me as I was not ready to play alone,” said Dempster. “We were on the house boat for a few weeks playing every day which is where we came up with Rollin’ Hitch.”
“The spot I chose was the Co-op tunnel,” continued Dempster. “George was there as it was the only friendly accessible spot on the trail, I just [happened] to be the one fortunate enough to be in front of him that day and gave him permission to be as creative as he wished.”