— For her last two films, Cairo Time and Inescapable, Toronto’s Ruba
Nadda shot in Egypt, Lebanon and South Africa and dealt with all the
issues of dragging a production into foreign territory.
But it was when she came back home to Canada to make her next film, October Gale, that she really went through hell.
“Honestly, this has been the worst shoot of my life,” the 42-year-old
said in an interview during the Toronto International Film Festival in
“It’s one of the most difficult movies I’ve ever done in my whole life,” added Oscar-nominated star Patricia Clarkson.
Shot and set amidst the isolated splendour of Ontario’s Georgian Bay,
October Gale centres on Clarkson’s Helen, a grieving widow rendered
housebound in her remote cottage by a powerful fall storm.
Her mournful solitude is interrupted by the sudden appearance of a
wounded stranger (played mysteriously by Canuck Scott Speedman), who’s
on the run from malevolent forces who could hurt Helen, too. They’re
stuck with each other until the weather clears.
Volatile conditions had a similarly constricting effect on the production itself.
“The production really went sideways very early on,” Nadda said. “The
weather was against us. We had one of the worst winters of Canada’s
“Two weeks into shooting, the lake was still frozen, and it didn’t
thaw until two days before we were supposed to be in that water.”
The shoot was particularly trying for Clarkson, the 55-year-old star of Pieces of April, The Green Mile and Six Feet Under.
“I’m in every frame of that film,” she said, before correcting that she might be absent from one scene.
“It was a very demanding part. I was in the best shape of my life — I had to be, thank God, if I’m doing a shower scene.
“But it was not so much about looking good naked. I wanted people to see that I was still strong … that I was an athletic woman, that I was sinewy … that I am agile, athletic, physical and, even though I am thin, that I have muscles.”
To that end, she learned to steer a speedboat and to shoot a rifle —
though she says she’d done it before, at camp back home in New Orleans.
“It’s nice to see a woman in her 50s be physical, battling the
elements,” Clarkson observed. “That’s what I loved about this film. I
said, ‘Ruba, I’m always looking for new places to go.’”
They’ve become good friends since collaborating on Cairo Time, and
they’re working together again on a new HBO series called Elisabeth that
Nadda is getting off the ground.
The relationship was surely crash-tested on October Gale.