What it means to return home has proven to be a central theme for producer Lucinda Bruce across the past year and a half.
Not only is she involved in Niki Byrne’s US homecoming drama Evan Wood but COVID-19 has brought her back to her native state of Victoria for an extended period.
As someone who spent more than three years living in Vancouver and regularly divides her time between LA and Australia, Bruce told IF she felt “very lucky” to be able to reunite with her family in the rural town Ross Creek prior to the pandemic taking hold.
“I got home just before everything got really crazy and have been here ever since, which has been really nice,” she said.
“Being able to be with my parents during the pandemic was awesome because I knew not everyone was able to.”
The importance of family is at the heart of Evan Wood, which stars Charlotte Louise Spencer as Rachel Wood, a Los Angeles writing student who decides to return home after years away from her relatives to process her grandmother’s passing.
Once there, she navigates the possible rekindling of a past love interest while at the same time helping her brother as he struggles with issues of mental health and addiction.
The script was written by Alejandro Lopez Spencer, Katherine M Tucker, Maria Martinez Lopez, and Kara Christensen, with Bruce producing alongside Lopez, Spencer, Matt Minshall, and John Rodenhizer.
She became involved in the project through her connection to lead actors Spencer and Alex Sorian Brown, the latter of whom she collaborated with on a previously unreleased film.
The cast also includes Jere Burns, Trevor Stines, and Michael Parr.
Having been shot across 11 days in the US towards the end of 2019, the independent film will have its premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival later this month at one of the beachside drive-in theatres that have been set up for the event.
Bruce said she has also applied for the film to be shown at this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival while also fielding interest from sales agents and distributors.
“Melbourne is my hometown, so it would be great to see it on the big screen there,” she said.
“The plan at the moment is to hit the festivals but we do have interest from distributors and sales agents which is pretty cool.
“We’re not sure whether its going to have a theatrical release or just streaming just yet.”
With a background in acting, production and broadcasting, Bruce has produced shorts, music videos and several feature films via her Lady of Light Productions company.
She travelled to Vancouver from Australia in 2013 to pursue acting after a spinal injury in 2006 and a bout of cancer in 2009 prompted a renewed focus on her dreams of working in the film industry.
After switching to producing, Bruce went on to be a part of festival selection and Leo-nominated feature film FSM, Cannes Short Film Corner-screened short A Family of Ghosts, Leo-nominated short The Starlight Heist, and London International Short Film Festival Winner, Killing Christmas.
She has also contributed to the wrestling documentary 350 Days: The Movie, which became one of Amazon’s best-selling documentary films, and Jonathan Newton’s independent feature The Party Bus, set for a worldwide release later this year.
Her slate shows no signs of waning with a host of new titles in development, including Australian drama/thriller The Nowhere Man, an Indigenous story set against the backdrop of Cyclone Tracy in the Northern Territory.
Written by Barry Duffield, the film is set to be directed by up-and-coming Indigenous director Justin Grant, with Damion Hunter attached as the lead actor.
Bruce is also in the process of financing an 11th century medieval film to be shot in rural Victoria, with plans to shoot in May/June.
She said remained passionate about working on set.
“I love developing stories, creating characters, and telling stories,” she said.
“I also love bringing crews together because they become your family.
“Everytime you go onto a set, you have a new film family, which is nice.”