- Contributed Wendy Ord and Glen Samuel on scene filming their documentary Fight or Flight in Rock Creek after a devastating wildfire in 2015.

Okanagan director works with actors Gerard Butler, Nicolas Cage during career

Wendy Ord is the director for To The Worlds, which features Lake Country skaters

A Lake Country woman’s star has risen, from behind the scenes.

Wendy Ord has worked on Beowulf and Grendel, which starred Gerard Butler, A Score to Settle with Nicolas Cage, as well as her own award-winning documentaries.

“I never relax ever,” she said, with a laugh.

Her latest documentary, To The Worlds, aired on CBC a few weeks ago and was met with success. It follows the stories of older Lake Country figure skaters and is currently in the number one spot in CBC Docs POV.

READ MORE: Documentary featuring Lake Country skaters airs this week

Hailing from Ontario, Ord entered the film industry in her early 20s. Now 59, she said the industry was male-dominated at the time and she had to develop a strategy to work within that environment.

“Everybody would look at you like ‘oh no,’ and they’d give you a really hard time. You had to prove yourself on every new film,” she said, adding that she tried to do that with humour and grace.

“It took a long time, I had to learn how to not be a yeller or a screamer because if you did that as a woman, you’d come across as a b****. Men come off as tough when they’re yelling and screaming, women come off as b****y. So I had to use my feminine wiles to get things done.”

Ord had a tenacity that came from youth, but she was lucky to work on productions around the world over the years.

Ord said the film industry is on the cusp of a major change that she’s happy to see.

“Right now is the time for women. I’ve had very little opportunity to direct, for example, and now there are rules in place where they have to have 20 per cent women. For any kind of people of diversity in any way, it’s a wonderful time to be entering the industry,” she said.

“I can’t believe the last three years. When you’re on a film set now there (are) usually a lot of women. This was unheard of when I started.”

One of her most memorably difficult sets was filming Beowulf and Grendel in Iceland.

“We were shooting in Iceland in November and it was bloody cold. We sailed that viking ship in an iceberg lagoon and it was an old viking ship that was in a museum and they put it in this iceberg lagoon and it was literally sinking as we were trying to film it. All the cast and all the crew we on board and if you fell in that water, you’d be dead in like 60 seconds.”

Ord called actor Gerard Butler a “doll.”

“He was a real trooper. He was a lot of fun. He was always smiling no matter how cold or damp. Horses would throw him off their backs and he (was always laughing.)”

Ord loves working in the film industry as it provides something new all the time.

“You’re in a different place every day. I loved working with the people and the aspect of travel and never were two days the same.”

As a first assistant director, she gets the script months before filming takes place and determines where the shots will be filmed and how.

When she was working in that role, she’d have few months off between stints. But she said now she only occasionally takes an assistant directing job, preferring to direct more on her own projects.

In 2003, she directed her first feature film, Black Swan — not to be confused with the ballet focused film that came out in 2010.

“I’ve always wanted to direct, I’ve directed short films throughout my career. It’s not something new, I’ve been directing shorts since I was 30, so branching into long documentaries was something I always wanted to do,” she said.

She said it was easier than running a set of 100 guys.

“It was gratifying to work with a small crew and be in charge.”

READ MORE: Central Okanagan skaters featured in CBC documentary

Ord also filmed her 2010 award-winning documentary Tora in Lake Country, which featured David Suzuki. The film delved into the history of Japanese internment camps in the Second World War through the eyes of a city woman who is haunted by the spirit of a young girl.

Ten years ago, Ord went through a divorce. After meeting her significant other, Glen Samuel, they fell in love with each other and with Lake Country, where she ended up moving to. The pair worked on Tora together.

While she’s not ready to announce what she’s working on next, she said hopefully CBC will be pleased with the success of To The Worlds.

”I’m hoping that will grant me future documentary possibilities,” she Ord.

In the meantime, she wants to continue creating inspirational documentaries about people.

“I just feel super lucky to be able to do what I do,” she said.

@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Photos: Sicamous braves the frigid lake waters for polar bear swim

Eager swimers lined the lakeside despite a frosty morning

Sparks fly off Steinway Grand during Vernon Valentine’s show

CONCERT REVIEW: NOCCA piano duo impresses

Fundraiser started for mother who had stroke while visiting Central Okanagan family

Tina Parry was visiting her daughter Rita Bruce Nanakeain and grandsons when she had a stroke

Salmon Arm students win province-wide Great Waters Challenge

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Nursing students bring their passion for helping the homeless to Salmon Arm

The need for an outreach worker is near the top of their wish list

VIDEO: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony features athletes from across Canada

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

Junior Bonspiel sweeps away the winter blues in Salmon Arm

Youth curlers take to the ice for circus-themed sompetition

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Most Read