An Okotoks producer is screening his latest film in town tomorrow (May 8).

Scott Lepp has been producing television and film through his independent company Island Entertainment since about 2017, with some of his projects having been shot in Okotoks.

His latest production, a feature film titled Hailey Rose, is being shown in Lepp's own town after its recent premiere a few weeks prior.

Lepp describes it as a comedy that might bring about a few tears.

"Hailey Rose is a contemporary family comedy about a young woman who is lured back to her hometown by a distressed call from her melodramatic sister saying their mother is dead, only when she returns, she realizes it was all a big ruse and her mother is very much still alive. The film then develops into a story about family dynamics, and the main character Hailey is basically retracing her roots and going back through the rural Novia Scotian hometown she grew up in and meeting all the people whose lives they used to be a part of, and managing the friend and family dynamics that come with it."

The film owes its maritime setting to writer/director Sandi Somers.

"So Sandi is from Cape Breton and moved out to Calgary. The film itself isn't autobiographical, but I'd say maybe semi-autobiographical in that she took from some real-life moments to build the story... So the story came from there. We went back to Nova Scotia to film this. We filmed the vast majority of it in and around the Halifax area in a couple of towns called Chester and Hubbards," says Lepp.

Lepp worked with Somers on the film Ice Blue and the Heartland spinoff Hudson, both of which were filmed partially in Okotoks.

The Okotokian producer sees many parallels between Nova Scotia and Alberta as filming destinations, with Hubbards having been the filming location for the CBC series Moonshine and the horror series From.

He also recalls a similar trajectory with their respective provincial governments' fostering of the film industry.

"We saw a similar thing happen here in Alberta in 2019 with our new government coming in. They were originally going to make significant cuts to the Film and Television Tax Credit program, in fact, they did immediately when they took over, but they went on to do research, really got involved in the industry, and realized what a boon it can be. For people in Okotoks and High River, part of that is Heartland, you need not look any further than Heartland. Especially in High River in July during the Stampede, and there are hundreds if not thousands of people coming to tour the sets there."

Lepp, who's been experiencing Alberta's recent film boom as a local, independent producer, says it's come with both perks and challenges.

"It has made a world of difference. Now it's mostly for service production, meaning it basically promotes the Americans to come up here and shoot but that's a large part of the film ecosystem, so it trickles down a little bit. Myself, as an independent Alberta producer I'd like to see a little bit more put into domestic production, but you know what? We've got to start somewhere and we're getting there... Although I don't see an immediate impact, in fact, I'd say it has made things harder immediately, I think in the long run it's going to eventually pay off in that we're going to have a larger crew base, so independent producers like myself are going to be able to draw into that."

Hailey Rose made its theatrical debut in April, and Lepp was glad to have had it screened at the Cineplex in Eau Claire, Calgary, which just had its last weekend in operation.

"If this wasn't the last weekend then it's coming down very soon. In mid-April, we snuck in the theatrical release of the film, which went really well. We released in Calgary and Halifax, and both cities were super supportive of the film. We're just trending toward the end of our theatrical release, that's why it's so great to be able to get the Okotoks Film Society to do this special presentation of the film here in Okotoks, it's basically the last time you're going to get a chance to see it in theatres."

The Okotoks screening, presented by the Okotoks Film Society, is billed as an Okotoks Film Festival "pre-fest" event.

For Lepp, it's always an honour to see his productions screened in town.

"Obviously I want everything I do to screen in Okotoks. We have a great arts community here and the Okotoks Film Society, led by Katie Fournell, they've been good to me my entire career. We're always looking for opportunities to broaden the artistic horizons of Okotokians. So I feel like this film is part of that. Yes, we didn't film it here, but a lot of people from Calgary and area worked on this film and myself, I've lived in Okotoks now for 17 years, and I don't plan on going anywhere. I really appreciate the support of the community for all of my projects. So we get to bring Hailey Rose to Okotoks, to the Okotoks Cinemas, and do a special one-night-only screening. Myself, Sandi Somers, and also Jordan Uhl, one of our other producers, will be in town. Jordan is a native of Claresholm, so there's a lot of small-town Alberta feel on this film. We're very excited to be able to play it in town."

Tickets can be purchased on Showpass, and the screening is included for anyone with an Okotoks Film Festival Pass.

It's scheduled for 7 p.m. at Okotoks Cinemas.

Hailey Rose will be released digitally on May 16 and will be available on services like iTunes and Google Play, and Super Channel.