In 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War, 2 year old Redwood Forest Hanson watched from the backseat of a beat up Volkswagen van while his mother left his father for good. At the very moment his mother walked away, Redwood, aided with the radio news of another Jack Nicklaus victory, had the beginning of a stress induced epiphany:
Beat Jack Nicklaus at the Masters, and his parents would reunite!
Eight years later, Redwood has yet to defeat Jack. He lives in Canada with his dope dealing, hippie father, who despite all his free love, cannot make life any easier for his son. Suddenly his life flips upside down. His father is arrested and Redwood is relocated to Northern California to live with his estranged mother. Here he meets his new family; a militant stepfather, two unwelcoming stepbrothers, and the elderly, agoraphobic, step-grandfather Earl, who lives in the basement. Redwood’s dream seems crushed forever… until Gramps reveals a secret golf tip that could help Redwood beat the world’s greatest golfer.
BECOMING REDWOOD is a touching and
magical story about youth and memory. It follows a young boy
from a broken home on his road to trying to create a family for himself.
Becoming Redwood takes a look at a family situation separated by circumstances, yet ultimately mom/dad and Redwood are supportive of each other. What really hit home for you?
Collins: This story has a lot of heart and Redwood’s journey of trying to find his way through his parents separation was really inspiring because he has this determination, this never give up attitude, and he never feels sorry for himself. I also loved playing in the world of imagination. This is where Redwood finds comfort, strength and where he builds his dreams.
Why the tie in with the Masters? Is Jesse, the director, an avid golfer?
Our director Jesse James Miller was a pro golfer in his youth. He wrote BECOMING REDWOOD in the late 90’s and the story is somewhat semi-autobiographical. Things like being the product of hippy parents, playing golf, and wanting to beat Jack Nicklaus at the Master’s were all a part of Jesse’s life growing up…hence the tie in with the Master’s. Of course there are other elements and characters in the story that are completely fictionalized. It’s the most wonderful timing that BECOMING REDWOOD has been released in theatres in Canada at the same time as the Master’s this year AND that there was a young 14 year-old competing this year. Even though Redwood is a bit younger, it was a very interesting story and very synchronistic.
I use to tell everyone that I was going to be a prima ballerina — despite never taken any classes. Did you have any daydreams so vivid when you were a child?
Collins: Gosh, I imagined lots of things. I wanted to be a scientist, a dancer, a race car driver and have my very own unicorn of course!
The film really shows the mother as a solid character, a pillar that seem to be the glue that keeps everyone together. What else do you want women to know about this character?
Collins: I think the character of Jade, Redwood’s mother, is the toughest role in the film and Jennifer Copping did such an amazing job. Some people when they first read the script had a hard time feeling sympathetic towards Jade’s character. Here’s a woman who had abandoned her child (Redwood) and so they judged her. But Jade really is the pillar of the whole family and although the decision to leave Redwood was probably the hardest decision she ever had to make in her life, when you understand the reasons why, it makes your heart ache for her situation. She’s a good person making the most of a bad situation and her decision to leave Redwood was done out of love and for the betterment of the whole family in the long run. I’m trying not to give too much away here but as a mother myself, her storyline really affects me. I admire Jade’s strength.
When you have time with your child what are some of your family’s favourite things to do?
Collins: I married a Dutchman so we love to go for bike rides together, haha! Picnics in the park, getting cozy and reading a good book together and lots of baking! My daughter loves to bake and have tea parties…so much fun!
You’re an actor and now producer – what’s next?
Collins: StoryLab has a few more film projects that we’re developing and working on right now. I’m also exploring some other passions like writing.
Ryan is a great actor in his role as Redwood and no doubt it’s a lot of work for a leading character who’s so young. If your child wanted to pursue an acting career what advice would you give her?
Collins: If my daughter wanted to pursue acting, and there’s a good chance of that happening as she’s quite the little ham, I would totally support her. I would want her to know that it’s a tough business and it takes a lot of hard work and dedication, just like any other job, but if that’s what she wants to do, I won’t stop her. I would encourage her to try theatre first, as I believe that is the best training for any actor as it helps to build character and confidence.
Anything else you would like us to know?
Collins: I love being a mum! I think it is the most rewarding job you can have.
BECOMING REDWOOD opens in Toronto on April 26th. The Toronto release comes on the heels of the
Vancouver which opened on April 12th and the film will open Canada-wide in the weeks to come. Check out the official website at www.becomingredwood.com
Here’s the trailer….