Written by Jeff Blay, Thorold Niagara News Thursday, September 19, 2013
THOROLD – Christopher Bessette’s career in film has taken him to Hollywood and beyond, but when it comes to creating his work, there’s no place like home.
The multi-award winning writer, director and producer has worked on film locations in the Amazon and the jungles of Central America, Russia, South East Asia and throughout Europe, but most of his brainstorming is done in a small office at his humble Thorold home.
“It’s nothing super fancy,” Bessette said of his home office. “You think Hollywood director, but I’m just a regular guy from Thorold with a nine-dollar desk and that’s where I’ve been vying my craft.”
Bessette, a father of three, lives with his wife on a property near Allanburg that’s been in the family for many years. One of his ancestral grandfathers fought in the War of 1812 and lived on that very land.
“I’ve got deep, deep roots here,” he said.
That’s likely why he’s chosen to stay in Thorold despite his profession taking him to different parts of the world on a constant basis. And all the while, he’s managed to bring his work to new levels while remaining in the small town setting.
A graduate of Niagara College’s film program, Bessette has a vast film resume dating back to 1988, when he produced his first documentary series for the Alzheimer Society of Niagara.
Since then, his work has ranged from short films and independent films, to musical theatre and, most recently, feature films. But no matter the type of project or how big the budget is, he always begins his thought process at home.
Perhaps his most popular film, Trade of Innocents, which he wrote and directed, tells an inspiring story of a couple grieving the loss of their daughter who set out to rescue other young girls sold into the Cambodian sex slave trade. Filmed with a budget over $5 million and released in 2012, Trade of Innocents stars Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino and actor Dermot Mulroney.
While the film is set in Cambodia and was produced by an American company, the script was developed in Thorold. “That’s where Trade of Innocents was written – on that desk in my home in Thorold,” said Bessette. “That’s where it all comes from.”
While he maintains most of his inspiration comes from within, much of Bessette’s work clearly reflects his small town upbringing and his personal journey through the film industry.
“If you look at my work, there’s an overall theme of encouragement and perseverance, or the hero being the underdog but rising to the occasion, and in some ways, that reflects my life,” he said. “How does a guy that lives just outside of Allanburg direct a movie with Hollywood stars?
“The entertainment industry is hard enough as it is and, because of life situations when I graduated college, I stayed in the area. But by the grace of God, I’ve been able to continue doing what I’m doing.
“That’s why I try to use my gift to bring to light important things or to encourage others.” On the heels of Trade of Innocents, Bessette is now working on a new film project with a production company in Los Angeles.
He’s also recently published a novel, The Mythamohre. It’s a fantasy story about a civilization that existed long before anyone thought possible. The story’s hero is a sole survivor of a raid that sets out on an epic journey to free the captives from a Queen that has entrapped his world in a desire for more. It’s available in E-Book form on iTunes, Smashwords and through various sources in over 51 countries.