‘Blood Quantum’ is a zombie horror movie by director Jeff Barnaby, and it also features a prominently Indigenous cast. The film follows the residents of a First Nations Reserve as they cope with the changing environment when a plague affects the world around them. Although they are immune to the plague, they are not safe from its consequences.
Blood Quantum Filming Locations
The zombie movie was filmed in Canada. The shooting took place mostly in the Kahnawake and Listuguj reserves in Quebec. It is very clear that Jeff Barnaby used his own life experiences, especially as a Native, while making this film. He had always envisioned his hometown of Listuguj as the setting for the movie that he started writing in 2007.
Kahnawake and Listuguj Reserves, Quebec
The opening scene of the film shows a fish coming back to life, despite being gutted. Though initially, it seems like a strange way to kick off a zombie movie, the scene actually references the police raids that took place in 1981 at the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation Reserve. Barnaby grew up in the area and witnessed the injustices firsthand. Therefore, his movie shows so much more than just zombies attacking people. It carries a piercing social message with it as well and also explores the dynamics between distinct communities just trying to survive.
As a Mi’kmaw director, Jeff Barnaby was not too worried about accurately presenting the community on screen. He explained, “If you’re a non-Native filmmaker and you are making a Native film, you are hyper-aware of it. But if you’re from the community there’s nothing novel about seeing a bunch of Native people walking around being Native people.”
Six months after the fish incident, there is an outbreak of flesh-eating zombies and the Red Crow Indian Reservation barricades itself for protection. It turns out that the community is immune to the plague, but this doesn’t mean that a safety net is not required. Hence, a well-fortified quarantine zone is established on one side of the J.C. Van Horne Bridge. The director had this to say about the scene— “Getting on an interprovincial bridge for three days was a minor miracle and cost us a small fortune.” But, at the same time, he has no gripes on this since it is a pivotal scene that solidifies the tone of the movie. St. Anne’s Catholic Church was also used as a venue for a fight in the latter half of the movie.
POINTE-À-LA-CROIX, QC/CAMPBELLTON, NB: Carpooling with #zombies can be a pain… avoid the J. C. Van Horne bridge from May 14 at 9 pm, to May 15 at 6 am for the #filming of Blood Quantum. https://t.co/tGUqLqrMId pic.twitter.com/704bSQ5NyZ
— Public Services and Procurement Canada (@PSPC_SPAC) May 15, 2018
For an Indigenous film, ‘Blood Quantum’ had a relatively huge production budget at $4.5 million. Given the weather, the production was halted for a few months, and Barnaby also needed some time to secure funds for completing the movie. In the end, however, he directed an apocalyptic film with a poignant social message that is relevant in today’s world.
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