Easton’s Treasure is a zero-budget film project detailing the story of Peter Easton, a famed privateer turned pirate of the 1600s, who, according to stories, spent much of his time in Harbour Grace.
Stafford Jenkins, director for the project, told The Compass that the entire experience was something he had always dreamed of, and that the premiere night was more successful than he could have hoped for.
“Not only was the entire room nearly full of fans and supporters, but we got a standing ovation at the end of the screening,” Jenkins said. “I bauled, to be totally honest. That was the first time anyone’s seen our work, and it was totally overwhelming to see such a positive reaction from people.”
The premiere, which showcased the team’s short film, saw 376 of the 398 tickets sold, with 358 total attendees. The Splash Centre had been decorated to look like a Hollywood-level event, complete with a red carpet and special arrival via a bus rented out specifically for the crew.
Jenkins said that the support from people up to this point has left him speechless, explaining that the effort from fans across the province has made the project even more rewarding.
A specific instance, which Jenkins said still leaves him in awe, is a donation made by a Tim Horton’s located in St. John’s. Staff at the restaurant saved tips over a number of weeks, donating the money to the Easton’s Treasure team to help with catering costs for the premiere event. The donation totaled somewhere around $300, and is something Jenkins said he’ll never forget.
“These people have bills to pay, families to feed and care for, while working minimum wage jobs. Those tips could really make a difference for them, but instead they decided to donate it to us,” Stafford said, a sense of shock still evident in his voice. “They really believed in what we were doing. A lot of people do. It’s something I don’t think I’ve yet been able to wrap my mind around, but I appreciate everything from the bottom of my heart.”
Jenkins went on to include the names of every worker at the Tim Horton’s location in the credits of the film.
The story of Peter Easton is one that Jenkins feels is quite popular in the Harbour Grace area, but added that as time goes on and people get older, stories slowly die off as the tradition of storytelling in Newfoundland becomes less and less common.
Jenkins said that this was one of the goals with Easton’s Treasure, as he felt that preserving a part of the province’s history in film only extended the story’s life cycle.
“These days, no one really sits around to tell stories like they did so many years ago,” Jenkins explained. “It’s a dying tradition, but film is far from dead, so why not mix the two? Not only does it tell a great story, it keeps tradition and culture alive, and I think that’s important for this province.”
The Easton’s Treasure crew has been invited to participate in Harbour Grace’s upcoming Pirates to Pilots Festival, where they will be dressed in costume during the festival’s activities.
Jenkins also noted that he would soon be traveling to Toronto for a meeting regarding the future of the six-episode series. Though he could not provide much detail as of yet, he added that it’s an exciting move for the entire team, and that it may spell out a brighter future for the production.
“I really don’t know how to explain all of this. It’s always been a dream of mine, and we as a team have turned this concept into a reality. That’s more than I could have ever asked for,” said Jenkins. “I know it sounds cliché, but I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us as a team.”