Born and raised in Montreal, first-time filmmaker Herbert James "Jamie" Winterstern's movie Supercell (available on VOD platforms March 17), is a story about family connections, told through a storm chasing adventure, starring Alec Baldwin, Daniel Diemer, Skeet Ulrich and the late Anne Heche.
Supercell's lead character is William Brody (Diemer), whose father was an infamous storm chaser. Following his father's death, William's mother Dr. Quinn Brody (Heche) left her storm analysis days behind her, now cleaning houses to make ends meet, with the help of her son. When William receives his father's journal from his "uncle" Roy (Ulrich), William is inspired to continue the family legacy of storm chasing, going against his mother's wishes.
Winterstern and his wife actually went storm chasing themselves in 2019, and he describes seeing a supercell thunderstorm as "scary" but also "magical."
"I went back a week later. I was addicted," he told Yahoo Canada. "I thought to myself, well this could be a good story."
Anne Heche in one of her last movie roles
Something about Supercell that is likely to catch the eyes of the public is the star-studded cast used to tell this story.
“A large part of independent filmmaking is you need to find a star that has value and then once that star attaches, everything kind of falls into place,” Winterstern explained. “So once we landed Alec Baldwin, and I remember it was right around my birthday, two years ago, and it was surreal.”
“Honestly, it's my first film … so I didn't have a lot of experience working with actors, and I was really intimidated. ... They’re far more experienced than I am at this craft, so I could just let them do what they do."
In terms of working with the late Heche in one of her last movie roles, Winterstern highlighted that she was "a kid at heart."
“You'd have these very palpable scenes where you would think an actor would have to start to zone in and focus, but she was such a pro that she could be laughing hysterically before a big scene, and then you call action and it's like, boom, she just transforms and she's there," he said. “Then you yell cut and she's back being like ‘oh, let's continue that conversation.’ It's unbelievable."
"I think that just says a lot about how amazing she was as an actress. I will also say that she just connected with the science of the film. Her personally, she was such a scientific mind, but she had such a big heart and usually those two things compete with each other. So it was a beautiful balance. She was perfect for Quinn, and I'm very lucky that I had her.”
'I've come to realize I'm more like my mother'
For Winterstern, the evolution of the familial relationship was something particularly critical in this movie.
Winterstern lost his mom a couple of years ago to Alzheimer's and much of the filmmaker's personal story, particularly his relationship with his parents, comes through in the film.
“There is this childhood myth of how I saw what it meant to be a man," Winterstern said. "I'm obviously a different man than my father, and I've come to realize I'm more like my mother."
"It wasn't until I lost my mom ... that I understood how much I took her for granted, because she was always around. She was a stay at home mom. She made dinner, she did laundry and I took that for granted. I was always focused on my father who was “the provider,” but then when I lost her I saw that my dad was only the man he was because of my mom. I think that is what the movie is about. It's William at the end discovering that he didn't do it for his father. He did it for his mother. That's what I connected with.”
At the end of the film, you see that Winterstern has dedicated the film to both Heche and his own mother. He highlighted that the element of William's evolving relationship with his mother is something Heche, a mother herself, was also connected to in the story.
"It's crazy to think that these two matriarchs that this movie is about, they're both gone now,” Winterstern said.
When it comes to what Winterstern hopes the audience takes from this film, he said that the main message is, “Don't take your parents for granted."
“You only get two of them and life moves fast," the filmmaker said. "It's escape, and it's family. So have fun and hold your family tight when you watch it.”