Movie about “Amazing Grace” hymn writer to use Hector for set

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PICTOU – The Ship Hector will provide the setting for a new docudrama about the life of John Newton, the slave ship captain whose life was transformed by faith – and some Pictou County residents might be able to get in on the action.

The filming will take place May 21-25.

Director John Jackman has selected the replica ship in Pictou as a setting for much of the filming. After building a set for the ship scenes in Wesley, Jackman said he wanted to find an authentic tall ship to use essentially as a set for the scenes in the movie that happen at sea.

“Using a beautiful replica ship such as the Hector gives a texture and feeling of authenticity to the film,” said Jackman.

Most of his films have been shot on location in settings that capture the era of the movie.

Working with the Hector Quay Society, which operates the ship, has been a good experience, said Jackman.

“They have been great partners to work with, we’re looking forward to the actual filming.”

Anne Emmett, chair of the board of directors of the Hector Quay Society, said they have been in discussions with the director for about three or four months to make this happen.

She said the filmmakers had originally wanted to use the Bounty, which unfortunately sank last year.

“It’s going to be 10 to 12 people here in town, plus the cast,” she said. “It’ll be a nice bit of business for the whole town.”

She said the Hector Heritage Quay is also getting some money for allowing their ship to be used.

“It should bring a bit of a buzz to the town in May.”

Actor Erik Nelson, a Pennsylvania based actor who has portrayed Newton for many years in a stage version of the story, will play the lead role. Local actors and some local crew will be hired, Jackman said.

Casting notices for the Canadian portion of the production are available at

There are roles for several British seamen, including speaking roles, which require a competent lower class British accent; and several non-speaking roles. The production will need to hire 16-18 black Canadians to play the roles of West African captives who are being shipped to America as slaves. All roles are paying.

The movie is a co-production of the Christian History Institute and Comenius Foundation. The finished product is expected to be about an hour in length and to be marketed for educational use in churches and schools by Vision Video. A limited release in about 20 select theatres in different regions is planned for early 2014.

More information about the movie is available at the official movie website,

Organizations: Hector Heritage Quay, Hector Quay Society, Christian History Institute Comenius Foundation

Geographic location: Pictou County, America

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