Nanaimo ice sculptor Aaron Grant is setting the scene for some monkey business.
Grant has been hired to carve six matching ice swans for a toy store chase in a new family comedy filming in Victoria.
The show, running under the working title Monkey Up, features the famed monkey star of The Hangover Part 2, which will be creating a little wreckage at a store gala scene, according to Moni El Batrik, buyer for the set decoration department.
It’s the first time Grant, owner of Cool as Ice, has tried his hand at sculpting show props and said it’s a “good challenge” to create identical swans. He’s never done one of the birds before.
“People don’t get ice swans,” he said, adjusting a 300-pound block of ice. “It’s very cliché … so I’m not surprised a movie is going to have an ice swan in it. I think it’s the image people have of ice carvings.”
Grant started carving his side business five years ago when he moved to the community and couldn’t find employment as a teacher.
He had done competitive snow carving in B.C.’s Interior but there wasn’t a lot of that in the Harbour City. A relative suggested he take up a different medium.
He said he didn’t know how to do it or where to get the ice but his interest was piqued.
He learned the art through online tutorials and now competes in Quality Foods’ annual Fire and Ice Street Festival in Parksville and creates sculptures for events.
“To do something scary takes risk but part of that risk opens up possibilities that you would never have tried before,” he said.
On Sunday, amid children’s bikes and the family ping pong table, Grant got to work on the props in a flurry of flying ice and mounting slush. Within two hours the dull, thick block was transformed into the glistening silhouette of a swan. Heavy and slippery but fast to work with, it’s easy and hard at the same time, he said between cuts.
What he enjoys the most is the finished product, when “you see the light refract through it,” he says. “The sculptures soften really quite beautifully.”
With the show being shot in Victoria, El Batrik said the production has been able to support local talent. The scene will have hot and elaborate lights and there was worry about the ice melting, so they’ll have two sculptures for each of the three days it’s being shot.
Grant will put all the swans in cold storage before they are brought to Victoria. It will be “absolutely” neat to see Monkey Up, he said.