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JULY / AUGUST 2012

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Film, video, internet and digital production in Western CanAda

shaping a M.O.W. to compete with big-budget feature Films

Nightmare Dinosaurs!

Primeval: New World

VFX Diary

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Po s Sp t P ec ro ia d l uc Is t su io e N Th A

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A Mother’s


Contents

16 The Fixers

4 Production Update

Vancouver post production companies have come a long way in the last few years with several now working on films not shot in Canada. If the order is to “fix it in post” the city is ready to supply the best people and companies available.

5 bits and bytes

17 Sound management

9 Legal BrIEFS

Vancouver’s leading sound post houses are facing the challenges of keeping up with the everchanging technology. They may take different approaches but the focus is on making the products more competitive with the international marketplace.

10 Beginnings 12 Behind the Scenes

18 Brave new world

14 Question and Answer

Veteran visual effects supervisor Mark Savela and Sanctuary executive producer Martin Wood have joined forces to face new challenges. They are working on tight budgets to create the most believable prehistoric creatures possible for the series Primeval: New World.

15 Expert witness

7 Reel West Profile

30 FINAL EDIT

22 The vampire diary Method Studios Vancouver worked extensively on the visual effects for the summer movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Randy Goux, the visual effects supervisor, looks back at the local company’s involvement in the project including the bidding wars that are essential to doing work on major movies.

26 Movie Magic Vic Sarin wanted to make a television movie that would compete for audiences looking for feature films on their small screen. Working with a team that included an Oscar-nominated set designer and a screenwriter with producing credits, he took A Mother’s Nightmare to the Okanagan and found locations that would open the show up to look like a feature film.

Cover: Jessica Lowndes stars in A Mother’s Nightmare; photo: DARRENHULL.COM Contents: Jessica Lowndes and Grant Gustin in A Mother’s Nightmare; photo: Tim Feeny Reel West Magazine is a wholly owned enterprise of Reel West Productions Inc. It exists and is managed to provide publicity and advertising that supports the growth of the Western Canadian Motion Picture Industry. Executive publisher: Sandy P. Flanagan. Executive Editor: Ian Caddell. Publisher: Ron Harvey. Sales: Randy Holmes, Adam Caddell creative Director: Andrew von Rosen. art director: Lindsey Ataya. Photo Editor: Phillip Chin. Reel West Magazine is published six times per year. Subscriptions Canada/US. $35.00 per year (plus $10.00 postage to USA). Reel West Digest, The Directory for Western Canada’s Film, Video and Television Industry, is published annually. Subscription $35.00 per year (plus $10.00 postage to US). Both Publications $60.00 (plus $10.00 postage to USA) Prices include GST. Copyright 2010 Reel West Productions Inc. Second Class Mail. Registration No. 0584002. ISSN 0831-5388. G.S.T. # R104445218. Reel West Productions Inc. 101 - 5512 Hastings Street, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, V5B 1R3. Phone (604) 451-7335 Toll Free: 1-888-291-7335 Fax: (604) 451-7305 Email: info@reelwest.com URL: www.reelwest.com. Volume 27, Issue 4. Printed In Canada. To subscribe call 1-888-291-7335 or visit our website at www.reelwest.com. Reel West welcomes feedback from our readers, via email at editorial@reelwest.com or by fax at 604-451-7305. All correspondence must include your name, address, and daytime telephone number.

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Production update

Stephen Arnell in The Arrow. Photo © 2012 WBEI. All rights reserved.

What’s coming. What’s shooting. What’s wrapped.

BC Production a Summer Boom Canadian production is alive and well in Vancouver with several BC and Toronto companies contributing to the roster. The list includes the film Bored Rich which is here for most of September. It is being produced and directed by Toronto’s Christie Will with Valerie Penso as executive producer and David Mezheritsky producing. Here until late August is Creek Mountain Massacre from veteran Vancouver crew member Baron Shaver. He is ex-

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ecutive producing, directing and is production coordinator on the film while Cameron Boon is the production designer, Michelle Charuk is the production manager and Jeff Elliot is the location manager. Veteran BC filmmakers Matthew O’Connor, Lisa Richardson and Tom Rowe are producing two miniseries in July and August. Wrapping August 4 will be World on Fire, a story about erupting volcanoes. The trio are the executive producers with Paul

Shapiro directing, Jon Joffin as DOP, Eric Fraser as production designer, Simon Richardson as production manager, Nancy McKenzie as production coordinator, Greg Jackson as location manager and Darren Marcoux as special effects coordinator. They are also working, with executive producer Stewart Till, on Dark Universe, a four hour mini-series about space particles gone wild. Holly Redford is the producer with Robert Lieberman directing, Dave Pelletier as DOP, Chris August as production designer, Tia Buhl as production manager, Louisa Main as production coordinator, Kirk Johns as location manager and Dave Allinson as special effects coordinator. The series is scheduled to wrap at the end of August. Also working through August is executive producer Shawn Williamson who is working with director Stephen Barron on Singularity, with Ross Dempster as production designer, Paul Lukaitis as production manager, Melissa Barrie as production coordinator and Terry McKay as location manager. The feature film Hidden will be here until mid-September. It has Alexander Skarsgard and Andrea Risebrough as a couple who take refuge in a fallout shelter during an epidemic. Jim Rowe is the executive producer and unit manager while Richard Zanuck is executive producer, Roy Lee, Laurence Grey and Mason Novick are producing, Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer are directing and Tom Townsend is the DOP. The production designer is Jim Bissell, the production coordinator is Adrienne Sol, the location manager is Geoff Teoli and the special effects

coordinator is Joel Whist. The TV movie Anything But Christmas wraps at the end of July and has Arnie Zipursky and Charles Falzon as executive producers with Allan Harmon directing and Cynde Harmon producing. The producer is Kristine Klohk while Burton Kuchera is the DOP, Kristina Lyne is the production designer, Brian Dick is the production manager, Manjke Richmas is the unit manager, Sheryl Rhodes is the production coordinator and Shane Lennox is the location manager. Here through mid-August is the TV movie The Wedding Chapel, starring Shelley Long with Jack Nasser the executive producer, Dureyshevar the supervising producer and Vanessa Parise the director. Tara Cowell-Plain is the production manager with Brian Davie the production designer, John Mio the location manager and Melissa Rose the production coordinator. Meanwhile, three TV series are here from summer until December. CW has The Arrow and Emily Owens M.D. while DirectTv will be showing the series Rogue. The Arrow is based on the DC Comic Green Arrow and has Stephen Arnell playing the iconic archer. The executive producers are Andrew Kreisberg, Marc Guggenheim and Greg Berlanti while J.P. Finn is the producer, Glen Winter and Gord Verheul are the DOPs, Richard Hudolin is the production designer, Todd Pittson is the production manager, Fawn McDonald is the production coordinator, Kirk Adamson and Rob Murdoch are the location managers, and David Gauthier is the special effects coordinator. Meryl Streep’s daughter Mamie

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Gummer is Emily Owens while Dan Jinks and Jennie Snyder Urman are the executive producers, David Warren is the producer, Jae Marchant is producing, Bob Aschmann is the DOP, James Philpott is the production designer, Scott Graham is the production manager, Shalia Edl is the production coordinator and Sheri Mayervich is the location manager. Crash’s Thandie Newton is an undercover cop in

Whites Gets Exclusive

The National Screen Institute recently announced that William F. White Int’l has become exclusive equipment sponsor of the NSI Drama Prize. “William F. White is a longtime supporter of NSI and has sponsored NSI Drama Prize since its inception over 20 years ago,” said John Gill, NSI CEO. “We’re grateful they’ve increased their investment in supporting our up-and-coming filmmakers.” Gill said the NSI Drama Prize is “an ambitious training program” providing up to four teams of emerging Canadian filmmakers with a year of support and training in writing, directing and producing as they develop and produce a short film. “We are thrilled to empower the aspiring filmmakers selected for NSI Drama Prize by providing state-ofthe-art equipment and technical expertise which they might not otherwise have the chance to access,” said Paul Bronfman, Chairman/CEO of Comweb Group and William F. White International Inc. “Given NSI’s proven track record as industry leaders in training, we see our relationship with them as an investment in the future of Canadian filmmaking.”  Gill said William F. White has been the supplier to acclaimed NSI-developed projects including Todd & The Book of Pure Evil, Less Than Kind, Fetching Cody, On the Corner, Wapos Bay, Cashing In, and alumni features such as High Life, Niagara Motel and Black Field. Spokesperson Lauren McDiarmid said the current NSI Drama Prize projects include several from western Canada. The list includes The Goodbye Girl by Surrey producer Michelle Kim and Vancouver writer/director Amber Ripley, Floodplain by Victoria writer/producer Daniel Hogg and Vancouver director Jeremy Lutter, and Promise by producer Cory Quinn, writer Holly Marchuk and writer/director Dion Telesky from Winnipeg and Lorette, Manitoba. Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012

Bits and Bytes

Rogue, which has Nick Hamm, Michael Rosenberg, John Morayniss and Robert Petrovicz as executive producers, Matthew Parkhill as the supervising producer, Keiran McGuigan as DOP, Ricardo Spinace as production designer, Bradley Jobenvill as production manager, Kassandra Greene Greibel as production coordinator and Bruce Brownstein as location manager. n

Underwater Innovation A spokesman for Los Angeles-based Vitec Videocom says Digital 3D’s Emmy-winning director of photography and producer Ken Corben and a crew of ten recently departed Ushuaia, Argentina for the Antarctic Peninsula to shoot penguin colonies underwater. Susan Lewis said they shot the penguins from the air and on land/ice with a shooting package that included their 3D Epic beam-splitter with Zeiss and Nikon primes supported by the 120EX fluid head from OConnor, part of Vitec Videocom, a Vitec Group company. “We’d first used the 120EX, while beta testing the Quasar 3D rig and found the balance perfect for 3D,” says Corben. “So, when this project came along, we knew it would be the best fluid head for the job. It proved to be smooth and balanced, even with a heavy load in sub-freezing Antarctic conditions. We also appreciated the adjustable camera plate and the electronic balance readout for fast pre-sets. The system’s easy breakdown was great, especially when we had to hump gear to the top of a glacier!” Lewis said the OConnor 120EX is the flagship of OConnor’s extended capacity range of fluid heads. She said the patented head features the “stepless counterbalance and ultra-smooth pan and tilt fluid drag expected from OConnor fluid heads” as well as EX technology for supporting heavier payloads. She said EX fluid heads can go far beyond their standard capacity “by slowly limiting tilt range as the payload is increased.” According to Lewis the result of Corben’s Wild Antarctica 3D shoot will be a 20 to 40 minute digital 3D theatrical release for large format theaters later this year.

European Nirvana The latest version of Digital Nirvana’s flagship broadcast monitoring software, Monitor IQ, and two products first introduced at the NAB 2012 show in April will make their European debut, according to a company spokesperson. The company’s vice president of sales and marketing, Ned Chini, said the two new products being shown for the first time in Europe are MediaPro IQ for repurposing content for multi-platform distribution and ManyView IQ, an enterprise-wide system for video distribution over IP “After the enthusiastic reception we received to our new features and products in April at the NAB convention and the Broadcast Asia show last month, we’re excited to unveil our latest innovations. Our products are unique in the market and offer capabilities and cost savings that competitive solutions simply do not.”  Chini said Monitor IQ is the only broadcast monitoring system that provides centralized management, automatic ad detection, a director’s audio track, as well as an advanced metadata harvester.  He said the system also offers “an efficient broadcast monitoring architecture that reduces operation costs and lowers the total cost of ownership.”  

The Definitive Producing Workbook Providing a comprehensive overview of national and provincial funding bodies and engaging stories and words of wisdom by seasoned producers. To order your copy phone or email: 604-451-7335 / info@reelwest.com

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Tiga Talk’s Gabriel Paul with on-set puppets Gertie the Gopher and Gavin the Goose

Photo by Gordon Lee

Talking Tiga

Winnipeg-based Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) announced recently it will be bringing back a fourth season of its children’s series Tiga Talk! According to spokesperson RoseAnna Schick the show is targeted at children aged 3-5 and tells the story of a stuffed toy wolf cub who lives with Jodie and Jason, their father, and Kokum (grandmother). “Tiga Talk! not only captivates and entertains its preschool audience, but also creates an ear for different languages and encourages an excitement for learning during these very important early years,” she says. “Music and activities are featured in half-hour episodes combining live action with a magic puppet world. games, crafts, and adventures on the interactive website and mobile applications provide even greater opportunities to play and learn. Schick says the series is produced by Irene Green who plays Kokum while Art Napoleon plays Dad and is a cultural/language consultant. She said Kate-La Faith Hanuse returns as Jodie and Gabriel Paul plays Jason. Hilary Pryor is executive producer, producer, writer, director and editor, and Vanessa Loewen is executive producer. Fantasia Hosting Western Films Montreal’s summer film festival Fantasia is giving a high profile to two films from western Canada’s Random Bench which is run by Vancouver’s Adrian Salpeter and Liz Levine. Levine says that Toad Road is an American production, while Hemorrhage is a completely Canadian production. “We feel privileged to continue to attract interesting people with compelling stories. As a company without borders we have films screening that were shot in both Edmonton and York Pennsylvania at Fantasia this year, while we are also developing projects set up in Vancouver and on the studio lot in Los Angeles.”

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Levine says Toad Road marks the directing debut of Jason Banker, is inspired by an urban legend, and is an “intimate meditation on lost youth evocative of Gus Van Sant, a radical deconstruction of genre cinema, a devastating and brilliant object of contemplation and dread, and a journey down unexpected paths.” She said Hemorrhage comes from first-time Edmonton writer-director Braden Croft and looks into the troubled mind of a murderer “coming to terms with the most basic and humane feelings of love, attraction and survival.” The Fantasia Festival kicks off July 19 and continues through Aug. 7. Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012


Winnipeg Hosts Layton Movie A television movie about the late leader of the federal New Democratic Party of Canada, Jack Layton is shooting in Winnipeg throughout much of August. Titled Smilin’ Jack: The Jack Layton Story, it stars Toronto-based actor Rick Roberts as Layton and Vancouver’s Sook Yin Lee as his wife and fellow NDP MP Olivia Chow. Roberts says that keeping up with the talents of Layton has been a difficult job. “It’s been a pleasure looking into the life of such a multi-faceted man. I’ve had to learn to speak Cantonese and French, and play the guitar. Jack Layton was an incredible athlete, and I like to lie on the couch, so

this in itself has been challenging. The most intriguing part has been trying to embody his passion for life, his generosity, and his resolve to follow his vision in spite of overwhelming odds.” According to spokesperson RoseAnna Schick, the MOW is a co-production between Toronto’s Pier 21 Films and Winnipeg-based Eagle Vision Inc. She said the script was written by Andrew Wreggitt and the movie is directed by Jeff Woolnough. The executive producers are Pier 21’s Laszlo Barna and Eagle Vision’s Lisa Meeches and Kyle Irving. Melissa Williamson is the co-producer with Lesley Oswald as line producer.

Skye & Chang’s Sera-Lys McArthur

Photo by Georgia Esporlas

Fall Premiere

The Vancouver-shot APTN action series Skye & Chang is premiering this fall on APTN. According to spokesperson Helen Yagi, it was created by award-winning Cree filmmaker Loretta Sarah Todd. Yagi said she also wrote the pilot, will direct and has been the producing force behind getting the project into production. Yagi says Todd’s work has appeared at the Sundance Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and most recently on APTN for the children’s series Tansi! Nehiyawetan. Says Todd: “As a sci-fi nerd I believe that Skye & Chang will appeal to all--it is intended to bring together the Aboriginal and Asian communities and put their stories at the center of mainstream media.” The series stars Lys McArthur and Olivia Cheng as two friends who run a bodyguard company and martial arts studio. Yagi says that what they really do is “help people who get in the way of the corrupt and powerful.” The show is executive produced by Peter Strutt with Navid Soofi as the line producer and Jonathan DuBois as the supervising producer. Thomas Billingsley is director of photography and David Geary, who is Māori from New Zealand, is providing script editor services. Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012

Profile

Karen Lam Director Karen Lam is a true western Canadian having been raised in Manitoba and spending time in Saskatoon and having started her career in BC as a production manager on Edgemont. Several years later she moved to Saskatchewan to direct the horror film Stained. She says she can see herself making more horror features in her various home provinces. Hometown: Brandon, MB (born in TO – but don’t hold it against me.) Start Date: May 1996, business officer/in-house legal counsel at British Columbia Film Best Day: Every day. I love this career, even when I say I don’t. I wear a lot of hats, and amazingly, I enjoy the producing, writing and directing but in different ways. When I’m doing one job, I can’t believe I’d ever like doing the others. That said, the writer-me is responsible for the director-me sitting in cold ditches. It would be nice for both sides to have a con-fab beforehand. Worst Day: I was just starting my producing career and had a new director on a television series. By lunchtime, I had a near mutiny: crew members were threatening to quit, cast members were calling their agents, my executive producers were freaked, it was horrible. It was the first time I realized how important the director is for guiding the ship and how little room there is for ego. Too many film schools and film programs drum home to new directors that they need to seize power and that the crew is there to “serve their vision.” That’s such B.S. Your job as a director is to serve the film, not the other way around. Good management is as important as having clear vision. It’s not about finding blame but bringing people together, solving creative problems and creating work that everyone can be proud of. I’m glad I learned that lesson early, but that was definitely the hardest episode of my life. The runner-up day was on my first feature as a producer when the production rep from LA was a screamer, and every cel phone was a Scream-o-Gram. Luckily, we had him replaced. Most Memorable Working Experience: Directing my first feature film Stained in Saskatoon. I hadn’t been to Saskatoon since my high school marching band days, but it was exhilarating, terrifying and ultimately an incredible experience. I thought I knew what I was doing but in retrospect, I had absolutely no clue. I remember my first tech scouts, where there was always a dead pause at the beginning of each location (I was always at the back, enjoying a Starbucks a la producing days) and then my first AD would say, “Karen, do you have anything you might want to say about now?” Thank God Saskatchewanites are such patient people! Also, the script was written for summer but it was late October when we started shooting. We had freak blizzards, but someone had sacrificed a goat to the weather gods, so we had near perfect conditions despite the panic. If I won an Oscar I would thank: my parents for their support and inspiration. Asian parents get a bad rap from their creative offspring, but I credit mine for my work ethic and their unending support. My dad has been proudly showing my Fangoria profile to all his friends. My Latest Five Year Plan: I’d love to be directing features at the $20 million budget level, as well as running a viable distribution company that can finance and showcase female genre filmmakers internationally. I’d like to build a horror empire, like Lionsgate or maybe Hammer Horror during its prime.

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Suburban Stars

Vancouver’s Force Four Entertainment is producing its second season of Urban Suburban which will premiere at the end of August on HGTV. According to spokesperson Tanya Tweten, the show stars home experts Sarah Daniels and Philip Dumoulin who face off as they guide families through urban and suburban houses, competing to find each family their perfect location, price, and home. Philip champions city living, while Sarah reveals the perks of life in the suburbs. She says that family feuds aside, Sarah and Philip continue to put the real estate needs of Canadians first in order to find the perfect home. “We are thrilled HGTV Canada is set to air twenty-six more episodes of Urban Suburban,” says John Ritchie, executive producer at Force Four. “More than ever, the urban versus suburban dilemma makes for entertaining television and season two will provide viewers with even more insight into the process couples go through with this fascinating homebuying decision.” The show’s executive producers are Ritchie, Rob Bromley and Gillian Lowrey. Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012


Cuba Gooding Jr. in Deception

Photo courtesy of Odyssey Media

Odyssey Plans Deception

Vancouver’s Odyssey Media Inc. has formed a partnership with Australia-based Limelight International Media Entertainment to make Deception, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. According to Devi Singh, a spokesperson for Odyssey, the film will be shot in Australia and tells the story of an FBI agent helping a widow. It co-stars Vancouver’s Emmanuelle Vaugier as the widow who put the pieces of her life back together after she discovers the husband she had thought long dead has just been murdered. According to Singh, the two work to uncover the dead man’s secret life before ultimately coming face to face with the killer. The producers are Limelight’s Dale Bradley, Grant Bradley and Odyssey’s Kirk Shaw with executive producers Jeff Schenck, Jeff Sackman, and James Vernon. Singh said the distributors are Voltage (International), IFM/Filmways and Alliance.

River Wraps The movie Down River, inspired by veteran Vancouver actor Ben Ratner’s long-time friendship with the late actress Babz Chula, wrapped in July in Vancouver. According to spokesperson Leslie Diana it tells the story of three young women: an in-demand but insecure actress, (Gabrielle Miller) a gifted rock singer teetering on the brink of self-destruction, played by Colleen Rennison, and an artist hiding unReel West JULY / AUGUST 2012

JEN SPENCE and BEN RATNER in Down River

der a paint-stained hoodie, played by Jennifer Spence. She said the women live in the same building and their guide in life is a neighbor named Pearl, portrayed by Helen Shaver. Diana said co-stars include Jay Brazeau, Ali Liebert, Brian Markinson and Teach Grant. The film was written and directed by Ratner and produced by James Brown and Andrew Halliwell. Larry Lynn is the DOP and the executive producer is Jack Ong.

Legal Briefs

Carteris Decision Could be Game Changer

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nyone producing a film or TV production in BC or providing services through a corporation should take note of a recent deci-

Kim Roberts Entertainment Lawyer

sion of the Worker’s Compensation Appeal Tribunal (“WCAT”). This decision looked at when someone providing services through a company can be considered to be a worker for the purposes of WorkSafeBC and its findings have caused a huge kerfuffle in the industry. This all started when Gabrielle Carteris (best known as Andrea Zuckerman on the original 90210 series) was injured on the set of the television movie Past Tense in 2006, while being dragged in a headlock down some stairs. The practice in those days was to take out workers’ compensation coverage on everyone working on set, including crew and cast who were providing their services through “loan-out” corporations (set up primarily to provide the services of one individual). The advantage employers gain from workers compensation coverage is that it limits their liability for injuries that take place in the workplace. The benefit to workers is that there is a relatively speedy process for obtaining damages and lost wages if they get hurt. The downside to them of course is that they are able to obtain much less for their injuries than if they were to make a similar claim in the courts. Although Ms. Carteris originally applied for worker compensation benefits for her injury, she eventually elected not to claim compensation as it would have prevented her from claiming damages in a civil suit. The producer of Past Tense applied to WCAT for a decision that the actress was a worker within Part 1 of the Workers Compensation Act. If successful, the effect of this would have been to prevent her from suing the producer for her injuries. WCAT heard evidence from

both parties and to everyone’s surprise found that Ms Carteris’s corporation Gabco Productions Inc. was her employer not the picture’s producer and that she was not covered under the Act. The main factors the Tribunal cited in reaching this decision were that she had set up a company to provide her services, she used an agent and a manager and her services were only used for a short period of time on the picture. As a result, Ms. Carteris is now free to continue her claim for damages against the producer in BC Supreme Court, although an application has also been made to that Court to overturn the WCAT decision. It will likely be many months before the results of this application are known and whatever the outcome, a further appeal is likely. What to do in the interim? If you’re someone who provides services to a production through a loan out corporation, you should apply to WorkSafeBC for a determination that you are either exempt from registration (in which case the producer’s policy will cover you) or that registration is required – in which case a clearance letter will be issued. Producers should ensure that they have either an exemption or a clearance letter with respect to every corporation providing services of a cast or crew member on a production. Based on the WCAT decision, it is likely that every actor with a loan out corporation would be considered to be an independent contractor requiring registration with WorkSafeBC. That may be easier said than done, especially with bigger name actors who are brought in from outside the province. Kim Roberts is a partner in the entertainment law boutique Roberts & Stahl. Over the last three decades, Kim has provided legal advice to producers on all aspects of television and motion picture production, from development through financing and production to distribution as well as intellectual property matters. n 9


Photo c/o Avanti Pictures

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Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012


Beginnings

Tony Papa Filmmaker

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t fifteen my parents bought me a guitar. Wow, that was cool. I had a lot of pent-up energy and I found a device to express myself. For a year or so I took guitar lessons but the teacher had such bad breath that I quit with one of the other students and we decided to start a band. Our band was called The Actions. Eventually we broke up and when we got back together after a year or so we called the band The Re-actions. Writing songs for the band to play was my first shot at telling stories. My second came from an uncle who I didn’t see much but he impressed me a lot with his life style. He had a plane and would take me flying while I sat behind him and held the door shut with a rope handle. We flew close to the water’s edge along the coast and landed the plane in a grass field. He was into photography and introduced me to various cameras and how they worked. He gave me my first SLR still camera and I started shooting pictures and got into developing in a dark room. I found I was telling stories with the pictures I shot and developed. So now I had a band, took pictures and moved to New York City. It was 1981 and with my band “Pigeons of the Universe” I was playing the same clubs as Talking Heads, Blondie, Laurie Anderson, Madonna and Patty Smith. It was an inspiring time. In between gigs and cooking food for a living I was studying music, film production, acting, etc. My band used to go over to New Jersey and appear on The Uncle Floyd Show, a sort of Soupy Sales type cable program, that featured local bands and we would lip sync to our original songs. I was offered some help to make my first music video by some of their tech people. I had a friend who was married to a Sumo Wrestler so I put him in the video and it turned out pretty good. The video was broadcast in New Jersey and bled into New York City. Word got back to me that a mother of a friend’s friend heard that Mark Knopfler of Dire Straights saw the clip and liked it. A friend of his girl friend got wind of this and someone told that to someone’s friend’s mother and it got back to me. From there I found out how to contact Mark and told him I did the video that he’d saw and liked. The next thing I knew we were sitting at his place in the village discussing the song he wanted to make a video about. The song was called Private Dancer and after a while I went home and story-boarded an idea to present to the management and Mark. I went over to his house to show him what I came up with and he told me he changed the song and its title now was Private Investigations. Eventually, Private Dancer was recorded by Tina Turner and released in 1983. I proceeded to conceptualize the new song Private Investigations and when I had it together I pitched the concept to Mark and his management team (Damage Management) in a high-rise boardroom in Manhattan. They seemed to like my pitch but there was no call back. Convinced that was the end of that I was surprised when I got a call a week later and they told me that Mark had to go back to London to finish the sound track to Local Hero, the Bill Forsyth film. They asked if I wouldn’t mind going to London to shoot the video. Of course I said yes and the next thing I know I am in a pub drinking warm beer at 10AM and discussing the shoot and casting. Soon we had it cast and planned out and I began working with a crew of about 15 and we shot for two days. At one point during the shoot Mark leaned over and said to me, “better then cooking food hey?” I looked back at him and

Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012

smiled with a nod. Once back in New York, and with the video on my resume, I was able to work on other music videos. I worked with Huey Lewis, Madonna, and a few others before moving to Los Angeles to pursue feature films. In LA, I wound up working as a casting director on a feature called King of the Streets. It was an eye opening experience but I did not like the way the director and producer treated the mostly deferred crew. So a friend who was also working on the film and I decided we would move on and begin to make a film of our own. It was possible because he was studying film at UCLA and had the keys to the UCLA equipment room. I dreamed up some ideas and in a few weeks we planned and shot two short films. We cut them in his kitchen with white gloves and a Moviola. We went through all the steps and came out with two five-minute films. I made it up to Vancouver after that to see my family and eventually discovered a government organization called the Provincial Education Media Centre (PEMC) who were non-theatrical film distributers for schools. They bought both films for a nice chunk of money, which enabled me to make a move to live permanently in Vancouver. In between playing music I made more music videos and started working with a show called Night Visions making short films for their broadcast. The deal was that I would create short films for them and for no money but would retain the rights to sell them elsewhere. From there I made documentaries for television, mostly one-off documentaries for CBC, NFB, Knowledge, TVO, A&E and others. I love the film community in Vancouver. I kept my production company, Avanti Pictures, going for about 15 years and had some pretty good times selling ideas at Banff and making over 20 productions during that period. The community is a marvelously diverse and vibrant collection of individuals that I would always look forward to seeing at the annul Women in Film parties. Eventually, after my wife succumbed to ovarian cancer, I wondered if I could do something else related to film that would be more suitable to raising a daughter as a single parent. When my daughter was nine, I found an

“It’s a great job with many fulfilling moments working with aspiring young filmmakers...” alternative. I made a connection with a high school in Powell River BC, and with them and Capilano University I founded The Powell River Digital Film School. The course is open to any grade twelve student residing in BC at no charge and it runs as a five month second semester transition course to University film studies. It’s a great job with many fulfilling moments working with aspiring young filmmakers. In-between time, I am working on a feature project to be shot in the Powell River area as well as some various Performing Arts projects and some documentaries. I continue to work on infrastructure in Powell River that will help entice other film production companies to consider shooting in this area as well. It is a wonderful place to live and to make films. n 11


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Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012

William f. White

Photo by Steven Neiman, Flash Steven Photography


behind the scenes

William F. White “We have established a reputation for excellence and have been recognized ... as one of the best rental providers in the world.”

A

s it heads into its 50th anniversary year of 2013, William F. White International Inc. appears to be getting better with age. In a world that would be almost unrecognizable to the citizens of 1963, Canada’s oldest provider of film, television, digital media and theatrical production equipment and expertise is keeping up with the kids. The Comweb Group acquired controlling interest in Whites in 1989 and it has probably benefited from convergence. Comweb’s other properties include the White’s subsidiary CinequipWhite; Sparks Camera and Lighting Equipment, a leading European equipment supplier and Pinewood Toronto Studios. Comweb Group founder Paul Bronfman says that the combination of companies has provided a distinct advantage to the productions that Comweb works with. “By making consistently superb efforts in motion picture and television production equipment, studio facilities and production, the members of the Comweb Group of companies add distinction and quality to the feature films and television productions in which they participate.” Today’s digital filmmaker needs less gear and more mobility, so Whites has created several efficient, portable and affordable production packages clients can drive away with in what’s known as the Viral Van. “If you’re producing a web series, music video, independent film or online content, we’ve got what you’ll need at an unbeatable price,” says Cher Merlo, Whites Interactive Manager. “The viral van is the ultimate all-in-one production vehicle. Pick it up and drive away with everything you need organized on rolling carts, checked and ready to go. With an onboard work desk complete with power outlets and overhead lighting, it’s never been easier or more efficient to upload footage, edit on the spot or assemble camera equipment. The van contains an essential mix of Tungsten, HMI and Kino Flo lights, along with a large selection of stands, flags, fabrics and grip equipment.” WFW’s inventory includes a complete array of film and television lighting (including HMI & Tungsten, Airstar Balloon Lighting), grip equipment and an extensive fleet of crystal sync generators (from 3kW to Twin Pack 200kW tractor mounted units). The company also carries a wide range of remote heads and cranes, camera cars and related specialty, state-of-the-art

production equipment. The little company that started out in Toronto a half century ago has progressed to the point that Bronfman says it can easily be argued that WFW is a world leader. “We have established a reputation for excellence and have been recognized by Canadian and international producers as one of the best rental providers in the world.” Whites’ international presence includes a partnership with Oscar-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond in Sparks Camera and Lighting Ltd., a Budapest, Hungary-based provider of motion picture production equipment servicing Western and Eastern European producers. WFW has maintained its focus on their Canadian roots. Director of Marketing and Communications, Lowell Schrieder, states that contributing to Canadian culture and maintaining close ties with communities across the country “is at the heart of our management philosophy and company values as we strive to align our business decisions with an ongoing effort to make every impact of our business positive. Our commitment to corporate social responsibility also encompasses the adoption of environmentally responsible measures and practices.” Bronfman says WFW is proud to be working with a number of different organizations in support of the film and television industry. A short list would include the Banff World Media Festival, Canadian Media Production Association (CMPA), Atlantic Film Festival, Alberta Media Production Industries Association (AMPIA) and the Toronto International Film Festival (in conjunction with TIFF Bell Lightbox). The company also launched the “Whites Goes Green” initiative five years ago, that has helped the company reduce the environmental impact of WFW’s production equipment and business operations as a whole. Bronfman believes the core philosophy of Whites has remained the same since they opened their doors in 1963. “As we embrace the challenges of today and the future, it’s clear that true success relies on our ability to continue to lead the industry in meaningful ways that enhance the greater good of professional production communities across Canada while creating opportunities for positive change.”

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question and Answer

Photo c/o mongrel media

Ethan Hawke

I

f Hollywood has a new Renaissance man, it could be Ethan Hawke. There aren’t too many things the former child star can’t do in terms of creativity. He has written two best selling novels, Ash Wednesday and The Hottest State, which he later directed as a movie, won an Oscar nomination for his acting in Training Day and produces. He has also grown up a lot. He used to show up for interviews with a disdainful look and worse clothes, usually torn jeans and ripped shirts. When he showed up in Toronto to help promote his recent release Woman in the Fifth, he looked thoroughly GQ and admitted that he had changed a lot. It wasn’t that long ago he was a celebrity who seemed out of

14

Actor / Writer / Director

control, tailed by paparazzi anxious to profile the man who had left Uma Thurman for their children’s nanny. He has remarried and has two additional children. In Toronto he talked about writing for real and then playing a Woman in the Fifth character who writes novels and how he came to embrace being a grownup. You look different. What happened to the wild clothes? “You can get philosophical about what role you are supposed to play in your own life and in the movies. I used to come to these things in torn up jeans and flannels and hung over and today I got up early and sent some emails. It was my kid’s first day of school and I have a suit but

there are other parts that don’t look so good. There was a great thing that Willie Nelson said. He said he used to love old guitars because they had character and now he has character so he likes new guitars. That is how I feel. I have character now so my clothes don’t need it.” In Woman in the Fifth, you play a man who wrote a best selling novel and hasn’t managed to follow up. But you wrote two best sellers, and then went back to making movies. Was it easy for you to find the character given your experience? “I have been grateful that I have a quality day job but it is easy for me to imagine what it would be like to be this guy who wrote a brilliant novel when he was a young man and how

daunting that is. The first one is kind of fun but the second one you are supposed to grow and mature. It is like a second album for a rock band. The problem with having children is they erode the amount of time in the day. I love my (four) kids. It’s the favourite part of my life. I see some of these young actors and I tell them that if if they want to have their career go well don’t marry and don’t have kids. You have to be a monk to the profession if you want it. That is why (George) Clooney did it right.” How did you end up making a film in Paris with a Polish director? He (Pawel Pawlikowski) came to see me in a play and we went out afterwards and Rebecca Hall was in the play and she asked me if I Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012


is such an actor. He has a beautiful singing voice.’ So art can take that direction. The more I write and the more I direct the more I understand and empathize with the director I am working with. I listen better because I know what it is like not to communicate what you want someone to do. I know what it’s like to write something and be understood so I have respect for people now.” Do you ever think about doing less acting and going back to writing novels or just directing? “With acting I have had to wrestle with how to do it professionally and still have to do it as a creative arc. Writing and directing are pure bliss for me. No one really pays me to do it. Acting is the generator for everything. It is not that I didn’t love acting in Training Day or Before Sunset or Woman in the Fifth. I love it. It’s my livelihood. I can’t let that fail. It would be powerfully disappointing to me to lose it because my whole identity is rooted in it and the others are much more playful.” You’re over 40 now with four kids. When you say you’ve grown up does growing older discourage you at all? “It was interesting. I couldn’t help but think about that when I was watching Pearl Jam last night. They were

“ The more I write and the more I direct the more I understand and empathize with the director I am working with.” another movie together we could go somewhere special. All his movies are dark and sad movies and his documentaries are hysterical. If you spend time with him he is so funny and I keep encouraging him to make a comedy. He is flirting with a comedy and I think if we could get it in shape we could so something very good. It is a comedy like Fargo, not comedy like American Pie.” Did writing books and screenplays change your attitude toward acting? “Yes, writing has changed my perspective. I never saw the arts as being that different. I felt that acting, writing directing, (composing) music, all of it was all so clearly the same thing to me. I watched Eddie Vedder performing last night and I thought ‘he Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012

bursting out at the same time as (the movie) Reality Bites and Nirvana and slackers and at the time that Douglas Coupland wrote Generation X. It was interesting to see all these 40 year olds at this concert last night. It wasn’t like a James Taylor concert and we were still rocking but you could tell a lot of people had babysitters. It was funny to find yourself there.” There are rumours you are writing a third installment in the Before Sunrise franchise. Is there any truth to that? “I would be surprised if we don’t do another Sunrise movie. We are working on it. It’s harder now because expectations are high and if we do it, it has to be the best of the three. But I am very excited about it.” n

Expert witness

Christian Bale

had met him and I said ‘who is this guy? And she said ‘he’s the best filmmaker in the world.’ So I went home and watched his films My Summer of Love and Last Resort and I really wanted to work with him. My agent got me all these documentaries he did, which are brilliant. He is not a flashy person but I was excited to be on set with someone who knows so much about cinema. I didn’t take this movie for the role really. I tried to make it interesting to me because there was s a lot I could relate to. I love the character. Pawel’s whole thing is that our vision is screwed up, that we see minutiae and that we can’t see the totality of things. We see one tiny thing but we miss others. I relate to the isolation and getting to the middle of your life and having no idea where you are. ‘Where am I? How did I get here?’ There is a still a lot left. So it is strange. I relate to that and the whole thing about wanting to be a good father but still feeling like a kid yourself. I know I am a grownup but you still think ‘who is taking care of me?’ I like all that stuff.” Would you work with him again? “We want to work together again, When I saw it I thought ‘this is my first movie with him’ and it took a long time for us to trust each other and I think that if we could make

“I told Chris he should recast because the claustrophobia was just unbelievable. I stood there and I thought ‘I can't breathe, I can't think, this is too tight. This is squeezing my head. I'm about to have a nervous breakdown or panic attack right this second.’ I said (to the crew) ‘could everyone just leave me alone for 20 minutes?’ I just stood there and thought ‘I'd really like to make this movie. I'd like to be able to get through this moment here.’ I called them back in and said, ‘Okay, let's just talk very calmly and quietly and maybe I can get through this.’” Christian Bale on his first fitting for the Batman suit in Batman Begins. “I had really bad acne a couple of years ago and went on line to figure out what causes this and how things change in your body and how Accutane works. So I went to a lab and I knew what they were talking about and what happens when cortisone fires off in your brain and that the same thing that causes acne can cause diabetes and they are proving that stress is a link. I asked, ‘What do I need to do to intern?’ I was told that I needed to be a college graduate. And I was like, ‘but I know what you’re talking about! I can learn!’ It made me so upset. It sucks! I can learn, I can learn, I swear. So now I have gone on this tantrum about the word ‘smart’ which has bothered me for the past year. I don’t like the word because I don’t know what it means. I didn’t graduate college but that shouldn’t mean I am not smart. When we were making the film I really got so interested in science so I’ve decided to take a biology class.” Actor Emma Stone on playing the ultra-intelligent Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man. “I don’t think I have sold out. I feel good about the characters and the movies and the money is neat and fun and when someone is going ‘wanna wanna?’ and offering tons of money it’s so hard to say no. You get tired sometimes of the money being loaded on a truck and pulling away, but after a while you say ‘I will be alright. I have enough. I am fine.’” Actor James Brolin on the temptations of Hollywood. “To be honest I have been very lucky with Canadian film. I have been given these great roles that have rejuvenated my career. I have been doing some interesting stuff in Canada and I always feel that I am lucky to be able to come back and take on roles that are challenging.” Canadian actor Scott Speedman on his ability to move seamlessly between American and Canadian films. Excerpted from interviews done by Reel West editor Ian Caddell.

The Definitive Producing Workbook Providing a comprehensive overview of national and provincial funding bodies and engaging stories and words of wisdom by seasoned producers. To order your copy phone or email: 604-451-7335 / info@reelwest.com

15


Feature Story

The Fixers

 Vancouver post production companies have come a long way in the last few years with several now working on films not shot in Canada. If the order is to “fix it in post” the city is ready to supply the best people and companies available. Story by

Ian Caddell

Filmmakers have been “fixing it in post” for more than a century now but most of those decades were spent in small rooms in Los Angeles and New York. Even when Hollywood had discovered that they could move around the world to shoot their films, the dailies and the final product were transferred from the location to another small room stateside. When former British Columbia film commissioner Dianne Neufeld started promoting the province as a production centre rather than a location centre she felt that one of the key elements of a change would be keeping post production here. It didn’t happen overnight but eventually the local post houses became competitive and were able to keep much of the American post work. As importantly, they were able to offer help to Canadian productions that might have stayed in Toronto but were drawn to Vancouver for the one-stop shop. There are several players in the marketplace, in various areas of post production. All need to keep up with a technological world that is constantly 16

changing, knowing that the alternative would be the loss of a major Vancouver industry. Don Thompson, who runs Finale Editworks, says that ultimately the rule of post is “everything is going to change.” “Things are changing on a daily basis,” he says. “If we are going to stay relevant in Vancouver everyone needs to keep pace with the technology and the production pipelines. We need to put more focus on digital with 3D stereoscopic projects and digital files from a camera point of view for delivery. The camera side right now is dominated by (Arri) Alexa and Red, the latter which is getting big traction in Vancouver which is good. Alexa is getting a lot of attention and we are seeing veteran filmmakers using that as a tool which is important because it provides a great picture. With each of these file formats and cameras there are multiple workloads that can be done through post. File sizes are increasing to double what they were two years ago. They can create larger digital files and that means more data to be processed through post. It is hard to stay up with the camera manufacturers so we need to work with what is proven.” Another competitive post house is Digital Film Central. Producer Sam Trounce says that you have to get an early start on productions if you are going to give them everything they need. “We are constantly analyzing new cameras and engaging with productions early in order to create workflow that integrates prep, production and post. Ultimately we are always looking to technology in order to help our clients achieve better pictures more efficiently. We are constantly asking ‘What are the problems and how could it be better?’ If there is nothing new on the horizon that looks Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012


continued on page 29 Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012

Photo c/o Post modern Sound

like it will fill in those gaps, we will program our own software or create our own solutions to achieve it.” In 2009 the company partnered with Albuquerque, New Mexicobased Cinnafilm Inc. to develop a “de-grain, de-noise and dustbust software.” A Cinnafilm spokesperson says the technology, now called Dark Energy, is currently used by post production houses worldwide. Trounce says that the software has been a boon for the company. “Dark Energy is the perfect example of creating solutions.: We recognized that productions have a need to mix formats in order to take advantage of the strengths of various different cameras, but there wasn’t a software solution available that could even out the footage and make it look as seamless as we wanted when cut together. We developed Dark Energy to respond to that need and it became the best-in-class software for texture management so we are now able to offer producers more flexibility in production by choosing to post at Central. Hopefully, by doing so, we have also helped the industry as a whole by improving the tools available so that everyone benefits in the end: clients, facilities and audiences. “The Vancouver visual effects industry is booming and studio productions are willing to go the extra mile to have us pulling plates in order to achieve the best possible images for their film. We also recently released our Dark Energy plug-in for After Effects which is a scaled down version. Our software development arm is thriving as it feeds into the spirit of the independent sector which we see as an important facet to the current climate in post-production. Indie producers are always under pressure to save costs wherever possible and we are trying to support that by offering them tools which allow them to do some processes in-house without compromising their ability to upscale to a facility environment if their project gains traction.” Northwest Digital has been working on both local television shows and American movies for over 20 years. The company’s earlier credits include features like Spawn and Disturbing Behaviour and several of the groundbreaking series that first showed American producers that post production work could stay in the city. Things have changed a lot, with digital becoming as important as film to post production. However,

Sound Management: Vancouver’s leading sound post houses are facing the challenges of keeping up with ever-changing technology The

television

picture. Here it has been different. So we

done. They don’t have time to set up and

industry was in its infancy in the early 1970s

BC

film

and

felt it would be a good idea to offer bun-

get great sound. However, we are working

but there was enough commercial produc-

dled services. It makes us more competi-

with the best equipment so that can help. I

tion that at least two sound post produc-

tive in Los Angeles. Usually in the local

think we have been able for the most part to

tion companies were able to start up. Little

markets they will negotiate and work with

make it sound better more efficiently. Keep-

Mountain Sound, which worked with radio

us or use our competitors. They know the

ing up with the equipment, isn’t that difficult

commercials and musicians was already an

market well. But in LA, it will help.”

but the market changes quickly. Thankfully,

established leader. One of the key produc-

Arbel says that the journey from the 1970s

ers for the company was Geoff Turner, who

through the second decade of the Millen-

Keeping up with clients demands is more

in 1974 decided to start his own company.

nium has gone through several phases. “It’s

difficult, she says. “There is greater demand

Almost 40 years later, the company, Pine-

a challenge if you have 30 or 40 people and

for last minute changes because everything

wood Sound has worked on hundreds of

you have them here for 30 years. You reach

happens in an instant. If they want to do that

film and television productions.

a point where in order to survive you are look-

they can and you have to do what you have to do to keep up, so it can be challenging.”

the prices are a lot less than they used to be.”

A year earlier, another post production

ing at any other way of marketing yourself.

house had been established to handle

People would come to me and ask for demo

Keeping up with the competition can be

local commercials. Post Modern Sound

reel but there is no sense in doing it for ev-

even more challenging if other jurisdictions

has also managed to survive the decades

eryone. We would read the project and the

have advantages. While the digital and an-

and become a draw for Americans and

script and then we would supply demos for

imation communities in BC have the Digital

Canadian producers, with a capability

their kind of film. If I send a brochure online

Animation Visual Effects (DAVE) tax credit

that allows it to compete with Los Angeles

how many people would read it? We target

to keep them competitive with foreign and

companies for local and international work.

the client now. We invite them here and cre-

domestic post houses, other post pro-

Of course, keeping up with the challeng-

ate a team that will work with them and pro-

duction houses, including the sound post

vide them with what they need.

community have to do without.

es in sound technology was never going to be easy. Both companies have done what-

“Everyone has their own vision. I am

Arbel, speaking on behalf of the local

ever it took to take on the challenges. In

not going to tell them how to create a

houses, says that is one of the biggest chal-

fact, post production is slimming down and

soundtrack but I will be there to help

lenges to his industry. “We all have a disad-

bundling up. At least in Vancouver, anyway,

achieve success. One of my clients said

vantage because post and sound are not

where there is stiff competition between

it’s like flying in a plane: the food was great,

part of the DAVE credit. The visual effects

sound production houses. In June, Post

the entertainment was great and the view

houses qualify but we don’t so it is a major

Modern Sound announced they would be

from the window was great but if the land-

problem. Sometimes we lose projects be-

offering “bundled” picture and sound post

ing was bad that is all you remember.

cause they will go elsewhere. You don’t have

production after an agreement with Deluxe

When they come here we try to ensure that

to shoot the visual effects here to qualify. A

Entertainment Services to work closely with

it is a sweet landing and at the end of the

few years ago there were more productions

their picture post house Encore Ltd.

day they will get their soundtrack.”

from Los Angeles choosing to finish here and

The company’s president, Manesh

Of course, not every flight is going

Arbel, says that post production in Van-

to be smooth. Pinewood’s Jean Turner

tax credits in Ontario to include all post, it is

couver is facing challenges with Vancou-

says that working with television produc-

booming there. They are fully booked so that

ver facilities closing shop or reducing their

ers can be difficult, particularly if they find

has been a huge change the last couple of

facilities. He says that if you want to com-

themselves learning on the job.

years. They still face the same challenges

pete for Los Angeles product you need to

now there are less. Since they changed their

“What we are finding is that a lot of people

with the dollar but the tax credit system is

in the industry don’t have experience so

alright. I think that while we are doing a good

(Working with Encore) is a good exam-

we don’t always receive the quality. In the

job of keeping up with the technology, in or-

ple of what has to be done to be competi-

earlier days it was a little better but now the

der to be competitive we need to be on a

tive,” he says. “In all the major jurisdic-

TV people are working with lower budgets

level playing field with others.”

tions, if you go to LA, you get sound and

and they have a lot less time to get things

keep up with the way they do business.

n

– Ian Caddell 17


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Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012


Feature Story

Brave New World

Veteran visual effects supervisor Mark Savela and Sanctuary executive producer Martin Wood have joined forces to face new challenges. They are working on tight budgets to create the most believable prehistoric creatures possible for the series Primeval: New World. Story by

Ian Caddell

Who would have thought that so many years would have passed and we would still care about dinosaurs? But we do. Billions have been made at the movies on the Jurassic Park features and the Ice Age cartoons alone. Children have been buying books, schools have been teaching courses, archaeologists have been digging, museums have been recycling. Taking that world to the small screen on the budget afforded by a Canadian broadcaster could be a nightmare of comparisons. Adding futuristic creatures to the existing template of recognizable dinosaurs would be an even more difficult prospect. Making an episode in a little more than a week for people who know their dinosaurs would seem to be an overwhelming task. However, the people behind Primeval: New World, which will air on Canada’s Space, had the advantage of making a spin-off of the popular British series Primeval. They still had to put together a team that could make a believable show about a group of scientists who travel through holes from past to future and encounter the beasts that exist in those dimensions. The show is produced by Vancouver’s OmniFilm, who are perhaps best known for documentary series like Word Travels and Ice Pilots and the long-running Robson Arms. They managed to put together a group of allstars to create the show. The list includes Stargate veteran Martin Wood and digital graphics expert Mark Savela, whose credits include three Stargate incarnations. The two lead actors, Eureka’s Niall Matter and The Vampire Diaries’ Sarah Canning had done enough green screen that they could follow the prompts without much trouble. The biggest “prompt” came from Chuck Campbell, a veteran actor and stunt man from two Stargate series and Sanctuary who played the creature for the actors and the CGI crew. He says that there is a technique that goes into creating a comfort zone for the cast and crew. “I like to use the Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012

reference ball or the grey ball and make it the head of the creature,” he says. “It seems to help for the actors as an eye-line and the visual effects team seem to like it. It helps them with the reference passes. When you are doing a T-Rex or something of a massive size it helps to get the reference ball on an extended stick so that we can get it up there height-wise and help out the actors as much as we can. It also gives the visual effects team more scope and a balance to that reference pass and helps them with the magic they do on screen.” Campbell isn’t sure if there are labels for what he does on the set of New World. He says it’s hard to categorize the work. “It does help to be athletic when you are running around on the set chasing actors or down in the streets of Gastown but I wouldn’t put it in the stunt category and I wouldn’t put it in the acting category. But I do try to give a pace and timing that will help the visual effects teams in that reference pass and if it helps the actor to have something to look at then that is only beneficial for the show.” Niall Matter had worked closely with effects and green screen in his five years as Zane Donovan on the BC-shot series Eureka, the story of a town where the best and the brightest gather to create inventions for the government. He says that the show was not his first experience with working with green screen but that it was a big help for him when he arrived on the set of New World. “My character used a holographic computer and there was green screen on the other side of that when they shot from the back. They put it all in later and even when they shot the front of me I had to match my hand height and movement to my specific lines. That doesn’t sound difficult but when you work through it and you have a scene where you have three other characters involved you have to be very precise or the take is no good. So I had to really learn my reference points. I would use reference point on the green screen to line my hand movements up and memorize my movements. I would look like a crazy person or a mad scientist standing all by myself talking to myself. We didn’t have beasts or creatures attacking us but we did have a flying robot and we would have to reference her on green screen. She would pass through occasionally and some times something would swing down. We would have to time things out with the other actors and the director who call down and say ‘it’s sweeping down at 12:00’ 19


(Top) Mark Savela holding a cut out dino for eyeline/lining up vfx shots. Photo By Bettina Strauss (Bottom) Niall Matter playing Evan Cross. Photo By Ed Araquel

but you have to look as though no one is barking orders at you. You had to look like you were tracking something. So it was tricky.” Canning’s own experience with green screen on Vampire Diaries was limited but she says she has learned a lot in her race against New World’s dinosaurs. “Once you understand the technical aspects of it and you can put that in your body, you can forget about tech aspects and focus on your performance which is what an actor wants to focus on anyway. So once you get that down and if you have great technical people and they teach you these things then it’s not your muscle memory and it becomes 20

second nature. Now it doesn’t bother me at all. It’s interesting. When we have actors coming in and they have to work with something that is not there it is fun to impart our wisdom to them and pass the torch.” Visual effects have been part of director Martin Wood’s life for a while now. He directed episodes of several sci-fi shows, including The Invisible Man, Earth: Final Conflict and Jeremiah and was a co-producer with Stargate SG-1. He was an executive producer on Sanctuary before moving on to become executive producer and episodic director of New World. He says it’s definitely a different world than even he was used to. “I think that what drew me to

this was that I have had a lot of experience with smaller 3D creatures but nothing huge. I have always been interested in dealing with something big that disrupted the world. For me that was a big part of this. I wanted to do something that would allow me to wreck things with big visual effects and dinosaurs do that. So I really liked the idea of it. I like the original series. I only saw the last four seasons and not the first but was attracted to the idea of a dinosaur show.” That attraction would lead to taking on some unique challenges. He says the biggest one is making sure that the actors are always aware of where the creatures are and for ev-

eryone involved to understand that the menace is in the picture whether they can see it or not. “The challenges with total 3D creatures is always letting the actors see the creature. I didn’t have a lot of experience with creatures as antagonists and having your antagonist not exist in the frame is a huge challenge. You have to frame the production and the actors differently to allow for things that aren’t there. They have to continually react to it and it’s always scary because there are no fun dinosaurs. So you have to keep it real for everyone here and have them understand that the dinosaurs are terrifying and they are big and they have jaws and their teeth are dripping blood.” Another challenge comes with understanding that once you have a visual effect in a script you are probably going to have to stay with it. Wood says that you don’t throw a scene out if it doesn’t make sense for the visual effects. “Visual effects equal money. That is the biggest problem for the script. It’s easy for the writer to write a visual effect because it s a huge scene that is in someone’s head, but it’s hard for production to do that in practice because it takes months of work to create these creatures. All you can do is to adapt to what is affordable, what is possible for production to do and what makes sense for the story. But the visual effect usually stays intact in a script. The problem is making it through the budgetary process and the production process. I think that is the most difficult thing about maintaining the integrity of the script and the visual effects.” Savela was attracted to the show for different reasons. He says he had always wanted to be involved in a show that would challenge his visual effects strengths. A series that depended completely on the animation of its characters to provide the action seemed to be an easy choice. “What really drew me to the series was the fact that it is around a 90% character animation show,” he says.  “That means that we don’t spend a lot of time on other types of visual effect shots and really get a chance to concentrate on the characters, their personalities, how they move, how they react in our environments. We had quite a bit of success on Stargate: Universe Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012


“I have always been interested in dealing with something big that disrupted the world... I wanted to do something that would allow me to wreck things with big visual effects and dinosaurs do that.” - Martin Wood, Director doing alien characters and making them look photo real, but doing a whole season of character animation, let alone dinosaurs, was a real dream come true. Also, every type of dinosaur has their own specific movements, their own personalities, their own characters so each new episode feels fresh and new.” It doesn’t get stale. He says that every time he comes to a new script for the series he sees new challenges. “I think that every script, every episode has had their own set of challenges in terms of the visual effects. There are always situations that are new and unique in every episode. The best way to deal with this, and the most important part, is constant communication with the directors and directors of photography of each episode. This is key to achieving the plates that will work the best for each situation and allow the visual effects to look as good as possible. Our DPs (Michael Blundell and Ryan McMaster) have been amazing collaborating with our department and giving us the best possible plates to work with.” Both he and Wood agree that the evolution of visual effects in Vancouver came from a history of shows that required the city to evolve quickly and keep up with the needs of American series that required visual effects to be local. Savela says that the local visual effects companies have done a good job of taking advantage of the opportunities. “I think the shows really helped Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012

put Vancouver on the map as a center for visual effects were shows like the Stargate franchise, Outer Limits, etc. where the post and visual effects were done locally. It helped mold the visual effects scene in Vancouver. For a while there was a time when everyone you met in visual effects had worked on the Stargate franchise at some point. This helped build the reputations of local companies and the profile of the talent pool here in Vancouver. Since that time, the reputation for quality work and the depth of the talent pool has really attracted LA companies to open offices here and bring larger feature film projects here.” Wood says that some of the credit for that evolution has to go to the Americans. He believes that while the visual effects scene has been built up by local companies, the best and the brightest from American series were good mentors. “What happened is that there were a lot of Americans telling us how to do these things and slowly we realized we could do it too. So visual effects houses started sprinting up around us because we were able to do it locally. Now we are leading the way in a lot of things in visual effects and if you look at the people who are winning visual effects awards, a lot are Canadian. When you have enough practice you get better and better and you become the innovators, which is what has happened here.” n

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© Twentieth Century Fox Corporation


diary feature

The Vampire Diary

If you have ever wondered how Vancouver visual effects houses end up supplying effects for shows made in different parts of the world, this diary from Randy Goux, the Visual Effects Supervisor at Vancouver’s Method Studios might help. In it he talks about the hardcore bidding that goes on to get a piece of a major studio movie like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and the work that follows. The movie was released in late June and in mid-July had already made over $70 million internationally. Diary by

Randy Goux October 2010 We receive a bid package at Method Studios from 20th Century Fox for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The show is a stereoscopic release, but not native stereo. A 2D to 3D conversion, the show is to be divided into three separate packages of VFX work, with a handful of “one-off” environment/crowd shots. The three packages are a stampede sequence, Civil War battles and a train sequence. We were asked to bid the entire show, even knowing that Fox would divide the work among several vendors. The train sequence is what we want the most. Fire, destruction, vampires and a train. Sean Lewkiw is onboard as our DFX Supervisor and Jinnie Pak is the Producer. November 2010 We are sent some art department material and get a feel for the show’s style. It includes concept art of overgrown plantation houses and a few early bridge burning concepts. Sean Lewkiw and I start getting busy on computer graphics (CG) and research and development (R&D.). Sean begins a study on structural concepts of old wooden trestle bridges. I grab a CG train we have in our library and build out a bridge in Maya and start doing speed tests in 3D as well as stereo renders. The bidding continues on a daily basis. We’re being asked to go pretty low with our numbers, so we have to make sure our strategy is sound. Bidding is like a game of chess where you have to win in five moves or game over, usually… December 2010 The bidding continues and is getting pretty intense. This is a good sign, as we feel that we are connecting and reacting to the studio production side with our methodologies and costs. Although the bidding is starting to creep to an uncomfortable place, more CG test renders are underway. I hop into my car with our production coordinator, Riley, and we find a road that runs parallel to abandoned train tracks. Riley stands out on the sunroof and gets 20 seconds of footage with his Canon 5D, while I drive at 40 mph. We get the footage onto our systems and track a CG train to the footage with some basic lighting. It’s fun to see, more inspirational than coming up with an approach on doing the train sequence. The entire crew is hoping we get this and I give them daily updates as to how the bidding is going. We receive a partial award that focuses on the “CG builds”. This allows us to move forward with building Abe’s Springfield home, the Washington Monument and about five to six more buildings while we continue to work with production on the full award for the train Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012

sequence. Getting the builds awarded is a good sign, but if we don’t get the full sequence awarded, this will now hurt even more. We start getting presentation material together. We’re heading to New Orleans to meet the director. It’s on. January 2011 Bidding, bidding, bidding. Sean works on many bridge destruction renders. Nothing too finished, but more than worthy to show the director. We’re told that we need to have a presentation to explain “how the bridge” breaks. Almost from an engineer’s point of view. Turns out one of our artists is a structural engineer. Score. We fly down to New Orleans, me, Sean, Jinnie and our exec. producer Shauna Bryan. We meet up with Craig Lyn, the production VFX Supervisor and Ken Wallace the production producer. We give our dog and pony show to Craig and Ken. It’s received well. Craig has us take a few building turntables out of the presentation before the director comes in. It’s clear that making the right impression on the director is key. We wait in the VFX office for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, (The Right Stuff ’s) Caleb Deschanel, pops his head in and introduces himself to us as the DP. I’m in good company. Let’s get this. Timur Bekmambetov, the director, walks in and we’re all introduced. After a few pleasantries, we get right to it. We show the building model renders, not too sexy, but he sees we’re investing in the show already. Sean shows his bridge destruction tests. Timur starts to get a little more engaged, I can see him start to ask questions differently. He’s not talking to us to judge if we can do the work technically, he’s talking to us almost as if it’s our first client review. Telling us we’ll have some creative license in shot design. We kind of need it to be awarded before I can use my license. Next we show the shot of the speeding CG train that we comped over the live action train tracks. It does exactly what I hoped it would. Almost immediately our conversation turns to creative and shot design and you can feel the energy in the room go up a little. The meeting winds down and Timur leaves us with some of his conceptual and artistic thoughts. It went well. Next… off to the art department. On the way there walking down the hall, I quietly ask Craig how he felt the presentation went. “It’s yours”, he said. That night we have dinner with everybody and Timur. He asks me all about our studio. He wants to know the names of our main artists, and what makes them so good. At first it feels a little like an interrogation, but the more we talked I realize this is how Timur gets to know us. He goes on to tell me he wants to know all of our strengths and weaknesses, so he can have better instincts as he guides us with our shots creatively. The sequence is awarded to us. It’s going to be a big year. 23


All Photos © Twentieth Century Fox Corporation

February 2011 We’ve been looking to double the size of our FX team, and hopefully bring on a few more fire/smoke specialists. Recruiting is

but they want to revise it. They shoot the sequence end of May, plenty of time. We hire a few animators and start to revise the previs. We know

is done in 3D with the set specs in mind. No camera moves that will be impossible to shoot. March 2011 Previs was supposed

“We were told not to go into the woods because we’re in the middle of a boar hunting woods...” tough, and we’re definitely looking worldwide here. The previs for the train sequence was done months ago by a Russian VFX group with Timur, 24

now what the set dimensions will be like for the green screen actors, and also what crane will be on the set. All previs done from this point on

to be done last month. We continue to revise creative changes. They shoot the sequence end of May, plenty of time. Recruiting continues. Sean takes

the bulk of the interviews, spending half of every day recruiting, starting to line up quite the international bunch. The fire development is starting to really take off. Julien Depredurand and Tuba Yalcin are getting some flame tests out, seeing where the system breaks. It’s clear that this fire system will not be hard for artists to get quickly up to speed, but will take a real artist to make it behave correctly. The practical train that will be used in a few live action shots has begun its build in New Orleans. We receive the blueprints and can now begin our CG build of the same locomotive in parallel. Starting to cineSync with Timur on weekends when he’s not shooting. April 2011 Previs is not over. More creative changes. Shooting end of May so plenty of time. Even with the previs not being anywhere near locked, we know we are going to have to lock the train, which is barreling through the forest at 50-60mph in the shots. We start to make decisions on CG forest vs. live action forest. It’s decided to try a live action film shoot with tiled frames of trees that we can use multiple angles in comp. If you can get something in camera, it’s always better. If it works… May 2011 Recruiting is almost done. If the schedule stays relatively to plan, we’re covered for the show. Previs goes on. Shooting for the train sequence is late this month, early June. I fly down to New Orleans to shoot the forest plates for three days. Location is an hour north of New Orleans, an old road that used to be railroad tracks. It’s perfect, four miles long and perfectly straight in the forest. We have a modest sized crew, a camera truck, three Vista cameras mounted on a single arm and a crane. We were told not to go into the woods because we’re in the middle of a boar hunting woods. You hear rifle shots every 15 minutes. I stay on the truck. Three days, multiple camera jams and one Vista cam hitting a tree at 40 mph, and we’re done… June 2011 The train shoot takes place in early June. Previs is used for about half the shots, the other half are thought up on the day. I can’t say I haven’t seen it happen before. Our CG builds continue on schedule, a 3D Fort Sumter is ready to be fired upon. The three crowd shots we have need the costumes modeled and textured before they get incorporated into our crowd system. Photos of the extras on Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012


set are starting to trickle in and the artists start building the characters. We discuss with production a plate turnover schedule, with the first shots showing up in August. July 2011 Shooting is done. Timur starts to focus on the VFX. The look of the fight on top of the train start its development. I can start to feel that this is going to take a while. Weeks, maybe more. We start to exhaust every possible combination of smoke, actor shadows, tree shadows and embers. It’s looking good, just have to make sure it fits in the budget, we do have over 100 shots for that part of the sequence. August 2011 More boxcar top flight look development. Starting to focus more on the fire in real shots now. We don’t have any plates turned over yet, but we can start lighting some of our CG train/bridge/fire shots. The fire looks good, but we have more work to do. Scale of small fire that hugs the wood is a concern, so we put more FX artists on that aspect for a few weeks. September 2011 Still no plate turnover. We notify production that the delay in turning over plates will effect the deliver. The schedule has us delivering in the second week of January, so Jinnie’s starting to rework the numbers in the schedule and see if we need to reshuffle crew, or double up on artists in certain departments. And.now we hear there’s a re-edit happening. October 2011 Shot turnover starts, 11 weeks later than we had planned for. We are having conversations with the studio about the realities of a January finish. November 2011 We start reviews with Timur of our bridge destruction and fire layouts for “low res” approval. They go well, but it’s clear Timur needs to see something more polished before he’s comfortable with real feedback. A dangerous situation, because it takes time to get to a “high res” level, and we’re already short 11 weeks in our schedule. And. they now start reshoots that totally affect the climax of our sequence. Again, more conversations about schedule, possible delivery date being pushed to March. Posted three shots for final! I’m told production needs a shot for the first trailer, it happens to be one of our full screen all CG fire and bridge shots. And they need it in few weeks. December 2011 Trailer shot gets done, and gets finalized for the film. This is a major milestone and a massive Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012

crew boost. We receive a list of “safe shots” to work on. Shots that shouldn’t get edited from the film. Lots of new edits are flying at us. Re-speeds are changing by 1%, takes are changing, it’s hard to keep up. We expected this rapid change filmmaking with Timur, so we’re handling it, but it’s an editorial “Where’s Waldo”,on a daily basis. January 2012 We fly to LA to have a face to face meeting about the final delivery date. It’s clear we’re going long because of editorial changes and the reshoots. April 30th is the new target date. We have meetings with Stereo D about the sharing of comp scripts to help them with the 3D conversion. A couple new matte painting shots are put on our plate, but with the new delivery date, it’s doable. February 2012 Start delivering shots to Stereo D for conversion. Late in the game, production adds two new shots involving some pretty heavy bridge destruction. But the delivery date is now a couple of months away so these are able to be included. The constant changes of the edit and delivery has the crew putting in extra hours and long weeks. We try to balance this so the crew doesn’t get burned out but it’s a tough schedule. Jinnie and I are trying to keep the artists in the loop as to why the schedule keeps pushing. March 2012 Chipping away at our shot count. Really getting pushed creatively, in a good way. The shots are awesome. More smoke, more fire, more destruction. As much as we pile into these shots, we continue to be asked for more. It’s really coming together. April 2012 We see the end. A couple of our big crowd shots and 3D environment shots linger on. Incremental tweaks will no doubt continue up until the final due date. The big ones are always the first to start and the last to finish. Many of the crew are moving on as we get closer to the end. It’s truly an international group. On just our show alone, we have artists from Turkey, Israel, Germany, Australia, China, Korea, Cuba, Iran, France, Peru, India, USA, Palestine, England, all ending up in Vancouver to make a movie directed by a Russian about an American President who hunts vampires (in stereo). May 2012 Delivered our last remaining shots. A triumphant moment for the team. The director is happy. Exhale. Sleep. Start bidding the next show… n

Reel convenient.

Current and archived issues of Reel West Magazine are now available online at www.reelwest.com

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VIC SARIN WITH Jessica Lowndes

Photo by David McIlvride


Cover feature

Movie Magic

 Vic Sarin wanted to make a television movie that would compete for audiences looking for feature films on their small screen. Working with a team that included an Oscar-nominated set designer and a screenwriter with producing credits, he took A Mother’s Nightmare to the Okanagan and found locations that would open the show up to look like a feature film. Story by

Ian Caddell

Vic Sarin had directed two dramatic features and a documentary feature since his last television movie when he decided to take his experience with film to make the best TV movie possible.

However, he knew that if he was going to make another television movie he would have to direct it and shoot it. He had to make it look like a feature film so that it could compete with all the other feature films that fill the TV listings. He was thinking of making the MOW A Mother’s Nightmare in Vancouver but realized that he could find what he wanted in an area where the BC rural tax credits are available. Then he got lucky. Jan Goodine, one of a handful of Canadians who have been nominated for a craft Oscar happened to be living in the Okanagan and was looking for work. Sarin and the Unforgiven set decorator decided to work together to make a television film that had the look of a feature film. There wasn’t a lot of money and the schedule was set at 18 days of photography. How low was the budget? “It was the lowest budget I have worked with in 25 years,” says Goodine, who realized that the tiny crew would have to find some support in the towns of the Okanagan. “It was a challenge to make it look good for very little money. I have been in the industry for 35 years and I go back to the time of minuscule crews but this one had lots of experience. We were able to utilize that experience in building and painting and fabricating We used a lot of existing locations and wherever possible we used what we could from those locations, which were user friendly and the business and home owners here were lovely. They were excited about the industry and so accommodating. It was like Calgary when the industry was new and everyone was excited about it.” The script was written by Shelley Gillen, who based the story on a relationship between her son and a girlfriend. “I had fears of it (the relationship) at the time and I pushed it further into a thriller,” she says. “I pitched it to (veteran executive producer) Meyer Shwarzstein who was working with (Sarin’s producers) Tina Pehme and Kim Roberts at the time and he took it to them and we all knew each Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012

other. Larry Gersham had been producing a lot of Lifetime Movies so we pitched it to Lifetime as a fatal attraction story with a mother and a 16 year old son and his crazy girlfriend. I combined cyber bullying and wrapped it into fiction.” The movie stars Annabeth Gish, Jessica Lowndes and Grant Gustin in the key roles with Jay Brazeau and Sebastian Spence co-starring. Gillen had coproduced the series The Listener and The Murdoch Mysteries so had a good idea of what a broadcaster would need from a script. “After they (Lifetime) got the script I could see there was a problem and asked them what it was and they said they wanted more thriller elements. So it was helpful to know how the system works. I am a much better writer from working with other peoples’ projects and seeing what worked and what didn’t work. When I sat down to write the script I was so far ahead of what my knowledge would have been without that experience. Usually you have to write 20 screenplays before you get one to work but if you are reading a lot of screenplays and you see the importance of structure and you are helping people fix it, it helps you a lot.” Tina Pehme, who has produced several of Sarin’s films, says that the idea of moving into the TV market was to do something different with movies of the week. She says the entire project was designed from the beginning to fulfill their needs for a show that would work as a “movie” of the week. “Our whole pitch moving into television is to make a feature for television on a budget. Vic’s experience as a director and DOP on films gave us the sense that we could make it look bigger and sustain it in both mediums. We felt that if it was what we wanted we could release it theatrically in some markets and it would fit well. So we worked at that from the start, by choosing Shelly to do the script and then developing it together. Then we found the right locations and settled in. Vic took it to the next level. He likes to work with natural light and so he wants everything to be in one place. There a lot of layers in Kelowna. The weather changed every five minutes and all those elements helped us deliver a film that Lifetime and (Canadian broadcaster) Corus Entertainment could see would compete with features on television.” Sarin says his perspective is that every film should be bigger than life. He does believe that the small screen has certain restrictions with the biggest one being that you have to engage an audience that has so many options. “You have to compete with those options so you say ‘what can I do to keep the audience watching?’ Well, the screenplay has to reflect a certain sensibility whereby the visual interpretation can be as strong because most MOW writers don’t have confidence. They think they should go for close-ups but with digital technology the TV screens now are so big we can have the advantage 27


(Top) Annabeth Gish with GRANT GUSTIN and VIC SARIN (Bottom) JESSICA LOWNDES Photos By DArren Hull

of feeling things we used to just feel watching film. I interpret very strongly to not shy away from that. I don’t have to shoot 200 close-ups. It has to have

that you feel it’s bigger than it would be so you look for those things and try not to spend too much money. We can push boundaries and say it will work

dence at this point in his career. He has been shooting films for 41 years and directing for 33. Along the way he has won an Emmy, been nomi-

“I am happy to work with TV actors because they are used to dealing with budgets and yet they still have star power from TV which I think is just as good.” - Vic Sarin, Director bigger than life feeling so you open it up. You can do a scene in a living room but I will take that to the balcony so you see the whole world. Just by doing 28

on TV. But the screenplay has to reflect that because you have the confidence to try new things.” Sarin should have plenty of confi-

nated two other times and won two Geminis and four other nominations. He has four Genie nominations and been nominated or won

more than a dozen other awards. His resume as a director of photography includes such iconic Canadian films as Loyalties, Bye Bye Blues, Whale Music and Margaret’s Museum. He made his feature film directing debut with the Genie nominee Cold Comfort and opened the 2009 Vancouver International Film Festival with A Shine of Rainbows. He says that when he approached the television movie he knew that if he could bring in actors with a following, he had the star power that would help it get made. “You need star power to get anything made but most TV actors are very well known and have big followings. And they are used to doing four to five pages a day and rolling with punches so rather than have a big screen star, and people spend a lot of effort finding them, I am happy to work with TV actors because they are used to dealing with budgets and yet they still have star power from TV which I think is just as good.” He says that while he was aware there would be challenges to making his little TV movie open up to look like a feature, he does have a distinct advantage as someone who is in control of the camera. It might take a little longer and he starts a little earlier than most directors as a result but he says he feels that he can open up the show a little more by doing both jobs. “I got up at 4:30AM the last three days trying to get the visuals. It can be difficult but I have my own camera and people help me out. I think you can open up film as much as you can whether it is an MOW or not. I also knew that in Vancouver we would have problems opening it up but by coming to Kelowna we can do that. You only have so much time and money and in Vancouver you need to go around to locations and you lose time. Here you can save the time and moving around is very easy. Locations are easy to get to and there is far less traffic. You have more time to set up the camera and get the right light and actors don’t have to get stuck waiting around. These kinds of things keep everyone happy. There are ways you can take advantage of allowing MOWs to be bigger than features but it always comes back to screenplay and interpretation. I come from the school where you are supposed to give everything to the audience on TV but I think the audience is smarter than that. I feel that if you get them at the right place and right time they will be receptive because the basic Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012


thing is telling your story.” That will include taking the shoot outside whenever possible. He says that television directors too often assume that everything should be shot inside. “Nature is the freest element available. But even if it has to be shot in a mansion you can take it out and put the mansion in the background. I don’t have to spend a week figuring out the lighting. In a place like Canada, that is so rich visually there is richness and you should take advantage of it and not stick to the living rooms. I think there is room to push boundaries and that will give you the feeling that you have seen something special, and that you are not just watching people sitting in a house and talking. Movies of the week tend to sit in houses but going to the balcony is better. I know producers avoid (going out) for cost cutting but I don’t need the whole 80 man crew when I take it outside. I just need a small second unit to get early morning light to work with the main shot that has already been completed. If the light is good we will take it out and it will be better looking.” Sarin admits that he will do whatever it takes to get his characters out of the house. He says that he shot an entire scene in a grocery store and then went back and realized that it might work better if he could get the actors on the street. He hired an ice cream truck and woke his actors up at the crack of dawn in order to catch the best light and present a more feature movie-like scene to his audience. And he says that it’s a lot easier if you have assembled a team that will follow the lead. “I did the scene in the grocery store and the actors talk and talk and fall in love but then I didn’t want to do it in a grocery store. So I said ‘let’s bring the ice cream truck to a great location.’ I wanted them to get up at 5 in the morning and these two actors were absolutely amazing. You see the world behind them and not the corner store. But it happened because they were able to help me out. So you have to create an atmosphere. That is the best way to do it and the cast and crew were all fantastic. If I said ‘lets go tonight’ it would happen because we had a common interest and we all wanted to make a movie that entertains. We had a very common path to follow and as long as they feel it is the right path and the screenplay works it will become a movie. It doesn’t matter if your budget is $10 or $10 million.” n Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012

The Fixers continued from page 17

NWD’s Alex Tkach says that the key is to keep up with the changes. “We are in constant upgrade mode,” he says. “With the replacement of the film camera and the introduction of the various new digital cameras the need to process the high resolution data has demanded significant infrastructure upgrades. Over the past year we have significantly expanded our central storage, editing and color correction systems, with a focus on 3D stereoscopic and with the advent of significant reduction in films shot. We believe that upgrades to accommodate the new technology are paramount. Our largest commitment was our central storage system which allows all 22 system suites universal and instant access to recorded footage and data. This access eliminates the need to transfer data between platforms and expedites the post production process which in turn reduces labor and equipment costs. And you have to keep allowing for new budget realities.” For Elizabeth Collyer, the co-general manager of Deluxe Vancouver, whose recent post work has included several US films that have shot in locations other than Vancouver, including Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, Dark Shadows, GI Joe Retaliation and Cloud Atlas, the key to keeping up with the technology is to act rather than to react. “I think that if you are going to keep ahead of the constant changes in the technology you have to be proactive and not just reactive. We are now in a phase where we know it’s going to constantly change but we have to embrace it. I don’t think we are going to be doing dailies in the next two years because the cameras can do it themselves. So we have to focus on creative aspects and finishing and things people just can’t just do in their basements or production offices. And our business is changing. We are now all about high tech and data management but we can provide leadership because we have capacity.” Tkach says that diversity is important. He says that although things are constantly changing, there are some things that will always be relevant. “At present, supplying economical answers and service with high quality results seems to be (valid.) I guess things haven’t changed. That said, the visual effects side of the business and focus on visual effects seems very prevalent. The constant need

to supply all the various broadcast deliverables continues to prevail. But the need to pass all the technical specifications and quality control for the international marketplace keeps the post facilities relevant. “      Collyer says that if Deluxe is to keep up with the competition, its Encore arm has to address the tradition of television in Vancouver. She says that the company felt Encore’s credibility in Los Angeles would help Deluxe to keep more work here. “I think it was appropriate to bring Encore to town and to have more credibility and knowledge here, particularly since the company has 50% of the market in LA. That was not well known in Vancouver but I think that once we let producers know about all the shows we work on that could change. So it is logical to promote Encore. That is the beauty of being a global company. We have expertise that we can tap into and with changes in technology and things are changing so quickly. We have a new challenge with every project but we are equipped to handle those things.” The companies are busy. Trounce says that the studios have respect for the city now. “At the moment, our strongest service is workflow consultation and support for the visual effects industry on some significant studio pictures such as Neill Blomkamp’s latest feature, Elysium. And we recently provided grading and mastering services on both Omni Film/ CBC’s Arctic Air and Storylab Productions’ feature film Becoming Redwood. These are amongst the first projects in the world to use the ACES workflow which is an initiative developed by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to create a standardized colour science methodology. The benefit that ACES offers is that it allows us greater control in achieving the production’s creative and technical goals. Because the workflow is still in development and hasn’t been officially released yet, we have had to work closely with the Academy to fine tune our internal processes. In addition to being able to offer our clients tomorrow’s solution today, the feedback generated from the real world application of ACES on these projects helps to refine the technology so that it is closer to the ideal implementation once it is released.” At NWD, Tkach and his colleagues are finding challenges with a fully animated 3D animated feature called Clockwork Girl. He says it was “easily” one of the more challenging films

the company has worked on but says things went well. “It was one of our largest challenges but it netted wonderful results. It required significant render power and infrastructure to accomplish. We supplied artists, several 3D work stations and five compositing stations to complete the project. Then 1700 shots later we delivered a great looking feature film. This project was a post facilities reason for existence. Collaboration between the producers, artists and technical staff was key as full involvement in the creative process was enlightening. We answered the bell on this one and were able to develop the fire power to ensure the end result was met. NWD was very proud to be involved.” If the industry has come a long way from modest beginnings when it had to count on the benevolence of American producers, it could be that the key to any future success in Vancouver would be the need of the individual post houses to find strategies that will give them a competitive edge. Thompson says Finale Editworks made that move in May when they entered into a strategic partnership to provide Technicolor “Color Certified” Digital Intermediate Finishing services in Vancouver. Don Thompson says they also acquired and integrated Technicolor Vancouver’s existing theatre into their newly expanded facility. He said the transaction includes “exclusive certification for Technicolor’s leading color science,” as well as ongoing servicing of its film, television and commercial projects finishing in Vancouver. And he says that if there is going to be a sense that local filmmakers will be competitive with foreign competition, it always helps to have a partner that can show some flexibility in the local marketplace. “What is fun about it is there are some challenges that we have to solve but what is more exciting is that there is an explosion of filmmakers who play very well into our business model and history. We are very committed to indie filmmakers and the domestic industry and to grow that and allow them better access to compete on an international level. That was what drove our partnership with Technicolor. It allowed us to access their colour sciences which is supported by a large team of pros around the world and in LA. I think that will help our filmmakers a lot.” n 29


Final Edit and co-creator of one of Saskatchewan’s first series, The Incredible Story Studio. “Virginia is a fantastic addition to the NSI board,” said Brad Pelman and Raja Khanna, co-chairs of the NSI Board of Directors. “She’s a dynamic and well-respected member of the Canadian television industry who will bring a unique energy and perspective to the many new initiatives being developed by NSI.” Thompson, a graduate of the program, says she can relate to people who are looking for a way to tell their stories. “As an NSI Features First alumna, I know firsthand how important training is to our industry. Joining the board of NSI is a great honour and a terrific opportunity to help build the next generation of Canadian storytellers.” Key grip Vincent Phillips and director CHARLES OFFICER on set of The Mighty Jerome. Photo by john price © 2010 National film board of Canada

Westerners Invited to TIFF Two western Canadian features and six shorts will have their world premieres at September’s Toronto International Film Festival. The features are from Vancouver director Bruce Sweeney and Winnipegbased Sean Garrity. Sweeney’s The Crimes of Mike Recket is the story of a failed real estate agent who unwittingly becomes a suspect in a criminal investigation. Garrity’s film, My Awkward Sexual Adventure, is the story of a conservative accountant who enlists the help of an exotic dancer to win back his ex-girlfriend. The six shorts are all from British Columbia. The list includes Bardo Light, from director Connor Gaston, Kelvin Redvers’ The Dancing Cop, Jeff Wong’s H’Mong Sisters, Lingo from Bahar Noorizadeh, Their Feast from Reem Morsi and The Worst Day Ever, directed by Sophie Jarvis. The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 6 to September 16.

Harry Wins Again Charles Officer’s documentary Mighty Jerome, the story of Vancouver’s famed track and field star, Harry Jerome, who held multiple world 30

records in sprinting and was called the “world’s fastest man”, has won the 2012 Northwest Regional Emmy Award for best historical documentary. The announcement was made in early June. Mighty Jerome was produced in Vancouver for the National Film Board by Selwyn Jacob. “We never knew who Harry Jerome was,” says Jacob, the film’s Vancouver-based producer. “He had the reputation as someone who couldn’t live up to expectations. But he’s among the best of the best, his story deserves to be told.” The movie features interviews with Jerome’s family, Canadian Olympic athletes Doug Clement and Bruce Kidd and journalist Alan Fotheringham and tells the story of what Jerome’s coach, the legendary Bill Bowerman, called “the greatest comeback in track and field history.”

Twig Takes Series Vancouver director Kyle Rideout has won the CBC’s Short Film Face Off series which aired its fourth season this past June. According to a spokesperson Rideout’s Hop the Twig, which he wrote, produced, directed and acted in, came out on

top of the other eight finalists in the contest to be named the best short film in the country. The spokesperson said that the film is a gothic look at the fears a child has after its potted plant dies. The film stars  Emily  Kozak and Kelly Metzger, with narration by William Samples.   Twig had earlier been nominated for five Leo Awards, winning for best production design, best costume design and best visual effects. It also won ‘Best Dark and Comic Short’ at the Okanagan Film Festival, was named ‘film of the week’  by Exposure  Films, and was nominated for ‘Best International Short’ at the  Beloit International Film Festival.  

Saskatchewan’s Thompson New to Board

Regina-based producer Virginia Thompson is the latest western Canadian member of the Winnipeg-based The National Screen Institute – Canada board of directors. Thompson, the president of Verité Films and perhaps best known as an executive producer of the comedies Corner Gas and InSecurity was also executive producer

Meeting Chooses Directors Five new directors were chosen at June’s annual general meeting of Women In Film & Television Vancouver (WIFTV.) The new Board members are Ruth Atherley, Andrea Fehsenfeld, Frances Flanagan, Sharon McGowan and Lianna Walden. Remaining on the board for their second term as directors are Dusty Kelly, Barbara Alexandre, Carleen Kyle and Angelina Cantada. Spokesperson Paul Holman said Mary Bissell stays on as president and will act as chair of the Women in Film Festival committee. He said that Rachelle Chartrand continues as vice president, Annie Storey continues as treasurer, and Michele Billy Povill takes on the role of secretary. “I am very excited by the new additions to the board, and by the incredible talent and passion that the returning members bring to the table,” said Bissell. “It is a fabulous group of women with diverse professional backgrounds, all of whom are true assets to the industry and this organization.” Holman said Bissell congratulated outgoing board members Peggy Thompson, Siobhan Devine and Sheera von Puttkamer for “their outstanding contribution and commitment to the organization over the past two years.” n Reel West JULY / AUGUST 2012


sePt. 26-28, 2012

Program HigHligHts

+ nfD sePt. 29

global trenDs Day

new filmmakers’ Day

• Keynote • Emerging Markets • The Next Generation of Storytellers • Innovation and Advancement in Technologies • Indie Marketing Canadian Style

• Success Stories • The Working Actor: Creativity Across Multiple Platforms • Creating Sci-Fi Story Worlds • Mastering the Micro Budget • Telefilm Canada’s Talent to Watch!

tV Program

Doc Program

• The Premise and the Hook • Brand Integration in Original Web Series • Companion Series in a Digital Universe • TV Comedy Writing

• Frame by Frame • Game Changing Tactics in a DIY World • Getting to the Heart of the Subject • Success Stories in Reality

film Program

Plus...

• The Art of the Antagonist • New Distribution Strategies • Mastering the Set Piece

• Telefilm Canada Tête-à-tête meetings • Speed Dating Sessions • Networking Opportunities

Save the date! Sept. 26-28 + New filmmakers’ day Sept. 29 + all sessions take place at the rogers industry centre located at the Vancouver international film centre 1181 seymour street, Vancouver, bc forum presented by the Vancouver international film festival

follow us on facebook and twitter! @ Vifforum

www.viff.org/forum forum@Viff.org | 604.685.3547

Va n c o u V e r

DroP in anD get informeD


The explosive new Vancouver partnership between Finalé and Technicolor will give you direct access to the superior quality of real-time HD, 2K, 4K and Stereoscopic-3D DI color correction and finishing for features, television, and commercials. Finalé now offers a fully integrated post workflow - from on-set dailies and editorial systems through finishing, with an array of options for DCP / Film-outs, BluRay Discs and Broadcast Delivery. Couple this with over two decades of experience and expertise from our newly combined team, as well as Finalé’s local commitment to great relationships with filmmakers, and creativity has new possibilities.

Finalé Editworks, Suite 100-2339 Columbia St, Vancouver, BC

Tel: 604.876.7678 | Toll-Free: 1.866.582.7678 | info@finale.tv | www.finale.tv

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July - August 2012: Reel West Magazine  

Magazine for the Digital, Film and Television Industry

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