2013 western magazine awards finalist July / August 2013
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Method VFX Supervisor Ollie Rankin blows up the Capitol Building in film starring Maggie Gyllenhaal
Vancouver’s Corbin Saleken shoots Patterson’s Wager Indie Theatres bring audiences to Canuck movies
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14 BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE
Method Studios VFX Supervisor Ollie Rankin describes the process of creating key VFX shots for Columbia Pictures’ White House Down, in which a paramilitary group blows up the Capitol Building.
5 bits and bytes
18 Time to take the leap
9 BC Indie Scene
After winning a short film award at Spokane for his time travel short, Vancouverite Corbin Saleken jumps into his first feature, Patterson’s Wager, starring Fred Ewanuik as a guy who can see two minutes into the future.
20 SHOWCASING CANADIAN FILMS
30 FINAL EDIT
7 Legal BrIEFS
Despite struggles to make ends meet, independent theatres give local films a place to shine.
22 Raising the Bar Vancouver VFX studios are working on bigger, more technically challenging projects; post houses set their sights on similar success with help from the D.A.V.E. Tax Credit.
26 SOUND OFF Vancouver’s post audio houses survive a tough market by finding their niche.
Cover: Maggie Gyllenhaal in White House Down; © 2013 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc Contents: White House Down. © 2013 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc 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. Editor: Cheryl Binning. Publisher: Ron Harvey. Sales: Randy Holmes, Adam Caddell creative Director: Andrew von Rosen. art director: Lindsey Ataya. Photo Editor: Phillip Chin. Contributors this issue: Nathan Caddell. Janos molnar 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 2013 Reel West Productions Inc. Second Class Mail. Registration No. 0584002. ISSN 0831-5388. G.S.T. # R104445218. Reel West Productions Inc. Suite 114 – 42 Fawcett Road, Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada, V3K 6X9. Phone (604) 553-1335 Toll Free: 1-888-291-7335 Fax: (604) 451-7305 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org URL: reelwest.com. Volume 28, Issue 4. Printed In Canada. To subscribe call 1-888-291-7335 or visit our website at reelwest.com. Reel West welcomes feedback from our readers, via email at email@example.com. All correspondence must include your name, address, and Phone number.
Reel West July / August 2013
What’s coming. What’s shooting. What’s wrapped.
KARL URBAN stars in high-tech, high-stakes action drama Almost Human which premieres on FOX this fall. Photo By Liane Hentscher / FOX
JJ Abrams Back to B.C. with New Sci-fi Series
ummer is series time and a strong slate of new and returning American TV shows have arrived in town. J.J. Abrams and Fox Television — which wrapped Fringe last December after four years in Vancouver — are back with a new sci-fi crime drama Almost Human. It’s executive produced by J.H. Wyman (creator of the series), Bryan Burk and Abrams, and set 35 years into the future when humans in the Los Angeles Police Department are paired up with life-like androids. Almost Human stars Karl Urban (Star
Trek) as Detective Kennix who returns to the police force after two years and is assigned a human-like android partner, played by Michael Ealy (Sleeper Cell). The cast also includes Minka Kelly and Lili Taylor. David Geddes and Michael Wale are DOPs; Ian Thomas is production designer; Vladimir Stefoff is production manager; locations managers are Catou Kearney and Bill Burns; and Bob Comer is SPFX coordinator. Almost Human shoots July 24 through to December 12. The series premiere of Bates Motel was the highest-rated program in
A&E’s history so its no surprise the show is back for a second season, with production continuing through to early November. The Psycho prequel stars Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates, who is dealing with the dark impulses of her son Norman (Freddie Highmore) and troubled relationship with other son Dylan (Max Thieriot). Executive Producers are Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin; the producers are Justis Greene and Tucker Gates; the DOP is John Bartley; the production designer is Mark Freeborn; the production manager is Heather Meehan; the locations managers are Abra-
ham Fraser and Kendrie Upton. Also returning is the ABC fantasy/ drama Once Upon a Time, which shoots July through April. In storyline news, the third season will introduce the character of Tinker Bell and take place in Neverland, Storybrooke and the Enchanted Forest. The producer is Kathy Gilroy; the production manager is Dennis Swartman; the locations manager are Scott Walden and Peter Pantages; and Clark Candy is production coordinator. ABC is also shooting its Once Upon a Time spinoff series, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, in B.C. The series is based around the classic Lewis Carroll fairytale Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and focuses on the romance and adventure of Alice (Sophie Lowe) and a genie named Cyrus (Peter Gadiot). The producers are Gilroy and Joe Larzarov. Production began end of July with production manager Colleen Mitchell and production coordinator Susan Crawford. A new science fiction series for The CW has also landed in Vancouver. The Tomorrow People is based on a British series and follows a group of young people who possess superpowers as the result of human evolution. The series stars Robbie Amell (cousin of Arrow star Stephen Amell) as a teenager just discovering his powers who meets a group of supernatural outcasts who help him realize that he’s not going insane. The series has Peter Schindler as producer; Charles Lyall as production manager; and Greg Jackson as locations manager. Another new series Witches of East End shoots July 16 to October
Reel West July / August 2013
21. The Lifetime series stars Julia Ormond as a mother witch, who’s daughters, (played by Jenna DewanTatum and Rachel Boston) don’t know about their heritage. The series is based on the books by best-selling author Melissa de la Cruz and executive produced by Maggie Friedman (Eastwick). Paul Lukaitis is the production manager; Michael Roberts is locations manager and Melissa Crich is production coordinator. Also back shooting since late May is an eighth season of Psych and a 9th season of Supernatural, which began production July 11. Psych is produced by Gord Mark; shot by Scott Williams; production designed by Erin Norlin; and production managed by Wayne Bennett.
Supernatural is produced by Robbie Thompson and Todd Aronauer and coproduced by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming. The DOP is Serge Ladouceur; the production designer is Jerry Wanek; and the production manager is Craig Matheson. On the Canadian series front, a third season of Arctic Air begins production in August with Chris Rudolph as production manager; Hans Dayal as locations manager; and Cathy Fullerton as production coordinator. And executive producer Alex Raffe begins shooting Some Assembly Required in August with Lucy MacLeod as production manager and Jennifer Pitcher as production coordinator. n
Christian Slater stars in Way of the Wicked Photo c/o odyssey media inc.
Bits and Bytes
More Monkeys In Space Vancouver’s Atomic Cartoons has the go-ahead from Teletoon to produce a second season of hit series Rocket Monkeys. Produced with Toronto’s Breakthrough Entertainment, the space series features the cosmic antics of monkey brothers Gus and Wally. It also airs on Nickelodeon in the U.S. In other Atomic news, Rachit Singh has joined the company as Head of Technology. He is an engineering graduate with experience in designing for animation pipelines and a knowledge of multiple programming languages.
My Cree app launch Vancouver Aboriginal filmmaker Loretta Todd has launched My Cree, a language app developed to help youth learn the endangered Cree language. The app groups words and phrases into useful categories such as Activities, Family and Food, which are spoken by Barbara McLeod, a fluent speaker of Plains Cree, who has 30 years’ experience teaching the language in Saskatchewan. The app, developed with support from British Columbia Film and Media, also features vocabulary quizzes, speaking practice, a pronunciation guide to the basic letters
Odyssey Media has completed production on its latest feature – Way Of the Wicked, which shot in Squamish, B.C., and features actor Christian Slater (Interview With the Vampire). The supernatural thriller follows a teenager — with a murderous reputation for the supernatural — who sets his romantic sights on the daughter of a local police detective. Worried, the cop enlists the help of a mysterious Father Polotti (Slater) and together they uncover the truth about Robbie’s evil ways. The movie is directed by Kevin Carraway and produced by Kirk Shaw and Matt Kelly. Odyssey Media is a film and TV financing and production company with offices in Brisbane Australia and Vancouver, BC. For the Record... In Reel West’s May/June issue, blyssful Productions’ Dads was incorrectly described as a half hour pilot. It is actually a nine-minute sizzle released as a digital half-pilot to
and sounds of Cree, plus images and music videos to reinforce learning. My Cree was developed with Andrei Iancu and his team at Dynamic-Leap Labs, as well as Peter Strutt and Strutt Roar Media. Illustrations are by Chris Auchter. The app is available on iTunes. Todd also produced the children’s series Tansi! Nehiyawetan – Let’s Speak Cree, which recently sold to FNX - First Nations Experience, the new Aboriginal channel launching in the United States. It also airs on APTN.
Australian Kids Band Gets Animated in Vancouver Vancouver’s Bardel Entertainment and Australia’s Stella Projects are co-producing the preschool series Lah-Lah’s Adventures for Knowledge Network, BBC Kids Canada, CBeebies channels worldwide (except in the UK), and Seven Network Australia. The 12 by 26 minute series introduces kids to the world of music via the adventures of Australian children’s band Lah-Lah and combines live action performances with animated backdrops. Shooting will take place in Sydney with animation work at Bardel’s studio. Executive producers are Grahame Grassby for Stella Projects and Delna Bhesania, Frank Saperstein and Leonard Terhoch for Bardel Entertainment.
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Reel West July / August 2013
New Doc on Growing Up Online
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Vancouver’s Tabula Dada Productions is shooting a CBC documentary with The Sound Research on youth born after 1995. Titled Generation Edge, the film puts the spotlight on kids who are growing up with social media. The doc asks the question “What do you get when GenX parents raise a generation in a hyperconnected, media-saturated world that’s teetering on the brink of political and economic collapse?” Tabula Dada has also begun production on its first table top video game Eon Altar, in association with Flying Helmet Games. Eon Altar is a cooperative role-
playing adventure that blends the experience of classic tabletop gaming and modern video games. In the game, five friends fight through dungeons to uncover ancient secrets and compete for glory and wealth, along the way battling monstrous creatures and overcoming environmental dangers. The game uses personal handsets to control character’s actions, and a tablet to wander through dungeons. Tabula Dada Production was founded in 2006 by Haydn Wazelle, Anand Ray Raghavan and Angela Konieczny to specialize in the development, production, and delivery of digital entertainment.
Victoria Filmmaker Wins Bursary
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Writer/director Maureen Bradley of Victoria is the 2013 winner of the National Screen Institute’s Jim Murphy Filmmakers Bursary for her feature project Two 4 One. The prize rewards innovative marketing ideas from feature filmmakers enrolled in the NSI Features First training course. “Part of Maureen’s marketing proposal included building her secondary audience – the LGBT demographic – for her film in the tradition of Better Than Chocolate in 1999,” said Jane Gutteridge, member of the bursary jury. Two 4 One is a romantic comedy about Adam and Miriam, two oddball thirtysomethings who have a onenight stand and both wind up pregnant. “I’m just a few months away from shooting so finding out this great news is like a gift from the heavens,” said Bradley. “With a micro-budget production, every dollar is critical and this couldn’t come at a better time. “ In other NSI news, the Winnipeg-based organization is now accepting applications for its NSI Features First development program for writer/producer teams working on their first or second feature film. Teams receive market-driven training and a cash award to put towards a story editor and further project development. Training is provided by top names in the industry including Don Carmody, Julia Sereny and Martin Katz and takes place over 10 months, concluding with selected teams attending the Toronto International Film Festival in support of their projects. Applications are due September 19, 2013. For more info go to www.nsi-canada.ca Reel West July / August 2013
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Striking a Chord: Negotiating Composer Deals
s production counsel, we are frequently asked to negotiate deals for the commissioning of original underscore and theme music. Most composer
Kyle Fogden Entertainment Lawyer
Wolfcop wins Cinecoup
After a whirlwind 15-week competition, a team of Saskatchewan filmmakers have won up to $1 million in financing for their indie feature and a Cineplex release. The project Wolfcop beat out 89 other projects from across Canada to win the inaugural CineCoup Film Accelerator, a unique competition to kickstart feature film projects. The competition began with 90 filmmaking teams from across Canada that applied with a feature film concept trailer and over the course of 15 weeks produced content to package their projects and build audiences on CineCoup’s social web platform. The Wolfcop team is made up of Bernie Hernando (Producer, Marketing Strategist), Lowell Dean (Director, Writer), and Hugh Patterson (Producer). In a release CineCoup Founder and CEO J Joly said: “The calibre of independent talent and entrepreneurship this country has is undeniable. A big congrats to Wolfcop, the CineCoup team is stoked to be working with them and our partners to bring their concept to the big screen for 2014”. CineCoup expects to announce its next cycle of intake for applications at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2013. Editing Awards for the West Several Vancouver-based editors picked up awards at the third annual Canadian Cinema Editor Awards. Charles Robichaud won in the half-hour broadcast short form category for the R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour episode Uncle Howie. In Reel West July / August 2013
lifestyle/reality, editors Al Flett and Erin Cumming picked up the award for the Ice Pilots episode Crash Landing. The Canadian Cinema Editors is a professional organization representing 250 picture editors across Canada in all media.
agreements for independent film and television productions are package deals, in which the composer is paid an all-inclusive fee for a set number of cues and/or minutes of original music. Package fees are generally inclusive of all composing, recording, musician and related fees, subject to certain exclusions, and the amount of the fee will depend on factors such as the composer’s profile and résumé, the quantity and nature of the music to be delivered (electronic or live musicians) and the production’s budget. Composer agreements differ from most other key talent deals due to the fact that the music has the potential to be used independently from the production for which it was originally composed, and due to the manner in which royalties can be derived from the public performance and reuse of the music. As a result, there a few different structures available for the ownership of music publishing rights, each of which allows for a trade-off of future revenues that can offset differences on the composer’s fee. The balance of this article provides a summary of the four options that we most typically see. Music Composed as a ‘Work-forHire’ for the Producer So-called ‘work for hire’ deals are the structures that we most frequently see in our practice. Under these structures, the producer is deemed to be the owner of all rights, including music publishing, in the compositions and recordings. In addition to the exclusive right to use the music in their production, the producer is entitled to the so-called ‘publisher’s share’ of public performance royalties, which represents 50% of all worldwide royalties payable for the public performance of the compositions embodied
in the score, including via television broadcasts of the production. Under this structure, the composer is entitled to the 50% ‘writer’s share’ of such royalties. If the compositions are registered properly, then the producer and composer will receive these royalties directly from their public performance rights society. Depending on the number of broadcasts, the duration of the music, and the number and size of the territories in which the production is broadcast, these royalties can become a meaningful revenue stream for all concerned. If the producer subsequently licenses the music for use in other projects, then both the producer and composer can benefit for years to come. A variation on the ‘work-for-hire’ structure is available where the composer is required to accept a fee that is lower than the one they would typically accept. Under a ‘co-publisher’ structure, the composer retains a portion of the publishing rights in the compositions which form the underscore. In the most common form of co-publishing structure, the producer is granted ownership of such compositions, but accounts to the composer for 50% of the ‘publisher’s share’. As a result, the composer collects half of the publisher’s share and all of the writer’s share, while the producer is left with only the remaining half of the publisher’s share. License of Rights In some situations, producers will agree to composers retaining ownership of all music publishing rights. In these cases, the composer grants an exclusive or non-exclusive license to the producer to use the music in the production, and in all promotion, publicity and trailers for the production. If the license is exclusive, the composer is prohibited from licensing the use of the music in any other projects, but is entitled to both the writer and publisher share of public performance royalties. If the license is non-exclusive, the producer will still have all rights to use the music in and in connection with the production, but the composer retains the Legal Briefs continued on page 28 7
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VIFF bumps up local content and prizes The upcoming Vancouver International Film Festival is boosting the spotlight on local filmmaking with the addition of two awards and a new screening program. The B.C. Emerging Filmmaker Award is a $7,500 cash prize sponsored by the Union of British Columbia Performers and the ACTRA Fraternal Benefit Society; and
the Best B.C. Film award, offers a $10,000 development bursary from Astral’s Harold Greenberg Fund. An inaugural B.C. Spotlight film program will consist of an adjudicated competition and showcase of local films and an industry party. VIFF takes place Sept. 26 to Oct. 11, 2013.
Christopher Lloyd guest stars in The Haunting Hour: The Series Photo c/o The Hub network
Daytime Emmys for Horror Series
Vancouver-shot R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour picked up three Daytime Emmy Awards, at the 40th annual US TV show awards held in June. The horror/fantasy anthology series won Daytime Emmy’s for outstanding children’s series, outstanding achievement in costume design/styling (Farnaz KhakiSadigh), and outstanding achievement in art direction/ set direction and scenic design (James Hazell, Production Designer, Teresa Weston, Art Director and Jonathan Lancaster, Set Decorator), at the 40th annual US TV show awards held in June. VIWIFF Call for Submissions The ninth annual Vancouver International Women in Film Festival is open for submissions. The festival showcases films of all lengths and genres by emerging and established female filmmakers from around the world over four days beginning March 6, 2014. Films must have women in at least three creative roles and be completed after March 2011. The early bird film submission deadline is August 15 and regular entry deadline is September 15, although films can be submitted as late as October. Reel West July / August 2013
Organized by Women in Film and Television Vancouver, the festival offers cash awards for films, networking events, and workshops. New this year, the festival is offering Screenwriter Mentorship Awards to three Canadian female screenwriters. This prize pairs them up with an experienced, senior screenwriter for professional feedback on their submitted script and career mentoring, as well as a staged reading of their screenplay, and an opportunity to pitch at the VIWIFF festival. Deadline to enter is Nov. 1 For more info go to womeninfilm.ca.
Leo Awards Boost Profile
he Oscars of British Columbia. When describing the Leo Awards to people not in the biz, that is the best way of con-
Paul Armstrong Producer
veying the essence of these B.C.-only film and TV awards. The Leos celebrated its 15th anniversary at the June 7 and 8th Awards show and handed out awards not only to features and TV projects but also short films and music videos. And just as the Academy Awards boost one’s career (except for Oscar winning actors the year after their win!), so too do the Leos. At least that’s what the recent crop of winners and nominees are hoping. Steve Deneault picked up the Best Director prize at the Leos for the short Binner. Nominated in eight Leo categories, Binner stars Hrothgar Mathews, as a street-wise backalley drifter who’s only friend winds up dead so he embarks on solving the murder. “The hope is that [after winning an award] people are encouraged to get in touch and see your film,” says Deneault. “And that the awareness of the feature film we are developing is raised, given the recognition we received at the Leos.” Binner also won for Best Overall Sound & Sound Editing for Miguel Nunes. Corvus, directed by Darcy Van Poelgeest, received seven nominations and won for Best Musical Score. Set in the late 30’s, Corvus is a short film following a detective, Ian Tracey, as he pieces together a young woman’s murder using his unique ability - psychometry - the ability to ‘see’ related images by touching an object. The story is pulled from a TV series concept called Lotus Land that Van Poelgeest is developing. On his Leo nominations, Van Poelgeest says “I’ll be sure to wave those accolades like a rusty axe if it helps me secure the some funding or support. Believe it.” The Leo Award winner for Best Short Film and Best Production Design is Shhh, a fantasy/ horror tale
about a boy who is terrified to go to the bathroom at night because a hair-eating monster waits for him there — essentially a twisted, veiled story about bullying. Freddy Chavez Olmos, originally from Mexico but now working as a Visual Effects Artists in Vancouver, co-wrote, produced and directed the short. “Ideally, we would like to do a coproduction with Canada or the US so we’re hoping that our Leo win opens new doors and opportunities,” he says. “Our short film is our business card.” Even if a filmmaker doesn’t win a Leo, they feel being nominated has benefits. The Weather Girl, a short comedy for the 2012 Crazy8s Film Event, was nominated in 3 categories. The film follows a former weather girl who tricks a couple of door-to-door evangelists into looking after her cranky wheelchair bound father while she takes off. “It increases the film’s opportunity to be screened,” says writer/director Carleen Kyle. “And, hopefully, it will help my next short film get made, an adaptation of a short story by Robin Evans titled Pumpkin.” Winner of the Leo for Best Music Video is Jitters, a rap video set in the prohibition era of the late 1920’s, featuring the music of Madchild with Matt Brevner & Dutch Robinson. It was shot by Nelson Talbot and Graham Talbot and produced, directed and edited by David McDonald. “I’m currently hoping to get representation as a music video director, and hope that winning a Leo for this video will help,” says McDonald. He was also nominated for ‘Hip Hop Video of the Year’ at the 2013 Much Music Video Awards so I’m sure his search will be successful. McDonald’s next music video is for Juno Award nominated DJ/Producer Felix Cartal. Student short films are also celebrated at the Leos. Winning this year is Marathon, written and directed by Jon Anctil while at Capilano University. Filmed in stereoscopic 3D, it follows the crew of the spaceship MaraIndie Scene continued on page 28 9
Family Feature Fund Launches
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financing from Corus Entertainment and a broadcast on one of its networks. “We’re excited to be teaming up with Telefilm Canada on this one-of-a-kind program to kickstart an underserved niche in the Canadian feature film industry and fuel the growing demand for great family films in both the theatrical market and for broadcast,”,” said John MacDonald, Corus VP, head of TV programming and production.
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Indie Feature Takes Flight
Really Real Films and Two 4 The Money Media recently wrapped production on the $1.5 million feature If I Had Wings. Set in B.C. and shot throughout the month of July, the film is a coming of age movie about a blind high school student who dreams of being a distance runner and forms an unlikely friendship with a 16-year-old who lives on a reservation and longs to escape a cycle of poverty and crime. A family affair, Really Real’s Cynde Harmon produced, company partner Allan Harmon directed and their kids Richard (Continuum) and Jessica Harmon are characters in the movie. Other cast include Craig Bierko (Body of Proof), Jaren Brandt Bartlett (Arctic Air), Lorne Cardinal (Corner Gas), and Jill Hennessy (Law and Order). The film was production managed by John Prince and production designed by Alex Royek. Karen Zajac was locations manager and Ernest Jackson was the special effects coordinator. Blind American Idol 2009 finalist Scott MacIntyre wrote the words and music for the film’s theme song. Reel West July / August 2013
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Carol Tarlington Acting Coach Carole Tarlington is the President of Vancouver’s Tarlington Training, a young actor training studio. She has over 30 years experience working with young actors and recently released the book I Wanna Be an Actor! A Handbook for Young Actors and their Parents. Hometown: I grew up in Sydney, Australia. Left to live in London and Greece. I came to Vancouver, Canada in 1969 by accident, intending to stay just a week or two on my way home to Australia and I’m still here! A happy accident. Start Date: I started out as an actor and worked with the Ensemble theatre in Sydney. The theatre, started by 8 actors and a talented, method trained director from U.S. in the 60’s, has now become the most successful theatre in Australia. In Vancouver, I worked as a High School teacher of drama and also got a Masters Degree from the University of Victoria. In the early 80’s I started a unique theatre for young people, The Vancouver Youth Theatre. It’s mandate was for young people to work with adult professionals to create plays from the young people’s ideas. During the creation of the plays, the young actors were taught the craft of acting. It was very successful and I am very proud of the work we did at Vancouver Youth Theatre. In the 1980’s it was a unique concept and I know it helped to shape many young people’s ideas and careers. In the early 80’s, the film industry took off in Vancouver and a board member at the theatre suggested I become an agent. I thought “Well, how hard could that be?” So I said O.K. and Tarlington Talent, an agency for young actors was born. I soon discovered agents worked very hard indeed. But it was all exciting and creative and I loved it. But I eventually sold the agency. I love teaching and directing, so I opened Tarlington Training, an acting studio for young people. Later, I decided to go into casting, teaming up with Dorothy Szymanska and we were lucky enough to be hired to cast the series, Cold Squad, and many other productions. Most Memorable Working Experience: From such a diverse career, there are really too many to pick one. However, working with the team from the TV series Edgemont and Omni Films was a delight. Worst day in the biz: When one of my young actors -- who was cast in a major American movie -- neglected to inform his Drama Teacher that he wouldn’t be able to do the school production. He was already committed to the movie, with contract signed when I found this out and the Drama teacher would not release him. The casting director was beyond furious, and said that MGM would sue me. They didn’t in the end, but it was a horrible time. Current Project: I have just written a handbook for young actors and their parents,
KEEP CALM AND
outlining the many things they should know before they jump into the business. It’s called I Wanna Be An Actor and has chapters devoted to agents and photographs, resumes, auditions, life on the set, training, and all that business stuff that actors often don’t consider. It also outlines for parents the things they should consider as a family before getting into the business. It always amazes me how many people jump into the entertainment business without having a clue of what it is about. Being aware that as an actor you are engaged in a business is absolutely essential for success. What’s next: Retire maybe? Definitely write more. Keep Tarlington Training going as
Proudly supporting film and video production in Western Canada since 1980.
the best place for young actors to learn their craft. n Reel West July / August 2013
Photo by Phil CHin
Reel West Julyâ€‰/ August 2013
To Hollywood and Back Composer Peter Allen had the experience of a lifetime at a Southern California composing program, but its right here in Vancouver that he’s carved out a successful career.
y dad was John Allen, an outstanding clarinet player who played first clarinet in the Kitsilano Boys Band under Arthur Delamont and then in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra under Allard De Ridder when he was just a teenager. So music, classical music, surrounded me when I was a kid growing up. Films and filmmaking didn’t interest me at all, only music. At an early age I began writing my own music and performing it for neighbours or my Dad’s friends. And so when it came time to go to university, music was the only thing on my mind. After a formal education in music at the University of Manitoba and at McGill in Montreal, I spent several years gaining experience as a studio musician. In 1986 I heard that Stephen Spielberg had just created a program at the University of Southern California for composers to study and learn how to write for film. The teachers included Henry Mancini, Gerry Goldsmith and Bruce Broughton. These guys were the real thing. I was extremely impressed. But tuition was really expensive, and I couldn’t afford it so I applied for a Canada Council Grant, which I fortunately got. There were only 14 spots in the program. I was lucky enough to be accepted. So off I went to Hollywood. It was the experience of a lifetime and everything I expected it to be. I met all kinds of famous film and music personalities, many of whom assured me I had a future as a composer. The training at USC was more of a revelation about what happens in the real world than an education in the traditional sense. Of course there was a lot of talk about music, but there was also exposure to a lot of very experienced and talented people who passed on their secrets about music and the film world, how to compose under pressure, and how to balance aesthetics and business, which is probably the hardest thing to do. What became apparent to me is that talent really does matter. Without it, some actors or composers or directors or DOP’s will have some sort of success, but they won’t go the distance. In 1988 I moved to Vancouver for family reasons, and went on to score a hundred films or more … and still counting. Reel West July / August 2013
My first feature was Cyborg 2 with Angelina Jolie and Jack Palance, which I scored here in Vancouver, and the second was Crackerjack, starring Christopher Plummer and Nastassja Kinski. Vancouver was a great place to be in the 90’s, and sure there was a temptation to return at some point to Los Angeles, but there was more than enough work here to kee me busy. It hasn’t slowed down in 20 years. Of course I love it. Although I work mostly with Los Angeles producers, I would like to stress that there are a lot of very talented people here in Vancouver as well as in Los Angeles. Writing music for film is an evolving art, and experience counts for everything. There are only two writers in a motion picture; the scriptwriter and the composer. It is all about storytelling, and composers, just like the scriptwriters, must understand this. Having a lot of musical talent is not enough. A successful composer needs both musical talent and creativity, AND the ability to understand scripts and storytelling. Of course every craft has its downsides. A lot of sacrifice is necessary to get established, and persistence and determination is necessary to succeed. I think this is true of any artist in any field. My first business partner was basically a bully and was determined to sink our ship, so I had to weather through that storm both emotionally and financially. It was a huge price tag, totally drained me in every way, but I knew at the time it would be worth it in the end …. and it was. Once free from that partnership I was able to work successfully, simply because I was unhampered. I have scored over a hundred films in a career spanning over two decades. I have worked with all the LA-based studios and production companies, as well as CBC and the NFB here in Canada. Some of my recent local film projects include Industry Works Pictures’ American Mary, Brightlight Pictures’ Profile for Murder and for Legacy Filmworks, The Clockwork Girl. Like everyone else in this world, occasionally I get overwhelmed. I think that it is just too difficult, there is too much stress, too many demands, not enough money and not enough time. But you persist. And in the end, it’s all worthwhile. n 13
© 2013 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc
Blowing Up the Capitol Building
Method Studios supplies key visual effects sequences for Columbia Pictures’ White House Down White House Down is an American action film about an assault on the White House by a paramilitary group. It stars Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx and is directed by Roland Emmerich, who’s helmed other blockbuster disaster films like Independence Day (1996) and The Day After Tomorrow (2004). The movie was budgeted at around $150 million and had a hefty slate of VFX shots, so the films producers turned to Vancouver-based Method Studios, who are one of the lead VFX vendors on the film. In the following diary, Ollie Rankin, a VFX supervisor at Method, describes what it’s like to have the job of blowing up the capitol building. Diary by
Ollie Rankin SEPTEMBER 2012 Being smaller in scope than most of the films he’s famous for, White House Down has the shortest end-to-end schedule of any recent Roland Emmerich film. So, while principal photography was in full swing, 14
Volker Engel and Marc Weigert, the production-side visual effects supervisors, had an awful lot on their plates. They had built up a small in-house visual effects team, seeded from Uncharted Territory, a facility they co-own, which allowed them to juggle the demands of onset supervision, as well as overseeing concept work and pre-vis. My company, Method Studios, is in negotiations with them to take responsibility for two of the most elaborate visual effects sequences in the movie: the Reel West July / August 2013
blowing up and subsequent collapse of the Capitol dome and three US Army Blackhawk helicopters attacking and being shot down by a group of terrorists on the roof of the White House. Method had recently completed an exciting package of visual effects shots for G. I. Joe: Retaliation, featuring a night-time helicopter gunship raid along with some elaborate pyrotechnics and destruction. So we are ideally positioned to take on this kind of work. We would also be able to build on the in-house R&D that had been done for the pyro and destruction work on films like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Wrath of the Titans. OCTOBER 2012 One of the unexpected challenges the filmmakers face is that there is a very strict nofly zone around the White House. Traditionally, with an action movie based on a real location such as this, most of the wide shots would have been filmed on location with CG additions and alterations made in post. However, since they would be unable to get a helicopter in close enough to shoot the south side of the White House, where much of the action takes place, this approach was ruled out. It became clear to our clients that since the Blackhawk attack sequence would feature the White House and its grounds, along with the helicopters and trees, more prominently than in any other sequence, we should be responsible for building those CG assets, to be shared with the 11 other facilities that would be contributing visual effects to the movie. So a team at our LA facility set about researching and recreating the White House and Blackhawk helicopter in highly-detailed CG form. In Vancouver, where the bulk of the work would be carried out, we began development in earnest on what we recognized as the most challenging effects we would been called upon to do. Highly detailed CG explosions and extensive destruction simulations promise to be very demanding and we wanted to get a head start on figuring them out. NOVEMBER 2012 While a lot of the shots on our docket are going to require substantial CG animation, rendering and effects, there are also a significant number of action shots that had been shot with actors and stunt performers on bluescreen, that Reel West July / August 2013
Jamie Fox stars in White House Down along with CHANNING TATUM (pictured above) and Maggie Gyllenhaal (pictured below) © 2013 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
All photos © 2013 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc
simply need backgrounds inserted behind them. We schedule the work such that while the CG department is developing the assets and technology required to complete the more elaborate shots, our compositing and matte painting artists are tag-teaming these bluescreen shots. We put every single live action shot through a match-move process, to generate a representation of the camera that had been used to film it. In the past this was usually reserved for shots that would have CG added to them, but with the ever-expanding 3D capabilities of our preferred compositing software, Nuke, we are able to place a matte painted environment into shots without needing to involve the CG team. The matte painters first create a fixed depth 360 degree cyclorama including the background trees, buildings and horizon. This could be inserted as a flat background in the most simple shots by the compositing team, while the matte painters work to separate out individual objects, to bring depth and add detail into the portions of the cyclorama that would need it – for instance in shots where the camera movement should reveal parallax. Each time the matte painting assembly increased in sophistication, the next level of complexity of shots was able to undergo compositing. DECEMBER 2012 The trees on the grounds of the White House and the surrounding parks are proving to be a greater challenge than we had initially anticipated, for several reasons. We had evaluated a number of third party tree libraries and tree generating tools. We settled on SpeedTree as its bundled library includes many of the varieties of tree that are represented on the White House grounds and its generation tools allow a little more art direction than some of the other packages. The first complication is one of logistics. Made up of thousands of individual leaves, twigs and branches, each tree is on the order of 10 million polygons in its digital form. Multiply that by hundreds of trees and the memory footprint balloons. The second complication with trees has to do with matching reality. There are some very iconic trees – especially in the South Lawn of the White House – that we need to match quite closely in appearance since the movie was going to feature 16
Reel West July / August 2013
“I always aim to assemble every shot as early as possible, because doing so inevitably reveals unexpected challenges and allows us to judge where extra detail will need to be added.”
- Ollie Rankin, VFX Supervisor, Method Studios
some live action aerial footage. The third complication is that in reality trees are constantly moving and it is a real giveaway to see a completely static CG tree. Branches sway gently in the breeze and leaves flutter, producing flickering highlights. Moreover, because a lot of our shots involve low-flying helicopters, we are going to need to have the trees affected by the rotor wash and in one shot we would even need to crash a helicopter into a tree. JANUARY 2013 It’s not unusual for a visual effects schedule to be dictated
Reel West July / August 2013
by preview screenings and trailer deliveries. As a film comes together, the studio will not only want to screen it to test audiences, but also to start building buzz among cinema goers. We are quite lucky on this project in that the pre-vis which Uncharted Territory had put together for our Blackhawk sequence was sufficiently good to be used in preview screenings. The only sequence we would need to provide “temps” for, is the explosion and collapse of the Capitol building and by this stage our pyro and destruction R&D was quite far advanced.
However I always aim to assemble every shot as early as possible, because doing so inevitably reveals unexpected challenges and allows us to judge where extra detail will need to be added. I set an internal deadline of the end of March to have a rough version of every shot with some representation of everything that needed to be in it, which we could then iteratively refine. This involved animating the helicopters and the people inside them, for every shot, as well as animating the terrorists on the roof of the White House, lighting and rendering
all these and doing at least a first pass simulation of any smoke trail, fire or explosion called for in the shot. FEBRUARY 2013 Out of the blue, we are asked to take on a couple of one-off, trailer-only shots that are entirely outside the scope of our original body of work. These shots involve large crowds of people fleeing from the White House, which is a capability not supported by our inhouse crowd pipeline. We assemble a dedicated team to focus exclusively Diary Feature continued on page 28
Chelah Horsdal stars in Pattersonâ€™s Wager. Photo by Corbin Saleken
Reel West Julyâ€‰/ August 2013
Short Award Pushes Feature Production Corbin Saleken directs his first feature-length film Story by
orbin Saleken’s short film win at the February 2013 Spokane International Film Festival provided the push he needed to finally go ahead and make his first feature, Patterson’s Wager, which shot throughout July in Vancouver and Squamish. His short film, The Vehicle, featuring Garry Chald and Gillian Barber, was named Best Short of the Northwest and Saleken got a nod himself, taking home the Most Promising Filmmaker award. All this at the tender age of 41. “I kind of joke about that” says Saleken. “Fifteen years out of film school and now I’m promising at 41 years old. I have no idea how they arrived on that award. But I think they gave it to me to give me a little push because I’d been talking about doing a feature and at the end, the programmer came up to me and said ‘oh we’d love to see that feature someday.’” Saleken, who works in the film department at Simon Fraser University, had no shortage of projects to pick from for his long-awaited feature, as the University of British Columbia graduate had already written seven full-length scripts. So it came down to choosing the one which would work best. “The first is terrible, the second is ok, the third isn’t that great, the fourth is my dream project that I want to make some day and five and six are geared towards potentially being able to be made for a low budget,” says Saleken. In the end, Saleken decided on his sixth script, Patterson’s Wager, after discussing the project with a friend. “In October or November a friend of mine took me out for dinner and I pitched her the story and when I got to the end she had tears in her eyes and I thought OK, that’s kind of a good sign. Maybe I should try to make this.” Saleken is trying to be mum on the details of the script (he’s wary of spoilers), but it revolves around a man (Fred Ewanuik) who has the uncontrollable ability to see two minutes into the future. For those that have seen The Vehicle, the subject matter of Wager shouldn’t be surprising: The Vehicle revolves around a man who claims he’s been sent back in time to be with a woman. “I’m fascinated with taking one fantastical, speculative element and plunking that into a realistic setting” says Saleken. “I mean you saw The Vehicle. It’s not a movie that cuts away, no, you actually have to have a conversation and deal with it. So that’s the idea with Patterson’s Wager. He’s dealing with this, but in this realistic way where he thinks he’s going crazy. He’s in his living room and it starts raining right in his living room and then it stops and he goes outside and everything happens again a minute later, so he just thinks he’s going crazy. Then nothing happens for a couple of weeks, and then another instance happens. There is an actual reason for it, which is kind of real, but he has no idea why it’s happening.” Reel West July / August 2013
Salenken is funding this project himself, an endeavour that comes with numerous caveats and difficulties, especially when it comes to filming locations. For starters, the script prominently features a casino, which was hard enough for Saleken to lock down (he brokered a deal with Chances Casino in Squamish), but he also had to come to agreements with the numerous companies who had their products in the casino. “I had to get clearance from all six slot machine manufacturers,” he explains. “On a big shoot, there would be a department that goes and gets clearance from all these places, but that’s me, I’m the department. So I went and called Vegas and all these places; called Sony and Heinz Canada. I even had to sign a contract with Heinz, they were actually pretty protective of their brand but they said OK.” The cast features Ewainuk, Chalk and Barber along with Chelah Horsdal, Michelle Creber and Anne Openshaw, all of whom generously agreed to work for next to nothing under the UBCP Ultra Low Budget Agreement. The saving grace for the first-time feature director has been another member of the cast, his long-time friend who he met in film school, actor Alex Zahara, who doubles as both producer and casting director on Wager, as well as acting in the film. “Oh, he’s my secret weapon, my good luck charm,” says Saleken. “He was basically the reason I got the cast I did for The Vehicle. He knows pretty much everyone. With this one, I had some ideas; the cast was all my first choice but Alex really helped me in putting it together.” For his part, Zahara was intrigued by the project as soon as he got the script. “We’re all storytellers,” says Zahara. “But I tell ya, at the end of the day, Fred and Chelah said the same thing: We do so many not-so-great American movies of the week. Well your soul can only put up with that so often. You have to do something enriching and artistically pleasing. And this has a really great message behind it. Anybody can sit down and watch this and you’re not going to be disgusted or shocked or anything. You’re going to be transported into that world, you’re going to be enticed and brought along and hopefully some tears and laughter will be shed. Shock sells and all these nasty movies of the week sell. People don’t want to admit that they’re soft. They want to be cool and muscular and watch all this stuff. This is a really great story. Everybody that read it instantly said yes.” Salaken has high hopes for his first feature. “In a perfect world, it will get into some festivals, Toronto or Sundance, who knows,” he says. “The Vehicle was the first real success I’ve had at festivals. I loved going to them.” Talking to Saleken, there’s a definite feeling that he yearns for more, that he’s got more to offer. That award back in Spokane set the bar. All Corbin Saleken has to do now is jump. n 19
Ken Charko owns the Dunbar Theatre in Vancouver, a singlescreen venue since 1935. Photo by Katja De Bock
Reel West Julyâ€‰/ August 2013
Independent Theatres Building B.C. Film One Screen at a Time Story by
Katja De Bock
n a warm summer evening in June, the Dunbar Theatre on Vancouver’s West Side was filled to the brim with hundreds of people attending a private screening of Gifted, an independent, B.C.-produced youth adventure movie. When theatre owner Ken Charko announced the film, he emphasized the evening was a possibility to “build BC film”, alluding to the ubiquitous “save BC film” awareness campaign by industry workers. “Dunbar theatre was the most accommodating, and he [Charko] was the only one that would let us play a film at 7 p.m. on a week night,” says producer Russ Rossi, who paid Gifted’s $95,000 budget out of his own pocket. “Ken actually bumped Star Trek for the film,” he adds. “He’s very supportive of independent film.” Rossi, a driven man, who had no time to wait for funding, filmed his “hybrid movie” –professional equipment, amateur actors– with three of his children as the main characters and was happy to find a screening venue near his home. With the Build BC Film-idea, Charko aims at slowly changing film industry rules that are over 20 years old. Similar to the requirement for radio to play a certain amount of Canadian music, he would like to see a percentage of screen time reserved for Canadian film. “This will help build B.C. film to the point where we don’t need [tax] credits,” Charko explains. “And people who have the talent have a place to showcase their art.” Charko shows Canadian films whenever he can, but this is not easy, due to agreements with film distributors. Movie theatres have to keep films in the theatres for at least two weeks and cannot pull them, e.g. for a one-time matinee screening of a kids movie or premiere screening of a Canadian independent. This is epecifically difficult for single screen venues such as the Dunbar Theatre, which would like to offer a more varied program. “What it means is that when I get a film in here, I have to hold it for two to three weeks,” said Charko. “We should be able to change the films more rapidly. And the more rapidly we change our films, the more people will come in here and the more money we’ll make.” Charko, who belongs to Cinema Buying Group, a collective representing 7,303 screens (295 Canadian) across North America, is also unsatisfied with the rebate arrangement between studios and theatres that invest in digital equipment. Movie theatres that invest in digital and 3-D equipment get some money back from the studios. However, it requires a lot of paperwork. Additionally, the rebate is very low, while rental fees are increasing. “They’ve now increased my film rental cost to make up for the rebate money that they have to give to us,” explains Charko. But on the positive side, Charko has invested over $300,000 in new seating and 3-D technology, and its paying off. “We are one of the busiest screens within the Lower Mainland,” he says. Though Dunbar claims to have the best popcorn in town, most profits are derived from ticket sales. Charko doesn’t believe those who say the business mostly depends on concession. “That’s an absolute wives-tale,” he says. “The industry has really misled the pub-
Reel West July / August 2013
lic to think that, whereas the actual fact is there is more revenue from ticket sales.” But the Rio Theatre in East Vancouver views concessions differently. The multimedia venue has benefitted from winning the fight to obtain a liquor licence. “It’s much better, it makes an enormous difference for this theatre in particular. Any movie theatre makes money at concession,” said Rio programmer Rachel Fox. The Rio has shown Canadian films several times this year, including Jen and Syliva Soska’s American Mary and the Farpoint Films documentary The Sheepdogs Have At It. “It’s pretty amazing if you think about it, in a month, we’re showing two Canadian films, one of them from B.C.— American Mary,” says Fox. “We’re giving them four days each.” “We also have some great one-night events showing films that just wouldn’t be shown theatrically otherwise,” Fox said, pointing to Comforting Skin, a female-driven horror film made in B.C., which attracted well over one hundred people on a Sunday night. Jay Daule runs the independent Twilight drive-in in Langley, B.C. “The Canadian films that get general release, I do pick them up,” says Daulet, who had 150 cars coming to the 2 a.m. screening of the Canadian horror movie The Colony in June. “I don’t have the problems that many independents have,” says Daulat. “I have a niche market. My market was abandoned by the major chains.” Outside of BC, another independent theatre chugging along is Jeff Larson’s Napier in Drumheller, a town of 9,000 about 1.5 hours east of Calgary. Larson depends on high attendance to cover his recent investment of $53,000 to go digital. While Napier does not screen a lot of Canadian films, the local public library rents the theatre several nights per year to run art house films including Canadian Oscar nominees such as Barney’s Version and Monsieur Lazhar. Other independent theatres aren’t as enthusiastic about Charko’s idea of a quota for Canadian films in Canadian theatres. “It might not be in a theatre’s best interest, like a single-screen neighbourhood theatre, to say you have to show x per cent of Canadian film,” says Fox. “Anytime we take on a Canadian film, it’s a huge risk.” The reality, she says, is that it can be hard to pack theatres for indigenous films. “If you’re a neighbourhood theatre, why should you be put in a position where you are essentially mandated to lose money,” says Fox. Canadian media industry associations are looking at ways to promote indigenous content. At the Banff World Media Festival in June, Telefilm, The Canadian Media Fund and the Canadian Media Production Association, announced the #eyeonCanada promotion campaign. It aims to raise awareness about Canadian audiovisual content with the general public primarily through social media and special events such as set visits. Fox thinks any help getting the word out is a step forward. “The reality is of course, promotion,” says Fox. “If people don’t know that you’re screening a film, because they haven’t heard of it, it’s that much more difficult to get them to come out.” Theatres like the Dunbar are showing that art and commerce can mix and lower budget indie films can pack houses alongside the blockbusters. When Rossi and his guests left the screening of the B.C. film Gifted, the sidewalk was filled with people lining up for the next show, Man of Steel. n 21
Gener8 opened its doors in 2010 and has since become a leader in converting 2D movies into 3D.
Vancouver VFX Industry Raises the Bar; Post Houses Create Alliance
Business is booming for local special effects studios and post companies look to similar success with inclusion in D.A.V.E. tax credit Story by
ocal VFX studios are not only busier than ever; they are working on bigger, more challenging productions. “There is good signs of health across all VFX facilities in Vancouver and I anticipate that continuing,” says Image Engine executive producer Shawn Walsh. “The level of achievement in the last 18 months across all the facilities is significantly higher. The technical expertise, quality of work, and creative execution is hitting a new high water mark.” Method Studios is in the midst of a building expansion so they are able to accommodate the increased workload. “It will be the largest VFX studio in Vancouver,” says Method President Chris Kubsch. “The amount of work in the feature film market is increasing. There are a lot of work opportunities and we are trying to catch it.”
While the local VFX industry is booming, post-production houses in the city haven’t seen the same growth opportunities. Part of the problem is that post is not included in the D.A.V.E. tax credit, which offers a 17.5% labour rebate on digital animation and visual effects. Many in the industry believe that this incentive has given the local VFX industry a leg up in a competitive marketplace. “If you look around the city you notice two things, all the visual effects companies are doing extremely well and the post facilities have been struggling,” says Alex Tkach, owner of North West Digital. He says one of the reasons the VFX industry is done so well is because of the D.A.V.E incentive. But the good news is that sound and picture post facilities joined forces last spring to lobby the provincial government and have a commitment from the Liberals to include post services in the D.A.V.E credit. It’s anticipated that the amendment to the tax credit will take place this fall. “The industry has fought for this for years,” says Finale Editworks president Reel West July / August 2013
Don Thompson. “It will hopefully bring more work to Vancouver and more jobs for post, just as the VFX industry has attracted attention and work.” Tkach is also optimistic. “If we get in D.A.V.E., the post production sector will boom,” he says. “It is a huge incentive to keep post work here.” Ultimately talent and infrastructure is critical to land work, but Sam Trounce, DI Producer at Digital Film Central, points out that tax incentives help start conversations. “Other territories are being so aggressive that we need the support of incentives or we will lose our talent base,” he says. Based on the success of their lobby effort, the audio and video post-production companies are in the midst of formalizing the Vancouver Post Alliance, a collective of post facilities and independent post supervisors. The aim of the organization is to provide a unified voice for the local post sector. “We wanted to build an effective lobby group within the industry and long-term we hope to develop training and certification and other benefits to the post community,” says Thompson. The Vancouver Post Alliance is expected to be formally up and running with a board in place over the next couple months.
Both Image Engine and Digital Film Central had a hand in the making of summer blockbuster Elysium, starring MATT DAMON. Photo by Kimberley French © 2012 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group
VFX industry matures and grows Vancouver’s VFX companies are coming off a busy year and predict further growth over the next 18 months. Method has locations in the U.S., Australia and England, but Kubsch says Vancouver is the largest feature film facility for the company. “We are growing and adding resources, in particular we want to expand the animation VFX side of our business,” he says. Method’s recent projects include White House Down, an action film directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx. Method was the lead vendor on the film and worked on key explosions inside and outside of the US Capitol, the collapse of the Capitol’s iconic dome, the crashes of three Black Hawk helicopters into the White House, and the interior shots of a helicopter’s tail section crashing through several floors of the White House. The studio also worked on the latReel West July / August 2013
Zero Dark Thirty features the work of Vancouver VFX studio Image Engine. Photo c/o Image Engine
Finalé Editworks was involved in the post production of Reasonable Doubt starring DOMINIC COOPER. © Reasonable Doubt Productions (MB) Inc.
Gener8 has over 140 people working in its Vancouver facility
Gener8’s modern Vancouver studio
est Die Hard movie; the IMAX 3D concert film Metallica: Through the Never; and the military sci-fi move Ender’s Game. “The talent pool in Vancouver is really under-appreciated,” says Kubsch. “So we are taking advantage of that
Matt Damon and Jodie Foster and takes place in the year 2154 where two classes of people exist: the very wealthy who live on a pristine manmade space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth.
“It was a big investment creatively and technically on our part,” says Walsh. Image Engine also did 540 shots on the Universal Pictures supernatural film R.I.P.D., starring Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges, including creature work.
“Cost and quality are important. The tax credits gave us an opportunity to have them take us seriously.”
- Rory Armes, Genr8
and want to grow that talent. It’s an exciting time to be in Vancouver.” Image Engine has spent the last two years hard at work on Neill Blomkamp’s (District 9) latest feature, Elysium, which has an estimated budget of $115 million. The Sony Pictures sci-fi film stars 24
Image Engine was the main vendor and also provided visual effects department services on the big budget movie. The studio worked on about 70% of the 1,000 VFX shots, with the remaining outsourced to other companies, including Method Studios, MPC and The Embassy.
The studio also played a key role in Fast & Furious 6, creating complex computer-generated structures and massive dust simulations and digital explosions. They also worked on CG vehicles, digital doubles, face replacements, rig removals, set extensions and green screens on the film.
Walsh points out that it isn’t just technical expertise that’s important to land work from American studios. “It is one thing to have the technical underpinnings to support sophisticated work and a mature talent base, but the larger the project, the more important it is to have management expertise,” he explains. “We are proving that we have strong strategic management in Vancouver and we’re showing the studios that large projects with high expectations can successfully be completed here.” Walsh says that when choosing vendors, studios are looking at a wide number of factors, including talent, tax incentives, and management capabilities. “A lot of factors are making people see Vancouver as a much more mature production location for VFX,” says Walsh. “As a result we are getting more complex and creatively challenging work.” The only downside of a developed industry is rising costs, adds Walsh. “As centers become more mature they become more expensive and we have to be viligent on that,” he says. A newer player on the block is Gener8, which opened its doors in 2010 and has gone on to become a leader in converting 2D movies into 3D. The company has been rapidly expanding and now has over 140 people working in its Vancouver facility. Founder and CEO Rory Armes says the market for 3D films is on the rise, pointing out that that the number of 3D movie screens worldwide has more than tripled since 2009. In 2012, 39 3D films were released as compared to just six in 2007. Gener8 has developed proprietary technology called G83D to convert film into 3D after filming is complete. This allows filmmakers to shoot in a less labor intensive and less costly 2D format and convert to 3D in post – and still get the same quality as films shot in full 3D. Gener8’s technology places a 2D film in a computer generated 3D space, modeling the world of each scene and mapping the 2D image into the 3D world. Armes points out that shooting in 3D is expensive and complicated but their company’s conversion process offers more consistent, higher quality results at a better price. “There is a lot more greenlighting on the conversion process as studios Reel West July / August 2013
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realize companies such as ours can offer great results at a better price,” says Armes. Gener8 has done 3D conversion work on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Iron Man 3, Prometheus and The Amazing Spider Man. “The D.A.V.E tax credit got us to the table faster,” says Armes. “Cost and quality are important. The tax credits gave us an opportunity to have them take us seriously.”
Post houses find their niche On the post-production side of the business, local companies are evolving to survive in a tough business climate, and seeking out areas where they can specialize. Just over a year ago Finale Editworks acquired and integrated Technicolor’s DI theatre and finishing services into their expanded facility, allowing the post house to offer Technicolor DI finishing services including Digital Cinema Packages and film outs. “This acquisition has added a lot of higher end DI projects for us,” says Thompson. Finale has worked on Reasonable Doubt, starring Samuel L. Jackson, and Vancouver shot movies That Burning Feeling and Lawrence & Holloman. The post house is also finishing a large slate of MOWs. “Access to Technicolor’s colour science is key to the deal; as well as being able to share marketing opportunities in LA and Vancouver and leveraging their global brand, so it has been a really successful venture for us,” says Thompson. Thompson credits his company’s success to evolving to keep pace with changes in the industry. “Part of our growth and success is investing and spending time learning and building relationships on set and that is paying off now,” he says. “We couldn’t stay static and do what we were doing five or ten years ago.” North West Digital is also adapting to changes in the industry. “We have been going through a transition from doing series work to more MOWS,” says Tkach. “We also moved into 3D animation last year and finished our first fully animated feature Clockwork Girl.” “Our business model is changing,” adds Tkach. “I am still doing post but Reel West July / August 2013
I am looking at animation and VFX to fuel our growth. VFX is a healthier part of the budget – it is competitive but at the end of the day it’s a part of the industry doing well.” North West did 40 VFX shots on the feature Deception (starring Cuba Gooding Jr.), including a signature scene where a yacht is blown up. The company also worked on the trailer for animated film The Monkey King. Digital Film Central is also upping its game, doing DI work, VFX integration, and IMAX release masters on Elysium. “We developed a pipeline for VFX whereby a lot of the decisions made in DI were brought forward into production,” explains Trounce. “We worked with Image Engine to create a streamlined work flow that allowed them to achieve higher quality of shots. So that is a new angle for our company.” Elysium was an opportunity for the company to raise the bar creatively and technically. “It allowed us to push the envelope in terms of process and development and create some new techniques and tools to apply to other projects,” says Trounce. “We have a lot of experience making images as smart and polished as they can be in a theatrical environment and Elysium is a culmination of those years of experience,” he adds. “ I would say it is one of the biggest movies to be finished in Vancouver, the biggest budgeted movie anyway.” Typically a project the size of Elysium is posted in LA, so this is a major coup for Digital Film Central. “It proves we have the talent to pull it off in Vancouver and that is good for the entire Vancouver industry,” says Trounce, pointing out that Sharpe Sound worked on the sound mix for the film. Digital Film Central also recently worked on the documentary The Good Son, Becoming Redwood and season one of Arctic Air. The post house is also doing a lot of DCP – digital cinema packages, the digital equivalent of mastering film reels. “That is a new technology that has blown up and become mainstream and we are at the forefront of that,” says Trounce. “DCPs are cost effective and offer more quality control than film prints. It makes theatrical screenings accessible no matter the budget. It’s egalitarian technology.” n
Post Modern Sound’s Vancouver Studio
Fight or Flight: Vancouver Sound Studios Evolve to Survive Tough Market Vancouver’s post production sound industry has slowed down over the past couple years but local sound houses have found ways to survive by finding niche markets. “We’ve been really busy sometimes and then not busy at all,” says Steve Bush, audio engineer for Sound Kitchen Studios, which has worked with Warner Bros., the Vancouver Symphony and the Vancouver Canucks, among others. He offers up a hopeful yet realistic take on the company’s business. “Very up and down in the last six months,” says Bush. “And we’d expect that to kind of be the same in the next few months.” Sound Kitchen is keeping busy by finding their market in Canadian projects and doing pre-lay work for animated projects. Meanwhile Pinewood Sound, which has worked on The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Planet of the Apes and The Bourne Identity, is now doing a lot of Canadian and American TV movies, and doing a lot of Automated Digital Replacement (ADR). “Business has been steady and it looks to be the same for the next three to four months,” says Jean Turner, Operations Manager at Pinewood Sound Turner. “But we’re not swamped.” Changes in technology continue to impact the studios. “It’s ever changing and allowing us to do our jobs more cost effectively,” says Turner. “We see changes happening every day. It’s amazing.” But while technology increases efficiencies, resources are decreasing. “The budgets are getting lower while we still have to maintain high quality standards,” says Turner. New technology is also forcing the sound houses themselves to evolve. “There’s always new technology. It makes it more accessible for junior people doing it at home so we have to combat that with our expertise and experience,” says Bush. “There are always new technologies and small little plug ins for the gear we work with that help make our day to day processes go easier but as far as serious technologies go, what we do hasn’t changed in a while.” Bush also notes that some Vancouver sound studios haven’t survived changes in the marketplace. “We’ve seen some other studios go out of business for whatever reason, whether they’re retiring or whether they just don’t have enough work. That’s a bit of a trend we’re seeing but we’re still here doing our thing.” n
– By Nathan Caddell
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Diary Feature continued from page 17
The Definitive Producing Workbook For the producer, the world of independent film and television production is often surrounded by a sea of paperwork. The contracts, documents and requirements of agencies are constantly in flux. Nothing is definitive, every contract has its own set of particulars and every deal is different. "Boilerplate" agreements are open to negotiation. Rules can be flexible. The PW4 will help guide a producer through some of the overwhelming volume of documents involved in the world of independent film and television production. Legal writers review the standard clauses and reveal issues of concern to producers negotiating contracts. Many sample agreements are included for reference. The book provides a comprehensive overview of national and provincial funding bodies and engaging stories and words of wisdom by seasoned producers.
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on those shots, hoping to prevent any loss of momentum towards the final delivery of our main body of work. It turns out that the scale of those shots require almost our entire facility’s render resources for a couple of weeks, so there is a definite impact on our overall schedule, but once the trailer is delivered, we absorb that dedicated team into our main crew and quickly made up the lost time. MARCH 2013 By now we have completed the initial batch of bluescreen shots, so we are awarded an additional batch, taking place earlier in the film and involving the terrorists over-running the security detail on the roof of the White House. Meanwhile, having earlier completed the master CG Blackhawk helicopter, we now embark on designing and building in the accumulated damage the three helicopters sustain through the course of being blown out of the sky and crashing. In tandem to this, we are also working on the equal and opposite reaction – the dynamic effects from the things they were crashing into. A tree, the ground, the White House and a fountain all needed to react believably to having a 10 ton helicopter slam into them. APRIL 2013 With the distraction of trailers largely behind us, we are full steam ahead, cranking out iterations Legal Briefs continued from page 7
right to license the use of the music in other projects, such as other film and television productions, advertisements and video games. Where such a non-exclusive license structure is used, we generally suggest that the producer secure a holdback period in which the composer is prohibited from licensing the music to others, so that the music will be unique to the production during its initial release period. Indie Scene continued from page 9
thon who get stuck on the wrong side of the galaxy. “Hopefully now our Leo win can demonstrate that the universe of Marathon is worth expanding into a feature film and that myself and Malcolm Oliver, my fantastic producer, are just the guys to do it,” says Anctil. 28
and increasingly being rewarded with the visual effects artist’s favourite word: “final”. As the marketing machine started to gain momentum, more and more of our shots are identified by the film’s producers as being trailer-worthy, but at this stage in the game it no longer has an impact on our schedule. MAY 2013 From the very beginning, we’d identified the group of shots that would prove the most challenging: the three helicopter crashes and the Capitol destruction shots. So it is no surprise to anyone that as we approach the final weeks of our schedule, the helicopter crash shots still need the most work. We are pleasantly surprised at how quickly the Capitol shots have come together and since we assembled the crash shots six weeks prior, there are no major surprises left. Each week now we are completing shots that had seemed out of reach only a few weeks earlier and, because our other shots are being approved on schedule, we were freeing up people and render resources to make a big push on those hero shots at the end. JUNE 2013 As we predicted back in October, the helicopter crashing into the tree is the last shot to finish. It has more artists working on it, more render layers, more custom R&D and more hand-offs between different software packages than any other shot we did in the film. And when it is declared final, we popped a bottle of champagne on the spot. n In situations where the producer’s music budget does not match the composer’s fee expectations, it may be possible to bridge the gap by utilizing one of the above-mentioned alternative structures for the ownership of publishing rights. Kyle Fogden is an entertainment lawyer with Chandler Fogden Law Corporation. Kyle advises television and film producers on development, financing, production, distribution and intellectual property matters. n And that kind of confidence is what’s required for getting any film project going. Awards in general, and the Leo Awards in particular, continue to help give filmmakers a much appreciated boost. Paul Armstrong is a film producer who also produces The Celluloid Social Club and the Crazy8s Film Event. n Reel West July / August 2013
Twice voted Western Canadaâ€™s Trade Magazine of the Year, Reel West is the most informative magazine for the film, video and digital production industry. Each bi-monthly issue features articles for and about the people, places and events that shape our industry.
My Awkward Sexual Adventure is nominated for a best feature film at this year’s Directors Guild of Canada Awards Photo by saScha Drews
Western DGC Award Nominees
he 12th annual Directors Guild of Canada Award nominees include several Western filmmakers and projects. Vying for best TV movie direction are David Frazee for Calgary-shot Borealis and Anne Wheeler for The Horses of McBride, which was also
made in Alberta. Sean Garrity’s My Awkward Sexual Adventure is nominated for best feature film and Vancouver-produced sci-fi series Continuum is up for best TV series drama. Alberta-produced Heartland has two nominations in the best family TV series category; and Winnipeg series Less than Kind is vying for best
comedy series. The awards will be presented on Saturday, October 26, 2013.
Kevin Costner teams with Sea to Sky Vancouver-based Sea To Sky Entertainment has inked a first look deal with Kevin Costner’s Treehouse Films.
Costner, along with Treehouse creative executive Jasa McCall, will develop and produce scripted TV programming, which Costner may also direct and/or act in, depending on the project. Sea To Sky Entertainment is a TV production and distribution joint venture between Lionsgate Entertainment and Vancouver-based Thunderbird Films. The company is developing television projects for U.S. and Canadian broadcast and cable networks, with a strong emphasis on co-productions. Costner has acted in movies like The Bodyguard and Dances With Wolves, and most recently the Emmy-winning History Channel series Hatfields & McCoys, which he also produced. “Hatfields & McCoys was an extraordinary achievement, and when we learned that Kevin wanted to expand his activities in television, we were immediately interested in meeting with him,” said Kevin Beggs, president of Lionsgate Television Group, in a statement. “We’re excited about the ideas he wants to pursue and delighted to be in business together.” Thunderbird Films is headed up by President and CEO Tim Gamble and recently produced the sitcom Package Deal. n
Announcements & Appointments
Bill Marks has joined CineCoup Film Accelerator as Head of Production. Marks is a writer, director and producer whose film career spans over two decades. His directing credits include 14 Days in Paradise and Curse of the Iron Mask. He has produced a number of films including A Dark Truth, Compulsion, Casino Jack and Split Decision. “It’s great to be filling out the CineCoup executive team with an industry veteran of this caliber who understands the importance of innovation,” said CineCoup CEO J. Joly. Marks first responsibility will be to produce Wolfcop, the first project to be green-lit through the CineCoup program. “I think Cinecoup is easily the most exciting development for independent feature films in Canada today,” Marks said in a statement. “I am thrilled to be involved with an organization that will reset everyone’s expectations of what is possible for filmmakers and audiences alike.” Women In Film & Television Vancouver (WIFTV) has a new board President: Rachelle Chartrand, with Carleen Kyle elected as Vice President, Krista Magnusson taking on the role of Treasurer and Sarah Kalil becoming Secretary. WIFTV has also appointed seven new directors to their board: Laura Adkin, Katherine Brodsky, Amanda Burke, Jill Hope Johnson, Carla Jones, Monika Mitchell, and Dasha Novak. “ I am honoured to be elected as the president and look forward to continue building something special together,” said Chartrand in a statement. “With two national studies recently released highlighting the continuous gender inequality in the Canadian film and television, the work that Women in Film and Television Vancouver does is as important as ever and we have many exciting things in the works for 2013/2014.” Reel West July / August 2013