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Special issue: Summer on the prairies July / august 2011

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Film, video, internet and digital production in Western CanAda

Sky Kings Producer Ed Hatton documents Crop-dusting pioneer Bud Jardine and other industry leaders in his diary on the making of Dust Up

APTN continues to bring

unique series to Western Canada

Jared Keeso is back as

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Don Cherry


Contents

16 New wave in saskatchewan

4 Production Update

Saskatchewan’s film industry is making a comeback by following a familiar path. As was true when it first be-

5 bits and bytes

came a force in the west, it is being led by producers with unique ideas, a film funder that believes in encouraging its production companies and an assumption that working together will rule the day.

10 Beginnings

18 On native land

12 Behind the Scenes

14 Question and Answer

The best Canadian series may be a story about its original peoples. APTN’s Blackstone is certainly the least politically correct with stories that examine corruption, alcoholism and assault on a fictional Alberta reserve.

21 Story tellers It’s the only truly western Canadian network and Winnipeg-based APTN is acting the part, bringing unique series to every part of the region and actively offering insight into the lives of the native Canadians who live in its towns and cities.

15 Legal BrIEFS 28 Reel West Profile 30 FINAL EDIT

22 Sky kings Veteran reality and documentary producer Ed Hatton found the perfect fit when he visited a crop-dusting family working on the prairies. He just had to get a broadcaster. In his diary on his effort to produce Dust Up he looks back at rejection, acceptance and a freak accident that helped to seal the deal.

26 Grapes Redux

The Jets aren’t the only hockey franchise to return to Manitoba. Following great ratings for the mini-series Keep Your Head Up Kid:The Don Cherry Story, a four hour sequel called simply Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Sequel recently took its cameras to the province’s cities, towns and arenas.

Cover: Crop Dusting Pioneer and patriarch of the now divided Jardine Crop Dusting Dynasty, Bud Jardine; PHoto © Dust up Productions Contents: Piper Pawne on approach over alfalfa fields; photo © Dust up Productions 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. creative Director: Andrew von Rosen. art director: Lindsey Ataya. Photo Editor: Phillip Chin. contributing writer: Cheryl Binning. 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 26, 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.

Reel West July / august 2011

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Production update

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

Director Zack Snyder will be returning to Vancouver for the filming of his new Superman movie, Man of Steel Photo by clay enos

Snyder Bringing Superman to Vancouver No-one is taking the return of Zach Snyder for granted. Rumours had circulated that he would not be coming to Vancouver for his Superman movie Man of Steel (aka August Frost.) However, he will be here for the third time in September and is bringing a phalanx of Oscar nominees, including three time nominee Chris Nolan who will be producing and a cast that includes three time acting nominee Amy Adams, two time winner Kevin Costner and single nominee Michael Shannon. The film has Lloyd Philips as executive producer, Deborah Sny-

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der, Nolan, Chuck Roven and Emma Thomas as producers, Amir Mokri as DOP, Jim Rowe as production manager, Rino Pace as location manager and Adrienne Sol as production coordinator. Another nominee-studded film arrived in July and will be here until September. Elysium (aka Baja Dunes.) has District 19 screenwriting nominee and Vancouver Film School alumnus Neil Blomkamp returning as writer and director. In tow are three time nominee Matt Damon and two time winner Jodie Foster.

The film is being executive produced by Sue Baden-Powell, with Simon Kinberg as producer, Trent Opaloch as DOP, Phil Ivey as production designer, Mary Anne Waterhouse as production manager, Laura Livingstone as production coordinator and Geoff Teoli as location manager. The game show Clue gets a miniseries this summer with Raven Metzner and Karen Moore the executive producers, Christine Haebler the producer, Terry McDonough directing, Joel Ransom the DOP, James Wilcock the pro-

duction designer, Tia Buhl the production manager, Jim McKeown the production coordinator and Jendrek Kowalski the location manager. Also here for part of the summer is the detective movie Deck the Halls, which is based on characters created by novelists Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark. It is being executive produced by Howard Burkons, Frank Von Zerneck and Brenda Friend with Lisa Richardson producing, Ron Underwood the director, Attila Szalay the DOP, Rachel O’Toole the production designer, Holly Redford the production manager, Louisa Main the production coordinator and Robert Murdoch the location manager. The TV series Secret Circle is new to Vancouver with a mid-July start and a projected production schedule that could take it to December. It tells the story of a new breed of witches living in New Salem and has Kevin Williamson, Andrew Miller, Richard Hatem, Les Morgenstein and Gina Girolamo as executive producers, with Liz Friedlander, Don Whitehead and Holly Henderson as supervising producers, Michelle Lovretta as producer and Jae Marchant as line producer. The DOP is Rob McLachlan, while David Wilson is the production designer, Scott Graham is the production manager, Shalia Edl is the production coordinator and Sheri Mayervich is the locations manager. Still shooting this summer are the dramatic series Eureka, Level Up, Supernatural, Psych and Sanctuary, the lifestyle series Urban Suburban, the documentary series Dussault Inc. and foodie hits Eat St. and World’s Weirdest Restaurants. n

Reel West July / August 2011


Bits and Bytes Cineplex Joins Empire Canada’s two exhibition giants are joining forces to get more digital projection systems into Canadian theatres. Cineplex Entertainment and chief rival, Empire Theatres Limited, have formed Canadian Digital Cinema Partnership (CDCP), a joint venture that will see approximately 1600 of the partners’ theatres deploy digital screens. According to Pat Marshall, a spokesperson for CDCP, digital projection provides consumers with “an enhanced movie-going experience far superior to 35mm film projection.  In addition to brighter and sharper images on screen, digital projection provides increased programming flexibility, high quality and consistent imagery on screen and the ability to add 3D technology.” Marshall said the two competitors appointed Blackstone Advisory Partners L.P. as their financial and structuring advisor for CDCP.  “Blackstone assisted CDCP with the evaluation and development of their financing plan and The Bank of Nova Scotia acted as Lead Arranger for CDCP’s financing,” said Marshall. “These financing transactions

Festivals Appreciate Complexity

Two American festivals have given awards to a film by a Vancouver-based filmmaker. Adam Bogoch and his Redhaired Productions Ltd. recently won two awards at San Francisco’s “The Best Actors (in a) Film Festival”, and one at Los Angleles’ “The Indie Fest”. The film won the Best Ensemble Cast and Best Director in San Francisco and an Award of Merit for a Feature Film in Los Angeles. The film has also been accepted to screen at the “Feel Good Film Festival” in Los Angeles in mid-August. According to a spokesperson Complexity is a coming-ofage comedy about a young woman, Clara (Emilie Ullerup) who aims to please all, whether it be at work or with her overbearing and controlling family. When Clara meets a man named Scott (Patrick Spencer), he turns Clara’s world upside down, causing her to begin questioning her decisions. The film was produced by Mattie Shisko of Vancouver Film School. The DOP was Paul Mitchnick while Brianne Nord-Stewart was the editor and Ron Phillips was the composer.

Reel West July / august 2011

equity contributions from the member circuits.” A third company, Digital Cinema Implementation Partners, formed by three leading American exhibitors, will provide administrative services and system support to CDCP in connection with the upcoming digital deployment in Canada.

SPACE Goes HD The Canadian specialty channel SPACE announced recently it will be the latest Canadian network to be available on HD when it starts programming in the format in July. The channel, which hosts several American and Canadian horror films and series will make the leap on July 6th and will premiere its first new show in the HD era, Torchwood: Miracle Day, on July 9. “SPACE fans can celebrate the long-anticipated launch of SPACE HD, one of many new Bell Media HD specialty services currently or soon-to-be on offer,” said Rick Brace, president, Specialty Channels and CTV Production, Bell Media. “We’re thrilled to start the roll-out of HD programming with the highly anticipated launch of Torchwood: Miracle Day and some of the

Torchwood: Miracle Day will launch on SPACE HD this summer

other series and movies from the channel’s engaging summer line-up.” Bell Media launched MuchHD in June and says it will follow with Discover Channel HD later this year.

AdCreator Unveiled A self-service media ad creation platform which enables advertisers to rapidly create ads that leverage smart-phones, tablets and the mobile web was recently unveiled by Toronto-based Sympatico.ca and RBC with Celtra Inc. “The expertise we have gained developing and executing these ad campaigns so-

Olsen Takes Odyssey Michael Olsen is the new president and COO of Vancouver-based Odyssey Media Inc., which opened its doors earlier this year. The company announced at that time that it was created to provide Canadian and international clients with financing and investment options coupled with production and postproduction services.  “The name Odyssey represents a profound journey of discovery,” said Olsen, the producer of the recent Daydream Nation and Blood: A Butcher’s Tale. “To me Odyssey Media is an opportunity to create a true

included commitments of $80 million in committed bank financing and $35 million in

21st century production company designed specifically to take advantage of new, emerging financing and funding opportunities I’ve identified across a wide spectrum of the converging entertainment industry.   The future potential of the business of entertainment is brighter than it’s been in years and I firmly believe I am the person to lead Odyssey to success.” A spokesperson with Odyssey Media said the company recently secured a slate of international copros that will be going to camera this summer. 

lidifies our position as a publisher committed to driving the growth of mobile advertising,” said Jonathan Dunn, Sympatico ca.’s associate director of mobile sales. “Progressive marketers like our launch partner RBC helped us to demonstrate the calibre of creativity and customer engagement mobile rich media can offer brands.” Dunn said the “completion of the first interactive mobile rich media ad campaign in Canada using Celtra’s advanced ad units was in support of RBC. It promoted RBC’s mobile application and used Canadian-exclusive ad units available to Sympatico’s mobile advertising customers.” He said the ad offered an interactive experience contained within a third party site or application. Once the ad was clicked, it expanded to a full screen canvas profiling the app’s features, including bill payment, account balance updates and money transfer functionality, along with a call to action to download the app to compatible devices.” Dunn said the campaign delivered positive returns for RBC, out-performing expectations. He said the program focused on existing customers and supported the bank’s commitment to piloting innovative programming and generating insights into new media advertising.

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BC’s William Deverell is one of three Canadian novelists whose books have been optioned for a series, according to a spokesperson for Canadian mega media corporation Bell Media. Novels by Giles Blunt and Robert Rotenberg were also optioned by Bell, which owns the CTV network. “Our acquisition of these options is a great opportunity for Bell Media,” said Bell vice president Corrie Coe. “A diverse mix of stories, these projects exemplify our commitment to developing great Canadian programming. And we are equally delighted to be working with terrific Canadian

screenwriters to adapt these novels and bring them to the screen.” According to Coe, the Deverell project is the first in development and is based on three novels (Kill All The Judges, April Fool and Mind Games) all featuring lawyer Arthur Beauchamp, who defends his clients in taut urban courtroom dramas while trying to balance his personal and home life in a Gulf Island community full of eccentric and complex characters. Coe said the Deverell novels will be adapted to television by Calgary-based screenwriter Andrew Wreggitt, the creator of the series Tom Stone.

Melanie Leishman, Alexander House, William Turnbulli and Maggie Castle in Todd and the Book of Pure Evil

Evil Twin

Photo by Allen Fraser

Canada’s Space network has greenlit a second season of Winnipeg’s Todd & The Book of Pure Evil. The series is produced by Aircraft Pictures, Corvid Pictures, and Frantic Films in association with the network, which is airing two back-to-back episodes every Sunday night at 9:00 and 9:30 p.m. The show will also be seen on the US network FEARnet in August. The series tells the story of a book of that makes teenagers’ deepest, darkest desires’ realized at horrifying cost. According to spokesperson RoseAnna Schick, the horror/comedy series is “a tip of the hat” to 80s teen and horror flicks that has been described as “The Breakfast Club meets Evil Dead.” It stars Alex House, Maggie Castle, Bill Turnbull, Melanie Leishman, Chris Leavins and Clerks star Jason Mewes. Todd & The Book of Pure Evil was created for television by Anthony Leo, Charles Picco and Craig David Wallace. Executive producers are Wallace of Corvid Pictures, Jamie Brown of Frantic Films, and Leo and Andrew Rosen of Aircraft Pictures. Leo and Rosen also produce with Shawn Watson and Shaun Johnson of Frantic Films, and Sarah Timmins of Corvid Pictures. 6

Reel West jULy / August 2011


Merger Announced

A merger between Vancouver and Toronto companies could make it easier for interprovincial co-productions. According to the principals of Toronto-based Multiple Media Entertainment (MME) and new Vancouver-based theatrical production, acquisition and distribution company Pacific Northwest Pictures (PNP) the companies have launched a new film acquisition and distribution company, Cross Country Entertainment (CCE).  The spokespersons said CCE will have offices in Vancouver and Toronto. They said MME CEO Michael Taylor and PNP president Zanne Devine will be co-presidents of the company while MME sales and acquisitions vice president Jennifer Graham will take the same position at CCE with Emily Alden, PNP vice president of development and production taking an identical title at CCE. The new company’s Board will be comprised of Devine, Taylor, MME chair Drew Craig and Kirk D’Amico, CEO of Santa Monica-based Myriad Pictures, which will have the first opportunity to review CCE products for international distribution rights acquisition. “We are thrilled to be in business with Michael, Drew and Jennifer,� said Devine. “This is an ideal pooling of our resources for production and distribution purposes. With our feature film background and Michael and Drew’s extensive television experience, we will have all of the major platforms covered.� Devine said Cross Country Entertainment is currently building a slate of films that could be released through Cross Country Releasing on various platforms as early as this summer. 

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Lynch Shoots Rabbit on Prairies Jennifer Lynch, the director of the 2007 Saskatchewan-shot film Surveillance, is returning to the province to shoot the movie Rabbit. The movie, which started principal photography on July 3, is a psychological thriller about a cab-driving serial killer and a reluctant protĂŠgĂŠ, who has to make a decision on whether to follow his mentor or break free. It stars Vincent D’Donofrio and Julia Ormond. “We are absolutely thrilled Jennifer has decided to bring a second production to our province,â€? said SaskFilm CEO Susanne Bell. “It really is a Reel West July / august 2011

testament to Saskatchewan’s competitive incentives, stellar infrastructure and film friendly environment.� Said Lynch: “There are many reasons why I am happy to be back in Saskatchewan. The tax credit, the soundstage and the location are amazing but above all else it’s the people who are the real draw. Saskatchewan’s crews are so hardworking and talented and it’s a real pleasure to work with them again. Spokesperson Shelley Fayant said Surveillance was the first production shot in the province to screen at the Cannes film festival.

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West wins IPF Money Three western Canadian web productions have won funding from the Independent Production Fund (IPF.) Of the remaining six English drama series chosen for funding, five were from Ontario and one from Nova Scotia. A spokesperson said the IPF will allocate $1.4 million to 15 French and English productions. They were chosen from 160 applications that were evaluated by a jury consisting of web columnist Mio Adilman, Télé-Astral vice-president Sophie Dufore, Henry J. Gagnon of HGagnon Distribution, Veronica Holmes, the president of ZenithOptimedia Digital (ZED); KoldCast programming vice-president Marti Resteghini and Stéphanie Röckmann-Portier, managing director of Distribution360. The only BC recipient was Leap-

ing Lizard Productions’ Runaway, which will be produced, written and directed by Liz Scully and produced by Leonard Terhoch with the interactive services provided by Zeros2Heroes. Frantic Films in Winnipeg received funding for Space Janitors which will be produced by Shaun Johnson, Shawn Watson, Jamie Brown and Tammy Marlowe Johnson and written by Marlowe Johnson and Mike McIntyre. The interactive service company is Tactica Communications Inc. The third western production to receive funding was Your Lupine Life which will be produced by Saskatchewan’s Anand Ramayya, Torin Stefanson and Teri Armitage. Armitage and Stefanson are the writers and Stefanson will direct. The production companies are Karma Films and T3 Digital Productions.

Security for InSecurity

Proudly supporting film and video production in Western Canada since 1980. To order your copy of the 2011 Reel West Digest call 1-888-291-7335 or visit www.reelwest.com.

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The Saskatchewan-based series InSecurity has been greenlit for a second season by CBC. It started principal photography on July 4 and will be wrapping at the end of August. Set in Ottawa but shot in Regina, the show tells the story of the fictional National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA). The show’s first season premiered to over 800,000 viewers on January 4 of this year making it one of the mostwatched premieres of any scripted Canadian comedy series on CBC last season. “I’m really looking forward to season two,” says the show’s female lead, Natalie Lisinska. “My character juggles being this amazing spy and trying to get a life.  It’s hilarious and feels more grounded and universal.  I can’t wait to get started.” The show also stars William deVry, Matthew MacFadzean, Grace Lynn Kung and Richard Yearwood. InSecurity is created and executive produced by Kevin White, Robert de Lint and Virginia Thompson. It is written by show-runner Kevin White, Mike McPhaden, Tim Polley, Kate Hewlett, Jenn Engels, Denis McGrath, Matt Kippen and Matt Doyle. The directorial team is headed by Robert de Lint and includes guest directors Ron Murphy and Jeff Beesley. Reel West July / August 2011


was there!

2011 Banff World Media Festival It has increased focus on the digital evolution, but the Banff World Media Festival still has room for television. The 2011 keynote speech came from the people who scheduled The Simpsons and Modern Family while showrunning seminars were given by the creators of Parks and Recreation and The Killing. Honorary awards handed to the likes of James Burrows and Ed Asner prove conclusively there will always be some love for great TV. Photos Clockwise from Top: Lisa Kudrow, James Burrows, Felicia Day, Al Shapiro, Ed Asner, Yannick Bisson, Linda Ellerbee, Veena Sud. Photos by Phil Chin

Reel West July / august 2011

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Photo by Phil Chin

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Reel West July / August 2011


Beginnings

Mary Ann Waterhouse “...it was one of those learning experiences that you can’t ever get any other way, and it was the initiation by fire that I needed.”

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t’s funny how easily I can now look back and pinpoint exactly the moment of my earliest “producer” tendencies. It’s especially curious because at that time and for many years after, producing was the furthest thing from my mind. From my earliest memories, I wanted to be an actress. My venue was, of course, school plays and Christmas concerts, but those were few and far between. At a certain point I realized I had to start creating acting opportunities for myself. That led me, unwittingly, to my first producing foray. I can trace the roots of that back to Collingwood Library in East Vancouver, circa 1975, where I discovered an entire wall of one act plays. It was like the world opened up for me. I can’t remember the name of a single play now, but at the time I devoured them. I would get my friends together and cast them all, and we would make those typical kid plans to “put on a show.” But it was hard getting solid commitments from the neighbourhood kids who didn’t seem to share my work ethic or my innate desire to perform. That was until I came up with the idea to monetize the whole thing. We would charge five cents per chair. I knew we had a built-in audience from all our parents, so box office would be easy. The only real trick was figuring out how many chairs I could fit in our basement and still have enough room for a stage. I didn’t realize then that I was on the road to becoming a producer. I just thought I was giving my acting career a chance. In hindsight, my excitement at creating a low overhead model with a built-in paying audience should have given me a clue. My dream of becoming an actress gained momentum through my high school years with community theatre and roles in high school plays, all culminating in my enrolling in the acting program at my community college. I thought I was definitely on the right track when I landed the lead in the college’s rendition of A Winter’s Tale at my first audition. But, while my years at college did teach me a lot about theatre, they didn’t prepare me at all for the level of competition that I would find when I entered my third year at UBC. All of a sudden, instead of being the one “bright star ingénue”, there were twenty of us auditioning for the same part. I suddenly found myself a small fish in a much bigger pond. Remarkably though, there was almost no-one vying for the role of stage manager or front of house manager - hard to imagine! I had a happy flashback to my parents’ basement where I gladly took on those roles and almost without noticing started to set acting aside. But, even though I loved the whole process of putting a show together, in the big picture, a career of theatre stage management wasn’t my dream either. It was in Joan Rynerston’s “Introduction to Film” class during third year, that I found what I was looking for. I can still remember the exact moment when Joan wrote up on the board a list of all the key positions in a film production. When she wrote out her job description for the producer I thought - that’s it! That’s me. The trick then became how to go about actually becoming a producer. At that time in Canada, we had a film financing incentive called the 100% Capital Cost Allowance, which basically meant that most of the Canadian producers that I came across were either lawyers or accountants by trade. So I thought the best plan of action to become a producer would be to become either a lawyer or an accountant first. I adjusted my arts degree to include some commerce courses and started working on getting the credits that I needed to become a Chartered Accountant, albeit a CA with an Arts Degree. I even spent one summer interning with an accounting firm. That’s how serious I was about this new plan of ac-

Reel West July / august 2011

tion. In the end, my accounting skills took me a very long way in the business, but not in the fashion that I originally intended. In retrospect, I’m not certain that the Chartered Accountant route to becoming a producer is the most obvious one. But, having a skillset that people need is certainly a good way to get your first movie. Before I had finished my BA, one of my profs, Ray Hall, offered me a parttime job doing bookkeeping. This was 1987 – in the days of film only – when editing was done on Steenbecks and Movieolas. The job was doing the books for Petra, which was essentially a film editing facility co-owned by five filmmakers, all of whom came in and out as they edited their various projects. One of those filmmakers, Charles Wilkinson, offered me my first real job on a movie. I was hired to run the office for a low budget feature called Quarantine. I didn’t know at the time that “running the office” meant being the production coordinator and production accountant, not to mention transport coordinator. But it was one of those learning experiences that you can’t ever get any other way, and it was the initiation by fire that I needed. That movie introduced me to cost reports and bond companies, and to several people who would be instrumental in the next few projects that I did. Over time, I learned that the “production office” and “accounting” were considered two separate functions, and although I loved both I had to make a choice and I chose accounting. That became my trade for several years. I worked at Cannell Studios back in those early years with Rob Jackes and Peter Leitch, and then got my big break, thanks to George Horie, to do a TV movie for Pacific Motion Pictures. That one movie turned into about 15 movies over a few years, in Vancouver’s TV movie heyday, working with George, Tom Rowe and Matthew O’Connor. All of that taught me an incredible amount about budgeting, financing and what it took to get a movie made but, after a few years, I realized that instead of pursuing my goal of producing, I had become a production accountant. That’s really the one drawback of “having a skill that people need.” Often they like you to keep providing that skill, even when you feel inclined to do something else. I decided that the only way to move my producing dream forward was to move from production accounting to production management. It seemed a very logical step to me. As an accountant, I worked very closely with the PM and helped manage the budget, and I certainly knew the money side of the equation. In my classic way though, it was also the road less travelled, and it turned out not everyone thought accounting was a logical route to a PM role. One of the biggest obstacles was simply the fact that I wasn’t a member of the DGC. Accounting is covered by IA. So after trying unsuccessfully to obtain a DGC permit to work as a PM, I decided that the only way to solve the problem was just to do my production assistant days (at the time that meant 90 days) and become a DGC member and just be done with it. It was an unusual step for someone established in the industry - to go back to watching crew-park - but it was what I needed to do. I convinced Pascal Verschooris, respectively the location manager and assistant location manager on the show I was working on as accountant, that I was hardworking enough that they could trust me to actually work as a PA, and on their very next MOW, they offered me a PA gig! Of course, at the time I only took that step in order to get my DGC days, but, in retrospect, what I learned from those PA days was invaluable. In spite of what I knew about costs and budgets, Beginnings continued on page 13

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Photo by Phil Chin

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Reel West July / August 2011


Behind the scenes

Screen Siren Pictures One of many film production companies that started up in Vancouver in the1990s, Screen Siren has emerged as one of the most prolific and varied.

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ourteen years after Trish Dolman founded Screen Siren Pictures, the company has emerged as one of the city’s most prolific and varied production companies, having produced an almost even number of documentaries and dramatic features. Dolman says she is proud that the company has managed to create socially relevant productions with a focus on international coproductions and partnerships. “At Screen Siren we bring creative energy, and established local and international industry relationships to all our projects.” The company was formed in 1997 and first produced a dramatic short called White Cloud, Blue Mountain directed by Keith Behrman. This led to a collaboration with Behrman on the company’s first acclaimed feature, the BC shot Flower & Garnet, which won over a dozen nominations and awards including the Genie Award for best new director. In March 2003, Odeon Films theatrically released the film in Canada, enjoying an eleven-week run in Vancouver. “Flower & Garnet set the tone for the company,” Dolman recalls. “That of a commitment to excellence, quality and showcasing new talent.” Screen Siren kept thriving as the decade continued, producing numerous documentaries. In 2005, the company completed the feature length film, The Score, a musical adaptation of the award-winning play by Vancouver’s Electric Company Theatre, for CBC’s Opening Night. It was nominated for two Gemini Awards. It followed up the next year with the television movie Luna: Spirit of the Whale, inspired by the true story of a lone young orca that appeared in a small community on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. The film starred Adam Beach, Graham Greene, Jason Priestley and Tantoo Cardinal and premiered on CTV in May of 2007. Dolman says Luna “was a combination of both documentary and drama experience, given that it was based on a true story.” In 2009 Screen Siren completed Year of the Carnivore, which had its world premiere at that year’s Toronto International Film Festival opening Features First! A romantic comedy written and directed by actor/musician/host SookYin Lee (Shortbus), it starred Cristin Milioti, Mark Rendall, Kevin McDonald,

Sheila McCarthy and Will Sasso. It was a year in which features and documentaries were balanced with the company also completing the documentary The First Movie, a Canada/UK co-production for Channel 4 and Knowledge Network with writer/director Mark Cousins. The film won the prestigious Prix Italia Award in 2010 after premiering at the ICM in London, and the Telluride Film Festival. It was also the year that Vancouver feature film veteran Christine Haebler, the producer of Hard Core Logo, Kitchen Party and Nightwatching. joined Screen Siren as a producing partner on feature films. “Christine is the ideal partner, she has years of production experience, excellent taste and is well known and respected in the industry, “says Dolman . “We have a superb way of communicating, similar tastes and approach to filmmaking,”adds Haebler. “We also have great respect for one another and the same goals for the company, so it really works.” The first movie to be completed in their collaboration was Daydream Nation, a co-production with Away from Her producers The Film Farm. It marked the feature debut of writer/director Mike Goldbach. The film, which starred Kat Dennings, Reece Thompson, Josh Lucas and Andie MacDowell, also opened TIFF’s Features First! and won distribution and acclaim in both the US and Canada. Currently, Haebler and Dolman are in post production on Foreverland, starring Max Thieriot, Laurence Leboeuf, Demian Bechir, Thomas Dekker and Juliette Lewis. Haebler is also producing a 5-part mini series for Hasbro based on the board game Clue. Dolman recently finished her feature documentary Eco Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson, about the radical environmental activist Paul Watson. The movie premiered at Hot Docs and won Best Documentary at Projecting Change and will be released theatrically in Toronto and Vancouver on July 22nd and across the country later this summer. “The company is in a really good place right now,” says Haebler. “It’s a culmination of many years of hard work and it feels like we’ve got nothing but opportunity ahead of us.” n

Beginnings continued from page 11

number of individuals and suppliers in the Vancouver industry, I produced my first feature film, Desolation Sound. It was another huge learning opportunity, and most importantly it was the first project that I had developed, financed and put into production – the big version of those one act plays so many years earlier. Around that same time, I met Andrew Currie. He and his partners Blake Corbet and Trent Carlson were developing Andrew’s zombie comedy script. My production background was a great fit with the creative Anagram team (not to mention Andrew and I were dating), so we joined forces and together we made Fido. Getting Fido made with the level of talent that we did; and eventually having our film play TIFF and Sundance, then theatrically releasing and selling all over the world really was the culmination of a dream. Not my original dream of course, but one much more satisfying to the person that I grew up to be. The epilogue, as you may know, is that Andrew and I subsequently married and now have a family of three boys and a film production company together. Since Fido, I have produced or exec produced four feature films; and with Andrew, we have many more projects in development. I still PM, but on larger features now (because one can never stop learning) and juggle all of that with raising a family. It’s really busy, but I guess that’s how I’ve always liked it.

my days as a PA on set gave me an incredible exposure and insight into the real elements that those lines in the budget looked like and a chance to get to know the on set crew as a peer rather than a manager. All of this caught the attention of a local producer, Colleen Nystedt, and led to Colleen giving me my first unit management and PM jobs and pushing for my DGC membership. What followed was several intense years of PM work, throughout which my education continued. Finally, after experiencing incredible learning opportunities as a PM and co-producer including managing production and then later doing post on the movie Beautiful Joe in the UK and, shooting 100 Days in the Jungle in the jungles of Costa Rica, I realized that it was once again time to shake things up a bit if I was ever going to be a true capital P “Producer”. I took a year off of any paying work to start developing my own independent projects. But, sometimes things don’t work out the way you planned. After a lot of development and one very disappointing false start, I went back to work as a PM for one more year on Kingdom Hospital. Somehow though, that process of having started up a show and been forced to shut it down, gave me the impetus that I needed to dig deep and get that movie off the ground. Immediately on the heels of Kingdom, and with the support of an incredible Reel West July / august 2011

13


question and Answer

Director Julian Schnabel (right, standing) on the set of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Julian Schnabel

Photo: Etienne George/Courtesy of Miramax Films

M

ost painters are satisfied with being artists in one medium and stick to it. Julian Schnabel had already become one of America’s best known painters with his works hanging in museums around the world when he pursued a new medium. In 1996, he decided to write and direct the story of his deceased friend and fellow New York-based painter Jean-Michel Basquiat. Basquiat won acclaim and international distribution. He followed that up four years later with Before Night Falls, the autobiography of Cuban novelist Reinaldo Arenas. The movie was the breakthrough film for Javier Bardem, who won an 14

Artist

Oscar nomination for his work. His most successful work was yet to come. In 2007 he directed The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, the story of stricken writer Jean Dominique Bauby, for which he won the Cannes Film Fesitval prize for directing, a Golden Globe and an Independent Spirit Award as well as an Oscar nomination. His fourth story about the life of artists is Miral, which is currently available on DVD. The movie stars Slumdog Millionaire’s Freida Pinto as journalist Rula Jebreal, who began to lean towards an involvement with the Palestinian revolution while living in an orphanage following the suicide of her mother. Schnabel, a Jew, has been accused of taking the

Palestinian side of the historic controversy. In this interview with Reel West editor Ian Caddell, he defends his decision to tell the story and talks about how he has combined his approach to the visual arts to hone his directing vision. Why this particular story? “Do you have the production notes? I wrote to Roula and I thought ‘I want this to be in there.’ I will read it to you. ‘I read the book and I would like to share some thoughts I had with you.’ I did that because she had given me her book and asked me if I would read it because there was a script from it. I said I probably won’t like it because I don’t usually like

anything I read and I write everything myself. But I will look at it. She was so beautiful and I didn’t want to tell her ‘I will make a movie with you because you’re pretty.’ But I read the book and I didn’t like it. We thought there was a movie in there and that is when it all started. I told her ‘I was very touched by all the issues related to children because I think the main thing we have to deal with in the future is not what kind of world are we going to give our children but what kind of children are we going to give this world. We can leave them the best world ever – green, peaceful, safe - but if they aren’t aware what respect is they will make it worse again. That is why the part of your story that deals with education is so relevant. Education gives a child self confidence, self-esteem and the ability to choose and that is his first step to freedom. That is the core message of your story for me, the political background is necessary because we can’t talk about this region without making a political statement. People are waiting for statements about these issues because they need explanations. But you don’t need them all the time. Sometimes you can just let them see things for themselves which the book succeeds at doing. There is only one thing we all share. We can all relate to children and you bring us all back to the time when the choice doesn’t rely on the child but on destiny. A child is always about a promise that can fulfilled or compromised and that is what the film will be about.’” So in your mind the film is all about children? “Yes, I just thought ‘they don’t have a chance.’ Forget about Palestine. Stick a kid in Africa or Afghanistan or Pakistan or whatever. We are so lucky to have a chance and this girl is so lucky to have the nuns at the orphanage. There is a line in this movie where the Mother Superior says to her ‘the difference between you and the kids in the refugee camp is school.’ I have seen the camps and the choices these people have and it is a rock and a hard place. It is getting more dangerous for these kids. I was in a refugee camp and a kid took it upon himself to kick another child in the stomach and knocked him in the air and he just lay on the ground. No one did anything about it. It was like workReel West July / August 2011


ing in a high security prison and I just thought ‘someone doesn’t understand this. They are like unguided missiles.’ It was interesting and revealing.” What has been the reaction from the Jewish community? “I showed it to Moshe Dayan’s granddaughter. Many Israeli people have seen this. We had a test screening in New York with 100 people and that has never happened with me before. There were 20 people in a focus group. All of the people said they were interested in seeing the Palestinian point of view. It’s a healthy thing. If you don’t do that, then what are you going to get? If no one is talking about it and no one is coming to the table and we let everything go the way it is, that is a form of complicity.” What do you thing you brought to the story as an artist and filmmaker? “A few things, I think. The fact is that I am not a politician and I am not trying to show the history of the world from the time of Adam’s Rib. I am trying to illustrate the history of a Palestinian girl. It is her history. If you were trying to tell the story of Anne Frank you are telling the story of a Jewish girl hiding in an attic in Amsterdam. You don’t have to tell the story of the German girl who is hiding out somewhere at the same time. I am just giving the variables that are true to Miral in the same sense. If I make a movie

cause you wouldn’t have girls kissing, not from a Muslim director. So you go into this society and start doing these unusual things and people say ‘that wouldn’t happen. You wouldn’t have a boy and girl holding hands walking through east Jerusalem.’ Things that would be normal for us wouldn’t happen. So I had Roula on the set and asked her questions about authenticity and made my movie.” Did it change the way you define yourself? “When I read the material I thought I could not do anything about it and said ‘it doesn’t have anything to do with me. I don’t have that problem. I can go surf. I can paint. There are other things I can make a movie about.’ But firstly I don’t make a lot of movies and the book woke up something in me. That said, my mom spent her life planting trees in Israel and building a hospital and shuttling people from the camps to different locations in the US. My older sister told me that there were people in the house wearing her clothes and she spent her life helping Jewish people. So to make a movie about Palestinian people and talking about these children reminded me of my mother and my experience. Wherever I went things were very familiar to me. I think the most subversive part of the movie is you care about the (Pales-

“If no one is talking about it and no one is coming to the table and we let everything go the way it is, that is a form of complicity...” about Jean-Dominique Bauby, there is a convention I can use. He is a man who can’t lift up his head so that mans that we can cut the top of the frame off because we don’t have to see the doctor and his wife because we know he can’t see them. So as an artist and as a filmmaker it gives the filmmaker the freedom to look at a frame in an unusual way. In doing this, in telling this Palestinian girl’s story, I can behave like I am a Palestinian girl. Sure, I am telling the story. I am from New York. I made these other movies, but it looks like an Arab person made it not someone from where I am from. But an Arab person or a Muslim wouldn’t make a movie like that beReel West July / august 2011

tinian) characters.” Why is it so important for you to go to original locations for your movies? “I could have made Diving Bell in the sound studio in Los Angeles but when I went to France to his (Bauby’s) beach I saw the tide go out 500 metres sometimes. I thought ‘he is a castaway on the shores of loneliness.’ It was important to get it right. When I was starting this script a script supervisor asked me about a certain thing. I asked her to ask Roula and she said ‘no we will just make it up.’ I fired her because I don’t want to make things up. I am already going to have to invent something once I have my skeleton of the place.” n

Legal Briefs

Recent Warner Bros. Ruling Could Impact on Public Domain Lori Massini Entertainment Lawyer

Copyrighted works enter the public domain on the date that is 50 years from the death of the author in Canada, and 70 years from the death of the author in the USA. Once something has become public domain, it is no longer protected by any intellectual property rights and can be used freely by everyone. A recent ruling, however, by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in the USA, may change the way that filmmakers and lawyers in the entertainment industry view public domain works. L. Frank Baum wrote the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900. He passed away in 1919. Since it has been more than 70 years from his death, it is safe to assume that the book, including the characters contained therein, has entered the public domain. In 1939, MGM produced the film, T he Wizard of Oz, based on Baum’s book, the rights to which are now owned and controlled by Warner Brothers (WB). A few years ago, a company called AVELA, Inc. created merchandise based on restored versions of old movie posters and lobby cards for a number of films, one of which was The Wizard of Oz. AVELA used images of the characters from the film on various items, including shirts and lunch boxes. WB subsequently brought a claim of copyright infringement against AVELA. At the district court level, WB was granted an injunction to stop the further exploitation by AVELA of the characters. The case was ultimately appealed up to the Eighth Circuit, whose judges were tasked with determining what was protected by copyright and what was in the public domain. On July 5, 2011, they published their decision. WB was successful on some claims and unsuccessful on others. For example, the judges agreed with AVELA’s defense that, because the publicity materials were made available more than 70 years ago, and when they were released they did not contain a copyright notice, the materials did, in fact, pass into the public domain. However, WB was successful in one very important area. The panel of judges found that the actual features of the characters in the film can be copyrighted,

despite the fact that these characters are based on characters from a prior work that is public domain. They held that they “agree with the district court’s conclusion that Dorothy, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz… each exhibit ‘consistent, widely identifiable traits’…that are sufficiently distinctive to merit character protection under the respective film copyrights”. They went on to find that “at the very least, the scope of the film copyrights covers all visual depictions of the film characters at issue, except for any aspects of the characters that were injected into the public domain by the publicity materials.” This finding by the court that the copyright extends to all visual depictions of the characters could significantly impact any projects based on the public domain book going forward. Presently, there are a number of films in development that are based on L. Frank Baum’s book, including a so-called “prequel”, currently titled Oz: The Great and Powerful, which contains a number of characters depicted in The Wizard of Oz, such as Glinda (the good witch), and Oz himself. While there is a distinction between the original public domain work, and the characters envisioned and created by MGM based on that work, it may be difficult to decipher what constitutes “consistent, widely identifiable traits”, and what will, therefore, be covered by the copyright protection afforded the film characters. While it can be assumed that any new films based on the public domain book will contain completely new and copyrightable characters, such new films and the original WBowned film are still mining from the same source material. Without limiting the scope of exactly what the copyright protection extends to, any new film that uses the Baum book as a source could be inspired to create characters that are somewhat similar to those envisioned by MGM. These new films, including Oz: The Great and Powerful, then, will have to ensure that none of the characters resemble any part of the characters in the MGM movie, which is really quite a subjective standard, and, I would imagine, is easier said than done. The result could be a grey area in the law going forward. n 15


InSecurity is a CBC series that is set in Ottawa but shot in Regina.

New Wave in Saskatchewan

Photo c/o CBC

Anand Ramayya can remember the early years of the Saskatchewan film industry. He recalls that there wasn’t much happening on the prairies. When something did happen, it was a result of teamwork. Story by

Ian Caddell >> Ramayya saw the early 1990s through the eyes of his filmmaking father Ray, who worked closely with Kevin DeWalt, Stephen Onda and other leaders of the first wave of Saskatchewan filmmakers. Now, Ramayya is one of the leaders of a second wave, one that hopes to rebuild the industry after several tough years. “When I was a kid my father would take six months off on his government job. He was there when they were starting out. I heard about it all second hand when I was growing up. Then, when I was 26 I started working in the industry and there was a broadcaster and a film fund and a strong community that worked closely together.” 16

The industry, which is led by funder SaskFilm and the Saskatchewan Motion Picture Industry Association (SMPIA) appears to be coming back in several areas. One of the areas with growth potential could be internet webisodes. Ramayya says that when SaskFilm decided to get involved with a show he was creating called Your Lupine Life. He was thrilled. “It was another area I wanted to get into and it has exciting potential. Saskfilm has put major money into the pot so that was exciting and we are going into production. In some ways it hearkens back to the indie spirit with this new age media production and social media campaigns. All those factors and new sets and skills. We are doing it with a fraction of the budget. It’s a video diary of a kid turning into a werewolf so creatively it has been structured to look like a kid has done it himself.” According to Suzanne Bell, the CEO of SaskFilm, new ideas are imperative Reel West July / August 2011


for a province that has “been through tough times the last few years.” She says that things are looking a lot better now. “We managed to just hang on for a little bit and things were difficult, not so much on the TV side but on the drama side. It was a tough time to go through. We would ask ‘how can we do this differently?’ and came up with initiatives and ideas and launched some new and different things. This week the studios are at capacity and back to work and seeing those trucks on the street again is a wonderful thing.” Bell says that the key to Saskatchewan’s rebound is much the same as the reason it became a strong industry centre: strong educational support, communication with other markets and a pool of producers and crew that continue to be developed by those who have carved their own niche in the community. “We want to keep up with what is going on outside our borders so we have developed a travel assistance program that allows our producers to be engaged in both national and international events. We have also revamped our marketing here. It was subtle but it was time to do it. We have developed loan program guidelines so producers will have resources for their initial pitch packages and we did a trade mission to LA with our producers which worked well. We have attended international marketing pitches in Cannes and Berlin and we have sent our producers out beyond the markets and festivals. We have worked closely with educational institutions, particularly the University of Regina, which has made a greater commitment to film business ideas in their curriculum. It was always about film theory in the old days. They have brought in writers and story editors to have pitch sessions for their students with SCN and us. They are talking about distribution, which makes sense. We are also working closely with the First Nations, who have an internship program that we will be involved with this summer.” She thinks that the future can only improve if the producers of the past link with younger filmmakers. “I think that communities where things happen have people who work together. People like Stephen and Kevin have assumed a certain level of responsibility with emerging producers and take the responsibility very seriously. So when we are meetReel West July / august 2011

ing with the community they are curious as to what are we going to do with the next generation of producers and they have committed themselves to assuring that the next group is ready to take on responsibility for the future of film in Saskatchewan.” Virginia Thompson, who came to Regina from Toronto in 1997 to produce The Incredible Story Studio would have to be included on the list of producers who created a strong presence in television in the province. Two years after that show ended its five year run she was producing two other series the ratings giant Corner Gas and Renegadepress.com. Both lasted into the new Millennium and Thompson is now producing InSecurity, a comedy that was recently picked up by CBC for a second season. She says that SaskFilm’s aggressive approach to getting films and television shows made in the province has helped Saskatchewan come back from what looked to be a long drought. “We have always been strong with TV and SaskFilm is now aggressively approaching movies with a mix of film and television looking like a strong probability. I think that aggressiveness is really important. The industry has a lot of potential and always has had that, and if you look at that from a government point of view it makes sense to do what it takes to get new projects here and to develop the local industry.” Thompson goes back to the last recession, in the late 1990s, when Ontario’s funding had dried up. She says that Verite moved here to finance Incredible Story Studio at a time when TV shows directed towards networks just weren’t done in Saskatchewan. She says that she can’t see too many obstacles to a renewed growth in the province’s industry. And she says that her latest show, has proven that you don’t have to just shoot the Prairies in Saskatchewan. “I think there are lots of reasons why the province is a good place to shoot series. The crews here are fantastic I have shot in Toronto and done television in various places and they are great with television and part of the reason is that they have experienced crews. Here there is a richness to the experience level and a real attention to detail. Part of the reason they are so good is they have wide experience. The crews that have shot our series have to shoot everything in order to make a living. We have always

4:4

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Now4 S-LO Ava G opt ila ion ble !

New Wave continued on page 29 17


18

Reel West July / August 2011

Eric Schweig plays Andy Fraser in APTN/Showcase series Blacktone Photo by dan power


On Native Land

To understand the significance of the APTN/Showcase series Blackstone, it’s probably necessary to look back at how far the image of North America’s Indians have come in the last eight decades. Story by

Ian Caddell >> From the films of the silent era to the 1960s, the Indian was the enemy of the Cowboy and the American Soldier. They were cultural terrorists, decades before the birth of Osama Bin Laden. Long before he was sent out to fight the Nazis, the Japanese and the Vietnamese, John Wayne was killing Indians. To make matters worse, the Indians were usually portrayed by immigrants or American actors with an alleged connection to native roots. For American Indians, there were lots of roles but no work. Meanwhile Canadians were looking at their own cultural history and finding trained actors to take on the roles of indigenous characters. When American producers decided to offer a different portrayal of the relationship between whites and Indians they found Chief Dan George, Graham Greene, Eric Schweig, Adam Beach, Tantoo Cardinal and many others, some of whom won acclaim and awards on both sides of the border for their work in film and television. (Of the 11 Canadian actors who have won Oscar nominations for acting since the CBC first broadcast the awards in 1953, two – George and Greene – have been native Canadians while Beach won high profile nominations for TV’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers.) If Canadian natives have been much less malevolent on-screen than the Indians of American movies, their image has been as vague as public perception. Most Canadians have seen portrayals of rural natives on film and TV but may have settled on an image of urban natives as addicts and alcoholics. Meanwhile, First Nations people have had success in almost every walk of Canadian life. The answer to how such a discrepancy exists may come with Blackstone, which brings viewers on to an Alberta reservation that offers the gamut of characters one would expect from a series about any Canadian community. However, the show is well served by having an almost all-native cast made up of some of Canada’s best actors. Schweig plays band chief Andy Fraser, a hereditary chief who has followed a family tradition of corruption, funneling federal money meant for the reserve into his own pockets. Eventually, he is replaced by Leona Stoney (Carmen Moore), a former drug addict turned healer who has returned to the reserve to help care for her alcoholic sister (Michelle Thrush.) Like anyone with power and money, Fraser and his family are fiercely reluctant to give up their control to the returning Leona. The series was created by Ron Scott, who worked with APTN on the comedy Mixed Blessings. A Métis, he says that while he didn’t grow up on a reserve his creation carries a host of universal truths. “I used to play on all native teams and the background to the story is based on reserves I visited. However, the show is more about people than the community itself. I wanted to tap into some universal themes and the characters, we have been told, are very authentic. The key to me was that people see that there is something for everyone in Blackstone. I think that I have always been interested in the psychology of relationships. As we moved from the pilot we grew the family aspect, something that I have always been interested in. It has been fun covering issues through characters who are rich and deep using the craft of the long narrative that I have been a fan of for a long time. I have always endeavoured to find interesting, relatable characters and bring them to life.” Reel West July / august 2011

While the focus of the show is the battle for power on the reserve, Scott admits that Thrush’s character could be the key to the future of the series. He says that he has never been too concerned with political correctness, but has been surprised at the level of support for Gail Stoney, particularly from aboriginal audiences. “Michelle’s success is so worthwhile to everyone involved,” he says. “But I always loved the character. The response has been overwhelming. I think the character is much like the show, though. On the page the script appears dark. But then you add skin to it when you bring the talent and they bring a lot to the show. I think one of the original concerns was that a line could have been crossed. At the same time the mirror was turned on this community and if we wanted to deal with a realistic drama we had to go to places that weren’t pretty. If you are telling truths they are not always wrapped in a pretty package. I always wanted it to be authentic and if we look at any society we will find all the elements. I tell people ‘this is not comfort food. It was not designed as procedural drama where you get the bad guy at the end of the episode. It is about the journey and that is the success.’ It is different for Canada to have that but we have been given the latitude by the broadcasters. I am proud that I am producing content that has that impact rather than just entertainment, although it probably works best if it is both.” Thrush has been acting since the mid-80s, with her break coming with 1993’s Madison, a show that was also a stepping stone for Adam Beach, Barry Pepper and Emanuelle Vaugier among others. She says that when she got the role she found the world of Gail Stoney to be frighteningly familiar. “I started crying and burst into tears,” she says. “It was difficult for me to go into that darkness and shame because she is a lot like my family and I had seen her problems in my family. There was a lot of death. I have never been an alcoholic but I had managed to stop myself from going down that road because I had seen so much of it. It scared me so much that I needed to experience that pain that I had seen and when I was cast I said I didn’t know if I could do it honestly and truthfully. But then I got into the clothes and makeup and realized that I wasn’t alone. I had some help from the memory of grandmothers and I felt that I had been guided. I have heard from so many people who relate to her in Indian country. I feel more comfortable going into the second season (which starts on Showcase and APTN in January of 2012) because I know that she is on her journey toward healing and sobriety.” Thrush trusted her instincts and also her sense that while she was haunted by a family where too many women had suffered from demons, she herself had seen every side of native society. She says that while there was shame she had also created a career on her own, one that had sustained her for a quarter century and so she felt her self-esteem could get her through the worst Blackstone had to offer. “I grew up as a brown girl,” she says, “and I know what it is like being an outsider in my own country. I know what it is like to grow up with the shame of being a minority. Then I also knew what it was like to grow up on the white side having been a professional actor in Vancouver most of my life. A lot of my family who stayed on the reserve (near Maple Creek, Saskatchewan) had not experienced that. I have had 25 years of acting and when I started acting I was feeling inferior as a native woman. It took me years to realize that I needed to be proud of who I was. It was a shameful thing early on but being an actor was good for my sense of self-esteem.”

19


TOP: Roseanne Supernault as Natalie Stoney and Michelle Thrush as Gail Stoney. BOTTOM: Eric Schweig as Andy Fraser and Carmen Moore as Leona Stoney Photos by dan power

Interestingly, Carmen Moore, who plays Thrush’s sister in the series, only came to her own understanding of her links to native culture through

“I grew up with my mother and my brother in Port Coquitlam and we didn’t know a lot of native people. We didn’t have a lot of contacts in the community

munities living in poverty. It was shocking to see that. It was also surprising to see the opposite on some reserves and I think we are turning things around

“We are aware that the show is intense, compelling and confrontational and we knew going in that was the wheelhouse we wanted to work in.”

– Damon Vignale, Screenwriter

her acting. She had grown up in a Vancouver suburb and never saw herself as a native until she entered the world of show business. 20

so it wasn’t until my late teens when I joined a native theatre group that I learned a lot about the native community. I was surprised to see a lot of com-

now. A lot of our culture has survived against all odds, given that when contact was made with whites, so much of it was made illegal. I was surprised to

see how much of it the native communities were able to hold onto. For someone from outside it was a revelation.” When Scott came over to the show from Mixed Blessings he brought Damon Vignale. While Vignale missed the pilot and the first few shows, he has produced most of the episodes and won a recent Leo for screenwriting. He says that he was impressed with the work Scott had already done on research and although he has only a small ancestral connection to the community he felt he could bring the universal truths that Scott was looking for. “When he brought me on to the show what he did that was great, and it was the very first day, was that he handed me three binders. His researchers had done a lot of work and there were hundreds of articles that were broken down into categories like ‘child abuse,’ and ‘police issues.’ He said that we were going to go to work from a starting point of knowing what really happened in the communities. That helped me to understand a lot of things right away because I could see that we were going to be writing things that were true. Even though we are writing about one fictional aboriginal community we could focus on a lot of communities. From there you just follow your own writing instincts and your personal writing process. When a writer on the show writes a script it passes through Ron who passes it through to legal consultation and then a lot of other people read it and we go from there.” Having written scripts for several TV shows and his own award-winning web series The Vetala, Vignale was happy to see that the show had several experts that could be called in if he felt that there was authenticity needed. He says that the support was strong and that Scott was not interested in episodes that didn’t work on the details in any area whether it be community oriented or dealing with the relationships between Ottawa and reserves. “There was a political consultant and he is in Ottawa and we had (native filmmaker) Gil Cardinal writing episodes and Ron himself. The broadcasters would get the scripts and if they were concerned at all about authenticity they would come back with notes. They have been supportive of the show in that they have never said ‘this is too much.’ They may speak to whether something is working or isn’t and whether it feels Reel West July / August 2011


real but they are supportive of what we are doing.” So is the fan base. Vignale says it is strong and growing rapidly. He says there is a fan base around the show with 7000 followers on Facebook alone. While they appreciate the tough stance that the show takes, they are also looking for some good news in season two. “There have been people we have heard from who would like to see a more positive side. We are aware that the show is intense, compelling and confrontational and we knew going in that was the wheelhouse we wanted to work in. We felt that there are other shows that can focus on other native stories but with this show that is the stance. We want to lift up the rug and see what is underneath.” Vignale says that the pilot episode, which triggered the main theme of the first season, worked with a theme that Scott felt comfortable with, the idea that some bands might misuse government funds. He says that is less likely to be the pivotal theme for season two. “Ron knows a lot about that. I think it came out of a feature script that got pared down to a movie of the week. I know that script. He and Gil had worked on it and a lot of the ideas pursued during the season were in it. We were married to it going into the first season but in the second season we are moving into other areas, which I am excited about.” For Scott, the key to growth and longevity is keeping things interesting. He says that he was pretty sure that there would be a place they could take the theme of the first season and then move beyond that to more ideas. And he expects that as it moves along, there will always be interesting ideas available to the writers. “I think that one of the places where I would like to take the show is to continually grow and diversify. I feel that the corruption theme is tied to a theme of hope and that hope comes with changing bylaws, which is happening on reserves now. If Andy just keeps finding different ways of being corrupt we will lose a lot including the authenticity because you can’t keep dealing with the same plot and expect things in the world around you to stay the same. So our themes will change every season, which shouldn’t be too difficult since there is so much potential in any community.” n Reel West July / august 2011

Kevin Loring stars in APTN’s Health Nutz

Story Tellers: APTN continues to drive change in Canadian broadcasting Story by

Ian Caddell

were forced to discover new words for their work, and that the words have become part of the Olympic legacy. ‘It was interesting because we had had strong support in languages with few language speakers which tells us that people

After almost a decade of presenting programming as

watched that language without necessarily understanding it.

Canada’s only truly western Canada-based network, APTN is

What it did do for a lot of the communities and elders and for

becoming a force for change in Canadian broadcasting. In the

young people was that it generated a huge sense of pride in their

last 18 months it has been an Olympics network, has won the

language and it also became a way of connecting them to the

Banff World Media Award for best youth fiction program (for

network. No network has ever given native groups the oppor-

Josh Miller’s Anash and the Legacy of the Sun-Rock), and took

tunity to provide coverage in their language so we had to work

home the 2010 Amnesty International award for journalism for a

with people who wanted to do it and trained them to do play by

report on missing women. And earlier this year the network and

play and develop new vocabulary. For instance, snowboarding

Shaw Broadcasting’s Showcase launched Blackstone, one of

is not a traditional sport so we had to create seven dictionaries

the more unique TV series to be broadcast in Canada.

that we have now sent out to communities to allow them to offer

Jean LaRose, the Winnipeg-network’s President and CEO, says

language programs to generate interest in the language.”

that a key point in the network’s recent history was the broadcast-

The different languages of the native communities can be

ing of the Olympics. He says that although becoming the first ab-

found throughout the network. The network currently broad-

original network to broadcast live Olympic competitions seemed

casts in English, French, Inuktitut, Dene, Cree and Objibway.

like a big enough deal at the time, it has changed the infrastructure

LaRose says the popular animated show, Wapos Bay, which

of the company and will serve it well for many years.

has been broadcast in English only, will be broadcast in an In-

“It’s had an impact at different levels,” he says. “All of the staff

uktitut version in its next season.

who had an opportunity learned a lot and grew in experience from

“We are trying to find what the audience likes and get vari-

it. They still speak about it and for some it was a turning point in

ous versions and down the road convince the CRTC that there

their careers. From that it has spearheaded internal focus on how

should be an APTN with blocks of languages and not just Eng-

to expand the network and how the individuals involved can move

lish and French. That would insure they have a medium that is

up to the next level in their careers. We had to expand our physical

about living languages and would be a model for everyone to

plant. We were renting next door to our current building but we

follow and maintain their language.”

eventually bought the building next door because we needed a

The fact that the network has been able to accommodate

better studio. We expanded on what we were doing and now we

programming in so many different languages is just the tip of the

do it in a way that makes it look more professional. We are in the

iceberg in terms of the degree of difficulty that accompanies its

midst of renovating that building. The upgrades will have to in-

mandate. LaRose says that there are a lot of issues surrounding

clude electrical systems but we need a proper studio. The current

the programming, issues that no other network has to face.

one is very small. The new one will allow us to have a multi-stage

“We have to be able to have our shows picked up by other

look. One area can be a talk show stage and the other can be for

networks but we have a lot of shows that won’t be accessible to

standup interviews. There will be several different sets. That was a

others. We have to offer a full range of programs for our history and

byproduct of the Olympics and how it resonated with the staff.”

culture so that puts a lot of pressure on us to build a production

The network broadcast the Olympics in eight different lan-

industry that meets that wide range of needs. We have developed

guages. Although few of the languages are understood by a

a level of sophistication and a unique look that is reflective of our

majority of Canadians, they tuned in to see events that were

communities and that is a great tribute to our production people.

not available on other channels, thus increasing viewer support

As it gets better and we are able to develop partnerships with

from both natives and non-natives. He says that broadcasters

APTN continued on page 29 21


22

Reel West July / August 2011

Brennan Jardine, rebellious son of Bud Jardine, stars in the History Channel’s Dust Up. Photo © Dust Up Productions


Sky Kings

Ed Hatton had the resume to be a producer of a documentary series. He just had to come up with an original idea. He had worked on several leading reality and documentary shows, including Crash Test Mommy, Combat School and The Week the Women Went when he visited Terry Mialkowsky and his partner Shannon Jardine at her family’s farm where he met her farming and crop-dusting family. In his diary on putting together the deal that led to the History Channel show Dust Up, he looks back at rejection, acceptance and the day he realized it was all going to come together at the familiar confines of the Banff Television Festival. Diary by

Ed Hatton June 2007 – Exhausted from my stint in Hardesty Alberta, directing The Week The Women Went, I borrow the caterer’s car and head to my first Banff Television Festival where I meet an old friend, Terry Mialkowsky and girlfriend Shannon Jardine, They show me the ropes at Banff as they go about pitching their series, The Land of the Yodeling Mushroom People. Mushroom People is set in Nipawin Saskatchewan, Shannon’s home town where her crop dusting father and brother live amongst fiercely independent and unique characters. I coin their series as “Trailer Park Boys meets The Dukes of Hazard.” April 2009 I wake up from my one year haze of producing The Week the Women Went for Paperny Films and CBC to a global economic crisis that brings TV production almost to a standstill, leaving me unemployed but with much time on my hands. June I’m back at the Banff Television Festival leveraging the success of my producing and directing of factual TV, pitching my own shows. Wednesday afternoon I line up for “Bowling with a Broadcaster. In attendance is Ben Davies from AMC. Five pin bowling is a great way to break down barriers and I’m bonding with Ben as I kick his ass down the lane (figuratively). Ben tells me they are especially interested in shows that have ‘western’ or ‘cowboy’ themes. Back in Vancouver with my hamstrings still aching from my bowling success, Terry Mialkowsky calls from Regina. Terry has returned to his prairie roots and is now living in Saskatchewan with producing partner Shannon Jardine. In regaling Terry with my bowling conquest and AMC’s new appetite for cinematic western factual, Terry has a light bulb moment and the phone goes silent for a second. He and Shannon enlist me to help develop and package what we hope will become Dust Up a story of family feuds and crop dusting set in Nipawin and featuring Shannon’s own family of crop dusters. August 9 I arrive in Nipawin, population 5000. I park the rental car behind the Dairy Queen from where I eat onion rings and steal wireless signals. My cell phone has no signal and I’m waiting for the arrival of friend and DP extraordinaire Shawn Veins. Skypeing from behind the DQ, I reach Shawn, who is on his way from Alberta with all his camera lighting gear in tow to meet Terry and I to shoot a complete demo for Dust Up. August 10 Terry is still on his way up from Regina and Shawn and I decide to waste no time and make hay while the sun shines. At the Nipawin airport, Shawn presses the red button and we capture the first frames of daredevil Brennan Jardine strutting his stuff five feet off the ground at 120 mph. Shawn Reel West July / august 2011

has just finished shooting Season I of Ice Pilots for History Channel and he has the whole plane thing worked out. But these aren’t the Dc3s of the north… they are like go karts with wings. Brennan performs acrobatic feats for the camera demonstrating the art of crop dusting. Shawn locks off the camera on a tripod with a wind blown wheat foreground and Brennan buzzes us, shaking the camera, scaring the shit out of us but capturing the iconic shot which will become the money shot for our title sequence. On a return pass from across the dirt road, Brennan pilots his plane directly towards us. From behind the tree line a pick up truck crosses the road directly in front of his Piper Pawnee narrowly missing a mid air / ground collision. Shawn and I look at one another and we know that Canada has to see this world. August 11 Terry arrives and we assemble the local crop dusters at the airport. In attendance are Brennan, Shannon’s brother, his father, 71 year old Bud Jardine and local upstart Travis Karle. The crew are in a mid-season waiting pattern and make themselves available to us for interviews and plane porn. Vancouver pilot Bob Richards joins the crew. Brennan has invited him to fly his second plane and Bob arrives for his job interview in the middle of our filming. It’s clear from day one that we have the cinematic qualities. Meeting the full compliment of crop dusters, we know we have our characters – a collection of independent minded off the grid pioneers who live a way of life that built this country. Doug McBane, a local engineer and a mechanic to the crop dusters, puts us up in a Cessna where we do our best attempts of air photography chasing crop dusters across the skies, diving down over tree lines and pulling up over roads. It is truly a poor man’s aerial photography as we give Doug a few dollars for aviation fuel and DP Shawn V’s steady hands deliver the shockingly beautiful aerials that we all know will be necessary to sell our show. August 12 Rain is in the forecast and we have one more flying sequence to shoot. Former business partners Bud and Brennan Jardine have recently fallen out over a business dispute. They used to fly the skies together but barely talk these days. The estranged father and son come together over our show idea and put their planes in the air for a tandem flight. In prepping for the flight and discussing logistics it’s clear we have the third component for story telling – conflict. Bud and Brennan kibitz over the plan and who will fly where and how it will all go down. We roll cameras and capture their classic father-son dynamic, which could be the heart of the show. Shawn V gets into mechanic Doug McBane’s Cessna, our chase plane, and we have three planes up in the air for some synchronized flying. From the ground I watch in amazement as all of the logistics and plans go out the window and it’s a free for all in the air. Moments later, a frustrated Bren23


nan lands his plane on the grass airstrip at Bud’s farm, but Bud and the chase plane are nowhere to be seen. Impatience for their return turns to worry as minutes turn into what feels like hours. It’s not uncommon for these planes to go down. In fact, Bud claims to have “fallen out of the sky” at least 12 times in his forty year crop dusting career. We’re hoping this isn’t his thirteenth. Bud appears over the tree line and lands along side Brennan. The pair of them argue over what went wrong. It’s the other’s fault. Still no sign of the chase plane and my pal Shawn V. Although I don’t feel it in this moment as I wait for Doug and Shawn to return, deep down, if everybody survives, I know that it is precisely the type of tension that I’m feeling, and that it will be a core part of the show. If we get it made. The Cessna paints the sky over the horizon and lands delivering Shawn and his expertly shot plane porn safely to the ground. Shawn beams about the material he shot. We lock down the subjects to an interview schedule for the last component of the demo. Burning completely through the night and into the early morning we role tape after tape to be sure we capture it all before we depart and the crop dusting season draws to an end. August 13 Day 3 turns into Day 4 as we roll a time-lapse shot on the sunrise. Shawn, Terry and I get back to the hotel by 6 am and grab a few 24

hours of sleep. I’m reminded of the 24 hour film contest days during the exhaustion of which Terry and I built our collaborative friendship. We leave Shawn to ‘sleep in’ as Terry and I pack up and head back to Regina to get me to the airport in time for my flight back to Vancouver. My band is playing that night and I have to be on stage at 10 pm. That will ultimately turn my Day 3 of Demo shoot into a 40 hour day. Fueled by heart pounding energy cocktails I make it on stage for a dazed surreal show with visions of prairie crop dusters flying in and out of my hallucinations. October In Vancouver I enlist rising star editor Joel Norn, whom I worked with while producing Road Hockey Rumble II, to cut our demo. From 20 hours of tape we embark on what should be a five day experience. Meanwhile, in Regina, Terry plows through tape transcribing interviews and we spend our evening skyping, building the structure of the demo. We pass on the first draft to Joel who will be cutting from home. I scour iTunes for the soundtrack to our western epic. I find a punk rock version of Ghost Riders in the Sky by Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies, and a Metallica version of The Ecstasy of Gold – a cover of the theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly soundtrack. December I’m already building buzz about our little project with local Vancouver production companies and everybody wants to see what we have crafted. Unfortunately,

we’ve got nothing to show. Christmas comes and goes and I’ve got to get onto a paying gig. This recession and Dust Up have drained my financial reserves and I start pounding the pavement. First stop, Omni Films, the producers of the recent season I hit Ice Pilots. I show David Gullason, the series producer, our Dust Up work in progress. David offers me a directing gig on Ice Pilots Season II being shot up in Yellowknife. January 2010 Who does a guy have to know to get some moisturizer around here. I land in YK (The Knife) and am greeted by old pal and The Week The Women Went coordinator, Mike Francis, who takes me to the crew house. My coastal skin cracks immediately upon going outside in the bone dry minus 30 temperatures. At Ice Pilots, my day job takes all my physical and creative energy and Dust Up collects dust back in Vancouver. We had hoped to take it to Real Screen in Washington DC to pitch it, but we are so not ready. We are committed to sell Dust Up directly to a broadcaster, so we can own it. Partnering with a production company might make this a little easier but we fear we will give up too much. April We are running out of time. We are hoping to get the demo cut and start shopping it around early enough to create a buzz and sign a deal at Banff. We want to be those people who leave Banff with that mythical deal. Enter Ice Pilots veteran editor Erin Cumming who takes

our cut to the next level. It’s ready to show and we’ve gotten here on credit cards, determination and favour banking. May We are moving into pitching mode though it feels scary as we’ve been living in the fantasy world of being those people that develop, package, pitch and sell. It seems like such a long shot. Since the recession, getting a show commissioned has been extremely difficult even for the established production companies. It’s now time to face the truth, hit the road and knock on doors. Spring has hit the prairies and farming and crop dusting will not wait for broadcast TV. If we miss this crop dusting season it pushes our plan another full year. We need a greenlight soon! Back in the Arctic on Ice Pilots I show the demo round to some of the crew. It’s an audience inclined to like anything with a propeller on it but it’s getting the reactions we want. Our next window for pitching it is Hot Docs in Toronto. We know we want to get it in front of Michael Kot from History TV but even though I’m working on a History show, I don’t have a direct pipeline to him. Worse yet my Ice Pilots schedule will prevent me from getting to Hot Docs. We’re hedging our bets on getting in front of History but in the meantime I know other broadcasters that could be interested. I call up Patrice from OLN, with whom I worked on Road Hockey Rumble. Dust Up could be a natural for OLN but we know it’s probably too Reel West July / August 2011


L to R: A local road doubles as an airstrip in this dangerous approach; Young gun crop duster Travis Karle promises to give the Jardine clan a run for their money; Behind the scenes of Dust Up. Photos © Dust Up Productions

expensive for them. Regardless I book an appointment to see him in Toronto. Shannon, Terry and I all converge in T.O to start the pitching May 11 I take the red eye into Toronto and go directly to meet up with Terry and Shannon. I’m still quite exhausted from my shooting schedule up north and the red eye is aptly named as I’m a little bit dazed and need to get my game up for our first big pitch. 3pm Arrive at the OLN office. It’s been a while since we last met. Patrice regales us all with his account of how he first met me - my on screen performance on Road Hockey Rumble as ‘Producer Ed’ where I vomit on the show’s host (yes it was scripted and no I don’t vomit on command.] Vomit stories break the ice and I snap into pitch mode. I’m on fire, Patrice is getting it. Terry and Shannon jump in, we are all on fire. We roll the demo… the demo is on fire. They love it…but deep down we know they can’t afford it. Patrice tells me to get in touch in a couple of weeks when he can discuss it with his boss. We pack up and leave on a high from the success of the pitch but we know we have to go elsewhere to hedge our bets. Next stop History and Discovery. May 12 In Toronto, the center of the Canadian broadcaster universe, but I can’t get an intro to History or Discovery. I am working on a History show right now and I have worked on a Discovery show but all my contacts can’t help. Banff is next month and Reel West July / august 2011

we need to arrive there with broadcaster interest in our project, if we are to get into the field and shoot while the wheat is still growing… I’ve got to get back to Yellowknife and Ice Pilots. Our time in Toronto comes to an end. We may have to wait until Banff to get in front of History’s Michael Kot. May 17 Shannon Jardine emails me with breaking news. As part of the Yorkton Film Festival, Michael Kot of History channel will be attending an event in Regina: Brunch with a Broadcaster. It’s not as fun as bowling but it promises a one on one audience with Mr. Kot. Space is limited but Shannon and Terry are well known in the Saskatchewan community and their contacts yield us a spot at the brunch and a face to face with History’s gatekeeper Michael Kot. May 26 In Regina, Michael Kot’s reputation as a hard sell has got cotton balls forming in my mouth. At the very least we have Ice Pilots in common so I have an ‘ice breaker’ of sorts, which works. I get into pitch mode, but its sounding stiff, I’m losing my place, starting to drown. It was supposed to be like the easy conversation we had with Patrice from OLN but its sounding scripted. Terry and Shannon jump in and save the day, I regroup and calm down. And finally now, the moment this has all lead to… showing the demo. I watch Michael’s eyes the whole time, gauging his reactions. On occasion he stops comments, nods his head. It’s particularly reactive for Michael but it’s clear he’s digging it. He has many

questions, all of which we answer. The meeting ends with kudos to the job we have done putting these characters on screen. It’s all about the characters he says and you’ve done a great job showing me that. The next time we meet, we’ll need to talk about budgets etc. He didn’t order the show but it’s clear he wants to move forward at least. Drinks are on me! May 27 In Vancouver after a long haul of pitching and my work up north on Ice Pilots I head out of town off the cell grid for a much needed break. Arriving home I have several voicemail messages from History TV’s Sam Linton. It’s clear they are excited about the project and they want to meet in Banff. The plan has worked. We have buzz, we have broadcaster interest and we have an appointment in Banff at which we hope to close the deal. June 13 Fresh from my last rotation on Ice Pilots I meet Terry and Shannon In Banff for our follow-up meeting with History. It’s late in the crop dusting season but we are equipped with charts and tables, budgets and speculative story lines. We burn the midnight oil updating our charts and schedules to demonstrate we can still make the show this season if we get a green light immediately. We are feeling the pressure but will History feel the same pressure to move quickly. Shannon takes a call from her mother in Saskatchewan. She breaks the news that there has been a crop duster plane crash in the area. De-

tails are sketchy but as the calls come in one by one Shannon, Terry and I are relieved to find out her family is safe although we cannot say the same for their planes. Shannon’s brother Brennan had hired a contract pilot, Bob Richards - whom we met while filming the demo. Shortly after taking off in Brennan’s plane, Bob lost power and crashed in a wooded area. Bob survives but is seriously injured. Brennan is down one plane. The high stakes drama of this world is unfolding in real time and we are in Banff while it’s all going down. June 15 We assemble in the Rundle Lounge to meet History’s Sam Linton. Our impressive charts and schedules don’t necessarily impress or cancel out the CBC news story about the ill fated plane in Saskatchewan that is the catalyst for the development deal but we sign shortly after leaving Banff. Within a week Terry and I are in the field shooting the aftermath of the plane crash and the first few story lines for our first independently developed TV series. We shoot a marathon summer and fall enlisting some of our friends and hiring those who would become our friends. Surprisingly it feels little different than the days in which Terry and I met, making short films, under unrealistic timelines and banking favours. The big difference being that Dust Up will have a huge audience on major international networks and of course if we screw up we’ll never work in this town again! n 25


26

Reel West July / August 2011

Jared Keeso will return to play Don Cherry in Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Sequel Photo By Allen Fraser


Grapes Redux

Love him or loathe him, Don Cherry is one of Canada’s most iconic characters. The Hockey Night in Canada commentator, and former hockey player and coach, is known for his outspoken manner, flamboyant suits, and brash persona. There’s no doubt that he is one of the most recognized names in hockey. So it is no surprise that last year’s CBC biopic on this larger-than-life personality scored big with audiences. Story by

Cheryl Binning >> Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Don Cherry Story was an Ontario/Manitoba co-production shot in Winnipeg and executive produced by Don Cherry’s son Tim Cherry and Wayne Thomson of Toronto’s 5 for Fighting, Lazlo Barna, formerly of E1 Entertainment and now owner of Pier 21 Films, and Jamie Brown of Frantic Films, (which has offices in Toronto and Winnipeg). The four-hour mini-series garnered the highest ratings for a CBC mini-series in a decade and picked up seven Gemini Award wins. The great ratings, combined with the fact that the four hour mini-series covered only a small portion of Cherry’s hockey career (that has impressively spanned over fifty years), led the producing partners and the CBC to team up to continue his story. Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Sequel recently wrapped a two-month shoot in Winnipeg and surrounding areas. “It was a big success with well over a million viewers and it held its numbers both nights and we had a fantastic partnership through the first miniseries so it made the decision to come back together really easy,” says Brown. The original movie, written by Tim Cherry, focused on his father’s years as a hockey player in the professional minor leagues and his one NHL game, as well as his years as an AHL and then NHL coach. The sequel - written by Calgary’s Andrew Wreggit (Shades of Black: The Conrad Black Story, One Dead Indian) - starts where the previous mini-series ended, and covers Cherry’s 30-year broadcasting career with Hockey Night in Canada’s “Coach’s Corner.” The new movie also flashes back to Cherry’s early life, as a kid growing up in a working class family in Kingston, Ontario. “In the first mini-series we didn’t see the young Don. We picked him up in his early twenties,” points out Barna. “So in the sequel we meet his parents, see his roots, and we also focus on his broadcast career. No one knows how he got there, what the CBC and Cherry went through to become family, so to speak. So this is all new material. It’s not a rehash.” “I always felt and heard from many people that in the first mini-series we never got to the broadcasting part of Cherry’s life, which is what he is most known for and made him who he is today,” adds Brown. Don Cherry is well known as the guy with the biggest mouth in hockey. And his outrageous comments have managed to stir up lots of controversy throughout his sports-casting career. Barna promises that the new project doesn’t shy away from the tumultuous times. “We get into all the trouble that Don tends to get into with his fists and his mouth sometimes,” he says. Brown feels that a key ingredient to the success of the original four hours was that it wasn’t just about hockey and a hockey player. It was also a love story, looking at Cherry’s relationship with wife Rose, and his family. That kept viewers who may not have been interested in sport, glued to their couches following the romantic story. “So while the sequel still covers hockey and Cherry’s battles and his broadcasting career, it wisely also includes his relationship with Rose, including her death, which was the worst thing ever to happen to Don,” explains Brown. Reel West July / august 2011

Jared Keeso (I Love You, Beth Cooper) who won a Best Actor Gemini for his role as Cherry in the original mini-series, returns in the sequel, as does Sarah Manninen, who plays wife Rose. Jeff Woolnough, who helmed the original mini-series, also directs the sequel. The production is led by executive producers Barna, Tim Cherry, Thompson and Brown and Entertainment One’s Margaret O’Brien as well as producers Suzanne Berger (Entertainment One), Shawn Watson (Frantic Films), and Melissa Williamson (Pier 21), with Lesley Oswald as line producer. The decision to shoot the Don Cherry movies in Winnipeg was made based on a combination of creative and financial considerations. “Financing, locations, good partnership and great crew is what brought us here,” says Barna. Tim Cherry and Thomson initially visited Winnipeg while putting together various financing scenarios and scouting locations when the first mini-series was being developed. “They loved the city,” says Brown. “They felt Winnipeg worked well for what they wanted to do.” It also helped that Cherry and Thompson’s Toronto producing partner, Barna, has a longstanding relationship with Brown. “Frantic Films is one of the up and coming companies in this country so we were looking for projects to work on together,” says Barna. Barna also had previous experience shooting in Manitoba. “I did Men with Brooms in Winnipeg and I did The David Milgaard Story here,” says Barna. “I like working in Winnipeg because it is film friendly and the crews are good.” Manitoba’s equity investment and tax credit program served as a great financial incentive to get the sequel shot in the province. “I won’t say the tax credit and equity investment had nothing to do with it,” jokes Barna. “Of course it had a great deal to do with it, and I commend the Manitoba government for being consistent [in its film financing program], which is one of the most important things in industrial policy.” Financing on the sequel includes the CBC, the Canada Media Fund, the Canadian, Ontario and Manitoba tax credit programs and equity from Manitoba Film and Sound. “The equity that Manitoba has is always important,” adds Brown. “That extra $300 or $400 thousand means a lot on a show like this in terms of what you are able to do.” Winnipeg’s Frantic Films also has an office in Ontario and Brown admits that it’s a competitive landscape. “Right now with no pressure on broadcasters to do anything in the regions and the tax credits evening out, it is a challenge,” he says. “There is not a lot of scripted network series shot in Manitoba. I think CBC was happy to see a project like this shot in a region.” Winnipeg and outlying smaller towns also fit well with the diverse locations required on the movie. “We are going back to periods of Cherry’s life in Boston and Southern Ontario and different hockey games over the years, so a lot of locations and looks were needed,” says Brown. Several Winnipeg houses were used to shoot Cherry’s homes over the years, including one that was true to the look and style of the 50s, for his younger years. 27


The Hockey Night in Canada set was built in a studio for the shooting of Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Sequel Photo Courtesy of Keep your head up Kid: The Sequel

They also shot in pubs and bars. “Cherry grew up in Kingston and lived in a variety of small towns while he was in the American Hockey League, so for a period piece like this, the Manitoba locations worked well,” says Barna. Naturally, there’s lots of hockey action in the sequel so various rinks reflecting different time periods were a must. The production used Winnipeg’s MTS Centre to double for NHL play and PCU Centre in Portage la Prairie for AHL action. Other shooting locations in Manitoba include the Selkirk

Recreation Complex in Selkirk and Stonewall Curling Club in Stonewall. “We used a number of different rinks to reflect different locations across North America and fortunately Manitoba has a lot of midsized hockey rinks, as well as the MTS Centre,” says Brown. Highly skilled hockey players were also a necessity to recreate the games authentically.“There’s Lots of hockey --- and lots of hockey fights in the mini-series,” says Brown. “We needed people who can really play hockey

and Manitoba has a ton of really good hockey players, so filling the ice with convincing players wasn’t a problem.” Brown is particularly proud of the production design and costumes on the mini-series. In fact, costume designer Patricia Henderson and production designer Réjean Labrie were nominated for Gemini Awards for their work on the first movie, and both returned for the sequel. Almost all the crew was hired locally, other than three people brought in from Vancouver. And the involvement of the

real Don Cherry was an added bonus. Cherry fact checked scripts for accuracy to ensure the story stayed true to the reality of what happened, says Brown. Barna adds “Don reads scripts and gives us notes and gives us backgrounds for scenes but our shooting coincided with the Stanley Cup play-offs so he wasn’t watching dailies or cuts.” Brown says spending time with the living sports legend was a great experience. “What surprised me the most is how similar Don Cherry is to what he is on TV and at the same time how different he is,” says Brown. “He is similar in that he is the junior hockey player who punched other guys’ lights out and got stitched up in the dressing room and coached hockey players. But different in that he is way more reflective and self critical than I would have thought. He is quite hard on himself, on how he has behaved in the past and how he let Rose down and wasn’t the dad or the husband he should have been.” It’s the many sides to this complicated, candid and always controversial character that should keep viewers on the edge of their seats for another four-hour mini-series. “There isn’t a Canadian who is more in the limelight, more adored or more loathed (than Don Cherry) and I love that,” says Barna. “He is an extraordinarily charismatic guy so I didn’t worry about finding the drama. He creates drama.” n

Profile

Producer Carrie Wheeler The multi-tasking Carrie Wheeler started Carrie Wheeler Management in 2001 and still represents many local actors and models. That company evolved into Carrie Wheeler Entertainment through which she has produced the local theatre premieres of  Howard Korder’s  Boy’s Life  and  Martin McDonagh’s  The Pillowman and the feature film The Foursome. In 2009 she launched Eco Chic Media Group, a new-media entity featuring Eco Chic TV and Eco Chic Lifestyle magazine. Home Town Wherever you go, there you are. I was born in Hamilton, raised in Ottawa, Belleville, Toronto and Kingston, travelled around the world and have been living in Vancouver for 13 years.  Start Date I’ve had my own company as an agent in Vancouver since 1999 and have worn many hats in the fashion and entertainment industries since the age of 16. I began producing film and new media in 2005. Best Day While I’ve had many memorable moments in my career and my personal life, the best day is today. I’m alive, I’m healthy, I have a roof over my head, food in my belly and love in my heart. What else is there? Worst day No such thing. I am the boss of my own destiny. Most Memorable Working Experience I produced my first feature film, a golf comedy called The Foursome starring Kevin Dillon (Entourage) which was distributed through Universal in 2006. It was such an intense learning curve and I remember being both elated and deflated many times throughout the completion of that film. I love learning new skills and working with talented, creative individuals!  If I Won an Oscar I Would Thank Simultaneously: my parents for instilling the confidence in me to achieve anything I set my mind to, my husband because he would most likely be either the writer or director on the film that I’m winning the Oscar for, my client Michael Karl Richards who pushes me to strive for excellence every day and my friend Gaetano Fasciana who taught me to never, ever sacrifice anything for my art. My Latest Five Year Plan Doing the exact same thing that I’m doing right now, but from my Villa in the south of Italy with a little tomato garden in the back.

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Reel West July / August 2011


New Wave continued from page 17

worked with the ‘A’ unit and that is what has made our series look so good. The other thing that has been a real benefit to InSecurity is that it has a 24 look and a big city look and it is a great example that you don’t have do just a prairie show here. You can do a big show and you use the studio as a back-lot and do additional shooting in the large centres. “You can keep your costs down here too. Regina is very easy to get around so travelling from one location to another is less difficult than shooting in a large centre where it might take an hour and a half to travel Here everything is five minutes away, which makes it very easy to move your unit and easy to shoot on location and to get back to the studio. I hope that as this show gains popularity people will say ‘I don’t have to go somewhere else because I can shoot an urban show right here.’ I am hoping that upswing will lead to a more solid industry.

I think this year is way better for everyone, which is good, because we want to keep our talent here.” Bell says that the province still has very competitive tax rates but admits that subsidies are incentives and can only take a production so far. She also admits that since she arrived at SaskFilm 22 years ago she has seen how fickle film can be. However, she is cautiously optimistic that everything is in place for real progress to be made. “You can have incredibly competitive tax credits but if a producer can’t finance the rest of the film it doesn’t matter,” she says. “We are a pretty nimble agency so we can respond quickly to needs. I have been here since 1989 and have seen the cyclical nature of film and TV so I don’t walk into this with rose colored glasses. It is because I am seeing those trucks on the street and the crews working that make me optimistic. It makes me feel pretty good about the kind of year we will be having.” n

APTN continued from page 21

native stereotypes. LaRose admits that

groups like the (Winnipeg-based National

huge risk to a network that usually cel-

Screen Institute), we will have a stronger

ebrates the native experience.

organization to fulfill that mandate.”

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.

just putting the show on the air was a

“If you speak to any chief they will say

There isn’t a lot of money. “We have

it’s not real but we have heard from the

been established as a nonprofit with charity

audience and it is their take on reality. So

status,” he says. “This network was never

the goal is to put it in front of them so they

meant to be a corporation that would gen-

can see they as communities must affect

erate revenues but was meant to be one

change if it needs to be made. So if you

that would be driven by social mandate.

feel that way what are you going to do

We would never lose sight of it so we don’t

about it? I will attend council meetings and

spend the revenues. They have to be rein-

speak my mind and we can show a pat-

vested in programming the following year.

tern of people trying to bring about change

“When it comes to programming the

and how people who want to bring about

board has a process as a group. They draft

change get caught up in the old ways.

the plans needed to sell in our grid and the

Even those who are seen as the good guys

programs are targeted to specific enve-

are portrayed here as human but at some

lopes. We have an aboriginal envelope and

point they will do the right thing.

broadcast performance envelopes. There

“I think that at its best, it deals with real-

is a lot we would like to do with the great

ity on reserves. Some things are going to

pitches we have heard and we wish we

be used for dramatic purposes but that that

could do everything, but we can’t. The pro-

has to be done to make people think. You

cess itself is very democratic. They review

have people who love it and those who hate

all of the regions and everyone looks at this

it because they feel we are airing our dirty

so that it will represent the national diver-

laundry in public. But we are also getting

sity as much as possible so that all of our

these things out there. We have heard from

communities are represented. Of course,

a lot of people, many of whom have said

everyone feels their programming should

‘this (the Blackstone reserve) is my com-

be more represented.”

munity and you have opened my eyes to

And then there is Blackstone. The se-

change.’ If it leads to people getting out of

ries is a groundbreaking program, pro-

the old groove and starting to take control of

duced in association with Showcase, that

their own lives that consciousness will help

takes Canadians into a fictional reserve

to bring change. We saw that in Blackstone

run by a politically incorrect group of na-

from the beginning and we believe it helps

tives who spend government money on

people to push themselves to affect change

themselves rather than moving it around

and make a difference. This is what we

to the less privileged. There are drug ad-

wanted to do. They have control and they

dicts and alcoholics and a spectrum of

have to want to make change.”

Reel West July / august 2011

The Definitive Producing Workbook

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29


Final Edit won the category’s award for screenwriting while the Music Video category was won by The Rose and the Web Series category Leo went to Freshman’s Wharf. Walter Daroshin, who runs the Leos with Sonny Wong said there were 700 entries in 2011 with the most entries coming in the Feature Length Drama category where the jury had over 40 hours of materials to screen.

Canada Triumphs At Banff

Paula Rivera as Anna Dirko and Brent Butt as Stan Dirko in Hiccups Photo C/o CTV media

Hiccups Swallows Leos Category

The TV series Hiccups led all winners when BC’s film awards, the Leos, were announced at two gala ceremonies in June. The show swept the Best Comedy, Music or Variety Series or Program winning in all five categories: program, director, editing, screenwriting and performance. Other big winners included Gunless, with four awards for best feature length drama, cinematography, production design and stunt coordination, the short drama A Fine Young Man with awards for program, directing, screenwriting and lead performance (male) and the documentary Mighty Jerome, which won Leos for program, editing, sound and musical score. Following Hiccups in the television category were two shows with three wins: Fringe (cinematography, production design, guest performance – male) and Sanctuary (overall sounds, costume designer, supporting performance male). Blackstone won for screenwriting and lead performance – female Several shows won one Leo, 30

including Human Target (stunts), Life Unexpected (supporting performance – male) Shattered (lead performance –male); Smallville (best program); Supernatural (visual effects); R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour ( picture editing) and Todd and the Book of Pure Evil. Gunless was followed in the feature category by Altitude, which won for overall sound and sound editing; Fathers& Sons (musical score and supporting performance; Transparency, direction and picture editing; Amazon Falls (lead performance – female and Tucker & Dale vs Evil (lead performance – male.) Trailing A Fine Young Man were Hop the Twig (production design, costume design and visual effects); Madame Perrault’s Bluebeard (cinematography, overall sound, sound editing) Death Wish (makeup); Move Out Clean (picture editing) The Closer You Get to Canada (performance female); The Paris Quintet - Practice Makes Perfect (musical score) and Voodoo (costume design – tie.)

Mighty Jerome’s competition included A Window Looking In direction, (sound editing); Back in the Day: On the Mighty Fraser (series); From C to C: Chinese Canadian Stories of Migration (short); Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie (cinematography) and My American Exodus (screenwriting.) The Information or Lifestyle series winners included X-Weighted: Families which won awards for program and direction; CBC Marketplace (hosts) and The Wedding Belles (cinematography.) League of Super Evil won three awards in the Animation Program or Series category (program, screenwriting and overall sound) while The Trembling Veil of Bones won for direction/storyboarding and musical score. The Leo for Best Student Production went to Little Big Kid and the Youth or Children’s Program or Series category was dominated by R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour, which won for program, direction, sound editing and performance. Tiga Talk

Canadian producers won a record 15 Rockies at the recent Banff World Media Festival. There were 38 categories at the annual awards, held to celebrate international television productions. Quebec filmmakers won several of the awards, including three in the international Francophone competitions. 19-2 won the Francophone award for fiction for Montreal’s Produit par Films Zingaro 2 Inc.while Un gars le soir won the comedy/variety award for Montreal’s Avanti Ciné Vidéo and L’Horrorarium won the youth award for Montreal’s Productions Marie Brissette. The pilot awards list saw Canadian productions winning five prizes including the Grand Prize, which went to Quebec’s Studio Pascal Blais for Peter Piper and the Plane People. The show also won the youth & children’s programs award. inMotion won the documentary program award for Shoot to Thrill while Magee TV’s Night Chef won the entertainment program prize for pilots and Tech You Media won the drama program prize in the category for La Fontaine. The non-fiction category saw Les Productions Vic Pelletier and Lato Sense Productions win the environmental program prize for Architects of Change with the political documentaries award going to Zoot Pictures and DocBot Films Inc. for Remote Control War and the reality programs prize going to CBC’s Dragon’s Den. Canada’s fiction category winners included the comedy lol:-, produced by Quebecomm, the children’s program (2+) Stella and Sam produced by Radical Sheep productions Inc and the youth program (13+) program Anash and the Legacy of the Sun-Rock produced by Panacea Entertainment and The Thing with Features Productions. n Reel West July / August 2011


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July - August 2011: Reel West Magazine