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2013 western magazine awards finalist May / June 2014


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Production Update

The Alberta festival has found it’s niche as one of the world’s busiest development and production markets, with a focus on the future of the international content landscape.


indie scene

16 LIONSGATE HONOURED AS COMPANY OF DISTINCTION This B.C.-founded indie mini-studio is the recipient of the Banff World Media Festival’s Company of Distinction Award, recognizing significant leadership in the world of screen-based entertainment.

18 ACCENTING THE SCENE Vancouver-based Tony Alcantar got the gig of a lifetime as dialect coach on The Coen Brother’s Fargo TV series for FXX. In a diary, he recalls working through a cold Calgary winter to help the cast (including Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman Bob Odenkirk, Colin Hanks, Oliver Platt, and Keith Carradine) get that Minnesota accent just right.

9 Legal BrIEFS 11 Advice from the pros 12 Beginnings 30 FINAL EDIT

24 LEARNING BY DOING The New Image College of Fine Arts in Vancouver came up with the perfect solution to give their acting, make-up and esthetics students practical experience: they started producing their own films.

@reelwestmag coVer: Bob Odenkirk in Fargo; Photo by MatThias Clamer / FX contents: Allison Tolman and Shawn Doyle in Fargo; Photo by Chris Large / FX Reel West Magazine is a wholly owned enterprise of Reel West Productions Inc. It exists and is managed to provide publicity and advertising that supports the growth of the Western Canadian Motion Picture Industry. Executive publisher: Sandy P. Flanagan. Editor: Cheryl Binning. Publisher: Ron Harvey. Sales: Randy Holmes, Adam Caddell creative Director: Andrew von Rosen. art director: Lindsey Ataya. Photo Editor: Phillip Chin. Contributors: Nathan Caddell, Katja De Bock, John thomson. Reel West Magazine is published six times per year. Subscriptions Canada/US $35.00 per year (plus $10.00 postage to USA). Reel West Digest, The Directory for Western Canada’s Film, Video and Television Industry, is published annually. Subscription $35.00 per year (plus $10.00 postage to US). Both Publications $60.00 (plus $10.00 postage to USA) Prices include GST. Copyright 2013 Reel West Productions Inc. Second Class Mail. Registration No. 0584002. ISSN 0831-5388. G.S.T. # R104445218. Reel West Productions Inc. Suite 114 – 42 Fawcett Road, Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada, V3K 6X9. Phone (604) 553-1335 Toll Free: 1-888-291-7335 Fax: (604) 451-7305 Email: URL: Volume 29, Issue 3. Printed In Canada. To subscribe call 1-888-291-7335 or visit our website at Reel West welcomes feedback from our readers, via email at All correspondence must include your name, address, and Phone number.

Reel West MAY / June 2014


Production update

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

Zooey Deschannel is in town to shoot the feature film The Driftless Area. Photo by Isabella Vosmikova / FOX

Zooey Deschannel stars in BC-shot Feature


ctress Zooey Deschannel of New Girl fame is in town shooting the feature film The Driftless Area May 14 through to mid-June. Based on a book by Tom Drury, the dark comedy is about a bartender, played by Anton Yelchin, who returns home after the death of his parents and falls in love with an enigmatic woman (Deschannel) while also dealing with a volatile criminal (John Hawkes). Drury co-wrote the screenplay with director Zachary Sluser.

The Driftless Area is executive produced by Margot Hand, produced by Aaron Gilbert and Keith Kjarval, co-produced by Tyler Jackson and Gary Schultz, and produced by Ron McLeod. The DOP is Daniel Voldheim, production designer is Tony Devenyi, production manager is Ron McLeod, production coordinator is Jennifer Pitcher, and locations manager is Dan Carr. On the Canadian TV front, CBC is moving into darker terrain with the serialized drama Strange Empire,

about a ruthless man who butchers most of the men in an 1860s frontier town and then pushes frightened women into replacing prostitutes he lost in a recent cholera epidemic. The 13-part series began production June 3 in Aldergrove, B.C. It is executive produced by Jeff Sagansky, Laurie Finstad and Timothy Johnson from indie producer Johnson Production Group, in association with Annuit Coeptis Entertainment. Cast includes Cara Gee (Empire of Dirt, The Pe-

nelopiad), Melissa Farman (Lost, Game Change), and Tattiawna Jones (Heartland, Keyhole). Oliver De Caigny and Gigi Boyd are producers, Bruce Worall is DOP, production designer is Sheila Haley, production manager is Michelle Samuels, production coordinator is Terri Garbutt, and locations manager is Will Fearn. Strange Empire shoots through to October. In U.S. series news, the Fox drama Backstrom began production May 30 in the city. Adapted from Leif G.W. Persson’s best-selling Backstrom books, the series stars The Office’s Rainn Wilson as an offensive, irascible detective, who tries, and fails, to change his self-destructive behavior. Meanwhile, Backstrom leads his team, the Serious Crimes Unit, as they navigate Portland’s most sensitive cases. Exec producers are Hart Hanson, and Kevin Hooks and producer is Josh Levy. The production manager is Vladimir Stefoff and the production coordinator is Anita Truelove. Backstrom shoots until end of October. USA Network’s new medical series Rush is in production May through August. Created by writerdirector Jonathan Levine, Rush stars Tom Ellis (Buffalo Soldiers, Vera Drake) as an on-call Hollywood doctor who’s not attached to any hospital and is highly discreet no matter the ailment — as long as the client can pay his cash-only premium. The hard-partying, large-living doc has no desire to change his life or how he lives it, until an old flame and his conscience begin to stir things up. The series is exec produced by Jonathan Levine, Gina Matthews and Grant Scharbo and produced by Shawn Williamson. The director is Deran Sarafian, production manager is Dan Clarke, locations manager

@reelwestmag 4

Reel West MAY / June 2014

is Robert Murdoch and production coordinator is Jill McQueen. Cedar Cove was Hallmark channel’s first ever primetime scripted series and it was a ratings hit for the cable channel. So it’s no surprise the second season is back shooting through to end of July. The feel good family series stars Andie MacDowell as a small-town family court judge who’s the heart of her small community. Executive producer is Ron French, producer is Connie Dolphin, and directors are Martin Wood and Andy Mikita. Locations manager is Tracey Renyard and production coordinator is Anja Liimatainen. Cedar Cove airs on W Network in Canada. Also returning to B.C. for a second season is Lifetime’s Witches of East End, which began shooting April 22. Based on Melissa de la

Cruz’s New York Times best-selling novel, the series centers on the Beauchamp sisters who discover they are witches with ancient magical powers. With the help of their mother they learned how to cultivate their craft and work together to defeat unearthly enemies seeking revenge on their family, while keeping their abilities a secret from the town. Cast includes Julia Ormond, Jenna Dewan Tatum, Rachel Boston, Mädchen Amick, Eric Winter and Daniel DiTomasso. Maggie Friedman, Rich Haten, Allan Arkush are exec producers, Shawn Williamson is producer, Paul Lukaitis is production manager, Michael Roberts is locations manager, and Melissa Crich is production coordinator. Shooting continues through to August. n

Sera-Lys McArthur and Olivia Cheng in Skye & Chang.

Martial Arts and Alien Invasions

Skye & Chang, a one hour action-adventure sci-fi series pilot set in the sometimes glamorous and often gritty streets of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, premiered on APTN May 20th. Written and directed by Metis filmmaker Loretta Sara Todd, Skye & Chang tells the tale of Skye Daniel and Emily Chang who run a martial arts studio, act as bodyguards for visiting celebrities, and defend the underdogs in their ‘hood – and get caught up in a secret, intergalactic plot to turn Earth into a new paradise for aliens. The pilot was executive produced by Peter Strutt, with supervising producer Jonathan DuBois and line producer Navid Soofi. Reel West MAY / June 2014

Vancouver’s BroadbandTV Turns Uploads into Cash

Fans love to upload their favourite clips and episodes of TV shows to the Internet, but don’t spend too much time worrying about what that means for the owners of the show. Instead of getting angry, FreemantleMedia has responded by enlisting Vancouver-based digital media company BroadbandTV to source and monetize fanuploaded content. FreemantleMedia, behind hits like American Idol and America’s Got Talent, has an enormous library on YouTube of 140 official channels plus fan-uploaded videos, which together generated over 6.5 billion views in 2013, making it YouTube’s biggest film or TV studio partner. BroadbandTV will place advertising alongside the fan-uploaded clips and make sure the content is brand safe. They will use a proprietary technology called VISO NOVI to discover and claim content relating to more than 200 TV shows, which include Baywatch and The Price Is Right. “Any archival clip we capture from one of our shows can now be used as additional ad inventory for us to sell,” says Olivier Delfosse, FreemantleMedia Worldwide’s SVP of Digital, “and we can control that video asset and put valuable links on it to other initiatives, like the main YouTube channel for a show.” Western Canadian Editors Make the Cut Western Canada will be well represented at the 4th Annual Canadian Cinema Editors Awards, to be presented June 5th in Toronto. The awards celebrate the best of editing in all genres of film and television across the nation. Among the Western Canadian nominees: for Best Editing in Feature Length, Jeanne Slater - Evangeline; Best Editing in a Live Action Web Series (Comedy or Drama), Jon Anctil - World War Geek; Best Editing in a Short film, Kirby Jinnah - Shamed; Best Editing in Documentary, Mark Ratzlaff Blood Relative; Jonathan Mathew

and Nick Zacharkiw - Unclaimed; Best Editing in Television Movie or Mini-Series, Jamie Alain - Flowers in the Attic, Gordon Rempel. – Romeo Killer: The Chris Porco Story, Jamie Alain - Delete, Night 1, and Gareth C. Scales, What Remains; and Best Editing in Long Form Television Series – (1 hour drama, comedy, family program), Jamie Alain - Continuum. Nominees were selected by a panel of fellow editors, directors and other skilled industry professionals. For a  complete list of nominees, visit media. 5


CineCoup announces 2014 intake


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The CineCoup Film Accelerator program, a contest for indie producers with a top prize of up to $1 million in production financing and a guaranteed release in Cineplex theatres across Canada, is accepting submissions June 23rd through August 24th. The 2013 winner, Wolfcop, is in release now. New this year; filmmakers will have 10 weeks instead of 15 to promote their two-minute trailers and

build fan support. That part of the contest starts September 15th. The final 10, as determined by popularity, will receive mentoring from industry professionals. The winner will be selected from the final 5. In related news, the company will be introducing TeleCoup Accelerator, a similar program for would-be television producers. Start dates have yet to be announced.

James Clayton and Gary buseY in CandiLand.

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Dedicated actors will do anything to get it right for their role, as the stars of the feature film CandiLand demonstrated by losing 50 pounds during a six week hiatus half way through their shooting schedule this April. Shot in Vancouver at a breakneck place in 16 days, the horror-thriller stars Gary Busey (The Buddy Holly Story, Lethal Weapon, Point Break), James Clayton (Down The Line, Fringe) and Chelah Horsdal (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Arrow, Hell on Wheels). Clayton and Horsdal each lost 50 pounds in order to portray how their characters suffer extreme emaciation after a year of self-exile, while Busey takes on the role of a father who is desperate to see his son return to a normal reality. The feature is based on the novel Candyland by Elizabeth Engstrom, and tells the story of two lovers who exile themselves from the world to prove a point. The screenplay is written and directed by Rusty Nixon. CandiLand is produced by Motorcycle Boy Productions and Greendale Productions. Executive Producers are James Clayton, Blaine Anderson and Roseanne Milliken. Producers are Marc Petey, Chelah Horsdal, Diane Villavieja, and Marena Dix.

Reel West MAY / June 2014

Legal Briefs

Distribution Agreements – Avoiding the Pitfalls Doran Chandler Entertainment Lawyer


Amy Matysio, Leo Fafard and Aidan Devine Photo submitted

Things Bound to get Hairy at WolfCop Premiere

Lowell Dean’s horror-comedy feature WolfCop hits Cineplex theatres on June 6th, a year after being greenlit through the CineCoup Film Accelerator — and fans can already buy the action figures on Indigogo. WolfCop, starring Leo Fafard as an alcoholic cop who turns out to be a werewolf, is the first film from CineCoup’s Accelerator Program, a new studio model that turns to Internet fans to support and promote films through development. Out of 90 teams participating in CineCoup, Lowell and his Regina-based team of filmmakers were greenlit for production last June at an event attended by 200 industry decision makers at the Banff World Media Festival. For CineCoup founder, J. Joly, the premiere of WolfCop will see his promise of taking their first feature from “green to screen” in one year come true. WolfCop was written and directed by Dean and produced by Bernie Hernando and Hugh Patterson. UBCP Appoints New Agent The Union of British Columbia Performers (UBCP/ACTRA) has appointed Jason Cameron as the new Business Agent for Film, Television & New Media. Cameron comes to UBCP/ACTRA from the Directors Guild of Canada, British Columbia District Council where he was business agent. “Jason comes highly recommended and we are very happy that he has decided to join our team. All members will benefit from the expeReel West MAY / June 2014

rience he brings to the organization,” said UBCP/ACTRA President Alvin Sanders in a statement. In his role of Business Agent Cameron will be the first point of contact for new productions and provide interpretation and enforcement of the BCMPA and other agreements under UBCP/ACTRA’s jurisdiction. He will also work closely with UBCP/ACTRA members developing strategies for improving working conditions and furthering educational opportunities.

s of the date of writing this article, the 2014 Cannes film market is kicking off. Many producers have high hopes of selling their movies at the market and have entered into agreements with distributors, trusting in their skills, abilities and connections to make some great sales and maximize the value of the films. The deals struck between producers and distributors, including the form of agreement signed, will play a major part in determining whether the sales translate into money for the producers (and their funders) or whether the majority of profits are retained by the distributor as fees and expenses. There are many pitfalls that can be avoided by ensuring that, whenever possible the terms agreed to are as beneficial as possible for the producer, bearing in mind that relative negotiating power may make that difficult to implement in practice. Having a full understanding of the implications of all of the terms and conditions included in distribution agreements will help ensure that producers are informed of the possible effects of the agreements and increase the odds that the filmmakers and their investors will recoup their investments. It is important for producers to take precautions to prevent a film’s rights from being tied up with a distributor who is not able to make sales (or not making sales of an acceptable amount). It is not uncommon for inexperienced and/ or incapable distributors to tie up rights, making it legally impossible for producers to exploit the rights on their own. Convincing a distributor to provide an advance (i.e. a “minimum guarantee”) certainly can help motivate the distributor to sell the rights if they have invested in the success of the picture, although it may be a difficult term to negotiate into a deal if a producer does

not have a strong track record or the film does not have obvious value (e.g. actors and directors with quantifiable marquee value). Distributors should be able to provide producers with advance sales estimates on a territory-byterritory basis including high, low and “take” estimates. The agreement should also include a requirement that any sales below the minimum estimates cannot be made be made without the producer’s advance approval to make certain that a base level of sales will be reached in every applicable territory. Further, including an overall minimum total sales threshold that must be met within a certain time period will allow the producer to terminate the agreement for any unsold territories if that threshold is not achieved. Deals will typically include a distribution fee based on a negotiated percentage of sales (which may be broken down into different fees for different media), plus a “flat” marketing fee (i.e. an amount that is recouped whether the distributor spends the agreed-upon amount or not) plus the right to recoup any additional expenses. The producer should use best efforts to minimize the distributor’s fees and ensure that the expenses are limited to actual, documented out-of-pocket expenses that have been paid to third parties. The agreement must include specific accounting requirements (e.g. quarterly statements and payments) and the producer should have the right to audit the distributor’s books and records as they relate to the movie in question. Overall, producers must do their own research to try to determine whether the distributor in question has a proven sales track record, including a good (or at least acceptable) record of fair accounting practices. Does the distributor have a realistic marketing plan (or any marketing plan) and are they willing to consult with the filmmakers? Even the best contract possible Legal Briefs continued on page 29 7

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Serial Killer Inspires New Feature

Production has wrapped on Black Fly, the debut feature film from writer/director Jason Bourque, best known for his documentaries Music for Mandela and Shadow Company. Black Fly is loosely inspired by Bourque’s experiences growing up close to a serial killer in rural New Brunswick. “My parents were convinced the quiet, picturesque Kingston Peninsula was the ideal place to raise a family,” says Bourque. “They were horribly mistaken. Our neighbour, Noel Winters, was a serial killer and hit man for a biker gang.” Set in 1984, Black Fly is a dark, disturbing journey of self-discovery for Jake Henson, a troubled teen whose reconnection with his older brother sets off a powder keg of buried secrets, paranoia and murder. Produced by Ken Frith and Robyn Wiener (American Mary, Lawrence and Holloman), Black Fly stars Matthew MacCaull (Tomorrowland), Dakota Daulby (Falling Skies) and Christie Burke (Twilight: Breaking Dawn). The film production team includes award-winning director of photography Mahlon Todd Williams (See No Evil 2, Leprechaun: Origins) and production designer Paul McCulloch (Grave Encounters 1 and 2). Reel West MAY / June 2014

Indie Scene

AMC’s Hell on Wheels was a big winner at this year’s Rosie’s. Photo by Chris Large/AMC

BC Indie Filmmaking is on a Roll Paul Armstrong Producer

A And the Rosie Award Goes To...

Prairie Dog Film + Television’s Blackstone and Nomadic Pictures’ Hell on Wheels walked away the big winners of the night as the Alberta Motion Picture Industries Association handed out its annual Rosie Awards on May 25th. Set in a First Nations community, Blackstone’s six award wins included Best Performance by an Alberta Actress (Michelle Thrush), Best Screenwriter/Drama over 30 Minutes (Ron E. Scott), Best Original Musical Score/Drama (Mike Shields) as well as three other prizes. Hell on Wheels, set in the wild west of post Civil War America, took home five trophies, including best dramatic series, best editor for a drama over thirty minutes (Bridget Durnford), and best performance by an Alberta actor (Duncan Ollerenshaw). Heartland, produced by Seven24 Films, won the Rosie for best visual effects (Ken Bitz and Jason Lavoie), and best overall sound for a drama over 30 minutes (George Tarrant and Michael Leder). Writer-director Dave Schultz’ horror film Rufus took four awards, including best director in a drama over 30 minutes, best screen writing for drama over 30 minutes, best dramatic feature film (shared with Bruce Harvey) and best cinematographer for a drama over 30 minute (Craig Wrobleski). Hail Mary, produced by Anaid Productions, won Best Documentary Series, while the award for Best Documentary Over 30 Minutes went to Legend of A Warrior, produced by Corkscrew Media, enriquePoe Moving Pictures and the NFB. Reel West MAY / June 2014

nother strong year for indigenous independent production in BC? So far it’s shaping up that way. Whether or not it will match last year remains to be seen, where we saw a record number of local indie features apply to the Toronto International Film Festival. This led the 2014 Leo Awards to expand to three nights, partly the result of increased feature films, both for theatrical and television. One such local independent film recently in the can is Black Fly, written and directed by Jason Bourque and produced by Ken Frith, Bourque and Robyn Wiener, who co-produced Lawrence & Holloman last year. Black Fly tells the story of Jake Henson’s dark journey of self-discovery. A troubled teenager haunted by a horrific hunting accident, his reconnection with his older brother sets off a powder keg of buried secrets, paranoia and murder. Described by Telefilm as Canada’s Winter’s Bone, the film is loosely inspired by Bourque’s experiences growing up next to a serial killer in rural New Brunswick. The film, financed by Telefilm, Rogers Telefund and Super Channel, wrapped mid March after 15 days filming in Pitt Meadows, Fort Langley, Maple Ridge and Denman Island. It stars Matthew MacCaull, Dakota Daulby and Christie Burke. Another local feature recently wrapped is The Birdwatcher, written by Roslyn Muir, directed by Siobhan Devine and produced by Devine, Ines Eisses, Muir and Alexandra Raffe. The Birdwatcher is a the story of single mother, Saffron Wilson, who is diagnosed with terminal cancer and goes on a mad quest to seek out her birthmother with the hope that she will become the guardian of her two children. What she finds is Birdy, a prickly ornithologist in the midst of her own crisis. The film wrapped late April after a 2 week shoot in and around the

lower mainland and was financed by Telefilm Canada, the Women in the Director’s Chair (WIDC) Feature Film Award and an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. The Birdwatcher stars Camille Sullivan, Gabrielle Rose, Garwin Sanford, Matreya Fedor and Jacob Davies. Devine acknowledges the quantity, and quality, of the recent state of indie filmmaking. “There seem to be quite a lot of films being made in BC and while the budgets are low, I have a lot of optimism about the current development of talent here,” she says. That optimism is bolstered by the incredible support of the local film community. “It was amazingly gratifying to have our project supported through The WIDC Award which is a package of goods and services sponsorships from the local film community,” adds Devine. “We honestly can’t imagine how we could have made a film of this production quality without community support.” Bourque, director of Black Fly, concurs. “It was an incredible experience making my first Canadian indie film. We received so much support from the local film community and everyone came together to make the best possible film.  It was a blast”. Wiener notes that “the BC community is extremely supportive of indie filmmaking.  Vendors such as William F. White have always been supportive of indie filmmaking. They may not make as much money in the short run but it gives them a chance to support future directors, producers and talent alike.” Despite this support, there are still hurdles. “With limited funds, you are always going to be challenged with number of shooting days, locations, number of crew, and that forces you to be creative without sacrificing what your end result is,” says Weiner. “Never having enough money means that you lose crew sometimes to other shows that have bigger budgets.” Frith agrees. “It’s difficult to fund independent Canadian films.  Quite often the film’s initial financial structure changes, as production Indie Scene continued on page 29 9

NSI Online Short Film Fest Winners Three short filmmakers walked away a little richer as The National Screen Institute – Canada (NSI) announced the latest round of awards in its NSI Online Short Film Festival. The Sandwich Nazi, directed by Lewis Bennett, won the $1,250 A&E Short Filmmakers Award for best film; The Path, directed by Emily Jenkins, won the $2,000 Shaw Media Fearless Female Director Award for best film by a female director; and The Last Supper, di-

rected by Jonathan Eagan, won the $750 Bite Comedy Award for best comedy. The jury included James McNally, founder of Shorts That Are Not Pants; Kathleen Mullen, filmmaker and programmer; and Lindsay MacKay, the most recent winner of the A&E Short Filmmaker Award. The NSI Online Short Film Festival presents awards four times a year. Films can be viewed at www.

Atomic Cartoons is known for animated productions such as Rocket Monkeys.

Atomic Cartoons is launching a new strategy to ramp up its slate of original 2D and 3D animated productions. Known for service productions like Rocket Monkeys and originals like Pirate Express, Atomic has hired Luke Carroll (Escape from Planet Earth) as its new creative director. The company has also created an inhouse incubation studio, launched an in-house pitch workshop series, and reached out to potential partners in the publishing, art and gaming worlds. “We want to stimulate and support creativity inhouse, and simultaneously reach out to potential external partners in non-traditional areas, in order to significantly diversify our development slate,” says Rob Davies, partner, Atomic Cartoons. “This new effort is specifically designed to generate hybrid offerings – incorporating animation as well as live action, graphic, 2D and 3D technologies – with a mission to open up new broadcasting homes as the animation landscape continues to rapidly change.” Odyssey Reveals Buried Secrets Odyssey Media kicked off production of a twelve-picture feature film slate in March with shooting of Buried Secrets, written by Lindsay Adams (Secret Liaison), directed by Monica Mitchell (Robson Arms, Veiled Truth) and produced by Kirk Shaw and Devi Singh. Buried Secrets stars Sarah Carter 10

(Falling Skies, CSI New York) as an ex-cop who must fight police corruption, and her own dark past, to uncover a truth that will save her daughter from the clutches of a vicious stalker. The remaining films in Odyssey’s slate will shoot across Canada this year.

Photo by David Burkach

Atomic Hires Creative Director, Focuses On Original Production Vancouver Web Series Parked on Daily Motion

The Vancouver-shot web comedy series Parked, which premiered in February to strong audiences, is launching fresh episodes each week until July 2014. Created by Adam O. Thomas and S. Siobhan McCarthy, the series irreverently addresses the ‘real’ side of parenting as it follows the lives of a group of stay at home dads. It was shot over three weekends last November and December. Originally conceived for broadcast, it moved to web series with support from the Independent Production Fund. Parked bows every Friday on Daily Motion, then the following Wednesday on YouTube, as well as on its own site at Dig Out Your Shorts This Summer! It’s time to get your shorts ready for a summer entry deadline. The Vancouver Short Film Festival (VSFF) is calling for submissions of short films from all genres, including web series. The VSFF celebrates its fifth year

as a non-profit festival celebrating BC short films at all levels. Last year, 25 films were shown, with over $17,000 in prizes awarded to local filmmakers. Visit www.vsff. com for more details and to apply. The deadline to enter is August 31st. Reel West MAY / June 2014

Advice from the pros

How to launch a career as a DOP Ian Kerr is an Emmy-award winning Vancouver cinematographer and occasional cinematography instructor. He recently faced a class of cinematography students wanting to know how to launch their careers. So he reached out to three of his former students: Oliver Millar (UBC grad 2011), who shoots music videos, commercials and features (Rise of Laka); Chris Mennell (SFU grad 2007) who’s credits include Real Housewives of Vancouver and Emergency Room: Life and Death at VGH; and Nelson Talbot (SFU Grad 2011), who shot the feature Lawrence and Holloman. Hoping to glean some wisdom from this trio’s fresh experience in the harsh, cold world of film production, he emailed a list of questions to them. Kerr has edited down their insights in the following Q & A. Q&A by

Ian Kerr What would you have done differently starting out? OM: Immediately moved to LA. CM: I would have really committed to it earlier. I had a lot of doubts about whether it was a career for me, and then I realized I just had to go for it. I would have approached my work with a little more humility, and understood that my work wasn’t necessarily worth the amount I thought it was early on. I got a little bitter and angry right out of school, I thought everyone was out to screw me, then I realized that it’s my job to communicate my limits and the things I wanted and needed. They (PMs, Producers) are just doing their jobs and they’re just after value like you are. NT: I wish that I had taken more gigs. Most directors pick a DOP and stay with him for many of their shoots so if you miss that chance you may never work with them again. How did you pay the bills in the first year after graduating? NT: I didn’t really. I was poor and lived at home. Might as well accept the fact that if you want to DOP right Reel West MAY / June 2014

after school the gigs are 99% unpaid. OM: I edited a lot and did still-photography during school. By graduation my DPing was modestly paying bills. CM: I was in a fortunate position that I had a family with a large orchard in the BC interior. I was able to fill any gaps in production work (and there were a lot of gaps) with very flexible employers (parents). It helped to be really flexible about the jobs I took. I’ve seen some people be very rigid about what they wanted to do out of school, and I’m not sure if that’s the best route when you are starting out. What rate would you expect a graduating student with some experience to charge for lowend camerawork (eg. corporate DSLR videos) NT: I always went on a per project basis. My rate was always dependant on the budget of the show. Anywhere from gas money to a couple hundred bucks a day I would say is normal. OM: $400/ day? With a DSLR? Any less than that and it’s better business to work as an AC to gain experience. CM: I think if depending on your experience level, you could charge $300 - 400/day as an operator, and $400-$500/day as a DP, hopefully with gear rental on top.

How did you approach jobs that didn’t offer pay? NT: I own a Red so I would always make sure I negotiated a camera rate if there was no DP day rate. Also be sure that the free gigs have quality scripts that will get into festivals and be shown publicly. The last thing you want is to not get paid and then end up with a pile of shit film. That is no good to you. OM: Very selectively after I made a few mistakes. I learned that DPs are very valuable and shouldn’t give away work to a production that isn’t 100% serious. Be careful of “spec” jobs, they can be damaging to your reputation I think,  despite being good practice. At least that’s how I feel.... CM: This is a hard question. I started out working a lot for free. It’s easy to find work that way, but it can ruin your soul. I know some people who won’t work for free, and they had very few gigs. I did come to a point where I didn’t do it any more, on a professional level anyway. My rule now is if it’s very short term and for friends, I will work for free. Volunteer shows are very, very hard to maintain, from a mental perspective. So don’t let yourself get bitter and jaded.

How have you approached purchasing gear both from a financial and career-building point of view? NT: As an owner of a RED Epic package worth 125k, I can say this without a doubt. As a young DOP if you buy a camera you will not make any money off it. Everyone nowadays has a camera, you will never get your rate. If you buy a camera consider it an investment in building your career, your work will look better because you always shoot with a high-end camera.   OM: I only bought gear that I want to personally use. The rental business isn’t for me. I took out a line of credit to get an Epic-M and it didn’t help me get jobs as much as it helped me make a better income (if only to pay off said credit). CM: Buying gear is a strange thing. I think when you are working in the reality/doc world, its about timing. If a show is willing to rent your gear, and if you are in a position high enough up the food chain to make those requests. If you aren’t in that position its a lot harder to justify buying anything substantial. The advice I always received was that tripods, lenses, filters and lights can be good purchases, as this technology doesn’t really change that quickly. From the Pros continued on page 29 11

Photo by Phil CHin


Reel West MAY / June 2014


Setting the Stage Accomplished set decorator Peter Lando has worked on many of the major motion pictures that have landed in B.C., including the thriller Insomnia, sci-fi action movies The Chronicles of Riddick and Elysium, and most notably the 2008 Batman film The Dark Night, for which he garnered an Oscar and BAFTA nomination.


wenty-five years deep I am wondering where the blame lies for my choice to practice the art of set decoration. Looking back I can pick out a few threads running from early years through my studies and now spliced into professional interests. These threads seem to originate with my fascination with stories. When listening to a story being told I am drawn into the fertile realm of the imagination. This is how it was when, as a child, I would find myself lying in the carpeted storypit for the Vancouver Public Library’s weekly story hour. Images would flow into my mind and a new world would assemble itself as the narrative consumed my being. I am not immune to the power of the images brought forward and the experience can sometimes be profoundly unsettling. Self-generated images line up to become the raw material for my work as they check into existence with the first reading of a script. They may not be recognizable in the finished product but they offer initial direction and nurture the genesis of what does eventually show up. Even if they are abandoned entirely they serve as a starting point; a place to push off from. The next piece responsible for my beginnings in set decoration would be an appreciation for the products of research. As a graduate student in Anthropology I was excited to discover the life given to inanimate objects by ethnographic accounts of their collection and observations of their use. Researching the cultural value of an object requires reference to the world-view of the object’s makers and users. The exercise of thinking about what the manipulation of an object might have meant for a person of another time, place, and world-view, constitutes an essential part of my training. When I chose what kind of objects belonged on the endless shelves of Bruce Wayne’s living room in The Dark Knight, I put myself into the mind of that character; an angry, unresolved victim of arrested development from a privileged American background. I believe this process is common to the creative side of the various aspects of filmmaking. Being able to make sense of research helps get me to the place where I find what I need. At the time I was introduced to the world of set decoration, I was writing storylines for exhibitions in Science Centres, World’s Fairs, Heritage Centres, Reel West MAY / June 2014

and Museums. At first I split my focus between work as a set dresser and exhibition contracts. That time was further split by my seasonal passion for commercial fishing. I liked the balance of the cerebral and the physical. I was clearly drawn to working with teams; one creative, one predatory, and then…. the film crew. My first glance at how incredibly creative set decoration might be came from my first experience as a set dresser on the feature film We’re No Angels (1989), decorated by Jim Erickson. This was a formative experience and it set the bar for success at a very ambitious height. Jim’s passion for the material and his meticulous attention to period detail was inspiring. With the encouragement of the designer, Wolf Kroeger, Jim set about creating period sets with no quarter compromised. There was so much integrity in his work that I continue to see my own as flawed and lazy. As this is a piece about “Beginnings” I won’t go on to say too much about career highlights. I will say that I have had the opportunity to work with incredibly talented people in Vancouver, London, Amsterdam, Chicago, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, and New Orleans. Recognition by my local peers, The Academy, The Art Director’s Guild, and the British Academy has been gratifying. I have really enjoyed working with local designers such as John Willett, Michael Bolton, David Willson, Brent Thomas, and Mark Freeborn. There are great art directors, props people, painters, gaffers, and grips in this city. They make Vancouver an exciting and vibrant place to work. In a piece about my “Beginnings” I would be remiss if I did not mention the incredible wealth of talent in the set decoration departments locally. They have worked with the very best in the business, considered the experience, and expanded on it. Their strength is recognized internationally. I would not have had a “beginning” if it weren’t for the generosity and support found here. I am currently working on the third Night At The Museum project to be shot in Vancouver. This has been a brilliantly successful project for Fox. It will be the 30th film I have decorated and when it wraps, as was the case with all the others, I’ll be pounding the pavement looking for a new beginning. n 13

Festival feature

Banff Turns 35!

There’s no big changes underfoot as the Banff World Media Festival celebrates its 35th anniversary. The prestigious festival sticks to its winning formula: programming that’s on the pulse of the worldwide content industry Story by


Katja de Bock

n some cultures, a 35th anniversary is celebrated with gifts of jade. The green stone is said to provide insight into ritualistic knowledge, and to encourage creativity and dream solving. Not a bad connotation for a festival dealing with content creation. The Banff World Media Festival is turning 35 and the June 8th to 11th event is once again putting Alberta’s top tourism destination in the spotlight of the media world with a busy development and production market, flanked by master classes, panel discussions and the Rockie Awards show. Staying on the pulse of the industry is top priority for Executive Director Ferne Cohen in her fifth year at the helm. “We try and program it and feature people who are changing the face of the media landscape,” says Cohen. “It’s the best, most comprehensive, most inspiring program we’ve ever offered. It’s a combination of the birthday, of Banff, not only to look back at all the good and the impact it has had in 35


years, but really to be forward-looking, where we are going, what are the next 35 years going to bring.” What sets Banff apart from other industry markets, according to Cohen, is the caliber of speakers, the beautiful intimate setting, and the focus on the content industry as a whole. Speakers scheduled for the prominent master classes — 30-minute to onehour discussions with showrunners from across drama, comedy, digital, kids & animation — prove that television is not dead. One of the highlights is a master class by Nic Pizzolatto, the creator, executive producer and writer of True Detective, the HBO series that recently completed its first season to much critical acclaim. Starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, the series about two homicide detectives on the hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana, employed multiple timelines over a seventeen-year story. Other sessions feature Dan Harmon (creator of Community), Greg Yaitanes (creator of Banshee, which just finished its second season on HBO), Phil Baker (creator of Good Luck Charlie), Ken Mok (executive producer of America’s Next Top Model) and Facebook’s Head of Entertainment PartnerReel West MAY / June 2014

ships, Sibyl Goldman. NextMEDIA digital sessions are integrated in the regular programming. “The digital landscape is now one and the same with the media landscape, and new business models and trying to monetize digital consumption is a big issue,” says Cohen. “Those [monetization] issues are prevalent across a lot of the program, not limited just for one stream ,and are touched upon numerous times in different ways in topics throughout the festival.” But 35 years of Banff is also 35 years of putting Canadians in the spotlight. “Showing how this Canadian festival has become a must-attend event globally has really put Canadian talent and producers at the forefront of the world’s entertainment industry. They will be proudly on display,” says Cohen, who is excited about featuring the success story of Canadian-US studio Lionsgate. With regular festival passes nearing the $1,800 mark, the question is how cost effective the four-day event is for the 2,000 delegates expected. According to an independent study produced by the Canada Sports Tourism Commission, the economic impact on the industry surpassed $800 million in 2012. About 50 per cent of delegates are Canadian, with the other half mostly US, European and Asian visitors as well as many international buyers. Cohen says she understands the festival passes are a high investment for emerging producers, but she is convinced it is worth it. Included in the passes are up to nine face-toface meetings with top development people and numerous networking opportunities at lunches, receptions and parties. “It’s an experience that they really can’t get anywhere else.” Thirteen lucky emerging producers have been selected to a free of charge stay at Banff through the Bell Media Fellowship program. S. Siobhan McCarthy of Red Troika Films in Vancouver and Art Napoleon of Victoria-based Mooswa Films are two of them. Napoleon is pitching his APTN doc series Moosemeat & Marmalade to international buyers and has made appointments with decision makers from Finland, Germany and Austria, as he detected a great interest in isReel West MAY / June 2014

sues on previous trips as a musician in Europe. It’s been 12 years since Napoleon last attended Banff, at the time receiving an award for his series Cree for Kids. He says it’s now time to “roll up my sleeves and mingle and connect with people in the industry. I think that is about the biggest aim for me. Mixing with other producers as well as talent buyers.” Seven years ago, McCarthy was also a “rookie in the Rockies,” but she has been attending Banff steadily since 2007. “I feel it is integral for the growth of my business. Every year, it’s where I go to push my slate and to foster relationships,” she says. Preparing her pitches by meeting decision makers in Toronto pre-Banff has taken the pressure of the cooker, and she can now focus on following up and attend panels to find out what’s coming down the pipe. “If you really want to be considered a serious player on the television side, it’s a market you need to attend,” she says, adding the trip is a great investment. At a previous Banff, McCarthy met IPF exec director Andra Sheffer, pitched her edgy web series Parked and received $125k in funding the next year. “I would think it would be more expensive to not go and not have that potential relationship be built,” she adds. “A broadcast show can be up to a million an episode. So if you’re doing 13 episodes, an entrance fee of $1,800 is really a drop in the bucket.” Thomas von Hennet, VP International Co-Production & Documentaries at ProSiebenSat.1, a major German media group based in Munich, is a frequent Banff delegate. He oversees international drama and factual co-productions, as well as documentary license acquisitions like Atlantis: End of a World, Birth of a Legend (2011), and Inside the Titanic (for 2012). Hennet says he attends Banff to meet up with colleagues and content creators who can’t always attend the European markets. “And of course, every year I am hoping to find the ultimate project, to identify the sought-after ‘game changer’, which I can develop with kindred spirits.” n

Thunderbird Films’ Package Deal is in the running for a Rockie Award.

Rockie Award Nominees Canadian producers lead the way with 40 nominations for the Banff World Media Festival Rockie awards —and Western Canadian productions are well represented in the mix. Vancouver-based Thunderbird Films’ comedy Package Deal is vying for best sitcom; Continuum, from Vancouver’s Reunion Pictures, is nominated for best sci-fi and action series; and Jack, produced by Winnipeg’s Eagle Vision, is contending for best TV movie. In the lifestyle category, The Illegal Eater, produced by Winnipeg’s Farpoint Films In Association with Middle Child Films, is nominated, as is Vancouver-based Paperny Entertainment’s Timber Kings. “How incredible it is to see the ‘best of the best’ content from around the world be recognized by our esteemed judges,” said Ferne Cohen, executive director of the Banff World Media Festival in a statement. “ We wish the nominees the best of luck, and look forward to celebrating the Rockie Award winners at this year’s Banff.” The Illegal Eater is hosted by Steven Page, former vocalist for the Barenaked Ladies, as he seeks out underground restaurants, black market ingredients and food items of clandestine or controversial origin. The series is executive produced by Scott R. Leary, Kyle Bornais, and Tony Wosk Timber Kings, which airs on HGTV, takes viewers behind the scenes to see how some of the most unique log homes on earth are custom built by the master logsmiths at Pioneer Log Homes, in Williams Lake, British Columbia. Executive Producers are Audrey Mehler, David Paperny, and Cal Shumiatcher The City series Package Deal tells the story of three brothers — played by Randal Edwards (Degrassi:The Next Generation) Harland Williams (There’s Something About Mary) and Jay Malone (Monk)who are over-involved in each others lives until a woman (Julia Voth) enters the picture. Executive Producers are Tim Gamble, Michael Shepard, and Andrew Orenstein. Continuum is a Showcase sci-fi series that centers on the conflict between a group of rebels from the year 2077 who time-travel to Vancouver, BC, in 2012, and a police officer who accidentally accompanies them. Executive Producers are Tom Rowe, Simon Barry, Pat Williams, Steven Moffat, Faith Penhale Jack, a CBC TV movie about the late federal New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton, is produced by Laszlo Barna, Kyle Irving, and Lisa Meeches. Rockie Awards are handed out during the Banff World Media Festival on June 9th.

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Festival feature

Lionsgate honoured as Company of Distinction The born-in-BC media conglomerate prides itself on innovation and diversification Story by

John Thomson


ionsgate Entertainment Corporation, the world’s most successful independent mini studio, is the recipient of the Banff World Media Festival’s Company of Distinction Award. Introduced in 2013, the Company of Distinction award recognizes significant leadership in the world of screen-based entertainment. CBS Corporation received the first award last year. Like CBS, Lionsgate has diversified into all areas of screen-based entertainment, has a global reach and delivers a significant cultural punch. It’s TV productions, Weeds, Mad Men and Orange is the New Black is water-cooler stuff, the type of programming that gets people talking. And wins awards. Lionsgate shows have won 19 Emmys to date. Its motion picture division, which has won 10 Oscars, includes a range of product, from Monsters Ball to the Saw series. The company isn’t afraid to take chances and mix it up a bit. “It’s a well-deserved and prestigious award for them,” says Brett Burlock, Vice President of Creative Affairs at Thunderbird Sea to Sky Entertainment, 16

Lionsgate’s Canadian connection in Vancouver and Toronto. “They’re innovators and they push the envelope and often dare to do things other studios do not. We’re excited to be part of that family.” This year’s award coincides with Banff ’s 35th anniversary. “Lionsgate is one of the most important and innovative independent production and distribution companies in the industry and it’s our honour to celebrate them during the 35th anniversary event,” says Barbara Williams, Senior Vice-President of Content at Shaw Media and the Chair of the Banff Foundation Board of Directors. The award will be presented at the Festival’s opening keynote address. Lions Gate (it was initially two words) was founded in 1997 by BC mining magnate Frank Guistra and friends with an initial investment of $56 million. The fledgling company bought a series of small distributors and purchased a North Vancouver movie studio from 21 Jump Street producer Stephen J. Cannell. In 2000 it received another $33 million from a consortium of private and corporate partners that included former Sony Pictures executive Jon Feltheimer. Guistra left the company to pursue opportunities in the resource sector and Feltheimer became CEO, a position he holds today. Frank Guistra Reel West MAY / June 2014

currently sits on the Lionsgate board. Feltheimer continued acquiring distribution companies, building a library of titles. The company also targeted non-network TV, a risky venture when the cable companies were first starting out. Mad Men was a tough sell, admits Feltheimer, but the gamble paid off. Today Lionsgate supplies over 30 shows to 22 different networks, conventional, cable and digital. In 2012, in its largest partnership to date, Lionsgate acquired Summit Entertainment and the rights to the Twilight and Hunger Games movie franchises. Box office receipts from Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and others, accounted for nearly half of Lionsgate’s 2013 global revenue of $2.7 billion. The company headquarters are in Santa Monica but the Canadian connection remains strong. Six of 12 board members are Canadian including Phyllis Yaffe, former CEO of Alliance Atlantis. In 2012 Lionsgate entered into a joint venture with Vancouver’s Thunderbird Films to create Thunderbird Sea to Sky Entertainment. The spin-off company will look at premium projects on a case-by-case basis with the intention of capitalizing on Canadian talent, locations and tax credits. Thunderbird will continue making TV shows like Continuum and Some Assembly Required primarily for Canadian broadcasters while Thunderbird Sea to Sky will make scripted television series for international markets. “The whole purpose of the venture is to find projects that take advantage of Lionsgate’s reputation for delivering top flight creative projects, “says Burlock. “They may be international treaty co-pros, they may be 6 of 10 Cancon or they may be shows that are geared entirely towards the US market.” Its first project, Ascension, a sixpart miniseries for SyFy Channel, goes to camera at the end of June in Montreal. Thunderbird Sea to Sky is but one cog in the Lionsgate machine. The company has scores of partnerships, joint ventures and mergers around the globe. It has high hopes for its alliance with Hong Kong’s Celestial Tiger Entertainment, intending to distribute more content to emerging Reel West MAY / June 2014

Lionsgate Entertainment has been recognized for shows such as Mad Men (Opposite: Jon Hamm as Don Draper; Photo by Frank Ockenfels / AMC), Weeds (Top) and Orange is the New Black (Above: Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman and UZO ADUBA as Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren).

markets in the Far East. That’s the Lionsgate mantra; pursue eyeballs regardless of territory, genre or platform. “If you make good content in a world marketplace that is hungry for it, you will find plenty of buyers as long as you don’t limit yourself to old models,” says Feltheimer. And Lionsgate is not afraid to replace the old with the new. Its 10+90 concept, which commits a broadcaster to a 90 episode run if the first 10 are successful, thereby amortizing costs, is one of them. “Change is part of our corporate DNA,” says Feltheimer. Today, Lionsgate is reaching out to all audiences, in all genres and on all

platforms. In 2010 it formed a joint venture with Televista to produce 8 to 10 films a year for America’s rapidly growing Hispanic population. It co-owns Epix, a pay-TV channel for which it’s producing original content and it’s planning another installment in the Divergent series for the young adult crowd. Feltheimer is especially bullish on digital content. The company is pursuing scripted series for Hulu and Amazon Prime. It has partnered with RocketJump Studios (Video Game High School) to produce original digital content; it runs BeFit, a fitness channel, on YouTube and has bought a piece of Defy Media, which produces digital lifestyle content for

women. In April it created a new division, Interactive Ventures and Games. “Change seems a little scary to all of us. Change is hard, but there is no going back and the status quo isn’t an option for success in a world evolving as rapidly and in a business changing as profoundly as ours,” Feltheimer told a MIPCOM audience in 2010. Forging a path on the road less traveled has worked well for Lionsgate. The company is invested in movies, TV shows, specialty channels, home video, digital content, gaming and there’s even talk of a Hunger Games theme park. A distinctive company indeed. n 17


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BILLY Bob Thorton as Lorne Malvo. photo by Matthias Clamer / FX.

Diary Feature

Accenting the Scene

Vancouver’s Tony Alcantar is an actor and improv teacher — but he’s also a renowned dialect coach. In the fall of 2013 he jumped at the opportunity to work on The Coen Brother’s Fargo TV series for FXX. After all, it wouldn’t be Fargo without those distinctive Minnesota accents. The Calgary-shot comedy crime drama is an original adaptation of the 1996 Academy-award winning film and starts Oscar-winner Billy Bob Thornton as a drifter who arrives in Bemidji, Minnesota and forever changes the life of an ordinary insurance salesman, played by Martin Freeman (Sherlock). In the following diary Alcantar looks back at this one of a kind opportunity to get the Fargo sound just right. Fargo airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FXX. Diary by

Tony Alcantar September 2013 I’m dialect coaching Falling Skies and am getting tons of actors contacting me for a “Minnesota dialect” for a new series called Fargo, being shot in Calgary. The Coen brothers are listed as exec producers so I guess it’s somehow related to one of my favorite films, Fargo. I don’t get it; why is someone doing a show of an almost 20-year-old movie? It’s about a week later and the calls keep coming for Fargo. I’m looking over the various sides for the even more characters and hands down, this is the BEST writing I’ve seen since I hit Vancouver 15 years ago! I’ve now met with even more actors with different sides and different characters…this is gold, Jerry, gold! However I’m a bit torn: it seems that the whole city is auditioning for this show but me. I just talked to my agent and she said let’s put something on tape for casting. “Yeah, I can do that”, I’m thinking, “but why wasn’t I brought in?” I’m tired of self-taping auditions and flushing them and my money down the casting hole. Agggh! OK, I’ve reconsidered. I have nothing to lose but my pride so I’ll do it. Because I understand and love this writing so well, my audition is great. My reader, Jason Burkart loves it. The camera guy loves it. My agent loves Reel West MAY / June 2014

it and we send it to casting. The casting assistant says my work is great; she loves it! I’m still not called in. Whatever. I’m feeling a bit anxious over this thing…fine, I haven’t been called in but more importantly, Fargo will absolutely need a dialect coach and this is what I do best. On the advice of two colleagues I’m going to email the Calgary producer, Chad Oakes, to interview for the position. I know this is not the protocol; you’re supposed to wait for them to call you. But I’m not docile, I’m an American and I’m not afraid to go for it. I’ve worked with A-listers, I’ve worked with entire casts, I know what the producers are looking for and have nothing to lose. Ask and ye shall be given. I sent the email to Chad Oakes and today he emailed me back. He wants to know if I can work as a local…yessss! I’m really stoked but this is far from being a done deal. October Still working on Falling Skies and have been contacted by two features and a pilot to work as dialect coach; when it rains, it pours! Still waiting for Fargo to make a solid offer as the emails have gone back and forth. Any of the gigs would be great but Fargo is where my passion is. Just interviewed via phone (I HATE conference calls) with the big brass from Fargo. The original line producer, John Cameron is part of the call as is exec producer/writer Noah Hawley, Adam Bernstein (director) and 19

the original dialect coach Liz Himelstein. It seems like all systems are go, but until there’s a contract, it’s all talk. Today two of the other productions have made offers to me AND Falling Skies keeps booking me… c’mon Fargo…put it on paper! I can’t screw over these other productions and they want answers now. My wife says let’s pray about this. We do. FINALLY; the offer is in and Chad and I hammer out the details. I’m booked for Fargo…time to drive to Calgary! Late October Just got to Calgary, sunny and warm. I’m heading to the production office to meet the brass, then in two days I start to prep the leads. Just met Chad Oakes and the other bigwigs. Saw the head shots of the leads: Billy-Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Bob Odenkirk, Colin Hanks, Oliver Platt, Keith Carradine, Adam Goldberg ... and completely unknown actor Alison Tolman. Many of the characters in Fargo are from the Minnesota (or upper Midwest) region of the U.S. My job is to keep them sounding as if they are from that region WITHOUT going into the Fargo movie stereotype. (The producers want Fargo the movie minus 20%) To do this, the Canadian actors have to dispense of their Canadian stereotypes and the US actors have to exchange their regionalisms for the Minnesota sound. There are only 3 actors on set who either lived in Minnesota or are actually from Minnesota. And of course, Martin Freeman, from England has to keep his British accent in check and keep in his Minnesota sound. In short, a LOT of work had to be done with a LOT of actors! Just worked an entire week with the main cast. British actor Martin Freeman requested the most time with me. His work ethic is excellent and he’s sounding great. Keith Carradine has a twang that I’ve got to

(Top to bottom) MARTIN FREEMAN as Lester Nygaard; photo by Matthias Clamer / FX. Adam Goldberg as Mr. Numbers, Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard, Russell Harvard as Mr. Wrench; photo by Chris Large / FX. Joey King as Greta Grimley; photo by Matthias Clamer / FX.


Reel West MAY / June 2014

keep an ear for but the guy’s a 40+ year pro in the biz…I’m not too worried. Was able to swap some Chicago stories with Bob Odenkirk since we’re both from there, are Second City alums and know some of the guys from way back when. It really restores my faith in the biz that Alison Tolman was cast. She’s 32 and this is her first gig. She’s great and has a decent grip on the accent. Amen, sister! A bit of a snag. One of the unmentioned leads is a bit testy today… since my background is in improv, I have to find a way to get him to get the dialect 100% without rubbing him the wrong way. Dialect coaching is like conducting an orchestra while being a hairdresser, bartender and psychiatrist rolled into one. November Snow and cold! Just what everyone wanted. It’s freezing, the driving is icy and horrible and I know I’m going to get into an accident. And I have no idea where anything is in this city. If it wasn’t for my GPS I literally don’t know where I’d be. We’ve just finished Day 1. It went so smoothly that we actually finished in 10 hours. When does THAT ever happen? Second week of shooting and Billy-Bob Thornton just hit set. Lots of “just let Billy be Billy” going around but the truth is, the guy’s one of the nicest guys. Quiet, polite, soft-spoken, accommodating, pretty funny: a real pro who knows his craft. Since his character’s not from Minnesota, I won’t get to do dialect work with him. Shame. I’m flying home this weekend to surprise my son for his 6th birthday! When I get there they all ask why I have a beard. I tell them that if they were in Calgary, they’d all have beards too. It’s close to December and we’re almost done with the first two episodes. As I read episode three, it seems that I WILL work with Billy! He stopped me at lunch today to confirm it. Ya, real good! December The snow and cold

(Top to bottom) Allison Tolman as Molly Solverson, Bob Odenkirk as Bill Oswalt.; photo by Chris Large / FX. Glenn Howerton as Don Chumph; photo by Matthias Clamer / FX. Keith Carradine as Lou Solverson; photo by Matthias Clamer / FX.

Reel West MAY / June 2014


continue. The locals say that this is the worst winter in 20 years. That doesn’t make me feel any warmer. Most everyone on set is wearing Canada Goose arctic parkas. I gotta get one. $800 but I gotta stay warm. LOTS of exterior shots and I’m constantly asked if I’m warm enough. In a few days we break for Christmas. We actually had to cancel the last shooting day before Christmas break…it was too cold to shoot…-40 degrees or something brutal like that and we’re in the middle of nowhere shooting outside! Oh well, we’ll pick it up in 2014. JANUARY 2014 My Canada Goose parka just was delivered to set; another prayer answered. I just finished working with the main cast to get them back in “Minnesota”. Being away for a month can ruin a good accent but the cast is eager to get going. Ah jeez! Got busted in a speed trap heading out at 6am to some freezing location that doesn’t even show up on my GPS. $120 down the hole. (It’ll probably run into my audition tape along the way!) When the cop pulls me over I’m tempted to reenact the scene from the show when Billy-Bob gets pulled over by a cop…but I think I should just keep my mouth shut. A few Vancouver actors I know have been booked for the series and I am excited to see them. Good for them! The writing of each episode really is allowing them to bring it! Just rehearsed the Minnesota dialect with Billy-Bob. He’s really playful with it; very good. I tell him about my speeding ticket and he laughs…tells me it’s best to shut up with cops. He tells me a few cop stories of his own. I laugh. FEBRUARY The honeymoon is over: while thrilled with the show, the brass at MGM is really pushing to get things done without going over budget. I think about what my buddy says: “the operative word in “show business” is business.” We’re now shooting fewer days with lon-

(Top to bottom) BILLY Bob Thorton as Lorne Malvo; photo by Chris Large / FX. MARTIN FREEMAN as Lester Nygaard; photo by Chris Large / FX. Russell Harvard as Mr. Wrench; photo by Matthias Clamer / FX.


Reel West MAY / June 2014

ger hours and everyone is feeling the stress, me too. The cold and snow isn’t helping. MARCH Lots of extra cameras and bodies on set today: the press is descending on Fargo. I’m pulled over to do a video interview with more set up for this week. Good thing I’m not camera-shy. From day one I’ve known the show is amazing. The fact that others agree: that’s amazing. I got to fly home for my daughter’s 8th birthday this weekend. It was short and sweet. Daddy, where’s your beard? I got tired of looking like an old man. Besides, I figure if I shave, it’ll get warmer, right? Pffft! We’re way over the hump now and getting near the end. The standin, Blair Young, was rewarded with a one-scene role today. Good for him: freezing his butt off every day. My acting buddies back home keep asking me when I get to do some role. I think back to how bummed I was because I didn’t audition for the show. But I’ve got the best job… working with everyone: a one-man department helping them do their best. If I want to see my face, I can

“...the truth is, the guy’s one of the nicest guys. Quiet, polite, soft-spoken, accommodating, pretty funny: a real pro who knows his craft...” - on Billy Bob Thorton

look in the mirror. Why did I shave? Still more interviews. I’m constantly asked “Which actors had the hardest time with the accent”. I kindly refuse to reveal that: I’m not going to break the trust of an actor by dishing dirt. After about the third time asked, I tell one interviewer, “I really can’t say. But I CAN tell you who’s sleeping with who and who needs to come out of the closet!” She nervously laughed. I don’t think she understands irony. Tonight the cast and crew are being treated to a private screening of episode one. I wish my wife

were here (but then again, she’s a bit squeamish about violence so maybe it’s better that she’s home with the kids)! Producer Kim Todd asks me what I think of the accents…I say, “I’m in love with it ALL…sights, sounds, writing, acting, EVERYTHING”! APRIL For these final two weeks we’ve got the main unit and second unit going every day. I’m jumping from one set to another. Draining. In passing, John Cameron says to me, “I’m over this cold and snow, you”? Yep. Time to wrap and head somewhere warm. My wife and

kids insist! THE WRAP I’m reading the tons of press on the show: great. The show has now aired and the reviews are out: Fargo is an undeniable hit. For my personal work, every review I’ve read has loved the accents and even the hardest critic, the Minnesota press, complemented me. I’m reading Kim Todd’s emails: “Everyone (at MGM) is very happy with the work you have done and the work the actors are doing…the cast relied on you and trusted your instruction…no one could do it better.” Ask and ye shall be given! n

The Definitive Producing Workbook For the producer, the world of independent film and television production is often surrounded by a sea of paperwork. The contracts, documents and requirements of agencies are constantly in flux. Nothing is definitive, every contract has its own set of particulars and every deal is different. "Boilerplate" agreements are open to negotiation. Rules can be flexible. The PW4 will help guide a producer through some of the overwhelming volume of documents involved in the world of independent film and television production. Legal writers review the standard clauses and reveal issues of concern to producers negotiating contracts. Many sample agreements are included for reference. The book provides a comprehensive overview of national and provincial funding bodies and engaging stories and words of wisdom by seasoned producers.

Order your copy today: 604-685-1152

Reel West MAY / June 2014


Feature story

Learning by Doing Vancouver’s New Image College of Fine Arts puts its students to work on their own productions Story by

Nathan Caddell


n the penthouse of a building in downtown Vancouver, there’s long hallways and numerous doors, where you can dart in and out of acting classes on soundstages and pop into makeup studios where fake ears and noses are being moulded. The New Image College of Fine Arts is a hive of activity: students use tablets (an effort by the school to go paperless) and are encouraged to speak up and use technology. Everyone knows each other and, during mid-afternoon, no one’s leaving or snoozing at their desks


as a professor drones on. No, these students are here to listen, and they are here to work. New Image was first branded 35 years ago by Charlotte Dyck as a fashion company and agency. It later became an acting school and only in 2002 did the school turn into a fulltime trade college, under the guidance and ownership of Charlotte’s daughter, president Charie Van Dyck and her husband, vice president John Craig. Now the college runs three full-time programs, specializing in acting, makeup and esthetics. Sitting in a corner office a door down from his wife’s, John Craig looks out at the waterfront view and describes how a kid from Nelson came to own this place.

Reel West MAY / June 2014

“I was going to go straight to college and be a chiropractor, and my life just took a different route,” says Craig, perched over the top of Gastown. “I worked for Jimmy Pattison, then owned my first jazz bar, then I ended up in the promotional marketing industry, making clothes and dealing with corporate clients for marketing their companies and then Charie and I met and we teamed up. She had New Image, had been running it part-time for many years, and it’s a great combination of what we have. I mean, we do everything together, we work together, we work out together, we drive to work together, it’s kinda weird, you don’t see many people that do it.” Neither John nor Charie had much experience in the film world (she did some modelling), but they knew that students had to get real world experience in this industry. “That’s our only priority. That’s why we’re different,” says Craig. “We create practical experience here, students learn by doing, so we make sure they’re doing.” Practical curriculum and professors teaching real-world skills isn’t enough: they also make sure that their students get hands-on experience. So they began producing their own shorts, features and plays, bringing in experienced professionals as well as putting the students to work. “About six years ago, we started making feature films and using our resources and allowing our students to work on our films,” says Craig, his eyes wide with excitement. “So we hire all our people, we have them all work on our movies. And it’s great for the students to work on all of these things, they learn so much and a lot of them go on to work for the TV and film industry which is great. So we create a full onset experience for them. Sometimes we get 100 people on set in one day, which is amazing for a school. And we’re running 12-16 hours a day, just like the real big boys and they’re all working.” New Image has produced 10 features and 40 shorts in all genres and the projects have received online and home entertainment distribution worldwide. Amber Downing, who runs both the makeup and esthetics departments, echoes Craig’s vision, stressing the importance of getting kids into the world. They believe their program stands out because of the way in which they give students experience. Reel West MAY / June 2014

(Top) An artist works on what becomes the finished product, pictured on opposite page. (Bottom) Director of Photography Matt Leaf on location filming Alarming, produced by New Image Entertainment. Photos courtesy of New Image College of Fine Arts

“I’ve had a lot of flexibility to kind of mould and develop the program the way I want,” says Downing. “And the thing I saw with aesthetics schools in Vancouver is that they really didn’t focus on job placement. They have job placement programs, but they didn’t really have somebody in place who made that happen for every individual. We really pride ourselves on job placement, not after graduation, but before graduation. The majority of our students start working before they graduate, because we’re all so active in the industry, so it works out really well that way.” Being active in the industry is one of the main criteria that the school looks for in professors.

“They can’t want to get into teaching because they’re sick of being an esthetician and want to do something different,” states Downing. “We don’t hire that. We want you to still be passionate about the industry; we want you to still be doing it and bring that to the students.” For example, the school's Senior Academic Officer for Acting is Philip Granger, veteran of stage and screen, who is currently reprising his role as Detective Jablonski in the 4th season of The Killing. Graduates of New Image are also putting their talents to work in the B.C. industry, getting jobs on series such as Arrow, Falling Skies, Continuum, as well as features like Night at the Mu-

seum 3 and Godzilla, to name a few. New Image is not without its challenges. It’s relatively small and somewhat new. It also doesn’t have the brand name that institutions like Vancouver Film School carry with them. Add into that the constantly changing film and television landscape in Vancouver (Craig and company suffered through the last couple of lean years) and you’ve got some obvious hurtles. But the small school has big plans ahead, from building the New Image brand in India (a project that’s currently in talks) to moving floors to a bigger space in their current building. “For what we teach, we teach three things right, and for what we teach, we teach it the best,” says Craig. n 25

2014 network guide

Who you gonna pitch? A guide to who’s buying what in Canadian TV

Reel West’s 2014 Network Guide will help you figure out who’s who in Canadian TV: this list of channels, mandates and executives will help better position your pitches to the right people. BELL MEDIA CHANNELS (english language)



BRAVO! Entertaining, intelligent, high-end programming that caters to a premium adult audience (aged 25-54). Formats of interest include: high-quality dramatic series and observational documentary series (reality).

COMEDY Scripted or unscripted comedy series including single-cam or multi-cam sitcoms, panel shows, game shows, and talk shows appealing to adults aged 18- 34 and have broad comedic appeal. No feature films or docs, and limited animation.

CTV Big-tent, high-quality programming, universal in theme, driven by unique and exceptional characters. Close-ended episodic series, realitycompetition shows, and some mini-series.

DISCOVERY CHANNEL Series focusing on science, technology, adventure and nature; world around us; interesting people doing interesting things, that contain curiosity, surprise, and great take away, and are as much about the WOW as the HOW. Target is 18-49-yearold males with high curiosity factor.

E! Caters to Canadians who loves gossip, reality shows, and candid profiles of the world’s biggest stars. Looking for reality, lifestyle, and entertainment series based in the world of pop culture.

MUCH Caters to youth who want to keep connected to the world of music and pop culture. Looking primarily 26

for reality-doc, and music and entertainment series geared to young adults who don’t take themselves too seriously.

M3 Engaging audiences with highly-targeted premium programming from drama and comedy to reality and feature films. Looking for prime-time ready entertainment programming.

SPACE As Canada’s ultimate source for the world’s most addictive and entertaining phenomena, looking for stories that challenge the imaginations of our audience. Key demo is adults 18-54. Not commissioning for children, youth, feature film, MOWs, or mini-series.

THE MOVIE NETWORK Series: Highly entertaining dramatic and comedic

storytelling; character-driven material, both limited and on-going half-hour and one-hour series with high production values and a cinematic visual approach. Attracted to material with surprising and unpredictable characters with a fresh perspective on the world they inhabit. Not interested in conventional crime, legal, and medical procedural shows; sitcoms; youth, or lifestyle programming; web (only) series; or documentary series. Films: Pre-buys approximately 40 films per year and acquires an additional 20 more, ranging from big-budget theatrical films to low-budget films from first-time directors, feature-length documentaries, and commercially-driven madefor-television movies. Documentaries: A small appetite for documentaries but do pre-buy and acquire a select number of feature-length documentaries, specifically highly entertaining pop culture docs with broad audience appeal and potential for theatrical release. EXECUTIVES

• Corrie Coe, Senior Vice-President, Independent Production • Trish Williams, Director, Drama, Independent Production • Sarah Fowlie, Director, Comedy, Independent Production • Robin Johnston, Director, Factual and Reality, Independent Production • Rebecca DiPasquale, Production Executive, Drama • Tom Hastings, Production Executive, Drama • Gosia Kamela, Production Executive, Drama • Kathleen Meek, Production Executive, Drama • Carrie Paupst-Shaughnessy, Production Executive, Drama • Kara Haflidson, Production Executive, Comedy

and Factual • Bill Lundy, Production Executive, Comedy • Tina Apostolopoulos, Production Executive, Factual and Reality • Michele McMahon, Regional Development Manager (B.C. and Territories) • Brandice Vivier, Regional Development Manager (Prairies) • Heather Williamson, Manager, Program Development, Discovery Channel • Edwina Follows, Director of Commissioning and Programming, Discovery Channel • Ken MacDonald, Vice President, Programming, Discovery Channel





AUX AUX is a national music channel showcasing concerts, documentaries, interviews, movies and music videos. A music authority, the channel uncovers some of the best artists from rock to hip-hop.

BITE Canada’s source for smart, quirky comedy. From cult flicks, to fan hits, Bite features acclaimed series the very best of all things funny – comedy shorts, stand-up, improv, and of course the funniest, most celebrated shows around, handpicked for you. Bite seamlessly brings together TV, online and mobile to ensure that you can always laugh – wherever you are! We are currently focusing on series for the web.

COTTAGE LIFE The channel where “every day is the weekend.” Looking for ongoing series that celebrate getting outside, living and playing in Canada’s wilderness wonderland. We are looking for entertaining stories and compelling characters. There are many ways “in” to the outside—through food, real estate, renovation, outdoor entertaining, sports and recreation. And we look to you to find the new twist.

HIFI From classic rock to classical opera, from great museums to the world of quirky collectors and concept cars, HIFI programs are smart, refreshing and beautiful. We connect viewers with different forms of art. On Guitar Picks we explore the world

of guitar culture from the signature pink guitars of Twisted Sister’s Jay Jay French to the man who makes guitars out of wood recovered from demolished New York City landmarks. Mystery Cars tells the tale of futuristic concept cars whose designs sparked the imagination and only exist today because someone saved them from the crusher. We are commissioning short-run series and one-offs.

OASIS The beauty and wonder of our natural world is endless. Looking for series and one-offs that provide viewers with a unique perspective on wildlife and nature. Whether it’s a jaw-dropping look at the majesty of Canada’s National Parks, an intimate glimpse into a wildlife rehabilitation centre, or the dramatic migration of African wildebeests in the Serengeti — these stunning stories are incredible to watch.

RADX RadX programs focus on epic stories of Risk, Adventure, and Danger. Our shows are vibrant and visceral – allowing viewers to explore the limits of daring extremes. We go to the edge of the cliff, the edge of endurance and the limits of your comfort zone. On Around the Bend two buddies from Saskatchewan take a rafting trip on the Ganges that becomes more and more hazardous with each turn of the river. Hell on Hooves follows the thrilling world of the professional rodeo; from bull riding to barrel racing.

SMITHSONIAN CHANNEL CANADA Smithsonian is a commercial-free network featuring exclusive, award-winning programming that entertains and inspires. Program genres, drawn from the world’s leading cultural institution, include air and space, science and nature, pop culture and history. Smithsonian Channel travels beyond the ordinary to reveal a vast scope of exciting stories and experiences that fuel the curiosity in all of us. Smithsonian Channel is licensed by Smithsonian Networks, a joint venture between Showtime Networks Inc. and the Smithsonian Institution.

TRAVEL+ESCAPE Looking for engaging and dynamic series that show gripping people pursuing their passions all over the world. Our commissioned programs grab viewers and immerse them in exotic locations, wrap them in exciting stories and reveal surprises – the way only a true adventure can. EXECUTIVES

• Marcia Martin, Senior Vice President Original Content Reel West MAY / June 2014

• Sam Linton, Executive in Charge of Production, Travel+Escape, Cottage Life, RadX, Bite • Craig Colby, Director of Production, Oasis, Smithsonian Channel Canada, HIFI, AUX

Offers a family-friendly line-up of comedy, music, movies and real-life reality.



Commissions original drama and comedy series and pre-licenses Canadian feature films and documentaries.







Scripted prime time comedy and drama; children’s programming, factual entertainment, and documentaries for The Nature of Things, The Passionate Eye and Doc Zone. Smart, entertaining and relevant programming. All Genres are welcome. To learn more, go to: EXECUTIVES

• Jennifer Dettman, Executive Director, Studio and Unscripted • Sandra Kleinfeld, Director of Development, Studio and Unscripted Programming • Sally Catto, Executive Director, Commissioned and Scripted Programming • Helen Asimakis, Executive in Charge of Production, Scripted Prime Time • Michelle Daly, Executive in Charge of Production, Scripted Prime Time • Mark Starowicz, Executive Director, Documentary Programming • Catherine Olsen, Executive Producer Documentaries, CBC News Network • Susan Dando, Executive Producer, Science & Natural History Unit • Bruce Cowley, Creative Head, Digital Channels • Kim Wilson, Creative Head of TV, Children’s & Youth Programming, Kids’ CBC​

HBO CANADA A multiplex channel of Corus Entertainment’s Movie Central (Western Canada) and Astral’s The Movie Network (Eastern Canada).

W NETWORK Focuses on compelling entertainment for women, commissioning documentary series and lifestyle programs.

YTV Features programming that is quirky, unpredictable and funny for the whole family. Currently commissioning: animated quirky, squash-andstretch, character-driven comedies; live action comedies; and family targeted reality.




CHCH Has a primetime line up featuring movies, news magazines shows and hit dramas.

REWIND Primarily broadcasts feature length films from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s targeted toward the Generation X demographic.

SILVER SCREEN Broadcasts films from the 1930s to the 1960s; including feature films, silent films, serials, shorts, and more.


• Jennifer Chen, VP Programming at Channel Zero



Reel West MAY / June 2014


Sony Movie Channel, MGM Channel, WarnerFilms Channel, AXN Movies. COMMISSIONING FOR


Oscar® winning films, modern masterpieces, and golden age classics.

Programs animation and animation-related entertainment with a focus on shows for kids and tweens that are funny, surprising, playful and even a bit mischievous — from heroic action shows to hilarious comedies and hit blockbuster movies. For older teens and adult audiences, TELETOON at Night is a post-9 p.m. block for older teens and adults featuring smart and culturally topical comedy shows.

• John MacDonald, Vice President, Head of Women’s and Family Television • Ted Ellis, Vice President, Programming and Scheduling, Corus Women and Family Television • Vibika Bianchi, Vice President, Original Programming, Women’s and Family Television • Maria Farano, Director of Original Programming, Women’s and Family Television • Chris Bell, Production Executive, Pay TV, Corus Entertainment • Colin Bohm, Vice President, Television, Head of Corus Kids • Jocelyn Hamilton, Vice President Programming and Original Productions, Corus Kids • Jamie Piekarz, Director of Content, YTV and Treehouse and Nickelodeon Canada • Carole Bonneau, Vice President, TELETOON French • Helen Kim, Director of Scheduling, YTV, Treehouse and Nickelodeon Canada • Katie Wilson, Director of Scheduling TELETOON, TELETOON Retro and Cartoon Network • TBA, Director of Content of TELETOON, TELETOON Retro and Cartoon Network

FIGHT NETWORK A combat sports network dedicated to complete coverage of combat sports, including fights, fighters, fight news and fight lifestyle. Fight Network airs live events and news coverage, as well as fight-themed movies and series. EXECUTIVES

• Chad Midgley, VP Programming & Production • Ariel Shnerer, Programming Manager

Classic, modern and critically acclaimed films.

MGM CHANNEL SONY MOVIE CHANNEL Featuring comedy, romance, and drama from a range of award-winning films.

AXN MOVIES Non-stop action and adventure movies. ExECuTIvES

• Jay Switzer, Chairman • David Kines, President


GameTV, WFN: World Fishing Network, NHL Network COMMISSIONING FOR

GAMETV Specializes in game-related programming such as game shows, reality television programs and gaming-related feature films.

WORLD FISHING NETWORK broadcasts fishing-related programming, including recreational and sport fishing and lifestyle programming.

NHL Network Offers 24 hour a day coverage on and off the ice. EXECUTIVES

• John Brunton, Chairman

Gusto TV ( is Canada’s new Food

Every day from 6 am to 6 pm on British Columbia’s Knowledge Network you’ll find the best and brightest shows for kids, all completely commercial-free. Knowledge Kids is a safe, playful environment where kids learn about cooperation, empathy, friendship and problem solving.

BBC KIDS Canada’s destination for 100% commercialfree fun for kids from their twos to teens. With programming that’s ‘As Original as Kids Are’, BBC Kids features a wildly entertaining mix of premiumquality shows from the UK and around the world including live-action and animated comedies and dramas, reality shows, and documentaries.

• Rudy Buttignol, President and CEO of Knowledge Network and President of BBC Kids • Murray Battle, Director of Independent Production and Presentation • Lisa Purdy, Director of Knowledge Kids and BBC Kids • Michele Paris, Senior Manager, Children’s Programming, Knowledge Network, BBC Kids

OUTTV Airs entertainment and lifestyle programming for LGBT audiences and is currently seeking factual, documentary and reality programs that feature or that are of interest to the LGBT community. Submissions for episodic drama and feature films are also welcome. The network’s focus is on content and characters that are relatable and relevant to the LGBT community. ExECuTIvES

• Brad Danks, Chief Operating Officer • Kristen Boychuk, Development



CITY Prime time comedy, drama, reality and lifestyle series, with broad appeal to large, urban markets.

OLN A one-stop destination for adrenaline pumping action and adventure entertainment. Larger than life personalities take viewers on intense and rugged journeys across Canada and the world in pursuit of knowledge, competition and prey.

BIO A mix of biographies and reality series, giving viewers behind-the-scenes access to the stories of celebrities and famous personalities.









Programs Canadian short films (online only). EXECUTIVES


• Chris Knight, President & CEO • Mark Prasuhn, Vice President & GM • Kathy McIntyre, Director of Creative Content

Prides itself on providing preschool content that is safe, entertaining, imaginative and playful. Currently commissioning: funny, character-driven series with heart.



& Lifestyle specialty channel. The multiplatform HD service offers viewers prime-time cooking shows every evening – featuring some of the highest-rated series from around the world, and here at home. During the day, Gusto TV airs fun and exciting lifestyle, home, fashion, health and wellness shows. Gusto TV is an independent, Ottawa-based company, founded by industry veteran Chris Knight. Available nationally on Bell TV, Bell Fibe, TELUS Optik TV and Eastlink, with additional carriers to be announced.

British Columbia’s viewer-supported public broadcaster offering creative documentaries, arts and culture, drama and children’s programs from British Columbia, Canada and around the world.

Ethnic and multicultural and third-language documentary and drama programs.

G4 Geared to young adults and featuring the latest in entertainment, gaming, pop culture and technology as well as comedy series.

FX Canada FX Canada is a digital specialty channel that delivers critically-acclaimed dramas and hit comedies, including FX original series American Horror Story, The Americans, Louie, and Sons of Anarchy. Delivering compelling entertainment to Canadians, FX Canada’s unique content also features movies and original Canadian programming.


FXX FXX delivers provocative, non-traditional premium content geared towards a younger-skewing audience. The irreverent, smart, and subversive lineup includes a dynamic slate of FX original series, acquired movies and series, and original Canadian programs. Anchored by hit comedies such as It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League, Wilfred, Legit, and Ali G: Rezurection, FXX is also the home of new animated comedy Chozen and black comedy series Fargo. EXECUTIVES

social history. Shows that do well for include Yukon Gold, Ice Pilots, Miracles Decoded. The channel’s audience craves relevant, newsworthy stories, told in a hands-on, active style. Exclusive access to authentic and entertaining characters and places bring viewers to the network. High quality CGIdriven series remain a hit. For scripted content, the drama team considers a select number of projects that feature wide-appeal subject matter based on historic events or personages with a production strategy that will be able to deliver high production values.


• Hayden Mindell, Vice President, Television Programming & Content, Rogers Media • Nataline Rodrigues, Director of Original Programming, Rogers Media • Marni Goldman, Production Executive, Rogers Media • Carol Commisso, Production Executive, Rogers Media • Dave Grunier, Production Coordinator, Rogers Media • Paritosh Mehta, Director of Independent Production Development, Omni Television Documentary and Drama Fund, Rogers Media

The Lifestyle Original Content Group at Shaw Media commissions the Canadian Original Productions for DTour, Food Network Canada and HGTV Canada. We have a centralized process whereby every pitch is evaluated by the team with an eye to its appeal to a general audience rather than starting with a narrow definition of putting ideas in a specific channel niche. What works for our audiences are broadly appealing shows that are entertaining and escapist; thrilling and dramatic. Highly formatted shows with a clear message tend to work very well on all the services.

Food Network



GLOBAL Target demo adults, 18-49. For scripted content, the drama team looks for wide-appeal one-hour procedural drama series with strong narratives and episodic motor. They will also consider limited series with a strong commercial hook. Successful original series include: Rookie Blue and Remedy. On the half-hour front they are looking for half-hour comedies that fit well with the current schedule. Episodic comedies that encourage co-viewing are ideal. For factual content, Global commissions hour-long episodic reality and documentary series and one-off documentaries.

SHOWCASE Target demo adults 25-54. The drama team is looking to commission edgy, challenging and dramatic one-hour concepts that can include genre or sci-fi premises. They are considering both longrunning continuing series and limited orders with a strong serialized arc. Shows that do well for them include Haven, Continuum, and Lost Girl.

HISTORY CHANNEL Commissioning half hour and one-hour, six to thirteen episode factual series aimed at adults 25-54. Popular topics on the channel include: archaeology, ancient history, war and conflict, history of science and technology and innovative

Commission about 140 hours of original Canadian programming every year with a focus on prime time big reality and competition shows set in the world of food. Food Network skews slightly female and our target demo is adults 25-54. We are generally looking for ongoing series, not one-offs, and character-driven and entertaining programs rather than instructional. Most orders are for 14 or 26 episodes. Open to co-production, which we regularly do with US and UK partners. Recent successes include Chopped Canada and Donut Showdown; along with host-driven shows such as; You Gotta Eat Here and Carnival Eats which reveals the colourful world behind your favorite food products. We accept pitches in all forms but characters/hosts are very important so even a short demo tape is very helpful. Please email Michi Lepik-Stahl at

HGTV Canada Commission about 200 hours of original Canadian programming every year with an emphasis on entertaining shows related to all things in the home. Real estate and renovation continue to be big drivers for the channel which skews about 60% female with a target audienceof adults 2554. We are generally looking for ongoing series with big characters and dramatic storylines. Most orders are for 14 or 26 episodes. Very open to co-production, which we regularly do with US and the UK. Recent successes include Timber Kings, Leave It To Bryan, Disaster Decks, and Holmes: Make IT Right. We accept pitches in all forms. Tape is always great but first and foremost is a well thought out and articulated show idea.. Please email Michi Lepik-Stahl at Michi.Lepik-stahl@

DTour Commission about 30 hours of original Canadian programs every year for general entertainment channel with a target of adults 25-54. We’re looking for shows that are highly entertaining and

snackable, with big characters in entertaining situations. Examples include Extreme Collectors which profiles fascinating collections and the people who collect them. Most orders are for 14 or 26 episodes. Very open to co-production and happy to work with other broadcasters who have similar strategies outside Canada. We accept pitches in all forms but if it is a character-driven pitch, seeing that person on tape and hopefully interacting with others in their world is always compelling. Please email Michi Lepik-Stahl at Michi.Lepik-stahl@ EXECUTIVES

• Christine Shipton, Vice President of Original Content • Tara Ellis, Senior Director, Original Drama Content • Rachel Nelson, Director, Original Drama Content • Susan Alexander, Production Executive, Original Drama Content • Stephen Finney, Production Executive, Original Drama Content • Sarah Jane Flynn, Senior Director, Original Factual Content • Nick Crowe, Director, Original Factual Content • Lynne Carter, Production Executive, Original Factual Content • Andrew Johnson, Production Executive, Original Factual Content • Barbara Shearer, Production Executive, Original Factual Content • Emily Morgan, Senior Director, Original Lifestyle • Leslie Merklinger, Director, Original Production, Lifestyle • Tanya Linton, Director, Original Production, Lifestyle • Tracy MacTaggart, Production Executive, Original Lifestyle Content • Kathy Cross, Production Executive, Original Lifestyle Content • Holly Gillanders, Production Executive, Original Lifestyle Content • Andrea Griffith, Production Executive, Original Lifestyle Content • Nancy Franklin, Production Executive, Original Lifestyle Content • Christine Diakos, Production Executive, Original Lifestyle Content



ICHANNEL IChannel is a national information channel that explores the political and social issues that affect the lives of all Canadians. Looking for entertaining, provocative multiple episode series about issues and stories that matter to Canadians.

THE PET NETWORK Dedicated to delivering entertaining and informative stories about the beloved animal

companions who share our lives. Looking for multiple episode series about animals or movies with animals as the primary character.

BPM:TV A dance channel and destination for cutting-edge music videos, exclusive interviews with the world’s top DJs, and an all-access pass to the hottest events in the world of electronic dance music. Looking for informative multiple episode series about dance or music with focus on artists and lifestyle. EXECUTIVES

• Victoria Fusca, Vice President, Program Acquisitions • Don Gaudet, Vice President, Programming & Production

SUPER CHANNEL A national Pay Television network that prelicences Canadian content movies, feature length documentaries and series. They favour premium content that has a big screen feel. EXECUTIVES

• Sandy Perkins, Vice President, Programming • Melissa Kajpust, Head of Creative Development • Julie Di Cresce, Director of Canadian Programming • Maureen Levitt, Creative Development Executive, Western Canada and the Territories


CANADIAN DOCUMENTARIES Creative, ground-breaking, social-issue and current affair documentaries (predominantly one hour) that explore the human condition, are of direct relevance to Canadian audiences, and open windows on diverse points of view that challenge conventional thought.

TVO KIDS TVOKids exists to help Ontario’s 21st century learners be successful in school and in life. TVOKids commissions multiplatform content for every kind of young learner and covering virtually all Ontario Curriculum areas for Grades JK-5 with a focus on math, science and literacy.

EXECUTIVES • John Ferri, Vice President, Current Affairs and Documentaries • Jane Jankovic, Commissioning Editor • Karen Grose, Vice President, Digital Education • Pat Ellingson, Creative Head of Children & Parent’s Media



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Conveniently viewed from your tablet or smartphone, you’re never more than one click away from the definitive index for the film, video, internet and digital production industry in Western Canada. Reel West MAY / June 2014


ONE Lifestyle and entertainment programming relating to yoga and meditation, weight loss and fitness, sex and relationships, natural health and nutrition, and alternative medicine.

VISIONTV Multi-faith, multicultural, and general entertainment programming aimed at the 45+ demographic. Religious subject matter as it

Legal Briefs continued from page 7

will provide a producer little comfort if the distributor has a limited ability to make sales or is unwilling to properly account to the producer for sales made, requiring the producer to conduct an audit and potentially litigate, which is an undesirable situation to fall into, especially on a low budget film. Consulting with legal counsel to ensure that the most beneficial terms possible can be achieved is always Indie Scene continued from page 9

funding you were hoping to receive doesn’t materialize. Producers are left scrambling to meet the budget shortfall which often results in having to lower the production budget.” Devine and Eisses also encountered production issues. “We went into production during pilot season and so there was absolutely no crew to be found,” they explain. “We managed by asking some crew members to do several jobs; some key crew gave up lucrative day calls to work on the project; and we From the Pros continued from page 11

What’s the first thing a cinematography-minded film grad should do after graduation? NT: Shoot. And never get an ego, work on other DOP’s sets as gaffer, lamp op, camera, grip etc.  OM: Move to LA :) After graduation you need to decide where you want to get established. Find the circle of directors and producers you want to work with and go there. You need to put in a lot of time building relationships with rental houses and crews, so make sure those first few years of legwork are a worthwhile investment.  CM: I would just get out there and try to work at whatever you can in the

intersects with groundbreaking thinking and discoveries in politics, science, archeology, social/cultural/world issues, and religious leaders/icons; Speculative fiction, i.e., supernatural/paranormal/apocalyptic themes; and Music programs featuring well known hymns and gospel music. EXECUTIVES

• Joan Jenkinson, Vice President Independent Production & Multi-faith Content n

recommended so the film in question can reach a wide audience and the filmmakers can be rewarded for their efforts. Doran Chandler is a lawyer with the entertainment law boutique Chandler Fogden, providing legal services in relation to all aspects of the entertainment industry, including in relation to film and television financing and production, intellectual property issues, production services and music. n

Proudly supporting film and video production in Western Canada since 1980. To order your copy of the 2013 Reel West Digest call 1-888-291-7335 or visit

partnered with local film schools to get students out to help.” And that is the true spirit of indie filmmaking – making your movie against all odds and having enough passion for your film that others catch that spirit and want to be part of it. Let’s hope that the year continues strong and can match the success of last year. So far so good. Paul Armstrong is a film producer who also produces The Celluloid Social Club and the Crazy8s Film Event. n camera department. Always keep in mind that any experience on a production can help you. My brief time as a boom operator gave me an appreciation for the sound department. I understand their concerns. The more people you know will result in more work opportunities. Beyond that you can form some genuine friendships. That was an important realization for me, “networking” (a term I hate) is as simple as going for beers with your camera buddies, or meeting up with mentors and catching up. Operating has also been an essential step for me, I’m not sure in the doc/reality world if you could even get to DP without a good chunk of time spent operating. All these steps are very important, don’t rush it. n

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Behind the scenes • Set Stills • Location Photography • Portraits

Final Edit

Festival Director and Founder SUZETTE LAQUA and surprise guest Jason Priestly pose with feathered friends at the inaugural Vancouver Web Fest.

Inaugural Vancouver Web Fest Makes a Splash Story by

Katja de Bock


eb series creators from all over the world celebrated what’s too edgy for TV at Vancouver – and Canada’s — inaugural web series festival in early May. “It was an absolute phenomenal weekend. I’m still on a high!” laughs Vancouver Web Fest (VWF) exec director Suzette Laqua, who is planning on continuing next year, validated by the success of the sold-out venue. Laqua was surprised by the diversity of patrons, including a blitz visit by actor Jason Priestly in support of his wife Naomi’s web series Shoot the Shit and not only industry delegates but also the general public. “The public attendees were really very positive, and they said that they didn’t even know web series like that existed,” laughs Laqua. The festival contained six screening blocks, curated by director of programming Paula Hoffmann, assisted by a selection committee, which included the Leo Awards’ Walter Daroshin and Celluloid Social Club’s Paul Armstrong. 30

“It’s about time Vancouver has its own festival, after other cities such as L.A. and Rome started them,” says Armstrong, who was impressed by how engaging these films are. “Because they can break boundaries, they don’t have to worry about censorship,” he says. “It is interesting to see what you can do if you are not restricted by broadcasters or licensing.” While many web series are originally intended as pilots for broadcasters or studios, their edginess may prevent them to ever be shown on TV, or even on YouTube. This happened to Parked, a web series co-created by S. Siobhan McCarthy, whose edgy show about irresponsible dads got age-gated by YouTube. McCarthy found a new partner in Dailymotion, a Paris, France-based platform with a representative in Toronto, content manager Enrique Soissa. Dailymotion, as most other digital platforms, is nonexclusive. “It’s not a one-horse race,” says Soissa, “the ultimate goal is reach all the audiences you can get, even if this means using several platforms.” Spencer Estabrooks from Calgary shot his “meta-mockumentary” web series One Hit Die between the flood and the stampede in 2013. Tagging

his six-part production as “Lord of the Rings meets The Office,” he financed it with a grant from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and went on YouTube last August. After visiting the Van WebFest, he is now considering Dailymotion. “One of the nice things of coming to a festival like this is meeting other people and knowing there is a bigger world outside YouTube, talking to other filmmakers about their experiences and just learning so much about what I can do with my web series,” Estabrooks says. “If I find my audience, the money will follow.” Jason Fischer, executive producer of Frostbite Pictures in Vancouver,

has produced more than a dozen web series, including the sci-fi and horror series Aeternus, After and Divine. Doing the festival circuit in order to get awareness for their transmedia projects is one of the strategies to make “works of passion” eventually translate into paid industry jobs. Frostbite’s series consistently show high production value and dramatic tension, as well as nail-biting cliffhangers. The stories they take on need to have the ability not only to be online series, but also backdoor television pilots, 90-min. feature films, comic books, novels or video games. At VWF Fischer had the opportunity to meet Carter Mason, CEO of the California-based (Just the Story) platform in person, and they sealed a digital distribution deal. “The market is growing exponentially,” says Fischer. “Judging from what’s happening with the new funds, with advertisers, some of the higher end platforms, there’s tremendous money starting to come into this market.” Frostbite intends to be an online studio bridging the gap between filmmakers and platforms on a group basis. “If we are dealing with 20 different filmmakers, we can make deals that individual filmmakers will not be able to make on their own,” says Fischer. Big winner of the Vancouver Web Fest, taking home the award as Best Canadian Web Series was the local sci-fi dramedy The True Heroines, directed by Michelle Ouellet and co-created by Ouellet with Nicholas Carella, Nicholas Simon and performers Fiona Vroom, Jovanna Huguet and Paula Giroday. The US-based online subscription service Hulu recently picked up the six-part series. n

Local Sci-fi dramedy The True Heroines was the big winner at Vancouver Web Fest.

Reel West MAY / June 2014


ANIMATRIK FILM DESIGN • Vancouver, Canada See why we are the triple-A choice at

May - June 2014 : Reel West Magazine  

Trade Magazine for the Digital, Film and Television Production Industries In this issue: Tony Alcantar on Fargo, Banff honours Lionsgate, B...

May - June 2014 : Reel West Magazine  

Trade Magazine for the Digital, Film and Television Production Industries In this issue: Tony Alcantar on Fargo, Banff honours Lionsgate, B...