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Headline, Industry News

Filmmakers return to Calgary; is struggling local movie industry set to rebound?

It might seem like deja vu for the people of the Tsuu T’ina Nation.

Three years after Paul Gross shot his epic Passchendaele on the muddy fields of the reserve outside of Calgary, filmmakers will return to the site to once again turn back the clock to the First World War.

In October, a new Calgary production company is preparing to shoot a $12-million war film called Four Saints, the latest locally produced period piece to get the green light for Alberta’s struggling film industry.

Former stunt performers turned producers Leslie and Steve McMichael will be filming in some of the same areas used by Gross in 2007 for his $20-million epic. Now based in Cochrane, it will be the first film for the couple’s White Wing Enterprises.

“We did a location scout last summer to try and see about filming here,” says Leslie, a Rocky Mountain House native. “We were trying to convince our writer-director Jean-Pierre Isbouts that we should film it here to try and utilize some of the old Passchendaele sites because they are already prepped to facilitate what we have to do.”

Principal photography is scheduled to start in mid-October for Four Saints, which will star The Princess Bride’s Cary Elwes, British actress Rhona Mitra and The Mummy’s Arnold Vosloo. It tells the true story of four nurses who defy the British army by setting up a medical station in Flanders during the First World War.

But while this is the third period piece to be shot in the Calgary area within six months, some union representatives say statistics show the local industry is a long way from recovery and fundamental changes are still needed to restore the province to its glory years as a location for big-budget films such as Legends of the Fall, Unforgiven and Brokeback Mountain.

By the end of August, members of Calgary’s International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees will have logged in 130 days on film and TV sets. Last year, which was generally considered the worst in recent memory for the local industry, that number was 156 days.

Tina Alford, branch representative for the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, didn’t have specific statistics, but said her members have generally suffered a similar decline in work over the past few years.

With Four Saints, “we’ll sort of end up the year about equal to last year,” says Tom MacRae, production business agent for IATSE 212. “But again, last year was our worst year ever.”

Today, Calgary’s Nomadic Pictures is scheduled to begin shooting the western Hell on Wheels, an AMC pilot starring Star Trek’s Colm Meaney, hip-hop artist Common and American actor Anson Mount.

In June, Calgary was transformed into 1875 Utah for The 19th Wife, a TV movie starring Grey’s Anatomy’s Chyler Leigh and The Good Wife’s Matt Czuchry about murder and polygamy in a fundamentalist sect. Based on the New York Times bestseller by David Ebershoff and co-produced by Calgary’s Seven24 Films, it is scheduled to air this September for American audiences on Lifetime.

Four Saints, Hell on Wheels and The 19th Wife seem to offer ample evidence that Calgary and surrounding areas offer prime locations for a variety of genres and time periods, and that the current funding system works well for local Alberta producers working on films with moderate or small budgets. But representatives for Alberta’s film workers say this recent activity doesn’t change the fact that the province is losing business to other jurisdictions because of weak incentives and a funding formula that does little to entice big-budget Hollywood pictures.

“This is a global market,” said MacRae. “Almost everybody has recognized the benefits of bringing film industry work into their location and everyone has increased, ramped up their film incentive programs — all the states, all the provinces. However, we’ve remained fairly stagnant. There have been a couple of small increases.”

The Alberta Association of Motion Picture and Television Unions continues to meet with Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett to propose changes to the criteria for how projects get full incentives in Alberta. The funding formula is divided into three streams, with the highest incentives reserved for projects that are either produced or co-produced by local filmmakers or companies. Unions say this works well for Albertabased producers, but can be seen as a deterrent for Hollywood studios that don’t want local partners. An advisory council has been put together through Alberta Film to study how competitive and innovative the province’s industry is compared to other jurisdictions.

Still, not everyone has such a grim outlook for 2010. Chad Oakes of Nomadic Pictures insists the year could be one of his company’s best, as changes the government made last August that boosted maximum grants available to film and television production by six per cent have had a chance to kick in.

Earlier this year, Nomadic shot the drama The Truth Below for the MTV Network.

The company is also developing a film called In High Places about doomed Mount Everest climber George Mallory, who some people believe made the ascent 20 years before Edmund Hillary. Location scouts are set to come to Alberta in September for a 2011 shoot and Ewan McGregor is rumoured to be interested in the lead role.

There are other projects in various stages of development that could also offer a jolt to the industry. In November, Blackett held a press conference to announce that the CBC had commissioned a biopic on pioneering Mountie Sam Steele that was to be shot in Calgary this month. The project is still on the books, but could be pushed back a year because of the province’s notoriously short window of co-operative weather, says Calgary film commissioner Luke Azevedo.

Alberta is also said to be front-runner for an HBO miniseries about American explorers Lewis and Clark, which is being produced by actor Edward Norton. The film’s production has been pushed back a year and a spokesman from HBO told the Herald it was too early to offer details about locations. Azevedo says there has been a steady stream of interested parties scouting Alberta locations in the past year.

“We’re chasing some fairly significant projects right now,” says Azevedo, “and if one or two of these biggies hit, it will be very interesting to see how we’re able to adapt to all of this.”

For now, the prospect of Four Saints using crews for 30 shooting days is a relief for what unions are calling a dry beginning to 2010. Leslie McMichael, who is executive producer of the film, says locations for the shoot will also include the Lougheed House, the Ranchmen’s Club and Bow River Ranch.

“We’d like to continue bringing production here,” she says. “We’re looking at bringing another production of the same size and start prep in March. I’d like to do two a year. One early in the year and one started up in August. It depends on what the shows are and what kind of weather and terrain they require. But we’d like to keep it coming. Because I really love being back home.”

Source: The Calgary Herald

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Headline, Industry News

Filmmakers return to Calgary; is struggling local movie industry set to rebound?

It might seem like deja vu for the people of the Tsuu T’ina Nation.

Three years after Paul Gross shot his epic Passchendaele on the muddy fields of the reserve outside of Calgary, filmmakers will return to the site to once again turn back the clock to the First World War.

In October, a new Calgary production company is preparing to shoot a $12-million war film called Four Saints, the latest locally produced period piece to get the green light for Alberta’s struggling film industry.

Former stunt performers turned producers Leslie and Steve McMichael will be filming in some of the same areas used by Gross in 2007 for his $20-million epic. Now based in Cochrane, it will be the first film for the couple’s White Wing Enterprises.

“We did a location scout last summer to try and see about filming here,” says Leslie, a Rocky Mountain House native. “We were trying to convince our writer-director Jean-Pierre Isbouts that we should film it here to try and utilize some of the old Passchendaele sites because they are already prepped to facilitate what we have to do.”

Principal photography is scheduled to start in mid-October for Four Saints, which will star The Princess Bride’s Cary Elwes, British actress Rhona Mitra and The Mummy’s Arnold Vosloo. It tells the true story of four nurses who defy the British army by setting up a medical station in Flanders during the First World War.

But while this is the third period piece to be shot in the Calgary area within six months, some union representatives say statistics show the local industry is a long way from recovery and fundamental changes are still needed to restore the province to its glory years as a location for big-budget films such as Legends of the Fall, Unforgiven and Brokeback Mountain.

By the end of August, members of Calgary’s International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees will have logged in 130 days on film and TV sets. Last year, which was generally considered the worst in recent memory for the local industry, that number was 156 days.

Tina Alford, branch representative for the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, didn’t have specific statistics, but said her members have generally suffered a similar decline in work over the past few years.

With Four Saints, “we’ll sort of end up the year about equal to last year,” says Tom MacRae, production business agent for IATSE 212. “But again, last year was our worst year ever.”

Today, Calgary’s Nomadic Pictures is scheduled to begin shooting the western Hell on Wheels, an AMC pilot starring Star Trek’s Colm Meaney, hip-hop artist Common and American actor Anson Mount.

In June, Calgary was transformed into 1875 Utah for The 19th Wife, a TV movie starring Grey’s Anatomy’s Chyler Leigh and The Good Wife’s Matt Czuchry about murder and polygamy in a fundamentalist sect. Based on the New York Times bestseller by David Ebershoff and co-produced by Calgary’s Seven24 Films, it is scheduled to air this September for American audiences on Lifetime.

Four Saints, Hell on Wheels and The 19th Wife seem to offer ample evidence that Calgary and surrounding areas offer prime locations for a variety of genres and time periods, and that the current funding system works well for local Alberta producers working on films with moderate or small budgets. But representatives for Alberta’s film workers say this recent activity doesn’t change the fact that the province is losing business to other jurisdictions because of weak incentives and a funding formula that does little to entice big-budget Hollywood pictures.

“This is a global market,” said MacRae. “Almost everybody has recognized the benefits of bringing film industry work into their location and everyone has increased, ramped up their film incentive programs — all the states, all the provinces. However, we’ve remained fairly stagnant. There have been a couple of small increases.”

The Alberta Association of Motion Picture and Television Unions continues to meet with Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett to propose changes to the criteria for how projects get full incentives in Alberta. The funding formula is divided into three streams, with the highest incentives reserved for projects that are either produced or co-produced by local filmmakers or companies. Unions say this works well for Albertabased producers, but can be seen as a deterrent for Hollywood studios that don’t want local partners. An advisory council has been put together through Alberta Film to study how competitive and innovative the province’s industry is compared to other jurisdictions.

Still, not everyone has such a grim outlook for 2010. Chad Oakes of Nomadic Pictures insists the year could be one of his company’s best, as changes the government made last August that boosted maximum grants available to film and television production by six per cent have had a chance to kick in.

Earlier this year, Nomadic shot the drama The Truth Below for the MTV Network.

The company is also developing a film called In High Places about doomed Mount Everest climber George Mallory, who some people believe made the ascent 20 years before Edmund Hillary. Location scouts are set to come to Alberta in September for a 2011 shoot and Ewan McGregor is rumoured to be interested in the lead role.

There are other projects in various stages of development that could also offer a jolt to the industry. In November, Blackett held a press conference to announce that the CBC had commissioned a biopic on pioneering Mountie Sam Steele that was to be shot in Calgary this month. The project is still on the books, but could be pushed back a year because of the province’s notoriously short window of co-operative weather, says Calgary film commissioner Luke Azevedo.

Alberta is also said to be front-runner for an HBO miniseries about American explorers Lewis and Clark, which is being produced by actor Edward Norton. The film’s production has been pushed back a year and a spokesman from HBO told the Herald it was too early to offer details about locations. Azevedo says there has been a steady stream of interested parties scouting Alberta locations in the past year.

“We’re chasing some fairly significant projects right now,” says Azevedo, “and if one or two of these biggies hit, it will be very interesting to see how we’re able to adapt to all of this.”

For now, the prospect of Four Saints using crews for 30 shooting days is a relief for what unions are calling a dry beginning to 2010. Leslie McMichael, who is executive producer of the film, says locations for the shoot will also include the Lougheed House, the Ranchmen’s Club and Bow River Ranch.

“We’d like to continue bringing production here,” she says. “We’re looking at bringing another production of the same size and start prep in March. I’d like to do two a year. One early in the year and one started up in August. It depends on what the shows are and what kind of weather and terrain they require. But we’d like to keep it coming. Because I really love being back home.”

Source: The Calgary Herald

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Headline, Industry News

Filmmakers return to Calgary; is struggling local movie industry set to rebound?

It might seem like deja vu for the people of the Tsuu T’ina Nation.

Three years after Paul Gross shot his epic Passchendaele on the muddy fields of the reserve outside of Calgary, filmmakers will return to the site to once again turn back the clock to the First World War.

In October, a new Calgary production company is preparing to shoot a $12-million war film called Four Saints, the latest locally produced period piece to get the green light for Alberta’s struggling film industry.

Former stunt performers turned producers Leslie and Steve McMichael will be filming in some of the same areas used by Gross in 2007 for his $20-million epic. Now based in Cochrane, it will be the first film for the couple’s White Wing Enterprises.

“We did a location scout last summer to try and see about filming here,” says Leslie, a Rocky Mountain House native. “We were trying to convince our writer-director Jean-Pierre Isbouts that we should film it here to try and utilize some of the old Passchendaele sites because they are already prepped to facilitate what we have to do.”

Principal photography is scheduled to start in mid-October for Four Saints, which will star The Princess Bride’s Cary Elwes, British actress Rhona Mitra and The Mummy’s Arnold Vosloo. It tells the true story of four nurses who defy the British army by setting up a medical station in Flanders during the First World War.

But while this is the third period piece to be shot in the Calgary area within six months, some union representatives say statistics show the local industry is a long way from recovery and fundamental changes are still needed to restore the province to its glory years as a location for big-budget films such as Legends of the Fall, Unforgiven and Brokeback Mountain.

By the end of August, members of Calgary’s International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees will have logged in 130 days on film and TV sets. Last year, which was generally considered the worst in recent memory for the local industry, that number was 156 days.

Tina Alford, branch representative for the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, didn’t have specific statistics, but said her members have generally suffered a similar decline in work over the past few years.

With Four Saints, “we’ll sort of end up the year about equal to last year,” says Tom MacRae, production business agent for IATSE 212. “But again, last year was our worst year ever.”

Today, Calgary’s Nomadic Pictures is scheduled to begin shooting the western Hell on Wheels, an AMC pilot starring Star Trek’s Colm Meaney, hip-hop artist Common and American actor Anson Mount.

In June, Calgary was transformed into 1875 Utah for The 19th Wife, a TV movie starring Grey’s Anatomy’s Chyler Leigh and The Good Wife’s Matt Czuchry about murder and polygamy in a fundamentalist sect. Based on the New York Times bestseller by David Ebershoff and co-produced by Calgary’s Seven24 Films, it is scheduled to air this September for American audiences on Lifetime.

Four Saints, Hell on Wheels and The 19th Wife seem to offer ample evidence that Calgary and surrounding areas offer prime locations for a variety of genres and time periods, and that the current funding system works well for local Alberta producers working on films with moderate or small budgets. But representatives for Alberta’s film workers say this recent activity doesn’t change the fact that the province is losing business to other jurisdictions because of weak incentives and a funding formula that does little to entice big-budget Hollywood pictures.

“This is a global market,” said MacRae. “Almost everybody has recognized the benefits of bringing film industry work into their location and everyone has increased, ramped up their film incentive programs — all the states, all the provinces. However, we’ve remained fairly stagnant. There have been a couple of small increases.”

The Alberta Association of Motion Picture and Television Unions continues to meet with Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett to propose changes to the criteria for how projects get full incentives in Alberta. The funding formula is divided into three streams, with the highest incentives reserved for projects that are either produced or co-produced by local filmmakers or companies. Unions say this works well for Albertabased producers, but can be seen as a deterrent for Hollywood studios that don’t want local partners. An advisory council has been put together through Alberta Film to study how competitive and innovative the province’s industry is compared to other jurisdictions.

Still, not everyone has such a grim outlook for 2010. Chad Oakes of Nomadic Pictures insists the year could be one of his company’s best, as changes the government made last August that boosted maximum grants available to film and television production by six per cent have had a chance to kick in.

Earlier this year, Nomadic shot the drama The Truth Below for the MTV Network.

The company is also developing a film called In High Places about doomed Mount Everest climber George Mallory, who some people believe made the ascent 20 years before Edmund Hillary. Location scouts are set to come to Alberta in September for a 2011 shoot and Ewan McGregor is rumoured to be interested in the lead role.

There are other projects in various stages of development that could also offer a jolt to the industry. In November, Blackett held a press conference to announce that the CBC had commissioned a biopic on pioneering Mountie Sam Steele that was to be shot in Calgary this month. The project is still on the books, but could be pushed back a year because of the province’s notoriously short window of co-operative weather, says Calgary film commissioner Luke Azevedo.

Alberta is also said to be front-runner for an HBO miniseries about American explorers Lewis and Clark, which is being produced by actor Edward Norton. The film’s production has been pushed back a year and a spokesman from HBO told the Herald it was too early to offer details about locations. Azevedo says there has been a steady stream of interested parties scouting Alberta locations in the past year.

“We’re chasing some fairly significant projects right now,” says Azevedo, “and if one or two of these biggies hit, it will be very interesting to see how we’re able to adapt to all of this.”

For now, the prospect of Four Saints using crews for 30 shooting days is a relief for what unions are calling a dry beginning to 2010. Leslie McMichael, who is executive producer of the film, says locations for the shoot will also include the Lougheed House, the Ranchmen’s Club and Bow River Ranch.

“We’d like to continue bringing production here,” she says. “We’re looking at bringing another production of the same size and start prep in March. I’d like to do two a year. One early in the year and one started up in August. It depends on what the shows are and what kind of weather and terrain they require. But we’d like to keep it coming. Because I really love being back home.”

Source: The Calgary Herald

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