Jordan Canning looks at what’s coming up on the local film scene.
Remember the half dozen Winnebagos parked outside the Sprout in September? Or the huge scissor-lifted lights beaming through the windows of the Star of the Sea Hall? Or that time, over the summer, you saw Joel Hynes and Jody Richardson wrestling in the alleyway behind The Victory?
If you do, you may just have caught a glimpse of the inconspicuously pervasive St. John’s film scene.
Here’s a little tour of the local productions you can expect to see in 2008—shooting soon in a neighborhood near you.
Following an extremely busy summer and fall, a number of producers are keeping up the momentum and moving into shoots through the winter—normally a time when production companies regroup and work on developing new projects for the summer months.
Down on Water Street, Pope Productions is gearing up to shoot a science fiction/horror called Screamers 2.
The original Screamers—a surprisingly able 1995 Canadian sci fi starring Peter Weller—has little to do with this latest incarnation, other than sharing the same deadly adversaries: a blade-wielding, self-replicating race of killing devices known as Screamers designed to hunt down and destroy all enemy life forms.
With plenty of prosthetics, animatronics, a spaceship, and other doo-dads, this sci-fi is a first for St. John’s crew and cast. No news yet about who will star in the film, since they’re still in the casting stages, auditioning actors with lines like “Commander, if your scanner is not perfectly calibrated to the magnetic field of Sirius 6B, you’ll get variations.”
Also planned for production in 2008 is the screen adaptation of Des Walsh’s book of poetry, Love and Savagery.
Produced by Morag Loves Company (Young Triffie, To Dublin with Love) and directed by John N. Smith (Random Passage, Dangerous Minds, The Boys of St. Vincent), Love and Savagery is the story of a Newfoundland geologist and poet, Michael McCarthy, who travels to Ballyvaughan to see a geological wonder. There he meets Cathleen, a beautiful woman who captures his heart, but because of the path she chose when she was young she cannot allow him to capture hers. Savagery erupts when Michael’s persistence collides with the townspeople’s hostility toward a foreigner’s attempt to intervene with divinity.
Due for theatrical release in 2008 is Down To the Dirt, the adaptation of Joel Hynes’ award-winning first novel and Justin Simms’ debut feature film.
Stay tuned to The Scope for more details about when you can catch this film here in town.
Up the road on Church Hill, Christopher Richardson and John Bruce are cooking up a number of documentaries at Henge Productions.
While at the Amsterdam Doc Festival, Henge joined forces with an African company to produce Where’s My Goat? – a documentary that follows a filmmaker to Africa to find the goats he has purchased for clients through the popular “ethical gifts” program at a Canadian aid website. The Henge team will be traveling to Mozambique over the winter to capture the footage.
In their documentary series, Occam’s Razor, a dynamic young Newfoundland illusionist, Jeremy Bennett, uses magic to show that maybe we should be asking more questions about the things around us. A taste of Jeremy’s magic will be seen in the New Year when NTV airs a series of Henge-produced “NTV Magic Minutes”.
Moving west to the corner of Campbell Ave. and Lemarchant Rd., Best Boy Productions is busy finishing the fifth episode of their kid’s series, What Do They Do In There?
Last summer, writer/director Christian Sparkes was up to his eyeballs shooting the pilot. But the long days and sleepless nights paid off when NTV bought five more episodes of the show.
The series follows Ian (Sean Leonard) and Abby (Jessica Croucher), two highly curious redeemable misfits who work as hard-hitting reporters for their school newspaper. Each episode sees them investigate an oddly named local business, and eventually participate in learning exactly what it is that they do in there.
Shot cinematically in high definition, each episode is scripted, storyboarded and choc-a-bloc with wild fantasy sequences, clever quips between the kids, and, of course, some learning.
When all is said and done, the five episodes will have been written, shot and edited in roughly three months with a crew of only ten. Fingers crossed, the series will be picked up by another broadcaster so that more episodes of the show can be made.
Looping back around to King’s Road, in the three non-descript attached houses that comprise the Newfoundland Independent Filmmaker’s Co-Operative, is Picture Start, a new program for emerging filmmakers. It’s designed to give people the tools and training needed to develop their producing, directing and writing skills by making a 10 to 30 minute short film. Participants are guided by young local filmmaker Justin Simms, and get classroom and on set training industry pros. They also get access to NIFCO’s awesome editing facilities.
The three producer/director teams for this year’s program were recently selected: Lynn Wilson and Deanne Foley will be making their project, Molly McBride; Rhonda Buckley and Sherry White will be making a short film called A Fine Catch; and myself and Christian Sparkes will be making a short entitled Ten Days.
All Picture Start films have to be shot and edited by June, so I foresee a busy spring.
Remember, NIFCO’s First Time Filmmaker Program is still the best way in town to get your first short made (outside of stealing your dad’s camcorder), so check it out at www.nifco.org.