Photo by James McAteer
Spaceship-in-progress. Screamers 2 invades the Dominion building on Elizabeth Ave. Photo by James McAteer.

Emilie Bourque blasts off.

Ever passed by the old Dominion building on Elizabeth Avenue and wondered why the lights were on inside? Well, I’ll tell you what’s happening: a spaceship is happening.

You probably know this already, but the science fiction horror film Screamers 2 has descended on the city. Local spooky, other-worldly shooting locations include the Southside tunnels, the Bell Island mines, and the utility tunnels at MUN.

The film’s production designer, James McAteer, has done the art direction for dozens of big-name films, including Good Will Hunting, Silent Hill, and a slew of flicks by David Chronenberg—A History of Violence, Dead Ringers, and Naked Lunch.

After being contacted by a producer friend of his about Screamers 2, McAteer was flown to Newfoundland to scout locations and meet film crew members. Although the first Screamers film had a budget of about $15 million, this one only has 3 or 4 million, so money was tight. McAteer says when the provincial government offered financial assistance as incentive to shoot here, the producers decided this was the place.

Why did the province care if a sci-fi movie was shot here? McAteer says it makes for a healthier economy.

“There are many reasons why the film industry should develop and become stronger, just as the tourism industry has,” says McAteer.

One is that the economy will feel the benefits of the visiting film crew.

“When you have a feature film come to town, it brings money to the local economy… bars, restaurants, hardware stores…”

Home Depot and Kent have been their source for spaceship building supplies. Dominion Recycling supplied some rustier material.

Local welders from Weldcan, local painters, and local carpenters have gotten involved along the way to help build the 80-foot long, trapezoid-shaped spaceship, constructed using 3-inch thick cardboard.
“It’s funky and campy… techie-looking, but at the same time a good blend of elements you don’t see around much,” he says.

After four weeks of building the ship, they’ll shoot in it for just one week. Then they take it all down again. Oh, the film world! Why can’t the spaceship stay?

Although with the potential McAteer sees here, who knows? Maybe there will be more spaceships in our future.

The Masonic Temple has been sold again. Local dinner theatre moguls Spirit of Newfoundland Productions are stepping up to the plate and purchasing the historic property from Tom and Kathleen Gutenburg, and are now in the process of finalizing the sale.

The City did a recent inspection of the building, and, according to Tom Gutenburg, because the city was “fairly long on demands, and very short on specifics,” the Gutenburgs would have been forced to change their primary focus of restoring the exterior of the building, and change many of the interior historic features instead.

“After being in operation as it had for over 110 years, and with no planned change of use, the extremely short time frame of two months [they gave us] made it impossible to continue with our business plan,” he said by e-mail.

Think Andy Wells should go? Think he should stay? Well, either way, you can have your say at Living Planet T-Shirts. They’re currently giving away free buttons that read either “Stay Andy” or “Resign Andy”.

“We’re doing a little campaign to see which button is more popular,” says owner Dave Hopley.

After watching the controversy, they thought it would be interesting to do their own informal survey. As of Tuesday night, February 12th, there had been 17 “Resign Andy” buttons picked up, and 2 “Stay Andy” buttons picked up.

Sad news for all you candy-lovers out there: Sugar Cane Lane on Water Street has closed its gingerbread doors. Although I couldn’t reach owner Cory Lenane for a comment, I did speak with David d’Entremont, owner of Long’s Hill Convenience. His shop purchased the remaining candy stock, which is now available at his store.

“I think it was a combination of a lot of things,” he says. “They tried…they put their heart and soul into it, and I guess things just didn’t work out for them.”

The shop will definitely be missed.

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12 January 2012

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