Omni Films producers go to series without gov’t. $$

Vancouver: Omni Film Productions of Vancouver is producing its first two series financed without government subsidy....

Vancouver: Omni Film Productions of Vancouver is producing its first two series financed without government subsidy.

Healthy Home and Ancient Clues, which go into production this summer backed by licences and tax credits, have been paid for without the aid of the ctf, Telefilm Canada or B.C. Film, says executive producer Brian Hamilton.

‘Omni’s strategy has been to develop relationships with broadcasters around the world to negotiate presales so that we are less dependent on government funding,’ he says. Other Omni titles such as Champions of the Wild and Edgemont Road are grateful for the government assistance, he adds quickly.

Healthy Home is a 26-part magazine show for Washington, D.C.-based Discovery Health and hgtv. It explores the ecology and healthy approaches to home construction, renovation and decoration and expands to consider what constitutes healthy communities and a healthy planet. For example, look for episodes about houses made of straw bales, residences that reduce energy needs to a bare minimum, homes that are off the power grid, buildings made of recycled materials, houses that keep toxins at bay, etc.

The show’s host will stay in Vancouver, while a documentary crew is dispatched to exemplary abodes throughout the continent. However, b.c. is a hotbed of healthy homes, says Hamilton, and a lot of production will take place in the province.

The first episodes created from the 104-day shooting schedule debut after Christmas. Discovery Health sees the series as a daily, adds Hamilton.

‘Obviously, we have to do a wonderful job in the first season,’ he remarks, referring to the production potential.

Ancient Clues, meanwhile, is a series of eight half-hours for Discovery International, Discovery Canada, Canal D, La Cinquieme, Knowledge Network and a variety of other broadcasters.

The series uses modern forensic science to investigate mysterious deaths in the distant past. For example, episodes will look at incidences of cannibalism in Neanderthal culture, human sacrifice in Peruvian, pre-Colombian culture, aboriginal warfare in ancient Northern Canada, and the origin and transmission of syphilis. Another episode studies the pulp of a tooth to discover if the person died of the plague.

The series will take one year to do the eight half-hours.

*Jingoism, jingoism, jingo all the way

Action film producer Joel Silver is the executive producer for Freedom, a series shot as a Warner Bros. pilot in Vancouver earlier this year and now picked up for broadcast on upn in the fall.

Actor Holt McCallany (Three Kings) leads the cast including Scarlett Chorvat and Darius McCrary (Don King: Only in America).

A Matrix-meets-Mission Impossible-meets-the French Underground resistance movement storyline, Freedom takes place in the near future when the u.s. president is assassinated and dark forces within the government maneuver to take over. Only our crack team of resistance fighters can save the American way.

Shot mostly on location and in Studio M at the Vancouver Film Studios, Freedom will do pilot reshoots and 12 more episodes before fall ratings in October dictate whether the production can go another nine episodes.

*God only knows

Independent feature Life is a Miracle, by the Media Evangelism Association, is in production until Aug 1. However, producers weren’t inclined to give any details.

*Angels and Valentines

U.S. actor David Boreanaz, star of Buffy the Vampire Slayer television spinoff Angel, keeps the creepy themes going by starring in the feature Valentine.

Think Halloween eight months early – a killer is stalking women in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day.

Jessica Capshaw (Killing Cinderella), Denise Richards (The World is Not Enough) and Marley Shelton (Pleasantville) star.

Shot entirely on locations such as the obligatory cemetery, the Warner Bros. feature wraps production Aug. 29. Expect it in theatres by Feb. 14.

*Second time lucky

In 1999, nbc shot and passed on a pilot called The Master of Horror and Suspense by The Jim Henson Company. But it has been revised and picked up by Fox Family Channel and renamed Fearing Mind. Thirteen episodes are confirmed.

Harry van Gorkum (Gone in Sixty Seconds) plays a mystery writer named Fearing and Susan Gibney (Cabin by the Lake) and Katie Sachoff play his family. Half of each episode will focus on the writer’s family life and the other half will delve into the story he is currently writing – a story within a story setup.

Production runs until Nov. 23 at Vancouver Film Studios Studio D and will expand into the new stages opening at the complex in August.

No Muppets will be harmed in the production of the one-hour series because it is entirely live-action with human characters. A mother-in-law character and a recurring bookseller character will be cast locally.

*Better not pout

The Ultimate Xmas Present is an mow for the Disney Channel. No cast was signed at press time, but the story involves a malfunctioning weather machine that wreaks havoc on a young girl’s own plans for a ‘snow day’ in California.

Production is scheduled to wrap Aug. 25

*Tried and true

Night Visions, a new series for Fox and Warner Bros., goes into production in Vancouver July 18 to Dec. 15. Returning to the formulas set by The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits, Night Visions is an anthology series of strange stories. In this version, two 30-minute episodes will air back-to-back to make up an hour-long show on Fox on Friday nights beginning this fall.

*Might be TV

The speculative spirit of Vancouver’s guerrilla filmmakers is alive and well at the production office of In Your Face, which might be the first deferred television pilot to be put in front of borrowed cameras here.

The half-hour teen comedy is executive produced by freelance negative cutter and editor Sheila Smolak and written and directed by her spouse John Rollins, normally a locations crew member for other productions.

The premise is in the same family as series Degrassi High, Madison and Saved by the Bell, except with less focus on school.

No broadcaster is yet attached, but Smolak is counting on connections with u.s. networks for a pickup.

The cast of local actors includes Frank Houdek, Kendra Crowther, Lucas Green-Lundy and Jeff Scrutton. Production runs Aug. 5 to 7. *