Bellwood does second flick

Making the festival rounds with their first feature Deeply, Carolynne Bell and Sheri Elwood of Bellwood Stories are in development with their second feature, Clue in the Fast Lane.

A coproduction with Berlin-based Wolfram Tichy’s Time and vif (also the coproducer on Deeply), the roughly $10-million film is a loose adaptation of the Canadian play by Ann-Marie MacDonald and Beverly Cooper.

‘Sheri has never even read the play,’ says Bell, reinforcing how loosely based the script is.

As with Deeply, which recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival followed by a special presentation screening at the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax, Clue is being written and directed by Elwood, with Bell and Tichy attached to produce. Tichy also serves as exec producer.

‘[Working with Tichy] is quite a blessing,’ says Elwood. ‘He’s the godfather of Canadian independent film. His European sensibility and sensitivity to director- and writer-driven projects is astounding, and it was a real leap of faith for him to come on board (on Deeply) with two first-timers.’

Slated to shoot next summer in Canada and Germany, with a couple of scenes in New York, Clue is described as a comic psychological fantasy with heart, as it follows the adventures of a 16-year-old ‘loser,’ who, after an apparent suicide attempt is befriended by a fictional teen-girl superhero.

Further down the pipeline, Elwood (I Was a Sixth Grade Alien) is in development on Galaxy 5000, a family action-adventure film she is cowriting with Michael DeCarlo (Drop the Beat).

A special fx-based film to be produced by Bell for somewhere between $5 million and $8 million, the ‘Disney-type’ story follows a 12-year-old who sends away for a space device gadget, advertised on the back of a comic book, that turns out to be the real deal. Elwood is also attached as creative producer.

Also in development is the feature The Ballad of Amaranta Caruso, a dark comedy about a teenage girl bullfighter in Mexico.

Elwood is writing and will direct, and Bell will produce the film that, given the plot-line and setting, will likely become a copro with Mexico or a co-venture with a Texan company.

Outside of Bellwood, Elwood is developing a series called SaraSaraJane, 22 half-hours about two 15-year-old girls living on opposite sides of the Atlantic whose fates are connected. ‘It’s like a Sliding Doors for teens.’

Eventually the project will be funneled through Bellwood, but for now, Elwood is actively seeking a broadcaster. If the series receives enough support, she says, there’s potential for it to turn into a one hour.

Meantime, in development outside Bellwood, Bell is working with producer Vibiki Bianchi and Gemini Award-winning director Steven Williams (Milgaard) on Parole, a 13-part, one-hour tv series.

Currently in the treatment stage, the series, set and to be shot in Toronto, is about a parole officer and her adventures in the criminal world.

*Hamori emerges with 51st State

Andras Hamori’s new production company H2O Motion Pictures has gone to camera on its first film, 51st State.

Shooting on location in Liverpool from Sept. 25 until mid-December, the $28-million feature is produced by Hamori, Seaton McLean, Jonathan Debin and Samuel Jackson, alongside Focus Films’ David Pupkewitz and Malcolm Kohll.

Cowritten by Simon Davis Barry (The Art of War), David Leland (Mona Lisa) and Stel Pavlou, the film tells the story of a street-wise American master chemist who becomes entrenched in Liverpool’s underworld.

Directed by Ronny Yu (Bride of Chucky), 51st State stars such celebs as Samuel Jackson (Shaft) and Robert Carlyle (Angela’s Ashes).

The film was financed by Alliance Atlantis in association with the Artists Production Group, The UK Film Consortium and Momentum Pictures – a joint venture between aac and Kinowelt, which is distributing the film in the u.k. Alliance Atlantis Pictures is handling worldwide sales and Alliance Atlantis Motion Picture Distribution will handle the Canadian release.

Hamori has a multi-film output deal with Alliance Atlantis.

*Gross curls into feature filmmaking

In his off-time, that is, when he’s not playing lead in the Stratford Festival’s Hamlet four days a week, homegrown sweetheart Paul Gross is busy rewriting the script for Men With Brooms, a feature film about curling he is developing with co-scribes Paul Quarrington and John Karizanc.

Set to be Gross’ feature directorial debut, the film follows four friends who reunite to win a curling tournament for their deceased coach. ‘But Paul says the script is about unemployment,’ says assistant Penny McDonald.

Likely a high-priced film, in Canadian terms, the budget is currently being kept under wraps.

Gross is also producing and set to star in the film, which is slated to shoot in late winter 2001. A location has yet to be determined.

Emmy-Award winning producer Frank Siracusa (Summer’s End), Gross’ partner in Whizbang Films, is also attached to produce.

Toronto-based Whizbang, slated up until recently to produce ctv’s Steelstring – which was supposed to star Gross as a burnt-out rock star turned private investigator – was launched one year ago.

Since then it has been paying the bills by providing service work for American mows shooting in Toronto, while Gross has been busy on stage and in development on a number of projects.

Currently, the fledgling company is handling the Toronto shoots of Sanctuary for cbs (Sept. 11 to Oct. 6) and Crash Course (Oct. 10 to Nov. 3) for Lifetime in the u.s.

Victorious goes to camera on Century Hotel

more than a half a dozen stories make up Victorious Films’ latest feature Century Hotel.

The film, which goes to camera Oct. 10 to Nov. 11 in Toronto, marks co-screenwriter David Weaver’s feature film directorial debut. His short, Moon Palace (an ofdc/Showcase calling card project), recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

In Century Hotel, cowritten by Bridget Newson and produced by Victoria Hirst in the ballpark of $750,000, seven interwoven stories play themselves out in a downtown hotel room over the course of 100 years.

tva has worldwide distribution, except Germany. Citytv is broadcasting.

Sandra Oh is rumored to star in the feature, which was one of the four projects this year to receive production funding from Telefilm Canada’s Toronto office.

Coincidentally, Victorious is also in development with a feature film about curling, called The Living End.

*Roadhouse, Balmoral produce Internet feature

Roadhouse Productions, operators of the Gun for Hire studio in Toronto, has just wrapped on the trailer for blindeye, the company’s, and perhaps the country’s, first hd feature film made primarily for the Internet.

Following in the path of Rashomon, the film, a coproduction with Balmoral Pictures, is the story of one series of events told from three different perspectives. A battle of the sexes, the story focuses on an episode in which one character claims she was raped, one character claims it was consensual sex and another character must decide who he believes.

Through the interactive capabilities of the Internet, the viewer can either see the events from one of the three perspectives, from each of the three perspectives or toggle between the three perspectives in real time.

While the film was written and designed for the Internet, and will premiere on the Web (blindeyethefilm.com), it will also be shot so it can translate to traditional media.

A fourth ending has been written in for it to make sense on the big screen, says Roadhouse co-president Howard Rosen, who’s coproducing the film with partner Albert Botha.

Tim Ware wrote the screenplay and Balmoral principal/commercial director Greg Sheppard is directing.

Currently in the casting process, the film, which Rosen assures will be 100% Canadian, shoots in and around Toronto, Nov. 27 to Dec. 15.

The film is budgeted at roughly us$2 million, but Rosen says its cash budget is ‘considerably less.’

The ultimate goal for the film, which is somewhat of an experiment for the production team, is to syndicate it all over the Internet and eventually sell it for broadcast and theatrical release. *

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NFB75Anniversary

NFB75Anniversary - Sarah Polley (filmmaker) with her Stories We Tell producer Anita Lee (NFB Ontario executive producer)