Brightlight Pictures turns up production wattage

Vancouver: The new partnership of Vancouver producers Stephen Hegyes and Shawn Williamson of Brightlight Pictures is generating a critical mass of in-house and service production.
While romantic comedy Try Seventeen wrapped May 1, the made-in-Vancouver, Canadian-content drama Punch wraps a month of production May 17.
The debut feature for writer/director Guy Bennett, Punch explores a father's and daughter's volatile relationship and their struggle to find the right emotional distance.

Vancouver: The new partnership of Vancouver producers Stephen Hegyes and Shawn Williamson of Brightlight Pictures is generating a critical mass of in-house and service production.

While romantic comedy Try Seventeen wrapped May 1, the made-in-Vancouver, Canadian-content drama Punch wraps a month of production May 17.

The debut feature for writer/director Guy Bennett, Punch explores a father’s and daughter’s volatile relationship and their struggle to find the right emotional distance.

Michael Riley (Mile Zero, Power Play) stars opposite Sonja Bennett, the director’s 21-year-old daughter. Telefilm Canada, B.C. Film, CHUM, Movie Central and Astral are among the funders.

On May 8, meanwhile, production began on House of the Dead, which is based on the Sega video game about zombie-fighting college students. Production continues until June 15, with German director Uwe Boll at the helm. Williamson has done all of Boll’s English-language, long-form productions such as Blackwoods, Sanctimony and Homeroom.

HoD, a coproduction between Boll-KG, Brightlight and L.A.-based Mindfire Entertainment, is slated for a spring 2003 release to coincide with the next House of the Dead video game.

Try Seventeen, for Millennium Films, follows the exploits of a college-bound teenager who learns more about life and love from the inhabitants of his apartment building than at school. It stars Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring), Franka Potente (Run Lola Run), and Mandy Moore (A Walk to Remember).

Last fall, meanwhile, Brightlight did a week of pickups for the Thomas Vinterberg non-Dogma feature All About Love when star Sean Penn declined to fly to Copenhagen in the post-9/11 chaos.

Up next is the W Network MOW Mafia Princess, retelling the story of Tammy Morrisroe, who infiltrated Vancouver’s crime scene to get evidence to clear her father who she says is wrongly jailed for murder.

Another possibility for 2002 is Lynne Stopkewich’s adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith story People Who Knock. In 2003, Brightlight is scheduled to produce Bruce Sweeney’s next feature, American Venus, about a struggling actress, and Mina Shum’s next pic, Golden Orchid Society, which they hope to shoot in China.

Monkey re-shines

International Keystone Entertainment of Vancouver wrapped production on Most Valuable Primate III, the threequel in the cute-chimps-doing-cute-stunts movie franchise. This time, Jack the Chimp gives up hockey skates and skateboards and jumps on a snowboard to help a young boy and foil kidnappers.

Expect the film in theaters next Christmas or in early 2003. Robert Vince produces and directs, while wife Anne Vince and Anna McRoberts share the writing credit.

Rob Tinkler (Undergrads), Ian Bagg (MVP II), Gwynyth Walsh (Ice Angel) and Robby Benson (Beauty and the Beast) star.

Spy kid

Veteran PM George Chapman is overseeing the newest MGM feature to land in Vancouver. Cody Banks, a $25-million-ish light comedy, follows in the footsteps of A Guy Thing, also produced in Vancouver by MGM’s Canadian division called Cub Productions. Starring Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle) and Hilary Duff (Lizzie McGuire), CB is about a kid who is recruited by the CIA. Norwegian Harald Zwart (One Night at McCool’s) directs. Production runs May 27 to Aug. 15.

Previously, Cub also produced Antitrust with Tim Robbins in Vancouver and in Montreal did Rollerball and Undercover Monk.

Boo Boo

Horror-maestro Clive Barker is executive producing the SciFi Channel MOW Saint Sinner, which wraps a month of production June 5 and will air by year-end.

Saint Sinner tells the story of a 19th century monk who mistakenly unleashes evil demons and has to travel to present-day Seattle to deal with the problem and redeem himself.

Josh Butler (The Invisible Man) directs. The film stars Greg Serano (Frailty) and Gina Ravera (The Fugitive) along with Mary Mara (K-PAX) and Rebecca Harrell (Suspended Animation), who play the two erotically charged demons.

Art show

After a hiatus, aboriginal arts magazine New Canoe returned to The New VI in Victoria May 11 with more 30-minute episodes. Hosted by Toni Kelley and Barbara Hager, the new shows feature Tsimshian artist Roy Henry Vickers, to poets Kevin Paul, Cheryl Bryce and Lee Sam, to Kinwa Bluesky, an Ojibway-Cree traditional dancer, University of Victoria law student, and competitor in the 2002 Miss Indian World Contest.

Victoria views

The National Film Board’s Pacific office has two more documentaries in production.

Criminal Acts, by director Tony Snowsill and NFB producer Tracey Friesen, looks at the 20-year-old William Head on Stage Theatre Society, a troupe of prisoner-actors at a medium-security federal penitentiary outside of Victoria, as they prepare two short plays that resonate within the prison environment – The Cage by Mario Fratti, and Edgar Allen Poe’s The Telltale Heart.

Meanwhile, A Chinese Cemetery at Harling Point is first-time director Ling Chiu’s historical look at Chinese-Canadian immigrants and their desire to continue their traditional burial rites at a time when dying in a foreign country meant that their souls would be homeless. Selwyn Jacob produces the Victoria-area documentary.

Cinematographer is Ian Kerr. Sound is by Peter Wong. Production manager is Sauching Ng.

Kosovo Dreams is also in production.

Big-boned gal

L.A.-based, 300-pound drag queen Momma (aka Worthie Meacham) arrived in Vancouver May 12 for eight days of production for Out on TV, a spec pilot done by Vibrance Alive.

Out on TV hopes to cash in on the trend in gay programming, says producer Daniel Leipnik, who is also producing My Mother, My Hero, an 11-part, half-hour series about how the Holocaust affects mother/daughter relationships. The magazine-format show will bring together local and community news reporting, live panel discussions, mini-documentary pieces, comedy skits and breaking news affecting B.C.’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

Rebecca Whyman, formerly host of the local cable show Outlook TV, will anchor the show, which Leipnik expects to present to broadcasters this summer.