Cineflix makes headway in the U.K.

Montreal: Cineflix is making definite headway in the U.K. with the opening of a new distribution office in London, Cineflix International, headed by managing director Paul Heaney, and the sale of the six-hour factual tripartite coproduction Mayday to Channel 5 and commissioning editor Dan Chambers. Discovery Networks Europe is expected to take a second window, says Cineflix president Glen Salzman.
Mayday explores the science of aeronautic technology and air safety through the recreation and investigation of near misses and major crashes. Cineflix's Andre Barro is executive in charge of production. Bryn Higgins of Stone City Productions in the U.K. is series producer. The French producer is Bernard Vaillot of Galaxie Presse. Taping is slated to begin in September in North America and Europe. Mayday is a majority Canadian (51%) coproduction budgeted at $2.5 million.

Montreal: Cineflix is making definite headway in the U.K. with the opening of a new distribution office in London, Cineflix International, headed by managing director Paul Heaney, and the sale of the six-hour factual tripartite coproduction Mayday to Channel 5 and commissioning editor Dan Chambers. Discovery Networks Europe is expected to take a second window, says Cineflix president Glen Salzman.

Mayday explores the science of aeronautic technology and air safety through the recreation and investigation of near misses and major crashes. Cineflix’s Andre Barro is executive in charge of production. Bryn Higgins of Stone City Productions in the U.K. is series producer. The French producer is Bernard Vaillot of Galaxie Presse. Taping is slated to begin in September in North America and Europe. Mayday is a majority Canadian (51%) coproduction budgeted at $2.5 million.

Cineflix shows sold into the U.K. include Dogs with Jobs (52 x 30), airing on the National Geographic Channel; Birth Stories (65 x 30), broadcast on specialty channel Living; and the now-in-post 13 half-hour series 90 Days in Hollywood (aka Pilot Season), a blow-by-blow account of young actors trying to make it in wacky Tinseltown, also licensed by Living and by Life Network in Canada.

The house has started new-season production on three series – 65 episodes in all – Dogs With Jobs, Birth Stories and elove.

Dogs, which preems this fall on Nat Geo in the U.S. and on Nat Geo channels in 49 countries, will shoot in the U.K., the Netherlands, Hawaii and, of course, in Canada and the U.S.

Maura Kealey is series producer and Marshall Johnson is the coordinating director. Series directors on season four of Dogs include Serge Marcil, Susan Mawhood and Eli Gorn.

Taping is just beginning on 26 new episodes of the online dating docusoap elove, commissioned by W Network in Canada and Oxygen in the U.S. Cesca Eaton is the producer. The show’s all-femme director/videographer talent includes Patricia Chica, Robin McKenna, Nadine Schwartz and Naomi Wise. Budget for season two is $3.8 million.

Cineflix is also shooting 26 new episodes of Birth Stories on location in Toronto. It airs on the Life in Canada and on Oxygen in the U.S. and is produced by Gail Gallant, who is also exec producer. Directors include Kate Gillen, Patricia Fogliato, Wendy Trueman and Grazyna Krupa.

Salzman says Cineflix initially considered Dublin, Ireland for its European base, but opted for sales and presales over tax breaks and chose London. Heaney comes to the company with more than a decade of experience in distribution, media sales and marketing in TV and radio with BSkyB, Southern Star’s factual division Wild & Real, Explore International and NBC Europe.

NFB on the big and small screen

In Glasses, director Brian Duchscherer’s (Balgonie Birdman) new stop-motion/puppet-animation film, young Milo gets a new pair of spectacles but somehow manages to lose sight of the true meaning of friendship. Beautifully crafted, Glasses/Nico la taupe had its world premiere on Teletoon, in French and English, on Canada Day as part of the specialty channel’s all-Canadian animation weekend.

A decade in the making, Glasses won the Golden Sheaf Award for best animated film at the Yorkton Short Film & Video Festival as well as honors at Montreal’s International Children’s Film Festival and the Carrousel international du film in Rimouski, Que.

Glasses was produced by Marcy Page for the National Film Board.

This month, more than 120 old and new NFB productions (not including repeats) are being broadcast on 22 different networks and specialty channels, including The Documentary Channel showcase NFB’s Best and the APTN series First Film Series.

Big-screen action includes the knock-out documentary Le Ring interieur, Quebec musician Dan Bigras’ directing debut about the people and ethics of extreme combat and martial arts. Ring unspools at Cinema ONF in Montreal June 22 to July 11.

Les Dangereux wraps

Principal photography wrapped July 4 after 34 days on Louis Saia’s absurdist black comedy Les Dangereux. The film stars stand-up comic Stephane Rousseau and Veronique Cloutier (Music-Hall, La Fureur), both making their movie debuts, and tells the story of an accountant who desperately tries to save a big-name rock star (Cloutier) kidnapped for a $1-million ransom.

Cast includes Marc Messier as an unlikely anglo and the rock star’s father/manager, Guy Nadon, Michel Charette, Louise Portal, Didier Lucien and Pierre Lebeau in the role of very bad guy Dirty-Henri.

STCVQ craft credits go to supervising producer/PM Nicole Hilareguy, DOP Jean-Pierre Trudel and art director Sylvain Gingras. Les Dangereux reunites Melenny Productions producer Richard Goudreau and director/writer Saia, the team behind the hugely successful Les Boys franchise.

Mario Rachiele’s BIG BANG FX|Animation is doing the visual F/X for Les Dangereux. (Keeping busy with large-format films in an otherwise slow market, BIG BANG also did the F/X work on the Denise Filiatrault feature L’Odyssee d’Alice Tremblay, and is slated to do work on the Columbia TriStar film Levity and Summer of the Ghost, a new Canada/Austria feature film coproduction from Productions La Fete producers Chantal Lafleur and Rock Demers.)

Les Dangereux was produced on a budget of close to $7 million, with a sizable piece of financing coming from sponsors Brasserie Labatt, Procter & Gamble and Subway restaurants.

Christal Films Distribution anticipates a December release.

New (distrib) life for Hugo

Originated on 35mm film but delivered only in digital Beta PAL format, the award-winning children’s musical fantasy Hugo and the Dragon/Hugo et le Dragon has expanded its international distribution potential with the creation of a 35mm release print.

Hugo’s 35mm reincarnation is the result of a deal between producer Rene Chenier of Arico Film Communication and Covitec sales and marketing VP Pierre Moreau. Covitec transferred the digital master to high-resolution 2K then digitized the image data onto a film negative using Solitaire V process technology. Covitec gets to show off its technical prowess to potential clients, while the production of a release print has already led to three international festival invitations, says Chenier.

Hugo was screened to sold-out audiences in digital Beta version at Ex-Centris late last fall prior to its broadcast on Radio-Canada.

Directed by Philippe Baylaucq and featuring 10 original songs and a cast of distinctly crafted puppets, Hugo tells the story of a naughty lost little dragon who eats all the stars in the sky. The one-hour special, produced for $1.6 million, won the $20,000 Telefilm Canada prize for best independent Canadian production at the Banff2002 Television Festival and is distributed internationally by Distributions La Fete.

Chenier says he’s now scouting an English-market broadcast sale.

Arico’s development slate includes the 3D animation feature film Sarila, to be produced on a budget of $3 million in association with Productions 10 Ave. of Quebec City. Screenwriters are Roger Harvey and Pierre Tremblay. Chenier says a major broadcaster is backing the project.