Monsters make move on Edmonton

Calgary prodco Combustion, in coproduction with Toronto's 49th Parallel Films, is set to go to camera on a pair of follow-ups to cult hit Ginger Snaps, to be shot in succession at various locations in Edmonton. Ginger Snaps 2 starts shooting Feb. 3 and should wrap mid-March. After a short rest, cast and crew will shoot Ginger Snaps 3, to finish mid-April.

Calgary prodco Combustion, in coproduction with Toronto’s 49th Parallel Films, is set to go to camera on a pair of follow-ups to cult hit Ginger Snaps, to be shot in succession at various locations in Edmonton. Ginger Snaps 2 starts shooting Feb. 3 and should wrap mid-March. After a short rest, cast and crew will shoot Ginger Snaps 3, to finish mid-April.

The sequel picks up about three months after the end of the first movie and is a continuation of the story of the original sisters Ginger (Katharine Isabelle, At Shepherd Park) and Brigitte (Emily Perkins).

Ginger Snaps’ total box-office earnings of $425,753 made it the fifth highest-grossing Canadian movie between December 2000 and November 2001 and it has developed a cult following, boasting significant video and DVD sales. The sequel is directed by Brett Sullivan (The Promise) and written by Megan Martin. Henry Less (Scar Tissue) is the DOP.

Ginger Snaps 3, to be directed and produced by Combusion’s Grant Harvey (American Beer), will be more like a prequel, set in the 18th century for a bit of werewolf history, and is in the process of being penned by Christina Ray Eichman.

For executive producer Noah Segal of 49th Parallel, the challenge is creating new films that will be as good or better than the original and continue to attract fans. ‘Both films will be able to stand on their own merit, and neither one will be simply a derivative of the first,’ he says.

John Fawcett, director of the original Ginger Snaps, will also executive produce with Paula Devonshire and Steve Hoban, partner and producer at 49th.

Segal hopes to deliver both films to domestic distributor Seville Pictures within the year and says Ginger Snaps 2 should be released before the end of 2003.

And to satiate fans, the Ginger Snaps films stand ready to be released in rapid succession, in keeping with the release strategy of the recent Lord of the Rings and Star Wars trilogies.

One of the big differences between the original Ginger Snaps and its successors will be the werewolves themselves. They are being created by L.A.-based F/X shop KNB, which completed F/X for Spawn and Spy Kids 2 & 3.

‘We’re going to put more time and money into special effects, creating scarier, realistic werewolves, and there will be more of them,’ says Segal. ‘The films will have a bigger, richer feel, in part because we have bigger budgets.’

Ginger Snaps was produced on a budget of approximately $4 million. The two follow-ups have budgets of $6 million each and ‘there was a feeding frenzy for the films,’ says Segal. Both the sequel and prequel have been presold to Lions Gate Films, which will handle U.S. distribution, with Seville distributing domestically. Additional funding comes from Alberta tax credits, the LFP and development funds from Movie Central.

Latest Guy Maddin feature from Buffalo Gal

Winnipeg’s Buffalo Gal Pictures goes to camera Feb. 17 in Winnipeg for five weeks on the latest feature from Manitoba director Guy Maddin, The Saddest Music in the World, coproduced with Toronto’s Rhombus Media.

Penned by Maddin and writing partner George Toles, the film is set at a Depression-era brewery run by a matriarch figure who holds a contest bringing people from all over the world to Winnipeg to compete for the unique distinction of having created the world’s saddest music.

Jody Shapiro, Danny Iron and Niv Fichman of Rhombus produce the approximately $3-million film with Phyllis Laing, president of Buffalo Gal.

The cast includes Mark McKinney (Kids in the Hall) and Isabella Rossellini (Fearless), with funding from the Canada Feature Film Fund, Manitoba Film & Sound and The Movie Network. TVA Films will distribute domestically and Rhombus International is handling worldwide sales.

Buffalo Gal is also in preproduction on Seven Times Lucky. Buffalo Gal producer Liz Jarvis has been developing the script for three years with writer Gary Yates, who also makes his feature directing debut on the film. Yates previously directed the short films The Big Pickle and Without Rockets. Seven Times Lucky goes to camera in Winnipeg Feb. 24 for a five-week shoot.

And a one-hour pilot for Life Network, Surprise Weddings, will be coproduced by Buffalo Gal and Regina-based Minds Eye Pictures, with funding from Telefilm’s under $1-million envelope. Buffalo Gal producer Shawn Watson is currently in preproduction, with a five-week shoot set for mid-February.

Minds Eye ready to go on The Intern’s Diary

Minds Eye is also going to camera Feb. 10 in Edmonton on its next feature, The Intern’s Diary, to wrap March 24. Written and directed by SCTV head writer and alumnus Dave Thomas, the $4.5-million comedy is an account of a large teaching hospital told through the pages of a first-year intern’s diary.

Josh Miller of Minds Eye produces with executive producers Nic Wry of Edmonton’s Studio Entertainment, Andrew Alexander of Toronto-based The Second City, Marie-Claude Poulin of Montreal’s TVA Films and Minds Eye president and CEO Kevin DeWalt. TVA will handle domestic distribution, Toronto-based Maple and Palm has U.S. rights and Minds Eye International will handle international sales.

With cameo performances still to be announced, the cast for The Intern’s Diary includes Pat Kelly (Liquid Soap), Peter Oldring (K-19: The Widowmaker), Carly Pope (Orange County) and Christine Chatelain (40 Days and 40 Nights).

Funding for The Intern’s Diary comes from TVA, the CanWest Western Independent Producers Fund, The Harold Greenberg Fund, Telefilm Feature Film Fund, The Movie Network, the LFP and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.

In Vancouver, Minds Eye is producing the drama series Just Cause, 22 one-hours for W Network in Canada and PAX TV in the U.S. And it is coproducing The Collector with B.C.’s No Equal Entertainment. Larry Sugar executive produces the 13 one-hours for CHUM’s Space: The Imagination Station.