Big News From Grand Rock signs on big name Canucks

With actors including Gordon Pinsent, Aaron Ashmore and Ennis Esmer on board, the Markham Street Films production will begin shooting in Midland, Ontario after successfully raising part of its production funding through Indiegogo.
Big News From Grand Rock - Cropped

Big News from Grand Rock , a feature-length comedy produced by Markham Street Films and  written and directed by Daniel Perlmutter, has signed on a slew of high-profile Canadian actors – Gordon Pinsent, Art Hindle, Aaron Ashmore, Kristin Booth, Leah Pinsent, Peter Keleghan and Ennis Esmer – for the production, which will begin shooting  in Midland, Ontario on Sept. 30.

Ashmore and Hindle  have both worked with Markham Street Films producers Michael McNamara and Judy Holm in the past.

Fanboy favourite Ashmore, known for his roles in Veronica MarsSmallville and Warehouse13, narrated the Toronto-based production company’s documentary series, aptly titled Fanboy Confessional, for Spacewhile  Hindle worked with the team on a BravoFACT short film called Elysian Fields, producer Judy Holm tells Playback.

Holm adds that Pinsent and Keleghan, who recently appeared on the big screen together in Jeremy LaLonde’s Sex After Kids, along with Booth and Esmer, were the first actors they thought of once the production date was locked and they began thinking about the cast.

“We feel very fortunate that they both responded to the script and came on board and that we could work out shoot dates that fit with their very busy schedules,” Holm says (and keeping things familial, fellow actor Leah Pinsent is married to Keleghan and daughter of Gordon).

The $1 million film received backing from Telefilm Canada, Bell Media’s The Movie Network, Corus Entertainment’s Movie Central, the OMDC Film Fund, and personal investments from the producers and director Perlmutter, with the exception of $50, 000 for the cost of shooting in Midland, Ontario for three weeks.

Markham Street successfully appealed to the public for the Midland production costs through crowd-funding site Indiegogo. The $50, 000 raised will go towards the cost of housing staff, paying crew and other local costs during the three-week shoot.

Potential donors were invited to contribute anywhere from $10 to be credited as a “paper courier” on the film, with a special thank you on the film’s Facebook and Twitter pages, to $5000 to be called a “media mogul” and credited as an executive producer on the film. Other incentives included a one-hour script advice session with Perlmutter, DVDs, and time with the cast and crew.

Big News from Grand Rock is about a newspaper editor who ends up making up stories based on Hollywood films to keep the local paper from going under, but a big city reporter wants to do a follow-up on one of the stories and he (the editor) has to go to great lengths to keep the truth from coming out.

Perlmutter says he’s always had a connection with local, independent papers.  “I’ve long loved small town papers and made a habit of collecting them any time I was in a new town. They’re always such great, intimate portraits of communities and they always seemed like fertile ground for a story. Then, when I saw the film Shattered Glass [1993, directed by Billy Ray], a film I was a great fan of, it struck me that the story was so close to a comedy; looked at from a slightly different vantage it really was very funny. These two thoughts kind of gelled in my mind and Big News From Grand Rock was born,” he recalls.

Big News From Grand Rock got off the ground at the Pitch This! competition at TIFF in 2009, where actor Ennis Esmer of The Listener was hosting and immediately got involved. It was at this point that Markham Street optioned the script.

The script was then developed at the Canadian Film Centre’s Telefilm Canada Comedy Lab, where Kristin Booth did a table read, and the team knew they wanted her on board.

Perlmutter then took part in the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards Mentorship program which paired him with Canadian comedic actor Eugene Levy, who helped fine-tune the script until it was ready for production.

Producers are planning on screening the film on the film festival circuit before releasing the film theatrically in the fall of 2014 or the spring of 2015.