B.C. Scene: Cold Squad series heats up as Baton’s money starts to work

Vancouver: For Julia Keatley, this day has been a loooong time coming.

Getting Cold Squad in front of the cameras has been two-and-a-half years and more complications than expected: with Telefilm Canada’s Equity Investment Program crunch, the first season is now 11, not 13 episodes, and the premiere has been bumped from September (when civt g’es live) to January.

But as the co-executive producer prepares for the first day of shooting July 1, Keatley says it feels good to start doing Cold Squad than forever talking about it.

‘I’m thrilled,’ she says. ‘It’s wonderful when you create something to see it come into production. I never thought it wasn’t going to happen. If you’re going to be a producer in this country you have to be optimistic. We’ve also had strong backing from our broadcaster, who has never blinked.’

Cold Squad is about a group of Vancouver detectives who try to solve closed, or ‘cold,’ files. Starring Toronto actress Julie Stewart and Vancouver actor Michael Hogan, the first episode will focus on the discovery of a skull of a 14-year-old child and how it sparks an emotional journey for the detectives and the family members who have to face the consequences 15 years later. Episode two is about a Chinese man who has the opportunity to avenge the death of his parents just as the Cold Squad is about to solve their murders.

The first episodes are directed by Penelope Buitenhuis; other directors include John Pozer, T.W. Peacock, Jane Thompson and Stacy Curtis.

More than half the directors are women.

Baton’s multimillion-dollar licensing program for Western Canada, meanwhile, is starting to role out beyond Cold Squad and comedy show Double Exposure.

At the Banff Television Festival earlier this month, North Vancouver producer Nick Orchard completed negotiations for a six-part, live-action series for Baton. Drawn Together, developed in conjunction with cartoonist Lynn Johnston of For Better or For Worse comic strip fame, is about a single mom working at an animation company. It’s for Baton’s family anthology series.

-Did somebody forget?

Bill Mustos, when he was executive director at the ctcpf, said that the superfund would consider including a b.c. representative on its board, which is a collection of representatives from the cab, cftpa and such.

Following the election of the new board during the Banff Television Festival, all members – save Andy Thompson from Alberta’s Great North Productions – are again from Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

The ctcpf is quick to say that the nominations come from the member groups.

But it d’es appear that the ctcpf paid lip service to b.c.’s specific concerns about the representation and funding allotments when local representatives demanded a place at the table earlier this year.

‘Intolerable,’ says steamed Vancouver producer Alan Morinis, in responding to the reelection of the eastern-controlled board. ‘It’s getting to the point where it’s not accidental. It has reached a point of crisis. In 13 years, I’ve never seen the level of frustration of Western producers as high as it is now. People like me are cutting back.’

-Production central

Zacharia, a road-movie comedy about two friends searching for the name of the person in an unmarked grave, starts July 2 and shoots until July 29.

Produced by locals on a micro budget, the show has no distributor yet in the place. In charge are producer Damon Vignale, coproducer and costar Madison Graie, director Michael Rohl and stars Colin Cunningham (also writer and coproducer) and Ben Ratner. The show will be shot in the Lower Mainland and Cache Creek areas.

Post-production will be completed in November and producers hope to have it shown at the Sundance Festival next year.

Says Cunningham: ‘With the recent success of other local filmmakers and knowing what’s on the horizon, I have no doubt that Vancouver is going to be to independent film what Seattle was to grunge [music].’

Leading the wave of stateside production, meanwhile, is four-hour abc miniseries Medusa’s Child, which starts July 2 and ends Aug. 27. The show, about a cargo plane disaster, hadn’t announced a cast at press time. It’s produced by Columbia TriStar.

For Lifetime Television is mow Zalinda’s Story, which wraps July 23 and stars Blair Brown (Molly Dodd) as a woman who learns to forgive the murderer of her son.

Principal Takes a Holiday, shot for The Wonderful World of Disney until July 28, is a comedy about a power struggle between a feisty high school student and his principal. It stars Zachery Ty Bryan (Home Improvement) and Kevin Nealon (Saturday Night Live).

Disney Channel mow Tourist Trap wraps July 20 and stars Daniel Stern (City Slickers).

Futuristic mow Baby 2000, about cloning children, is being shot for nbc. Elizabeth Perkins (Big) stars in the project that shoots until July 28.

-Rev up your daytimers

The 12th annual Trade Forum of the Vancouver International Film Festival has announced part of its schedule of sessions to run Oct. 8 through 10.

The theme this year is I Did It My Way and highlights include The Art of Motion Picture Financing, Animation: Choosing your Dimension (that being 2D or 3D), a debate on the viability of public broadcasters, and a special panel on the merits of working inside the studio/distributor system or raising production financing privately.

Early bird passes are $225 compared to $275 after Sept. 19. The popular New Filmmakers’ Day is on Oct. 11.

-You can quote me

ReBoot maker Mainframe Entertainment began trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange on June 17. Its shares – listed as mfe – closed the first day of trading down about 25 cents from its Initial Public Offering and opening price of $9.75 per share. Gross proceeds from the ipo are $29.25 million and the Vancouver-based computer animator will use the money to develop and finance a feature-length film, finance current production including a third season of ReBoot, and acquire software and equipment.

At the same time, Alliance reduced its ownership of Mainframe to 7.8%.