SRC brings first major drama to New Brunswick

Samuel, the first French-language drama to be produced in New Brunswick and Radio-Canada’s first major dramatic production made outside Quebec, wrapped 36 days of shooting on June 10.

‘This country is so multicolored with so many regions and it’s vitally important for people from New Brunswick and Acadians to see themselves on the air,’ says series producer Sam Grana, who cowrote the original story with Robert Hache. Guy Fournier penned the script with Mario Bolduc, Andre Melancon and Pierre Gang.

The $4.4-million miniseries (four one-hours), coproduced by Moncton’s Sam Grana Productions and Cite-Amerique out of Montreal, tells the story of a man who dreams of being a fisherman until a terrible storm claims his father at sea. Directed by Gang, the miniseries examines how Samuel, his mother and their community deal with the tragedy. It was produced with funding from SRC, the LFP, EIP, FilmNB and SODEC.

Philippe Melanson from Dieppe, NB plays Samuel. A musician by trade, this marks Melanson’s first time in front of a camera. Grana says Gang’s talent working with the cast, along with support from seasoned actors Macha Limonchik (Albertine, en cinq temps) and Jacques Godin (Sous le Signe du Lion), helped Melanson deliver an exceptional performance.

‘He has a screen presence I’ve not seen in a long time,’ says Grana. ‘The chemistry in the composition of the crew and cast, made up of Quebeckers and Acadians, was so wonderfully suited to the story and the production process.’

Cellar Door Doodles for PEI

We all do it, but Cellar Door Productions’ president Gretha Rose has transformed the art of mindless doodling into the Charlottetown-based prodco’s new animated series Doodlez.

‘When doodling, you go off into a different world, so that was the concept,’ says Rose. ‘A hand comes in and draws this character and the character goes off on a series of adventures.’

Not only has Doodlez already proven a great success for Cellar Door, but the province is benefiting as well. P.E.I. has gained an animation studio as a result, with Toronto’s Trapeze Media setting up a permanent animation house in Charlottetown, where nine animators are working on the 2D Flash series.

In the fall, Teletoon will air season one of the $400,000 animated series, which received funding from the Shaw Children’s Program Initiative, Teletoon, the LFP and TechPEI. Production began on the first 11 of 50 two-minute shorts in February and will be completed by the end of July, with the next episodes currently being penned by series writer Sean Scott, who also directs.

The shorts will air as a series of standalone or half-hour episodes featuring the characters ‘dood’ and ‘hand.’ Hand brings the reluctant hero dood to life with simple strokes of the pencil, then leads him through comical adventures. An interactive website will allow viewers to play the part of hand and participate in creating animation.

The Web component, together with Scott’s humor and the fact that the series is dialogue-free, is making Doodlez attractive to international players, says Rose.

‘We’ve had an amazing response to [Doodlez]. Several months ago at MIP it exploded. Everybody’s all over it, so we’re just trying to land on who’s right to work with,’ says Rose. ‘We expect to see dood on all kinds of merchandise, as well, so in looking for international partners it’s more than distribution. I’m also looking at who is the big enough engine that can help to drive those components of my business plan as well.’

Doodlez is distributed by Charlottetown-based Talent Group.

Cellar Door is also in production on season two of Chef at Large, 13 half-hours coproduced with Halifax’s Ocean Entertainment, to air this winter on Food Network Canada. Building on the success of Cellar Door/Ocean’s The Inn Chef, starring Michael Smith, the new series features chef Smith and guests cooking up extraordinary dishes in out-of-the-ordinary places. Episodes are being shot in various locations throughout Canada and the U.S. from May to February 2002. Edward Mowbray directs the $850,000 season with funding from Food Network Canada, the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation and TechPEI.

Coproductions among the Atlantic provinces are becoming more common, says Rose, but she’s surprised there aren’t more.

In addition to working with Cellar Door on Chef at Large, Ocean is also in production on The Food Hunter, 13 half-hours at $75,000 per episode for Food Network (U.S.) and Food Network Canada.

A comedic barbecue show for men is also in production. John Pritchard hosts Red Hot and Ready for diginet MenTV.

In addition to culinary programming, Reinventing Rituals, a $160,000, three-part doc series directed by Sonya Jampolsky for VisionTV, is in the works at Ocean.

Zimmer honored at Banff

Chris Zimmer, president of Halifax’s imX communications, was honored at last month’s Banff2002 Television Festival with the CFPTA’s Chetwynd Award for entrepreneurial excellence, which celebrates his company’s perseverance and success in television production.

ImX will be releasing four features this fall, including Julie Walking Home, a Canada/Poland/Germany coproduction, and three of the films from seats 3a & 3c, the production company’s series of five digital films.

Love That Boy, the fourth in the digital slate, went to camera in Halifax on June 24 and will wrap July 19. Andrea Dorfman (Parsley Days) directs and cowrites with Jennifer Deyell. Love That Boy is about the unexpected romantic experiences of an overachieving young woman as she attempts to accomplish a list of goals before the end of her last year at university.

‘I defy anyone to tell me they’ve ever had a cuter cast,’ says producer Jan Nathanson. The film stars Nadia Litz (The Five Senses), originally from Winnipeg and now based in Toronto, as Phoebe, Adrian Dixon from Sydney, NS (Pit Pony) and Nikki Barnett (Street Cents) from Halifax as Phoebe’s ex-best friend.

With a budget of $850,000, Love That Boy is funded through Telefilm Canada, the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation, The Harold Greenberg Fund and presales to The Movie Network and Bravo!. The film will be delivered to Toronto distributor Mongrel Media at the end of the year.