Playback Indie Survey profile: Cave Painting Pictures

The indie's owner and exec producer Casey Walker tells Playback about raising $1.9 million for A Little Bit Zombie and how it shaped the prodco's business in 2011.
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The Playback Independent Production Survey ranks Canadian production companies based on the volume of the Canadian film and TV production they handle in a calendar year. As a compilation of home-grown production, it’s a valuable resource for everyone in the industry. The results are published in Playback‘s Spring/Summer 2012 issue.

To launch our 2012 survey, covering business activity in 2011, we’re profiling our first five respondents to hear about their year in 2011 and what’s on tap for 2012.

In 2011, Toronto indie producer Cave Painting Pictures painted a $2 million picture.

Their first feature film, A Little Bit Zombie, was the company’s sole production for the year, marking the culmination of a five-year quest for funding.

Owner and executive producer Casey Walker raised $1.9 million through, selling frames from A Little Bit Zombie in exchange for a producer credit, plus offering other prize giveaways once the film was made. Additional funding came from tax credits through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund.

Earlier this month, the Sudbury-shot A Little Bit Zombie was selected by the Vancouver Film Festival as its Canadian gala pick for Feb. 4 – not bad for a Canadian rom-zom-com.

Walker says for 2012, Cave Painting is looking forward to pushing multiple projects through the development process, and working in genres that are decidedly less bloody, like kids TV.

PB: Tell us about the year Cave Painting had in 2011: did you achieve the benchmarks for your business that you aimed for?

CW: Yes. Our goal was to pick up a few more projects that I can’t quite talk about right now, but we’re moving forward with them. [Another goal was to] meet some new players at the broadcasters and distributors, and we financed and completed our first feature film.

PB: What were some of the highlights? Challenges?

CW: Financing a $2 million feature, with no experience, and nobody really wanting to help us [laughter].

That was certainly a challenge.  I don’t think it got any easier as time went on, no matter how many obstacles we overcame or proved to people, we were still kind of kept down. A lot of it, we just had to do it on our own.

Part of [the $2 million for A Little Bit Zombie] was tax credits, and assistance from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation. And outside the financing structure, we were also able to make pre-sales to TMN and Movie Central. They’ve been very, very supportive.

PB: What are some of your objectives as a company in 2011? Are there any areas you hope to grow or expand in?

CW: We’d like to push two or three more films further into development, as well as two to three series, though the series are obviously going to take longer – and in multiple genres; we’re not just interested in horror .

My partner [David Watson] and I, we’ve got 10 years of experience in children’s television, so we’re not shying away from that. We both have really solid reputations as people that develop and produce –and we’ve got a lot of opportunity for strategic partnerships within that industry. (Walker was a writer on YTV’s Prank Patrol, and directed marblemedia-produced The Adrenaline Project , which also aired on YTV. Watson was director of development for YTV animated series, The League of Super Evil.)

The year that we had has been amazing, and I know that 2012 is only going to be better. Especially with the attention we’re getting from A Little Bit Zombie, I think if that’s any indication of what we can expect in the year to come, then we’re really excited.