The Phantoms nabs intl Emmy kids award nod


Halifax indie producer Dream Street Pictures has nabbed an International Emmy Kids Award nomination in the TV movie/miniseries category for TV movie The Phantoms.

The Phantoms, which first aired on CBC last November, is based on the true-life aftermath of a 2008 road accident that killed seven Bathurst, New Brunswick high school basketball players and the coach’s wife. A year later, after debate over whether or not to resurrect the boys’ basketball team, the team won the provincial championship.

The international Emmy nod has already lead to sales interest from a U.S. distributor, producer Rick LeGuerrier tells Playback.

“A nomination like this is really great because it gives us the chance to take an inspiring story like this to a wider audience, to a global stage,” LeGuerrier adds.

It’s a rewarding result for what LeGuerrier says was a difficult project from the start, because of the subject matter.

He says he and producing partner Tim Hogan had to work through “a lot of minefields” to get The Phantoms made.

The challenge was in how to tell the story – both tragic and uplifting – and shoot it within the small Maritime community of Bathurst, where the accident happened.

The producers first started working on the project in 2010, a full year before it went into production in fall 2011.

“We had to move very slowly and very carefully to make sure that everyone understood what it was we were setting out to do… that we would deliver a movie that was true to our word,” says LeGuerrier.

Some of Bathurst’s 13,000 residents were also part of the film, as extras or suppliers. So the cast and crew were cognizant of the fact that they were working alongside people who had lived through the tragedy and its inspiring aftermath, LeGuerrier recalls.

LeGuerrier and Hogan, co-owners of Halifax-based Dream Street Pictures, tapped director Sudz Sutherland (Home Again) not only because of his talent, but because of his technical knowledge of basketball, having played the sport himself in high school.

The producers put the actors who played team members in the movie into basketball camp for a few weeks before production began, to both sharpen their skills and create an authentic sense of team spirit, with Sutherland working with some of the camp’s local coaches.

Sutherland, who received the nomination news from the producers while he was in Cambridge, having just wrapped a directing arc on Murdoch Mysteries, said he was “overwhelmed.”

“This was an incredible project to work on. Out of unimaginable tragedy, the town rallied around the boys basketball team as they overcame so many struggles, both private and personal, and they triumphed on so many levels. I fell in love with the people of Bathurst as they supported this brave team trying to tell this story sensitively. This is a life-changing project and I am so happy that it is getting recognized on this level,” he told Playback.

The International Emmy Kids Awards will be handed out on Feb. 10, 2014, in New York City.

CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to clarify that Dream Street Pictures producers Rick LeGuerrier and Tim Hogan received the International Emmy Kids Award nomination for The Phantoms.

Pictured: Director Sutherland on set