‘Billy Bishop’ filmmakers to send DVDs to veterans

Following a successful crowdfunding campaign, the team behind the feature film Billy Bishop Goes to War will be sending DVDs of the film to veteran organizations.
Billy Bishop

Whenever veteran organizations wanted a DVD copy of the filmed adaptation of famed Canadian musical Billy Bishop Goes to War, its producers had limited options.

While the 2011 film is available on iTunes, a number of veteran associations and veteran nursing homes wanted DVD copies of the film to show their membership and residents, but the team only had a limited amount of screeners available because it was never released commercially on DVD, said producer Brad Fox.

“We were always doing this shuffle to try to find ways to make it available, but when you run a veterans nursing home or care facility, you have a DVD player, and you want to play a DVD,” Fox told Playback Daily.

As the 100th anniversary of World War I approached this year, the team behind Billy Bishop – including stars Eric Peterson and John Gray – decided they would try to raise money to create DVD copies of the film to send out to veteran organizations.

The group was able to cover off some of the costs related to DVD production through private funding raising efforts within their own networks, such as admin costs and making a master copy of the DVD that could be used to make subsequent copies. The group decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign on Nov. 6 dedicated solely to the production of the physical DVDs, Fox said.

The Kickstarter campaign proved to be successful, and reached its $4,500 goal on Nov. 10, four days after it kicked off. .

The Kickstarter campaign picked up significant buzz on social media, with Corner Gas‘ Brent Butt promoting it on his Twitter feed along with other members of the show’s cast. While it has hit its goal, the Kickstarter campaign will continue to accept donations until Nov. 27.
The campaign initially committed to press 500 DVDs, and Fox hopes he can push that number up with the additional cash.

“It would be wonderful if we could get up into the thousands – there are a thousand Legions alone across Canada, so there is no shortage of worthy homes that we could find,” Fox said. They plan to start shipping out DVDs about three weeks after the campaign closes.

Billy Bishop Goes to War will also have a free screening at the Bloor Hot Docs cinema on Nov. 11 at 4 p.m. The Bloor Cinema helped to promote the Kickstarter campaign for the DVD production of the film.

Produced by Strada Films, Soulpepper Theatre and distributed by Union Pictures, Billy Bishop falls within the genre of “performing arts adaptation” and was shot in the CBC studio in Toronto. One of Canada’s better-known musicals, it tells the story of Canadian World War I fighter pilot Billy Bishop. The film was was directed by Barbara Willis Sweete, with Fox and Sandra Cunningham of Strada Films serving as producers. It was executive produced by Soulpepper’s Leslie Lester and Albert Schultz.

The original Billy Bishop Goes to War play was created in 1978 John Gray and Eric Peterson.