Acceptable Film Schooling
Nova Scotia's film industry has long outgrown the term "emerging." Production activity is skyrocketing, a successful soundstage is in operation, and plans for both an animation studio and film schools in Las Vegas are at an advanced stage. Ann MacKenzie, executive director of the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation (nsfdc), is enthusiastic about the prospect of establishing the film school.
As she explains, the process formally began in the fall of 2007 with a feasibility study by Price water house Coopers, which came out in favor of the project. Over the next year, programming and financing committees worked with members of the community to devise an acceptable structure for the school. The province is currently in the midst of hiring a full-time administrator to put the final business plan in place.
Production volume statistics for the province suggest that the local film industry is indeed sufficiently healthy to warrant such a significant investment. Last fiscal year saw $97.5 million in activity, of which $5.4 million was guest production, with the balance representing indigenous production, says MacKenzie. Her figures for this year show $112 million in revenue from local companies and $16 million in guest production.
"We have a really strong production community here," points out MacKenzie. "We have some pretty established production companies, with some new companies coming up, and they are all doing great things." Production has been given further impetus with the partnering of local producers from other provinces. The Halifax office of Toronto's Sienna Films, along with local producer David Coole, were coproducers on the Imagex feature New Waterford Girl. Black Harbour coproducers David MacLeod and Wayne Grigsby have set up Big Motion Pictures in Nova Scotia, and both now live in the province. Edmonton's Great North also has a local office in Nova Scotia.
Coproductions will keep Chris Zimmer's Imagex busy throughout the second half of 2006. Partition, a Romeo and Juliet-style love story set in the Punjab in 1947, will be shooting in India and South Africa over the fall and winter. Vic Sarin directs this $20-million coproduction with TiMe of Munich and the South African Film Finance Corporation (saffco). Closer to home, Imagex will team up with Minds Eye Pictures of Regina to produce a $6-million feature called Stargazing. The romantic comedy about a hairdresser with an uncanny resemblance to Marilyn Monroe is scheduled to start filming in Saskatchewan in August.
Imagex's screen adaptation of Newfoundland writer Wayne Johnston's novel The Divine Ryans is scheduled for theatrical release in October, and in the same month, Zimmer and director Steve Reynolds will start shooting the film version of another of Johnston's novels, Human Amusements. The $6-million feature about the effects of television on a boy growing up in Newfoundland will be shot in October and November in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New York.