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Paul Bronfman, chairman and CEO of Comweb Group and William F. White International has announced the development of the William F. White Centre, the largest and most significant facility in the company’s 47-year history. The new $20-million dollar, world-class production complex will act as a hub for industry professionals, while offering a full-range of production and related support services under one roof. Located at 800 Islington Avenue, only a few blocks south of the company’s existing west-end location, the new 338,000-square-foot complex is situated on nearly 17 acres of prime real estate, on a corner lot just minutes from downtown Toronto. WFW will occupy nearly half of the building, with the balance of space earmarked to house additional production support service businesses including Bill White’s 3D Camera Company. The company is actively discussing tenancies with other professional production-service entities.
In a separate announcement, Bronfman named Paul Roscorla to the company’s board of directors, effective immediately. Mr. Roscorla brings over 35 years of extensive production service management and sales experience to this position and will continue in his current role as VP sales and marketing Western Region for WFW Vancouver. In addition, Paul Bronfman was one of seven industry icons – the others being the actor Donald Sutherland, producer/director Paul Haggis, the late John Candy, producer Don Carmody, filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin, and television host David Suzuki – who were inducted into Playback‘s fourth annual Canadian Film and Television Hall of Fame at the 35th edition of TIFF.
Creative Post Celebrates 25 Years and Rides the 3D Wave
When considering stereoscopic 3D technology, Toronto-based post-production facilities are among the elite of the world. Among this elite is Creative Post Inc., which celebrates its 25th year in the business this year.
Creative Post started dealing with stereoscopic 3D technology in early 2006. “We’ve put the time in necessary to learn the ins and outs of [stereoscopic] and we feel like we’re just as capable as anybody with this technology,” said Jim Hardie, sales executive for Creative Post. Stereoscopic 3D is about to turn the corner where the learning curve meets the need for content. 3D content is already in the works to be broadcasted later this year, including a Toronto Maple Leafs game December11. When 3D content is explored further in the New Year, Creative Post will look to offer their expertise to the growing industry.
Although Creative Post has invested a lot of time and money into the research and development of stereoscopic 3D, it also remains heavily focused on its post-production services, which have made them successful for the last 25 years. Creative Post works on a wide range of post-production services, including film transfer, colour correction, closed captioning, professional authoring services for Blu-ray and DVD and much more. “We’re constantly moving forward and getting involved with new technology in all areas not just 3D,” said Hardie. “There’s almost nothing we can’t or won’t do.”
The Studio Upstairs, a division of Creative Post, recently completed colour correction, packaging and visual effects for eOne’s new comedy series Call Me Fitz, starring Jason Priestley. It also worked on colour correcting and finishing CTV’s “Believe” ads for the 2010 Winter Olympics, voiced by Donald Sutherland. Jonathan Thomas
3D Is a Boost to Toronto’s Production Facilities
Creative Post is only one of several Toronto firms chasing the 3D dream. The long list of well known local players includes Don Carmody Productions, Cinespace Film Studios and the 3D Camera Company. Several have worked on some of Hollywood’s biggest 3D productions this year, including Saw VII 3D, the latest installment of the most successful horror series in movie history, and Resident Evil: AfterLife 3D (see the September issue of Canadian Cinematographer).
With the Canadian dollar at par eroding Toronto’s competitive advantage as a place to shoot, many in the industry are banking on 3D technology to restore its edge. Spending by U.S. film and television production companies on locations fell 25 per cent over a five-year period ending in 2008 to $79.4 million as the dollar soared to 94 cents U.S from 71 cents U.S., according to the Toronto Film & Television Office. Total spending was down 23 per cent to $610 million, the Toronto office also reports.
That trend reversed in Ontario last year after the government announced more generous tax credits. Total spending by the film and television industry jumped 41 per cent to $946.5 million, according to the Ontario Media Development Corp. Still, industry members say it will be critical to offer 3D facilities, expertise and training as well. Outside the industry, skepticism about 3D technology remains high. Not all of it is being done well, particularly the “conversions” that take existing 2D images and make them 3D. Even industry insiders acknowledge the hastily done conversion of the movie Clash of the Titans 3D was a disaster. But this time is different, insiders insist. The advent of digital photography has made capturing and viewing 3D images simpler and more cost effective than in previous generations.
For television makers and Hollywood studios, 3D raises the prospect of being able to sell millions more television sets and theatre tickets at premium prices as audiences trade up to the new format. 3D images are also much harder to pirate. Everyone from video game console makers, like Nintendo, to satellite television services, like Bell TV, has announced in recent months they’re making a bet on 3D. One of the catalysts was the success of James Cameron’s Avatar 3D, which at $2.7 billion U.S. is the highest-grossing Hollywood picture in history. Source: Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail
Sturla Gunnarsson’s Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie won the People’s Choice Documentary Award at TIFF 2010. Suzuki, best known as the host of CBC’s long-running The Nature of Things, is a prolific author and a pioneering and passionate environmentalist. The documentary, shot by DOP Tony Westman csc at the University of British Columbia on the occasion of Suzuki delivering a legacy lecture, has been picked up for theatrical distribution by eOne Films.
At the Atlantic Film Festival, the Ed Higginson Cinematography Award, sponsored by Sim Video and William F. White International, and awarded to an individual for excellence in the craft of cinematography, went to Christopher Ball csc for Like Father and The White Archer. The Rex Tasker Documentary Award, sponsored by the NFB, went to William D. MacGillivray’s The Man of a Thousand Songs, DOP Kent Nason csc.
Denise Robert Wins CMPA’s Producer’s Award at TIFF
Quebec filmmaker Denise Robert became the first woman to win the CMPA Feature Film Producers Award at the Toronto International Film Festival – and then promptly gave the prize away to her latest collaborator. Robert – whose celebrated body of work includes producing husband Denys Arcand’s L'Âge des ténèbres and Les Invasions barbares as well as movies such as The Rocket, De père en flic and Ma vie en cinemascope – startled an industry audience gathered in Toronto as well as director Louis Bélanger when she turned over her $10,000 cash prize to him.
Robert and Bélanger were at TIFF to promote their film Route 132. Presented by the Canadian Media Production Association, the annual award is now in its fifth year of honouring an outstanding Canadian producer with a film at TIFF for his or her body of work.
This past September CSC honourary member Graeme Ferguson was honoured by the Film North Huntsville International Film Festival with its first lifetime achievement award. Muskoka resident Ferguson, now semi-retired, was the co-inventor of IMAX , and the director/producer of a number of seminal IMAX films, including North of Superior (1971), the first shot in the IMAX process, Man Belongs to Earth (1974), Destiny in Space (1994), and he served most recently as the executive producer on Hubble 3D. On the same weekend as he received his award in Huntsville, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, The Giant Screen Cinema Association honored IMAX’s Hubble 3D with four awards, including best picture (Toni Myers producer/director) and best cinematography (James Neihouse).
Respected Independent Producer Ian McDougall Dies at 65
Canadian production executive Ian McDougall, former head of production at Alliance-Atlantis, died of heart failure August 24 in Pennsylvania. He was 65. McDougall began his career in professional theatre in England. In the mid-1970s he served as first assistant director on Who Has Seen the Wind and production manager on Death Weekend. He went on to become deputy director and head of English-language production for the CFDC (now Telefilm Canada) from 1980 to 1982. From 1982 to 1996 he was a freelance producer and worked on movies such as Anne of Green Gables, Passion and Paradise and Clearcut. McDougall served as senior VP of production for Alliance-Atlantis from 1996 to 2003, overseeing production on shows such as CSI, Joan of Arc, Nuremberg and Life with Judy Garland. McDougall’s productions earned 12 Emmy Awards, as well as numerous Golden Globes, Golden Satellite and Gemini Awards. He had just completed production on the first season of the new crime drama series Shattered for eOne and CanWest Global.
The Ontario Film Fund Results & Harold Greenburg Fund Recipients
The OMDC Film Fund enables Ontario-based producers to complete their financing with contributions of up to $25,000 for development projects and up to $400,000 for production funding, on a last-in basis. The eight recipients for production funding are Robin Cass for Don Shebib’s Down the Road Again, Robin Crumley for Aaron Woodley’s The Entitled, DOP David Greene csc, Suzanne Cheriton for David Weaver’s Lie Down with Darkness, Michael Dobbin for Endre Hules’s The Maiden Danced to Death, David Hamilton for Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children, Mark Chatel for Dominic Desjardins’s La Sacrée, Susan Cavan for Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz, DOP Luc Montpellier csc, and Debbie Nightingale for Barry Avrich’s The David Steinberg Documentary.
The eight recipients for development funding are Jeanne Strømberg for Marni Banack’s The Ballad of Walter Bighands, David Miller for Emmanuel Shirinian’s Born into This, Martin Katz for David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, Wilson Coneybeare for Dead Sleep, Robert Budreau for Fight!, Damon D’Oliveira for Clement Virgo’s Fallen Heroes, Jeannette Laokman for Brenda Kovrig’s Painting by Number$ and Cher Hawrysh for Leslie Ann Coles’s Should’ve Been There.
The Harold Greenberg Fund English-Language Program announced five projects that have been selected to receive support through its Equity Investment Program. The latest round of funding includes Take This Waltz, The Moth Diaries, written and directed by Mary Harron (The Notorious Betty Paige), Goon, written by Evan Goldberg (Superbad) and Jay Baruchel (The Trotsky), which will be directed by Michael Dowse of FUBAR fame, Bruce McDonald’s Trigger, which is already in distribution, and Rollertown, which was written by Picnicface, a Canadian comedy troupe that has produced several successful viral videos that have been featured on HBO Canada’s Funny or Die.