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Archive: Jun 14, 1999
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Film and Television Production
Hatzis turns to classifieds to get Spice of Life off the ground
by: Jun 14, 1999 Print

In an attempt to raise funds for her first feature film, Toronto-based writer Helen Hatzis placed a small three-line ad in the Toronto Star classifieds which read: "Feature film company seeking investor."

Within two weeks, calls had come in from eight potential backers interested in hearing her pitch for Spice of Life, an offbeat comedy that begins a four-week shoot Aug. 2 on a budget of $400,000.

Robert Kent Heydon (Dream Warriors, Plastikman) is on board to direct and Garnet Shawn Maher, motion-control camera operator on eXistenZ, is the dop.

The story, which pokes fun at sex and Toronto's multicultural society, is about Marta, a woman in her late 20s who has had it with her job, her boss and her freeloading boyfriend and decides to put her foot down and make some changes. She takes a job as a courier and is soon pursued by assorted characters who want to get their hands on the contents of her knapsack.

Hatzis says she is still working on the cast and distributor.

* Sound Venture's Castle

A tin soldier, paper ballerina and Raggedy Ann doll come to life in Sound Venture Productions' $2.7-million preschool series The Toy Castle.

Based on The Tin Soldier, a 1992 Christmas ballet special for cbc, the new series makes use of the same characters in 26 live-action half-hours which will air on Treehouse tv and tfo.

The roles will be filled by dancers and the series will be done to a narrated voice track. Katherine Jeans is directing The Toy Castle, which will go in front of the cameras in winter 2000. Decode Entertainment is distributing.

Meanwhile, Sound Venture will be front and center at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa Sept. 30 to capture violinist Pinchas Zukerman's opening night as music director for the National Arts Centre Orchestra Sept. 30. The $400,000 production of the live, two-hour concert will air on cbc.

Also in the works is the $200,000 doc Canvas of War about the artworks of wwii and the artists who created them. The one-hour doc, produced in conjunction with the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, is a sequel to Canvas of Conflict, which depicted the art and artists of wwi.

Canvas of War will be shot in the fall. History Television has the first window followed by Vision tv, scn and Bravo!.

Sound Venture's Stones of History, a $350,000 doc for History about the Parliament Buildings, is scheduled to air on Canada Day 2000.

* 17th century intrigue

Women in puffy wire-frame dresses and men in waistcoats transformed a Toronto landscape into a 17th century English garden for An Intrigue of Manners.

A short comedy produced by Paul Anthony Davis, who codirected with Wayne Craig, the $8,000 production was adapted from Sir George Etherege's play Man of Mode and was shot over two days by dop Mike Andringa.

Funding came from the National Film Board's Financial Assistance Program and Bravo!fact.

The project had its genesis about a year ago when fight director Costa Kamateros approached Davis with the idea to make a film in which he could demonstrate his choreography in a rapier and dagger fight scene.

Over 300 actors from Ontario and Quebec sent in submissions for the low-budget short.

Playing the lead is l.a.-based Canadian talent Michael Mahonen (Road to Avonlea) as Dorimant, who performs an intricate 110-move duel, Karyn Dwyer (Better Than Chocolate) as Lady Emilia and Ellen Ray Hennessey (Mercy) as Lady Townley. Paul Lampert is Mr. Medley and Kent Staines (Poor Super Man) sports "one of the tallest periwigs in Canada" for his role as the flamboyant Sir Fopling Flutter.

While shooting on what turned out to be one of the hottest weekends of the year had the talent cooking in their costumes, the challenge for the directors was capturing 15 pages of heavy dialogue and a two-minute sword fight in 20 hours.

Davis has been working as a production manager/ad on a documentary about heroin with Imported Artists commercial director Richard D'Alessio. An Intrigue of Manners is his first film involving heavy dialogue.

* Director for a day

Seasoned filmmakers and wannabes have wrapped shooting on submissions for the On The Fly festival of video shorts, showcasing the talents of those with the will but not the wallet to pull off a short film.

For 32 consecutive days beginning May 1, contestants, armed with a Canon XL1 Digital 6 camera, a story and a tight 24-hour deadline, had one day to shoot and a second day to edit their 10-minute films.

The best 17 of the crop will be screened Aug. 4 at the Bloor Cinema, at which time festival directors Scott McLaren and Andrew Bee will award the Mouche D'Or (Gold Fly) for best overall film and the Silver Fly for best first-time filmmaker. Both prizes come with a $7,000 service package.

Special guests putting themselves to the test this time around include directors John Greyson (Lillies, Zero Patience) and Clement Virgo (Rude, The Planet of Junior Brown). Experimental filmmaker Kika Thorne and Toronto Star film critic Peter Goddard will take a turn as will actor Sarah Polley (The Sweet Hereafter, Go).

McLaren says plans are in the works to take the festival national for next year.

* Sports scores

Toronto's Insight Productions and Aquila Productions of Edmonton are teaming up on 12 one-hour episodes of 100 Years of Canadian Sports for tsn.

The series will cover it all, according to Insight executive producer John Brunton, the great teams, moments and disappointments as well as forgotten names and those who have done extraordinary things for Canadian sports.

Directorial duties on the $2.4-million to $3-million project will be shared between Dave Toms and Don Metz, who is also dop and executive producer for Aquila.

"We thought it would be great to tell the story of Canadian sports because it represents more of the history and the glue that holds our country's history together than politics does," says Brunton.

Coexecutive producer is Barbara Bowlby from Insight.

* Psi Factor: round four

The strange and eerie stories from the files of the Office of Scientific Investigation and Research are back in front of the camera for round four of Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal.

Creative producer/writer Larry Raskin says this year they are going for a hipper and sexier style and they have adjusted the character base to make it younger. A new investigator, Joanne Vannicola, (Mia Stone) will join the team.

The Alliance Atlantis Communications series began shooting in Toronto mid-May and will wrap in early December.

Directors on board include Ron Oliver, Stephen Williams, John Bell, Luc Chalifour, Ross Clyde, John Cassar and Terry Ingram. John Holosko is dop and David Rosen is producer.

* Spencer makes a move

Dark and depraved, Kevin Spencer, The Comedy Network's first original animated series, is making a move to the mother network, debuting Saturday, June 12 at midnight.

Comedy has renewed the series for a second season of 18 episodes, which will premier in the fall, while ctv will air the initial 13 episodes this summer.

Kevin Spencer is an adult cartoon documenting the misadventures of an "adolescent, chain-smoking, alcoholic sociopath" who recounts his troubled childhood to a prison psychiatrist. The series is created and produced by Ottawa's Greg Lawrence.

* Omission

In last issue's Ontario Scene, the writers credits on short film Rusty were omitted. The story is by Stephen Surjik and the screenplay by Penny Gay.



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