TV and Film News In Brief – Digital Domain names Montréal as newest studio location

TV News

Digital Domain has announced Montréal as its newest studio location. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the visual effects and and immersive experience innovator, is known for its work on blockbuster feature films like Titanic, Avengers: Infinity War, Thor: Ragnarok and Ready Player One, in addition to virtual performer tech. Digital Domain is the company that brought Dr. Dre’s vision of “Virtual Tupac” to life, which earned a 2012 Titanium Lion Award from the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The Montréal studio joins eight existing Digital Domain locations including Los Angeles, Vancouver, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Taipei and Hyderabad. Digital Domain Montréal will open in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood, starting Mar. 1, 2019. The company says the space will start at 10,000 square feet, with expansion plans already in place.

Schitt’s Creek has become the first Canadian comedy series nominated for a Critic’s Choice Award. The show is up against Emmy-winning Atlanta, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, HBO’s Barry, The Good Place, The Kominsky Method, The Middle and One Day at a Time. The awards, handed out by the Broadcast Film Critics Association and Broadcast Television Critics Association, will be presented Jan. 13 in Santa Monica and air on the CW. Schitt’s Creek, which stars Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara and Annie Murphy, returns to CBC for its fifth season on Jan. 8. Canadian Sandra Oh is also up for a Critics’ Choice Award for her role in Killing Eve.

Heavy Rescue: 401 is returning to Discovery Canada this winter with 14 new episodes. A Top 5 series on Discovery last season, Season 3 will air Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT, beginning Jan. 8. Produced by Thunderbird Entertainment, Heavy Rescue: 401 tells the stories of heavy tow truck drivers and their dramatic recoveries along Ontario’s 400-series highways – extending from Windsor in the west to the Québec border in the east. In addition to picking up additional episodes of Heavy Rescue: 401, Discovery Canada also recently commissioned an eighth season of Thunderbird production Highway Thru Hell.

Jackie Torrens

Radical Age, a documentary that follows six people proving it’s never too late to defy convention, will have its world broadcast premiere Jan. 1 on VisionTV. Written and directed by Jackie Torrens (Bernie Langille Wants to Know Who Killed Bernie Langille, Free Reins), the doc profiles provocative trailblazers like 70-year-old Ann Perez de Tejada, the world’s oldest female mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter; James “Gypsy” Haake, who at 86 is still a working drag queen; and·60-year-old Neal “The Dude” Unger, who continues to test his limits on the skateboard. An encore presentation of the 90-minute film will air in two parts on Jan. 28 and Feb. 4. Read more on VisionTV’s show page.

OUTtv has been named Playback’s 2018 Channel of the Year. The Vancouver-based LGBTQ network expanded into South Africa and New Zealand this year, and commissioned 11 new original series including Sense Appeal (Go Button Media), The Whole Package (Convergent Entertainment), and Drag Heels (Border2Border Entertainment).

Apple has struck a deal with DHX Media to produce new Peanuts series, specials & shorts. Working closely with its subsidiary Peanuts Worldwide, DHX will develop and produce new original programs, including short-form STEM content exclusive to Apple, featuring astronaut Snoopy. Peanuts Worldwide and NASA recently signed a Space Act Agreement, aimed at inspiring passion for space exploration in the next generation.

Helen Lebeau

Helen Lebeau, VP of Production, Nelvana Studios and a Sheridan College graduate, was recognized for her outstanding contributions to the Creative Arts and Design field with a Premier’s Award at the annual awards gala on Nov. 26 in Toronto. With more than 15 years at Nelvana, Lebeau is a key part of the studio’s leadership, overseeing animation production. Her producing credits include Bravest Warriors, Hotel Transylvania, Max & Ruby, Bubble Guppies and Mike the Knight. She began her career as an editor at CBC and TSN. The Premier’s Awards honour the social and economic contribution that college graduates make to Ontario and throughout the world. There were eight recipients this year in seven categories. More than 160 graduates from Sheridan College’s animation program are currently employed by Nelvana Studios.

Air Farce is turning 45 and is celebrating with longstanding year-end ritual Air Farce New Year’s Eve, premiering Dec. 31 at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) on CBC, with an encore broadcast later the same evening at 12:10 a.m. (12:40 NT). An average audience of 1.8 million Canadians watched Air Farce New Year’s Eve last year on CBC, with a total reach of 3.7 million viewers over the course of the show. The special will look back at the year that was and take aim at climate change, the fallout of the #MeToo movement, Brexit, the Trans Mountain Pipeline, the legalization of marijuana and the Queen welcoming a new royal great-grandchild. This year’s special guests include: Tommy Chong (Cheech and Chong, That ’70s Show); actress Lauren Lee Smith (Frankie Drake Mysteries, The Shape of Water); and women’s hockey champion Natalie Spooner.

Super Channel will air the first season of Pure, in advance of the Canadian premiere of the second season of the Mennonite drug drama. Season 1 will have its Super Channel premiere Jan. 22 at 10 p.m. ET on Super Channel Fuse. Each episode of the six-episode first season will also be available on Super Channel on Demand the day following its linear broadcast. Super Channel has greenlit a sophomore season of the scripted series, with Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother, American Pie, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) joining the cast as a recurring guest star. Season 2 is slated to premiere in Spring 2019.

The 2019-2021 Independent Production Agreement (IPA) has been ratified governing performers in film, television and digital media production in Canada (except British Columbia, which operates under a separate collective agreement negotiated by UBCP/ACTRA). An overwhelming number of ACTRA Members – 85.8 per cent – voted in favour of the new settlement which includes improved measures on harassment prevention, nudity, and respectful workplace language; a rate increase of nine per cent over the three-year term of the new deal; an increase to member work opportunities through an addition to the Background Performer Count; two additional use options for ACTRA Animation Voice Performers; and improved safety measures including protection for fatigued performers, which provides alternatives to driving home after work. The new IPA will take effect January 1, 2019.

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) has announced that 31 projects will receive a total of $19.7M in funding through three of its programs. A total of $9.9M will be invested in 16 innovative digital media projects through the second round of funding of its Experimental Stream Innovation Program and an additional $6.6M is being invested in nine projects through the Commercial Projects Pilot Program. A further $3.2M will fund six projects through the Francophone Minority Program. Find the full list of projects here.

Global is out with its list of new and returning Winter 2019 premieres. It’s highlighted by the premiere of Dwayne Johnson’s athletic competition series The Titan Games (Jan. 3) and new comedy Schooled (Jan. 10), a spinoff of ABC’s 1980s family sitcom The Goldbergs. Returning series include the two-night Season 6 premiere of The Blacklist (Jan. 4), the Season 3 premiere of Man With A Plan (Feb. 4), starring Matt LeBlanc, and Season 2 of Big Brother: Celebrity (Jan. 21). Find the full list here.

CBC has launched its newly-rebranded CBC Gem streaming service, featuring 4,000 hours of free content from Canadian film to international series. On this episode of Broadcast Dialogue – The Podcast, Gave Lindo, CBC’s executive director of OTT programming, on the strategy behind CBC Gem.

Read more about CBC Gem here.


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