TV & Film News – William F. White establishes Fortress Studio in Calgary

William F. White International (WFW) has announced its first studio offering in Calgary and tenth in Canada. Fortress Studio will offer clients 97,500 sq. ft. of filmable space with clear heights of 36 feet within the 109,100 sq. ft. facility. Fortress+ Support will act as a supplementary property with 69,999 square feet of support space and 19,751 sq. ft. of private offices, boardrooms, and additional workspace. Situated a short driving distance away from each other, both properties are also close to WFW, the Calgary Film Centre, Sunbelt Rentals, and a large outdoor green space. The announcement comes as Alberta is on track for a record year in film industry activity.

Boat Rocker Media has begun trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) following completion of its $170-million IPO. Boat Rocker will issue an aggregate of 18,900,000 subordinate voting shares at a price of C$9.00 per share. Boat Rocker’s majority shareholder, Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, is subscribed for approximately C$30 million of the offering and will own approximately 45% of the company’s total equity. Co-Founders and Co-Executive Chairmen David Fortier and Ivan Schneeberg said in a release that they are “proud of what the company has achieved to date, but believe we’re just starting to unlock the full potential of our multi-genre IP creation engine.”

Ted Sarandos, Co-CEO and Chief Content Officer at Netflix, will address the Banff World Media Festival (BANFF) Summit Series in a virtual keynote on the festival’s opening day, June 14. Sarandos was originally scheduled to appear at the 2020 festival in-person in a fireside chat format. The 2021 edition of BANFF will build on the success of last year’s virtual event, taking place from June 14 to July 16. Find out more about this year’s speakers, here.

Burden of Truth is concluding after four seasons on CBC. Series producer Eaglevision announced the news in a Facebook post last week, thanking its crews in Winnipeg and Selkirk, MB where the series films. Starring Kristin Kreuk (Smallville) and Peter Mooney (Rookie Blue) as law firm partners who take on big pharma and other against-the-odds cases, the series had also been airing on The CW in the U.S. since 2018. Among the issues Burden of Truth tackled was institutionalized racism against Indigenous populations.

CTV’s Transplant was an honouree at the 29th MPAC Media Awards on March 20. The annual event celebrates members of the entertainment industry, artists, and activists who promote inclusion and social justice by advancing authentic portrayals of Islam and Muslims. Transplant is the story of Dr. Bashir “Bash” Hamed, a doctor and Syrian refugee who flees to Canada with his younger sister to practice emergency medicine at York Memorial Hospital in Toronto. Other series recognized by MPAC include DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and Netflix animated series Glitch Techs.

Super Channel will premiere true-crime documentary special, Catching a Serial Killer: Bruce McArthur, April 30 on Super Channel Fuse and Super Channel On Demand, the following day. The Super Channel Original unravels the investigation into Toronto’s most prolific serial killer through exclusive interviews with McArthur’s close friends, homicide investigators, criminologists and forensic psychologists. Catching A Serial Killer: Bruce McArthur was filmed in Toronto and is the first true-crime special produced by Peacock Alley Entertainment. The special, which was commissioned by Oxygen in the U.S., is produced by Diana Foley and Ryan Valentini for Peacock Alley. James Buddy Day and Carrie Mudd serve as Executive Producers.

Something Undone begins streaming on CBC Gem March 26, the first scripted series to be released from CBC’s Creative Relief Fund. created in response to the pandemic to help support the recovery of Canadian creative communities. The six-episode series follows a character named “Jo” who goes home to settle her estranged mother’s estate and discovers a dark family secret — her mother suffered from schizophrenia. The drama/thriller was directed by Nicole Dorsey (Black Conflux, Arlo Alone) and was co-written, produced and stars Madison Walsh (Mrs. America, The Expanse) and Michael Musi (Kim’s Convenience). The one-person format of the series (Jo is the only character that is shown) illustrates how being alone in an empty house slowly consumes the character as a central metaphor visually representing the crippling effects of isolation, one year into the pandemic. 

Saloon Media’s new one-hour CBC Docs POV, UFO Town, is set to land on CBC and CBC Gem on March 26. The documentary revisits the mysterious UFO case from West Carleton, ON that went viral over 30 years ago after a top-secret “declassified” letter and video emerged, claiming a UFO spacecraft had crash-landed in the region. UFO Town follows filmmakers, led by Saloon Media’s production executive, Nick Crowe, as they delve into the declassified documents, photos and video evidence sent to Canadian and American UFO investigators in the early 90s. The one-hour documentary also includes interviews with local residents who revisit their memories from witnessing a flying saucer gliding down the road, to blinding lights coming through windows, and face-to-face encounters with aliens. 

Telefilm Canada is extending the period for submitting written comments on its proposal to revise the Success Index, Development Program, and Talent to Watch Program to Tuesday, April 6. Telefilm’s proposals can be viewed online. The agency invites its partners to submit comments to refine its recommendations and improve them as much as possible. After this final step, Telefilm hopes to implement the changes by the summer of 2021. The proposals are the result of cross-Canada consultations with industry members conducted from mid-September to mid-December through online surveys, public forums, working group sessions, and meetings with  professional associations and provincial agencies. Written comments can be uploaded here.

Bell Media’s Harold Greenberg Fund has announced its latest round of selections for the BC Shorts Program. The initiative, developed in partnership with Creative BC, is designed to finance short films by filmmaking teams from British Columbia. The projects each receiving $20,000 from this program include: One Day This Kid from director/writer Alexander Farah and producer Madeleine Davis; Call Me Awol from writer/director Geordie Trifa and producer Pieter Romer; Paco from writer/director Kent Donguines, co-writer Moira Tan, and producers Sebastien Galina and Geoff Manton; and Tiana from writer Mariam Barry, director Rukiya Bernard, and producer Faith Moriah.

Network Media Group and Network Entertainment have signed with ICM Partners for global representation. Led by founder and CEO Derik Murray, President & COO Paul Gertz, and SVP & Executive Producer Brian Gersh, Vancouver-based Network is focused on producing feature documentaries and docuseries celebrating iconic personalities and cultural topics from the worlds of music, film, comedy, sports, politics, and business. Recent Network releases include four-part docuseries PUNK, executive produced by fashion designer John Varvatos and punk pioneer Iggy Pop, which premiered in the U.S. on EPIX and distributed globally by Fremantle; The Age of A.I., an eight-part series in partnership with host and executive producer Robert Downey Jr., that launched on YouTube Originals and has attracted 48 million views; and I Am Patrick Swayze, the highest-rated documentary on U.S. cable TV when it was released, premiering on the Paramount Network to an audience of over two million viewers.

The Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) and National Film Board (NFB) have struck a new partnership ahead of the March 27 opening of Qaumajuq, the new Inuit art centre at the WAG, which will provide a home for the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art. The partnership reflects a shared commitment to partner on programs and events including discussions around Inuit-content from the NFB’s Indigenous Film Collection; screenings for both kids and adults; integration of NFB Indigenous and Inuit Film Collection and NFB Archives into WAG-Qaumajuq online and in-gallery programming; and developing and producing new original audio-visual works created by Inuit artists. The first joint project is a WAG-Qaumajuq commission by Geronimo Inutiq, an Inuk multimedia artist working in electronic music production, performance, film, video, and digital images. 

The 2021 Hot Docs Festival will be available for audiences across Canada to stream April 29 to May 9. Among the festival’s official selections are Ann Shin’s A.rtificial I.mmortality, which will open Hot Docs.  

Hot Docs has announced that Jenna Wortham, staff writer for The New York Times Magazine and co-host of the hit podcast Still Processing, will be the opening keynote speaker at this year’s industry conference. Appearing in discussion with journalist and broadcaster Garvia Bailey, Wortham will speak to the need for underrepresented communities to control and celebrate their own narratives. Also announced are masterclasses led by celebrated filmmakers featured in this year’s official selection, including 2020 Hot Docs Outstanding Achievement Award recipient Stanley Nelson, Jennifer Holness and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers. This year’s industry conference will be held online, May 3-7. The complete industry conference program will be announced March 31.

The Canadian Film Fest (CFF) has announced a new award, Best Producer, and unveiled the Masterclass and Industry Series for the 2021 Festival. Expanding on the CFF’s mission to celebrate and inspire Canadian filmmakers, Best Producer will be presented to a BIPOC short filmmaker by CFF and the EDA Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Mena Massoud (Disney’s Aladdin). The CFF jury will select the winner, who will receive $1,000, a mentorship with Massoud, and development with Landed Entertainment.

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