While Calgary is far from the forefront of the filmmaking industry that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a history or a future in it.
Currently there are people in Calgary who are filmmakers and are trying to do their best despite the limitations.
As mentioned despite not being at the forefront of the industry, Calgary does have a history of having movies shot here.
The most notable of which is “Superman III”. While it isn’t held in high regard it is impressive for Calgary to have played a role in Superman’s 80 year history.
The scene was shot at a location in Calgary that was known as the St. Louis Hotel but is now the head office for the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation.
Here is a screenshot from the location of where that scene was shot on Google Maps:
“Superman III” however is a big Hollywood film, not made by a local aspiring filmmaker which is the main focus of this story.
There are programs about filmmaking, film history and film theory at the various post-secondary schools in Calgary.
Unfortunately there are limitations on pursuing a career in the industry while living in Calgary but there are opportunities.
One of the biggest door openers for filmmaking in Calgary is Story Hive, which is a Telus funded initiative that gives independent filmmakers in Alberta and British Columbia the chance to get funding.
Story Hive has been around since 2013 and have funded and distributed hundreds of independent projects.
There are two ways to achieve funding and distribution from Story Hive.
One is pitch your idea and you are given the chance to win a grant for 100 thousand dollars upfront that must be used to make a web series or a film that ranges from more than 30 minutes but less than 60 minutes.
The second way is to pitch a pilot for a web series and receive a ten thousand dollar production grant on the pilot.
From there recipients will have their pilots voted on, the pilot with the most votes will receive an additional grant for fifty thousand dollars to produce another five episodes.
Both have proven to be great opportunities for people who are driven creatively to get out there and make something fresh and new.
The Parent Council
Creery is the creator, producer, lead writer and star of the series.
Here is the official synopsis:
“Conner is a stay-at-home Dad who joins his daughter’s elementary school Parent Council because he wants to feel like he’s contributing more, and also to connect with other adults! When he gets there, he finds a diverse group of people (and personalities) who are all passionate about doing what they can for their kids and for the school – but everyone has VERY different ideas about what’s best for all. This is a group of people that would probably not be together outside of the Council but all share something in common: being parents and loving their kids. The series will be looking at the challenges (& sometimes the frustrations) of parenting through the lens of different cultures and different beliefs while trying to find common ground…as well as getting more sleep!”
The show shot in Calgary for two days December 2nd and 3rd and on the second day I was invited to the shooting location the West Hillhurst Community Centre for a set visit.
I got a chance to talk to the cast and crew about “The Parent Council” and go some behind the scenes photos and video.
When asked about the influences behind the series Creery sited the Emmy award winning sitcom Modern Family and the cult hit Community.
“I say when I’m pitching this idea that to me this is kind of a cross between Modern Family and Community, because there is the home aspect of it and the community aspect of it.”
A big aspect about the series is that it is meant to highlight diversity and it certainly does that with the cast in the same way the two biggest influences do.
Actress Stacy Da Silva plays Kate a member of the Parent Council who is First Nations but she feels it isn’t as stereotypical as many other characters she’s played in the past.
“This character is something very different for me, I’ve definitely gone to many auditions where my character as an indigenous person is very Hollywood,” tells Da Silva.
Da Silva tells that she often auditions for parts set in the 1800’s but is happy to be able to have the opportunity to play a modern day indigenous woman that breaks the stereotypical mold.
“She (Kate) is a bit of a white-washed character who is not very connected to her roots,” said Da Silva. “I’ve seen a lot of that, I think it’s very interesting and it’s a challenge for me to play.”
When pressed about the potential of going to series Da Silva tells that the direction of the show is to go into the homes of each character and that we’d see an arc for her character becoming more connected with her indigenous roots.
Creery highlighted during an interview that his vision is to show a real Canada that is filled with diversity and culture.
“There are people from all walks of life and background who are working together and trying to solve these problems,” said Creery. “It’s kind of funny because I come at it from a point of white man guilt, how do I interact with people from other cultures and do it properly.”
Diversity is a hot topic within the filmmaking industry whether it is whitewashing or just creating an unrealistic portrayal of the world where everyone is white and straight.
Charles Andrew Payne is not only an actor on the show as the character Malik but is also the co-writer of the pilot with Patrick.
“When he called me up and said ‘I need some help’ I said sure send me the script and the breakdown of what you’re trying to do. I wrote him a draft, sent it back and he said ‘yeah this is exactly where we’re going’.”
When talking about the process of coming on board to “The Parent Council” Payne revealed that his character Malik was originally East Indian but made him West Indian when he was offered a role that he didn’t initially anticipate being offered.
Payne like Da Silva has ideas for where he’d like to see his character go in the future of the show.
“He’s very political and ambitious, I see him wanting to become like an education councillor, in politics somewhere,” Payne said. “He’s also a new immigrant, he hasn’t been here for very long, he’s working very hard to not sound West Indian but he gets angry the West Indian accent will show up.”
While Payne and Creery crafted the story together alongside with them was their director, Naddine Madell.
Madell explains that her coming on board to “The Parent Council” was a result of her and Patrick working together on another project that they hadn’t been able to get funding for but still really wanted to work together.
When asked about challenges that she has faced behind the scenes she highlighted her self-doubt and the limited budget.
“Everybody is so skilled and it’s just really important that people can make a living, a sustainable living in working in film and that’s really hard with such limited budgets.”
Madell goes on to praise everyone within the cast and crew and describes it as “magical” as they are all working on a tight budget.
Madell isn’t exaggerating her praise of the cast and crew, on the set there was a significantly positive vibe all around.
The cast and crew are all hopefully to keep being able to work together if the pilot plays well with audiences and they are able to go to series.
Creery is optimistic, believes in what he is making and has a clear vision of where he wants to go.
The focus on diversity is something Creery thinks is integral to the show and would like to see further develop as the show goes along.
As for how the show can be picked up for series and awarded the additional fifty thousand dollars, “The Parent Council” and the other Story Hive pilots will be available to watch on TELUS Optik TV on Demand, online and on the go.
That will all become available on February 5th and they’ll run for four days and the audiences will get to vote for their favourite pilot.
To keep up to date with “The Parent Council” you can click here to go to their Facebook page and like it to keep up to date with the latest news and updates surrounding “The Parent Council”.