The Birder movie to open at Capitol Theatre on Thursday

The Birder, a $1 million film shot in Windsor-Essex, will make its Canadian film debut at the Capitol theatre Thursday.

Entire film shot in Windsor-Essex for about $1 million

The Birder is about a mild mannered birder who seeks revenge on a younger rival after losing the highly coveted head of ornithology at a national park. (Courtesy The Birder Film)

The Birder will make its public Canadian film debut at the Capitol theatre Thursday.

The film was created by Ted Bezaire, of Windsor, Ont. He directed the film and insisted all of it be shot locally.

Point Pelee National Park in Leamington, Ont., and Ojibway Park in Windsor, were used for the outdoor scenes.

The old St. Anne high school of the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board was used for some of the interiors

The filmmakers used local actors but the production did attract some big stars.

Tom Cavanagh, best known for his TV show ED, plays the birder. Comedian Fred Willard plays the big boss. Graham Greene, known for roles in The Green Mile (1999) and Dances with Wolves (1990) also plays a part.

The Birder is about a mild mannered birder who seeks revenge on a younger rival after losing the highly coveted head of ornithology at a national park.

Their film's budget was less than $1 million. 

Gerry Lattman, with the Dot Film Company that produced The Birder said the budget and location had to do with amenities and room for accommodations.

"Films bleed money, To shoot our film, it was easy," he said. "There's a whole infrastructure question. I would say it depends on budget size. For anything under $5 million, yes, [it's easier]. For anything over there, you're dealing with a lot of challenges."

The filmmakers could have been eligible for a larger tax credit if they had shot the movie north of Toronto, in Sudbury, for example. That credit was set up 10 years ago under the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, a development agency funded by the Ontario government to invest in northern businesses. Applicants can qualify for up to $500,000 in  grants for each film, depending on its budget and the amount of money it spends in northern Ontario.

Lattman said his group considered it.

But they chose Windsor when they "looked at what we get out of this film geographically" in Windsor-Essex.

Vincent Georgie, executive director of the Windsor International Film Festival, said Windsor still has a way to go if it wants to accommodate more local film making.

"An advantage of shooting here is that there's lots of access. People are accommodating, there's lots of space and it's relatively inexpensive," Georgie said. "But, to attract multiple productions, especially a mid-size or large production, I don't think we have the infrastructure for it."

Nick Shields, co-owner of Suede Productions, was blunt in his thoughts of a local film industry.

"Film production as an economic development piece [in Windsor] is comedic, at best," he said.


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