The Grizzlies 1 of 4 recent films to shoot in Iqaluit
Nunavut Film Development Corporation says full potential of industry remains untapped
Heaven's Floor, Two Lovers and a Bear, Iqaluit: The Movie and now The Grizzlies: In less than two years, four feature films have used Nunavut's capital as a filming location.
"The interest in the global North and in Nunavut in particular is great right now," says Julia Ain Burns, a projects director with the Nunavut Film Development Corporation (NFDC).
The latest movie in production, The Grizzlies, co-stars Canadian comedian Will Sasso (of MADtv fame) and tells the inspirational story of how lacrosse helped buoy community spirits in Kugluktuk, Nunavut.
(During breaks from filming, Sasso tweeted some videos of himself pretending to marvel at the sights of Iqaluit in the [amazingly realistic] voice of Arnold Schwarzenegger.)
An industry not meeting its potential
Nunavut's film industry is worth millions — anywhere between $10 million and $20 million annually, according to the NFDC.
"There is also a cultural impact to film and television and the conversations that are happening about Nunavut in the North and I think that participation is invaluable," Burns said.
The NFDC receives funding from the Nunavut government and has a mandate to promote locally produced film and television.
Burns says for every dollar the corporation gives, $6 is spent in the territory.
The Grizzlies is co-produced by Miranda de Pencier and Nunavut filmmaker Stacey Aglok MacDonald, who is from Kugluktuk.
"There are more and more young Inuk filmmakers who are beginning to produce their own stories but if you ask anyone else, myself included, we would have never been able to step up to being able to do that without the experience of productions coming in and us being a part of it," said Aglok MacDonald.
An Iqaluit film permitting system?
The growth in the industry is prompting the City of Iqaluit to consider adopting a film permitting system.
"It would help the film industry plan their shoots in Iqaluit as opposed to always coming to council for some direction," said councillor Gideonie Joamie.
Last week the city approved a request from the Grizzlies production team to film in the town's old graveyard. But right now there's nothing stopping film crews from shooting inside public spaces.
"They could walk all over our cemetery and film and we don't really have a place to say no because we haven't created any guidelines for the use of our public spaces," said the city's deputy mayor, Romeyn Stevenson.
Aglok MacDonald agrees a permitting system would help clear up a lot of grey areas.
"We're not sure sometimes if we should let the city know we're going to be shooting in that area or not," she said. "If we're not going to be blocking off roads, do we necessarily need to or should we out of courtesy? So we've been tending towards the courtesy side."