PEI

New P.E.I. feature film chosen for development

A trio of P.E.I. filmmakers has been selected by The National Screen Institute of Canada as one of four teams to take part in its 2016 Features First training course.

'To be chosen as one of them is a pretty special opportunity for us'

A screen grab from the trailer for the yet-undeveloped P.E.I. feature thriller, A Small Fortune. (A Small Fortune/Vimeo)

A trio of P.E.I. filmmakers has been selected by The National Screen Institute of Canada to take part in its 2016 Features First training course.

Producer Jason Arsenault, screenwriter Adam Perry and producer Jenna MacMillan will make the film A Small Fortune with the help of the 10-month development training launch pad. It's awarded to teams looking to produce their first or second feature film with strong commercial appeal.

"It's a big deal," Perry told CBC Radio Mainstreet host Karen Mair Wenesday. "They only choose four projects a year from all across Canada. So to be chosen as one of them is a pretty special opportunity for us."  

Adam Perry is part of a team whose film has been chosen for a 10-month development process. (CBC)

"We're especially pleased to have NSI's very first team from PEI," said NSI Features First program manager Shelly Quade in a written release. 

"The teams' scripts are relevant to today's feature market and tell engaging stories." 

The story is built around a P.E.I. Irish moss fisherman's discovery of a large amount of money, and how it turns his life upside down.

The team had to submit a script, marketing and distribution plan and budget to NSI before it was accepted.

Opening doors

"The exposure it gives the project is invaluable," said MacMillan. "The mentorship opportunities ... and the connections that we'll make."

"It kind of opens doors we wouldn't be able to go through unless we were in this program." 

It's sort of a thriller that might have a large audience with it.— Jason Arsenault

While the program does not provide funding to produce the film itself, it offers some money for transportation and accommodation to Toronto for a script polishing bootcamp in January.

"It's more of a support program than anything else," said producer Jason Arsenault. "But it happens over 10 months, so the idea is to help you develop the project to where it should be able to find some financing, hopefully." 

Perry says he looks forward to having the luxury to focus just on the film's script, rather than having to do it all including casting, editing, and cameras. 

Perry noted the film was rejected earlier in the year by Telefilm's micro-budget program.

Silver lining to rejection

"It would have been easy at that point to be rejected and then stop," added Arsenault. "We sort of found, probably, a place where the film was better suited to be. It's not really a micro-budget film, the type of film Telefilm is looking for. But I think it's the type of film maybe that Superchannel, who works with Features First, is looking for."

"It's sort of a thriller that might have a large audience with it."

The NSI says the Features First program gets results. 18 feature films have been successfully produced since the course launched.

Of the other three teams picked, two are from Toronto and one is a duo from Saskatchewan and B.C.

NSI Features First is funded by Telefilm Canada as well as Corus Entertainment, Innovation PEI and others. 

Listen to Mainstreet on CBC Radio weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m.

With files from Karen Mair

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