Saskatchewan·Film Industry

Film project 'A.R.C.H.I.E.' spurs hope for industry, Regina producer says

A Regina production company is hoping a new project, a film called A.R.C.H.I.E., may lead to a revival of the motion picture industry in Saskatchewan.

Corner Gas star Fred Ewanuick plays villain in the movie

Many filmmakers in Saskatchewan were unhappy when the provincial government ended a tax credit program. (CBC)

A Regina production company is hoping a new project, a film called A.R.C.H.I.E., may lead to the revival of a motion picture industry in Saskatchewan.

Regina-based Java Post Production and an Alberta firm — Twilight Entertainment — are working on the movie which is about a teenaged girl who befriends a robotic dog with special powers.

You always have to have hope.- Joan Speirs

"This is, in some ways, a model we hope will move forward and be the beginning of re-establishing a film industry in Saskatchewan," Joan Speirs, a vice-president at Java Post, told CBC News Thursday.

The Saskatchewan government is supporting the film through its agency Creative Saskatchewan which provide grants to a variety of artistic endeavours.

The amount of funding for A.R.C.H.I.E was not announced.

Speirs said the government support isn't as much as a film tax credit, the subsidy program the province ended several years ago.

Since then, she noted, many experienced crew have left the province or moved to other employment not in film.

"Even with a movie like A.R.C.H.I.E, we've got serious challenges to put an experienced crew together for it," Speirs said. "And as well the funding is just not the same sort of. It's a much smaller budget than we've been able to do in years past."

Speirs noted, however, that the movie has a lot going for it.

"We're excited," she said. "It's a fun script — a great script — and we really like the director we're working."

Fred Ewanuick cast as film's villain

The film is set to be directed by Robin Dunne, who also wrote the script. Actor Fred Ewanuick, of Corner Gas fame, has been cast to play the film's villain.

The film's title is an acronym for the robot dog, Artificial Robotronic Canine Hyper-Intelligence Experiment.

Fred Ewanuick, from Corner Gas and Dan for Mayor, at the Gemini Awards in 2010. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian Press)
According to an announcement from Creative Saskatchewan, the film is scheduled to begin shooting in Regina and Lumsden, Sask., on June 1. The Saskatchewan-based crew is expected to number 60 people and casting is underway for a number of roles including nine earmarked for Saskatchewan talent. The film will also use 250 extras.

Speirs said the project may help re-establish the film industry in the province.

"I think it will be a long time coming," she added. "It's going to take a while to get us back to where we were, you know, four to five years ago. But you always have to have hope. That's why we're still in the business and still here."

WolfCop sequel funding in the works

The Creative Saskatchewan announcement also said that the funding agency will also be supporting a number of other film projects in the province.

The agency was recently given the OK to "negotiate with the producers of WolfCop 2 for project funding". An Ontario company is working on a sequel to the original WolfCop. Filming on that, in Saskatchewan, is expected to begin in July.

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