Blog

27June

Happy Canada Day from FWC and Canada Screens!

Happy Canada Day! Naturally, First Weekend Club and CanadaScreens.ca celebrate Canada everyday of the year, but we are pleased to patriotically present for Canada Day 2016 2 fun Canadian Films available to rent at CanadaScreens.ca today! We also have a fun interview with comedy superstar Russell Peters for you to watch!



First documentary feature film, BEING CANADIAN, by Robert Cohen and eOnefilms, which asks the question, “What does it actually mean to be Canadian?“. With moments featuring, Colbie Smulders, Russell Peters, Seth Rogen, Ben Stiller, Nathan Fillion, Mike Myers, Michael J Fox, Will Arnet and more, this humorous documentary hopes to find the answer!

BEING CANADIAN chronicles the real-life quest of Robert Cohen, a proud Canadian, who left his hometown of Calgary and moved to the U.S. to start a career as a TV comedy writer. He started noticing how people outside Canada knew very little about his beloved homeland. After decades of ignorance, insults, and indifference, he decides to do something about it. Rob sets off on an epic personal quest, driving across Canada from East to West, to confirm the country he's been fighting for is still what he remembers. Interwoven with this journey are interviews with a variety of famous Canadians, along with people he meets along the way. His deadline? Midnight on Canada Day, in Vancouver. Imagine 'Sherman's March', but wearing a toque!

Watch the trailer and rent the film here! 


First Weekend Club Chats with Canadian Superstar Russell Peters!

FWC/ CanadaScreens.ca host and producer Alexandra Staseson sat down with superstar comedian, Russell Peters during Banff World Media Festival where he was recently honoured with the Sir Peter Ustinov Award, to chat Canada Day and “Being Canadian”…
Watch the interview here:

 

 Canada's Game on Canada Day!


Next we celebrate ‘Canada’s Game’-that’s right, good ol’ hockey, with hit film Canadian feature film GOON, written by Jay Baruchel and directed by Michael Dowse. Available to rent at CanadaScreens.ca, Goon has received international fame and acclaim and a GOON 2 is currently in the works. Jay Baruchel recently won the Banff Canadian Award of Distinction for
his contribution to the screen, in front of and behind the camera. When speaking of Goon, Baruchel reinforced with a smile to the Banff 2016 audience, ”If you try to make something for everyone you’ll end up making something for noone. Goon is unabashedly made for Canada!”

About GOON :
From director Michael Dowse, of the Canadian cult classics FUBAR I and FUBAR II, Goon was written by Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg, and produced by the legendary Don Carmody. Considered an outcast within his family of brainiacs, a bouncer leads a team of under-performing misfits to semi-pro hockey glory.
 

Watch the trailer and rent GOON here!  



Posted in Blog

13June

2016 ROCKIE AWARD PROGRAM COMPETITION WINNERS ANNOUNCED

 

 

 

2016 ROCKIE AWARD PROGRAM COMPETITION WINNERS ANNOUNCED


 

 

Banff June 13, 2016-

The Banff World Media Festival (BWMF) announced winners of the annual Rockie Awards today at their flagship Program Competition that celebrates excellence in TV and digital content from around the world, during a special Awards ceremony held at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. The BBC was a big winner, taking home 4 Rockie Awards. The BBC’s Rockie wins were for Stick Man in the Animation category, Sleeping Lions in the Children & Youth Fiction Series category (in partnership with David & Goliath and Libra Television for BBC), My Jihad in the Digital Fiction Series category and Shark in the Environmental & Wildlife Program category.

 

Canadian programs shined at this year’s Rockies with the host country scoring 6 Award winners:
Carmilla from Shaftsbury/Smokebomb winning the Brand Content category; Mon ex à Moi (Dumped!) from Avanti Ciné Vidéo winning the Comedy Series category: Pour Sarah (For Sarah) from Encore Télévision and Duo Productions winning the Francophone Program category; The Wanted 18 from Intuitive Pictures winning the History & Biography Program category; and  The Incredible Tales of Weirdwood Manor from All Play, No Work winning the Interactive Content for Kids & Youth category. 

 

Over 40 countries participated in this year’s competition. The Awards honor excellence in 23 categories across drama, comedy, children’s, documentary, factual, digital and more. The Rockie Awards Program Competition Luncheon was hosted by Matthew Rodrigues, host and producer of POPSUGAR and Hilton's new uplifting travel series, Find Your Happy. The luncheon was sponsored by. Telefilm Canada, Thunderbird Films, Lionsgate, Rogers, The Canadian Media Fund, Air Canada, Eye on Canada, The Calgary Film Centre, Triangle Post, Jet Music, Deluxe and The Banff Centre. 

 

The Jury Grand Prize finalists will be announced today at 5pm UTC via the Banff World Media Festival’s website and the winner will be unveiled tomorrow night during the Rockies Gala (June 14th at 7pm).

 

Below is the complete list of the Rockie Awards Program Competition winners:

 

CATEGORY, PROGRAM, COUNTRY, COMPANY

 

Animation: Stick Man-UK-BBC

 

Arts & Performance Program: The Adventurers of Modern Art -France-Silex 

Films / ARTE France / Financière Pinault

 

Brand Content: Carmilla-Canada-Shaftsbury/Smokebomb 

 

Children & Youth Fiction Series: Sleeping Lions-UK-Libra Television, 

David & Goliath for BBC

 

Children & Youth Nonfiction Series: Teacher X-Taiwan-Public Television Service Foundation

 

Comedy Series: Mon ex à moi (Dumped!)-Canada-Avanti Ciné Vidéo

 

Digital Fiction Series: My Jihad-UK-BBC

 

Digital Nonfiction Series: Children Deported-Norway-Flimmer Film

 

Drama Series: Line of Separation - The Morning After The War-Germany-        

Wiedemann & Berg Television GmbH & Co. KG

 

Environmental & Wildlife Program: Shark-UK-BBC

 

Francophone Program: Pour Sarah (For Sarah)-Canada-Encore Télévision and Duo production

 

History & Biography Program: The Wanted 18-Canada-Intuitive Pictures

 

Interactive Content: Sons of Gallipoli-Canada-Jam3

 

Interactive Content for Kids & Youth: The Incredible Tales of Weirdwood 

Manor-Canada-All Play, No Work

 

Lifestyle Program: The Great Meal-South Korea-Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation

 

Melodrama Series: Grey's Anatomy-USA-ABC Studios

 

Music, Performance & Variety Program: Isabella Rossellini's Green Porno Live!-USA-Sundance Productions

 

Pre-School Program: Justin Time: Canada-Guru Studio

 

Reality Program: Shark Tank-USA-Sony Pictures Television

 

Science & Technology Program: Uranium - Twisting the Dragon's Tail-Australia-Genepool Productions

 

Sci-Fi, Action & Fantasy Series: Game of Thrones-USA-HBO 

 

Social & Investigation Program : Agorá - From Democracy To the Market-Greece-Small Planet

 

Television Movie: Snowy Path-South Korea-Korean Broadcasting System

 

The Rockie Awards are one of the world’s largest Program Competitions. The program’s industry jury features more than 350 professionals and leaders from around the world working in the entertainment and media arenas.  Categories include: Animation, Art and Performance Program, Brand Content, Children & Digital Youth Fiction Series, Children & Youth Nonfiction Series, Comedy Series, Digital Fiction Series, Digital Nonfiction Series, Drama Series, Environmental & Wildlife Program, Francophone Program, History & Biography Program, Interactive Content, Interactive Content for Kids & Youth, Lifestyle Program, Melodrama Series, Music, performance & Variety Program, Pre-School Program, Reality Program, Science & Technology Program, Sci-fi, Action & Fantasy Program, and Television Movie.

 For more visit: http://www.banffmediafestival.com/   Be sure to follow all of the action using #Banff2016 

Posted in Blog

10June

Canada Screens Goes Car-Free with Documentary BIKE CITY, GREAT CITY!




Canada Screens Goes Car-Free and celebrates Bike Awareness Month
with documentary Canadian Film, BIKE CITY, GREAT CITY!

It's officially feeling like summer! And in celebration of all the "Bike Awareness Month" and "Car-Free" events happening around the world, and in Canada,
First Weekend Club and Canada Screens are pleased to offer Canadian documentary film,
BIKE CITY, GREAT CITY  by filmmaker David Chernushenko,
available for rent now on CanadaScreens.ca online VOD!

About Bike City, Great City

David Chernushenko, a city councillor in Ottawa, Ontario, is determined to make his hometown a better city for cycling. In 2011, the League of American Bicyclists and Share the Road Coalition recognized Ottawa with a Silver rating for bike friendliness. Silver is good, but it’s not Gold. David wants Ottawa — and every American and Canadian city — to strive for Gold, and he’s going to take us on a ride to find out how it can be done. He’ll show us how Copenhagen set the gold standard for cycling and quality of life, and look at what some North American cities are doing right.

Watch the trailer and rent it here!
http://canadascreens.ca/catalogue/176-bike-city


Bike Awareness Month and Car Free Days are wonderful community endeavors happening now!  Read on to find out more, and  how you can get involved in some Car Free activities in your city!


Vancouver celebrates Car Free Vancouver, June 18th and 19th
The 12th annual Car Free Day is almost upon us. Once again the festivals will be taking place along Commercial Drive, Main Street, and Denman Street, with block parties in Kitsilano. The festivities are happening the weekend of June 18th and 19th! Get involved with Car Free YVR! http://www.carfreevancouver.org/get-involved/

Victoria, BC celebrates Car Free YYJ on June 19th!
Car Free YYJ will be back on Douglas Street on Sunday, June 19, 2016 from 11-6pm. After an amazing inaugural year, Car Free YYJ is looking to expand from six blocks to nine blocks in its second year!  The inaugural Car Free YYJ was held on June 21, 2015 and was presented by the DVBA in partnership with the City of Victoria, BC Transit and produced by Atomique Productions. Car Free YYJ took over six blocks of Douglas Street from Herald to Fort Street from 12-6pm.More than 235 vendors lined Douglas Street from Herald Street to Fort Street. Event components included three stages with programmed entertainment, a 7,100 sq. ft. grass park on Douglas Street, a half‐pipe in the middle of the street, a beer garden and activations created by vendors.
Get involved with Car Free YYJ Here!  http://downtownvictoria.ca/carfree2015

Toronto Bike Month is May 30-June30th!

Since 1989, the City of Toronto has worked with the cycling community to deliver programming encouraging cycling. Toronto's Bike Month has evolved from a 1989 Bike to Work Day event to become one of the largest event of its kind in Canada. Beginning in 2012, the City partnered with Cycle Toronto, to transition Bike Month into a community-based program. Each year, Toronto's Bike Month events kick off with Bike to Work Day which takes place on the last Monday of May. Ride to City Hall and enjoy a free pancake breakfast provided by St. Lawrence Market. This is a joint event between the City of Toronto and Cycle Toronto.

Get involved with Toronto Bike Month Here!

Visit CanadaScreens.ca for this, and more great Canadian Film titles available for rent!



Posted in Blog

09June

Canada Celebrates Music Documentary I AM THE BLUES by Daniel Cross

Canada Celebrates Music Documentary I AM THE BLUES by Daniel Cross


**** 4 STARS - NOW WEEKLY, Toronto

“Heartache Never Sounded As Good As in I Am The Blues”
~ National Post

After moving audiences at IDFA and SXSW, celebrated #CdnFilm documentary I Am the Blues by Daniel Cross / EyeSteelFilm is rocking out Canada this weekend and through the summer!

I AM THE BLUES takes the audience on a musical journey through the swamps of the Louisiana Bayou, the juke joints of the Mississippi Delta and Moonshine soaked BBQs in the North Mississippi Hill Country. Visiting the last original blues devils, many in their 80s, still living in the American deep south and touring the Chitlin’ Circuit. Let Bobby Rush, Barbara Lynn, Henry Gray, Carol Fran, Little Freddie King, Lazy Lester, Bilbo Walker, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, RL Boyce, LC Ulmer, Lil’ Buck Sinegal and their friends awaken the blues in all of us.

Watch trailer here! https://vimeo.com/144133836

Showtimes Below

Bloor Cinema #Toronto

June 8, 9:30pm

June 9, 9:15pm

July 23, 4:00pm

July 25, 8:45pm

July 26, 8:45pm

July 27, 6:30pm




Canada Square #Toronto
June 10 open run 
3:45pm, 6:30pm, 9:00pm



Kingsway Theatre #Toronto
June 10 open run
 7:35pm
 


La Cinémathèque Québécoise #Montréal, QC) 

From June 10
every day at 7:15pm



Cinema du Parc #Montréal, QC) 

From June 10
every day at 2:30pm and 7:10pm

*** Director Daniel Cross
will be in attendance

June 10, 7:10pm

June 11, 2:30pm and 7:15pm

June 12, 2:30pm and 7:15pm
 


The Loft Cinema #Coburg, ON) 

June 3, 7:30pm

June 5, 4:00pm, 7:30pm

June 8, 7:30pm
 June 9, 7:30pm

June 10, 7:30pm
 


#Winnipeg Cinematheque
June 4, 9:00pm 

June 5, 7:00pm

June 9, 7:00pm
June 10, 7:00pm

June 11, 9:00pm

June 16, 9:00pm

June 18, 9:00pm


Vancity Theatre #Vancouver, BC
June 13, 6:30pm

June 15, 6:30pm
 


Cinéma Le Clap #Québec City, QC

June 17 open run



#MedicineHat Public Library Theatre (Medicine Hat, AB)

June 20, 7:00pm


Bytowne #Ottawa, ON
June 26, 4:15pm

June 27, 6:55pm

June 28, 9:05pm

 

Sled Island Film Festival #Calgary
 
June 26
 


Cinecenta #Victoria
July 27, 7:00pm 9:25pm

July 28, 7:00pm, 9:10pm


Limestone City Blues Festival (Kingston, ON) 
August 28


Posted in Blog

25May

Evan Rachel Wood on 'Into the Forest'


Patricia Rozema's Into the Forest tackles many of our dystopian fears in a world that's on the brink of an apocalypse.  But you won't find any zombies here. Instead, the film stars Evan Rachel Wood and Ellen Page as two young sisters who do their best to survive in their home in a secluded ancient forest.  They are not only forced to fight against the elements, intruders, and starvation -- but also against their own loneliness and sense of isolation.  They must fight to keep hope, and each other, alive.

First Weekend Club's Katherine Brodsky caught up with one of the film's stars, Evan Rachel Wood to discuss her experiences making the film (reprinted from AICN):

Q: Did you read the book before doing the movie? What kind of awareness did you have of the book?

Yes, but I didn't read it until after I've read the script. If you're doing a film based on a book, in certain cases, I feel like it's right to read the book and it's certainly the case here. The book is told from the point of view of Ellen [Page]'s character Nell and so there's a lot of inner dialogue and her observing my character. So it actually really worked out because so much of it is her talking about her sister and the love she has for her and everything she is going through. So it really helped a lot.

Q: Why do you think we are so fascinated by dystopian futures within pop culture?

I think because it's becoming more and more of a reality. One of the things that I loved about our film is that it is set in the not so distant future and there are small elements that are different than the world we know today. The phones and the TVs and the technology is a little different, but for the most part it looks the same. This is a more realistic look at what it would really be like if you lost every luxury in life. No phones no internet, no TV, no gas, no running water…and so we're not fighting zombies, we're just trying to survive.

Q: We're fighting ourselves in a way.

That too. We're fighting loneliness and depression and grief. It's more about just stripping somebody down to the bone and then [seeing] how you adapt and how you survive -- what really makes you feel. It's about getting back in touch with how we're supposed to be relating to nature and our surroundings. Not in a hippy dippy way, but you know, what DO we do when all our resources run out? Because it's kind of an inevitability. It could be a cautionary tale, or even a how-to because I wouldn't know how to build a fire or filter rain water or go hunting…real things you'd have to deal with.

Q: Me neither. I've tried to imagine myself surviving on a deserted island with no knowledge. It sure took a lot of imagination!

You can't google it!  [She laughs]

Q: No, you can't. If google was around on a deserted island that would solve everything. And YouTube. Google and YouTube.

Yeah, I think we're all out of touch with knowing how to live off of the land nowadays. 

Q: I don't know if you've seen The Walking Dead but I've seen a bit of it, and I love how the real danger isn't really from the 'walkers' because…you know…they are so slow…but rather, other people.

We're playing two young women by themselves in the woods in a lawless world. That would be super dangerous and people would take advantage of that situation so they have to deal with that as well and defend themselves. Everyday you go outside you're looking over your shoulder and waiting for somebody to attack you. You're constantly living in fear and desperation just hanging by a thread.

Q: As soon as you say "two women living alone in the woods" you know exactly where the tension's at…

Definitely. And we certainly touch upon that in the film.  But we're also not victims. Nor are we tough-as-nails women who had never lost a battle. They have moments where they break and don't think they can go on and all is lost, but there is also hope. And the relationship that these sisters have, they really are the only two people left -- at least in their world. So it's about how they come together and defy all odds. So it's a really intense and powerful movie, but there's also such a beauty to it because it gets to the core of who we are as people.

Q: Speaking of sisterhood, with you and Ellen playing sisters…how did you two bond in a way that would be believable on the screen? Did you really bond?

We did! We had so much fun.  The second she gave me the script and I read it, I basically fell to my knees because I haven't read anything as powerful in a…decade.  So we were like 'alright' let's just hang out as much as possible before we have to film this movie because there's certain things that you can't fake. There's a comfortability or just these little looks you give each other…Sisters can talk to each other without saying anything, so we wanted to have that feeling. So we hung out for about a year. It was very easy. We got along famously and became great friends. I still consider her to be one of my best friends and soul sister.  But it's funny. We're the same age, but I'm playing her older sister. And Ellen would say, "It's so funny, sometimes I really do feel like the baby." [She laughs]

Q: You hung out for an entire year? That seems...rare.

It is. But we just had to completely open ourselves up in every way. I felt that we were so connected and cared about each other. By the time we did the movie, there were certain moments where we'd be doing the scene and I'd totally forget that we were doing a scene and I'd think it was really happening. And when I'd see Ellen either shivering or crying, this instinct would just kick in and I had to mother her and take care of her. We really got each other through this movie. We were each other's rocks, for sure.

Continue reading the full interview at Ain't It Cool News.

Posted in Blog

12May

Canada Screens and FWC Celebrate Xavier Dolan at Cannes 2016!

First Weekend Club and Canada Screens offer congratulations to prolific Canadian filmmaker & actor, Xavier Dolan on his premiere at Cannes 2016! The 27 year old Quebec director Xavier Dolan's new film, Juste la fin du monde (It's Only the End of the World) is officially in the running for the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival! To celebrate, we've got TWO of his film feats available to rent at CanadaScreens.ca! The 2012 Cannes Award-Winning Film Laurence Anyways, which competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, where Suzanne Clément won the Un Certain Regard Award for Best Actress ~The film also won the Queer Palm Award at the festival. And, you can enjoy Xavier's brilliant acting in #CdnFilm Elephant Song, in which his haunting lead performance left audiences shaken! BOTH films are available to rent NOW!


Watch Trailer and Rent Laurence Anyways Here!
 


Watch Trailer and Rent Elephant Song Here!
 

Posted in Blog

05May

New Voices at the Toronto Screenwriting Conference

One day Glenn Cockburn of Meridien Artists Management had the incredible idea to create a writing workshop that was more than simply ‘how to become a writer’, one that delved deeply into the craft and business of screenwriting with top speakers from Canada and Hollywood. Today that conference, the Toronto Screenwriting Conference, is in it’s 7th year. We spoke with the winners of the Telefilm New Voices Award about their experiences at this year’s event.

John Ward

The conference had so many great sessions it’s hard to single out a specific highlight. Corey Mandell’s inspiring sessions were full of advice and practical tools; Stephen Falk’s talk on breaking an entire season was as hilarious as it was instructive; and the conversation with Moira-Walley-Beckett gave us insight into her writing journey and the Breaking Bad writers room. My personal highlight was listening to Glen Mazzara. His sessions were simply amazing; thought-provoking, passionate, and made me want to immediately rush home and start writing. Overall it was a fantastic conference. 

John is currently pitching his pilot “Flux" - an episodic sci-fi about an unlikely team of cops and criminals forced to work together to change the future, and also "Dodge & Burn" - a show about an undercover Mountie who’s also the leader of the criminal organization he was sent to infiltrate. 

Ana de Lara

The Toronto Screenwriting Conference was an amazing experience.  The whole weekend was phenomenal. I left motivated and inspired by the variety of writing tools, perspectives, experiences, and words or wisdom presented by the speakers.  Highlights for me include meeting Glenn Cockburn, having my mind blown away by Corey Mandell's sessions, and leaving knowing that I have tools I can apply to elevate my current projects and progress my career.

Ana is currently working on the following projects. Her first feature film screenplay, The Virgin Mary Had a Little Lamb, a comedy told with magic realism about a Filipina-Canadian girl who loves the Virgin Mary, wants to be just like the Virgin Mary, and what happens to her when God answers her prayers.

The Chosen One is a supernatural horror feature,  about a Filipina-Canadian playwright who must stop dark forces that have been summoned by Filipino witchcraft from attacking her sanity.

Yellow Magic, a comedic webseriesabout a Filipina witch who flees to Canada to escape from her family’s association with witchcraft.  When her past catches up with her, the idyllic suburban neighbourhood where she resides is never the same. 

Kim Izzo

It was an amazing experience to be in the same room with such incredible talent as the speakers at this year's TSC. Glen Mazzara's frank and often hilarious talk about Anti-heroes on Day One and then the behind the scenes of creating and filming his new series Damian gave me a lot of insight into the evolution of television  and were the medium is going. I was also riveted to In-Conversation with Moira Wh\alley-Beckett because Breaking Bad is one of  my favourite shows it was a treat to hear stories from that particular writer's room and she was truly inspiring. I also felt that Interview with the Executive, Nicole Clemens from FX was an absolute must, it was enlightening from a writer's perspective to hear firsthand how FX approaches story, pitching and the value of the writer. I will definitely be back for TSC 2017! 

She is currently finishing off the final draft of my feature, The Shame Sisters, for the NSI Script to Screen program as well as developing several television pilots scripts. 

Rebecca Hales

The Toronto Screenwriting Conference has the best screenwriting content of any conference I have attended. It's so much more than just great stories from top industry professionals - though those are GREAT. It's really about master classes in craft, process, production, and development. Glenn Mazzara walked us through the provenance of the anti-hero. Stephen Falk walked us through the entire season development process he uses on You're The Worst complete with photos of his boards. Moira Walley-Becket talked about life on Breaking Bad and the lessons she brought to Flesh and Bone. Nicole Clemens gave a real breakdown of how FX Network finds and fosters groundbreaking TV. Everyone came to talk about the business in real terms, not platitudes and anecdotes. My personal highlight was Corey Mandell and his very practical teachings on Integration and Story Engines. I know I'm not alone in saying it was a game changer. He got a standing ovation for a reason! 

Rebecca Hales is currently working on a spy thriller in which a young woman's world is shattered when her parents are arrested on suspicion of terrorism, and a half hour cable comedy that takes a surreal look at identity and those little voices in our heads.

Maria Dame

Lunch in a private room at The Spoke Club was the prefect kick off to the conference. It was super cool to talk to Moira about Breaking Bad and her transition from acting to writing; to Melissa about Super Chanel and her move to Toronto, to hear Dan’s remarkable story of how he ended up working for Telefilm and to learn from Glenn that his reading of Elephant Bucks was the catalyst that got him thinking about creating a screenwriting conference in Toronto. 

The party at The Fifth later that night was a blast and after speaking with Jen in such a casual atmosphere I couldn’t wait for her seminar the next day. 

With the eclectic and inspiring roster of speakers, my learning curve over the weekend was pretty steep. This morning as I was reading over my notes I really just felt so grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate. It’s like I already feel like a better writer just by being in the room with those people.  

Maria is working on PASSPORT, a one-hour drama that probes the complexities and conundrums of the refugee housing experience.Tensions arise and prejudices surface when The New Hope Centre– a refugee housing residence — moves into in a middle class neighbourhood.

Myself and the team at FWC look forward to working with all these talented writers to promote their feature films! 

For more information on the conference, visit: http://torontoscreenwritingconference.com

Posted in Blog

02May

Embracing Adaptation

Guest Blogger: Danishka Esterhazy



I have always written my own screenplays. Because it has always felt right to move from that first initial spark of inspiration (usually an image), through to story, character and structure. Followed by production — all the elements of staging, lighting and coverage — and then into post. Right up to the final cut. I write, I direct and I edit. This has always been my preferred method of filmmaking. Immersive. Total. 

But with every film that I make, I become more excited by collaboration. It is a wonderful feeling to sit down and share ideas with a talented artist — whether they be a cinematographer, production designer, or actor. There is a unique and powerful creative pleasure to be found in these relationships. Even during disagreements. Because a great collaborator will challenge you to rise to new levels.

And so it is with this attitude that I embarked on my very first literary adaptation — a short film called The Singing Bones.

It started by accident. In 2011, I was attending the UCLA Writers Studio. At one of the group gatherings, I looked around the room and spied Francesca Lia Block. She is hard to miss. She was absolutely the most magnetic (and best dressed) person in the room. Francesca oozes style and charm. I nearly jumped out of my seat.

I had been a fan of Block’s writing for years. Most people know FLB for her celebrated Weetzie Bat novels. But it was her wonderful dark and modern retelling of fairytales that I loved the most. 

Impulsively, I tweeted a short message about my excitement to see FLB in person. And, to my surprise, she tweeted back! She invited me out for lunch. After an hour of great vegetarian noodles and a passionate discussion of fairytales and feminism — we were already talking about making a film together.

Fast forward to 2014. I optioned Block’s story “Bones” from her short story collection The Rose and the Beast. It is a retelling of the fable Bluebeard. And an amazing story about a young woman discovering her own power and her creative voice.

The writing experience was an absolute dream. Often, I find the writing process to be the most demanding, draining and disenchanting part of the filmmaking process. An exhausting uphill trek. But working with Block was inspiring. First, I loved her story. It was very important for me to respect her original vision and her voice as a writer. In the option agreement, FLB did not have any legal right to input or approval of my screenplay. But I sent her every draft as both a courtesy and opportunity. I valued her notes. She was able to provide me with deeper insight into her characters while also respecting my creative freedom as the screenwriter. 

Development and production were not easy. I had a lot to learn about crowdfunding as this was my first experience raising money through Indiegogo. I was also forced to recast my lead actors (heartbreaking!) after immigration complications made this Canadian-American co-production more challenging than I ever expected, But, luckily, I was aided by my fabulous producers Bianca Beyrouti, Rebecca Gibson and Ashley Hirt. I also had an amazing volunteer crew. Post-production is nearly complete and we expect the film to premiere this summer or fall.

So, would I adapt another short story or novel? Absolutely. I don't expect every collaboration to be as special as The Singing Bones. But I have seen how great the process can be when two like-minded storytellers come together for all the right reasons.

-Danishka Esterhazy

Danishka Esterhazy is a Winnipeg-based filmmaker. Her debut feature, Black Field, was released theatrically by Century Street Distribution and broadcast on SuperChannel. Her second feature, H&G, was released theatrically by MultipleMedia Entertainment and broadcast on The Movie Network. She is currently preparing to shoot her third feature, Level 16, with Markham Street Films.







LINKS:

Danishka Esterhazy: http://www.danishkaesterhazy.com

Francesca Lia Block: http://www.francescaliablock.com 

Black Field http://www.blackfieldmovie.com 

H&G http://www.hg-movie.com

Markham Street Films http://www.markhamstreetfilms.com 

 

Posted in Blog

26April

CanadaScreens Welcomes 9 New Titles from Factory Film Studio

A New Partnership with Factory Film Studio 

 

  
                                                       

First Weekend Club is excited to welcome Toronto-based Factory Film Studio as our newest partner.

As part of the partnership, we will be bringing 9 new Canadian films to CanadaScreens.ca as well as collaborating with them to support some of their theatrical releases.  We are looking forward to working with them and sharing even more great home-grown films with Canadians!

Here are the most recent titles that are now available on CanadaScreens.ca:

                

Check back soon for more great films from Factor Film Studio! 

For more details, or to rent these titles, visit CanadaScreens.ca

Posted in Blog

18April

My Interview with Roundhouse Radio on Canadian Film







 

 









At the wee hour of 6:30 am I walked into a retro fitted office building in Railtown at 714 Alexander Street in Vancouver, home of Roundhouse Radio 98.3FM for an interview with Kirk Lapointe. What a cool space, with the open office concept, a glass sound room for the interviews and art deco furniture in the waiting area. I sat and listened to the show for a bit as I was mentally preparing myself to run through all the Canadian films that are now playing (and there are a lot). I thought it was going to be one of those quick and dirty 5 minute interviews where I had to spit out all the important information quickly before I would be ushered out the door to make room for the next guest. I was delightfully surprised, however, to discover Kirk wanted to have a conversation with me about Canadian film and the current landscape, and of course, I was a very willing participant. If you are interested in what I had to say about the state of the Canadian film industry, about Canadian directors and actors working in Canada or choosing to go down south, and my thoughts on setting up a screen quota system similar to what happened in the music industry, take a listen. We’d love to hear your opinions about any of the subjects discussed as well. 

http://bit.ly/1NxbfGO

Interview length: 18 minutes

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