It's been three years since My Winnipeg and now Guy Maddin is prepping his next feature film, Keyhole, to shoot in Winnipeg July 6 with a cast including Jason Patric, Udo Kier, former Kid in the Hall Kevin McDonald and Maddin's go-to muse Isabella Rossellini.
Maddin and producer Phyllis Laing of Buffalo Gal Pictures dropped some of the details Thursday evening at the Gimli Film Festival's launch party at the Winnipeg Art Gallery's rooftop sculpture garden, where Maddin accepted the fest's newly minted Legacy Award.
In a kind of Maddin-esque variation of Homer's The Odyssey, the film's official synopsis suggests Patric will play Ulysses Pick, "a gangster who returns home after a long absence toting a drowned girl, Denny, who has mysteriously returned to life, and a bound-and-gagged hostage, who is actually his own teenage son, Manners."
Ulysses's odyssey is through his own house, one room at a time, until he arrives in the boudoir of his wife Hyacinth (Rossellini).
Shooting concurrently with that feature, Maddin and a few collaborators will shoot parallel material for the Internet.
"I'm remaking a lot of lost movies," Maddin says. "All those directors from the first generation that straddled the silents and talkie period have one and sometimes 10 lost films," Maddin says.
"It's been haunting me my whole life and I figured the only way I'd ever get to see these things was if I just made my own versions of them," he says. "So a bunch of us are getting together and making, oh, about 1,028 lost films, some of them extremely short but some of them in the five- to 15-minute range.
"They'll be shot on the same set and the same studio using some of the same actors," Maddin says.
"It's like the ghost narratives of the lost films are sort of possessing the characters of the feature and forcing them to act out lost movie narratives," Maddin says.
The July shoot means that Maddin will miss out on his usual summer-long holiday at his cabin in Gimli, immortalized in a photo presented to him at the ceremony.
"I'd love to be at the cottage," Maddin says. "But I am an adult, after all, and I don't deserve summer holidays like elementary school kids."
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The announcement of Maddin's film augments a boom year for the local film and television industry compared to fiscal 2009, when the amount of film and TV production totalled $68 million, according to figures from Manitoba Film & Music's CEO Carole Vivier. "For this fiscal 2010/2011 we are projecting total budgets to late November to be approximately $80 million," Vivier says. (The Canadian fiscal year goes to March 31.)
The two feature films currently shooting, Faces in the Crowd and The Divide, will be wrapping production in the next two weeks. But the summer and fall of 2010 are going to be especially busy with a fourth locally lensed TV series -- CBC's sitcom Men With Brooms, adapted from the film of the same name by Paul Gross -- currently prepping. (Both the APTN series Cashing In and the HBO Canada series Less Than Kind are preparing for their third seasons in the coming months, while Space Channel's Todd and The Book of Pure Evil wrapped two months ago.)
Also at Buffalo Gal, The Haunting in Georgia, a sort-of sequel to last year's hit horror film The Haunting in Connecticut "will go into prep in about three weeks," Laing says, adding that a suspense thriller titled ATM will be prepping in August.
Looming possibilities for future features include the Jay Baruchel hockey comedy The Goon and a Cuba Gooding Jr. hockey comedy titled Stix.
The uptick in production has been attributed to the Manitoba government's upgrade to a 30 per cent production tax credit in March, the most aggressively competitive tax credit available in Canada.
Regina-based producer Kevin DeWalt of Minds Eye Pictures evidently kept that commitment in mind, especially after the production of his film Clean Out was scuttled when the state of Iowa reneged on a promise to provide a tax credit worth $6.5 million, forcing DeWalt to seek recompense in the courts. (DeWalt's company won a $6.5-million judgment in November.)
Some of the film was going to be shot in Winnipeg. DeWalt, currently working on Faces in the Crowd, says "now the plan is to come back here in March and shoot it all here.
"When the government down there decided to cancel the program without any notice, they didn't realize the ramifications with projects that were already in production. Of course, we were only three days away from shooting."
DeWalt says he's confident they might be able to assemble the same cast, including Harvey Keitel, Elliott Gould, Mads Mikkelsen, Timothy Dalton and Noomi Rapace (who may be a hot commodity after the North American release of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo this spring).