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Local film industry prepares for busy fall

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A Paul Gross-directed war movie.

A new film collaboration between actor-writer Jonas Chernick and Sean Garrity (Lucid, My Awkward Sexual Adventure).

A supernatural thriller.

Two brand new TV series.

After a relatively dry summer, Manitoba will see a bumper crop of film production as cameras will start rolling in earnest this fall.

Local production company Buffalo Gal Pictures has placed itself firmly at the centre of the storm with a hand in four of those five new projects. Buffalo Gal president Phyllis Laing is executive producer of the previously announced 22-episode TV series The Pinkertons, starring Angus Macfadyen as the legendary real-life sleuth at the helm of a detective agency in the 19th-century Midwest, which commences shooting Aug. 18.

Laing confirms a second series is gearing up -- a sketch comedy called Sunnyside, co-produced by Toronto's Counterfeit Pictures, set to go to camera Sept. 8.

On the feature-film front, Laing says writer-actor-director Paul Gross's followup to his First World War drama Passchendaele is in pre-production with a start date in late September. Set in modern-day Afghanistan, Hyena Road centres on an intelligence officer and a sniper in the Canadian Forces. Gross will play the intelligence officer.

The theatrical release will be a production of Rhombus Media with Buffalo Gal Pictures and will also film in Jordan.

Gross reportedly based the script on interviews he did with soldiers when he spent two weeks at the forward operating base at Sperwan Ghar, near Kandahar City, when Canada's mission was winding down.

Meanwhile, actor-writer-producer Jonas Chernick confirms he is in "pre-pre-production" on Borealis, a comedic drama road-trip movie about a father (to be played by Chernick) determined to take his visually impaired teenage daughter up north to see the Northern Lights before she loses her sight completely.

The film will be produced by Chernick's Banana-Moon Sky Films in co-production with Buffalo Gal, and directed by his longtime collaborator, Sean Garrity. After shooting My Awkward Sexual Adventure and Lucid in chilly Winnipeg winters, Chernick says he is especially excited to make this film in a comparatively balmy autumn, going to camera on Sept. 22.

Inferno Pictures is gearing up to shoot the supernatural thriller Wait Till Helen Comes, an adaptation of an award-winning children's novel by Mary Downing Hahn to be directed by Montreal-based filmmaker Dominic James in conjunction with Montreal's Caramel Films. Inferno Pictures will share credits with omnipresent Canadian producer Don Carmody on the film.

With a screenplay by Victoria Sanchez Mandryk, it's a spooky story of a young girl whose unhappiness in a newly blended family is exacerbated by the presence of the ghost of a young girl in the new family digs. The movie is scheduled to go to camera at the end of September.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 14, 2014 C12

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