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Mon, Jan 6, 2014

"Not in this town." Really?

"Interesting idea, but this will never happen…not in this town." I heard this a few times when I first shared the idea with others. "This city is too conservative for something like this." I didn't believe them and I'm glad they were wrong. In fact, over the past year, I've found this simply not to be true. There are amazing things going on in this city, all being driven by locally-grown innovative thinkers and visionaries. And tomorrow, it's happening!

WindCity, Winnipeg's comedy web series premieres here at winnipegfreepress.com/windcity. A web series is like a mini TV show, with each episode 6-8 minutes long. I first got the idea about 2 years ago, sitting on a bus. Movies are filmed in Winnipeg all the time, but made out to look like another place such as Chicago or Boston. Let's produce a web series that doesn't hide Winnipeg; in fact, it would celebrate Winnipeg and highlight the very best of this city. The entire production would be locally-inspired, showcasing hot local talent and world-class attractions. Yet, it would be 100% entertainment. It would be "story" first, with endearing characters and humour…a dramatic comedy!

But how would we finance something like this? Would local companies invest in the show in return for screen time? That made sense to me. If Winnipeg is a character on the show, then to tell an authentic story, we would need to showcase great local companies. Their products, services and stories would integrate naturally into the narrative because this is where our characters live. So when Dylan and Kate go to a restaurant to talk about their relationship, they go to Carvanal Brazilian BBQ. They go to a real Winnipeg place!

I knew that the show would have to have top-notch production quality, so I approached the best production companies in the city - FRANK Digital, Frantic Films and MidCanada Production Services. We became partners. Last year, we made a pilot episode with a generous investment from our first local partner - RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg. I presented the concept and screened the pilot with many other local CEO's and VP's. Several great local organizations became our partners and six months later we had our green light! In September, we went into production for a six-episode season. Tomorrow, we release episode 1.

I believe that WindCity will reposition the perception of the city, and present a new Winnipeg to the world! No other city has done anything quite like this before. But does that surprise you? It doesn't surprise me. "Not in this town." Really? This is Winnipeg.

- Paul Vieira