Former Whistlerite selected for film festival Feature Project Lab 

Six Winners will meet industry experts and focus on new projects at Whistler Film Festival in December

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ERIN SIMKIN - The Producers Six Canadian movie producers will work with industry experts in Feature Project Lab. One of those selected, Toronto filmmaker Peter Harvey, grew up in Whistler. Harvey is on the set of his current feature Pretend We're Kissing, now shooting in Toronto.
  • Photo by Erin Simkin
  • The Producers Six Canadian movie producers will work with industry experts in Feature Project Lab. One of those selected, Toronto filmmaker Peter Harvey, grew up in Whistler. Harvey is on the set of his current feature Pretend We're Kissing, now shooting in Toronto.

Filmmaker Peter Harvey may live and work in Toronto now, but he remembers clearly how he became drawn into movies while at Whistler Secondary School.

"When I was in Grade 8 and 9 I would try to convince the teacher of the Grade 11 media class to let me in. She said I had to wait," Harvey recalls.

So he waited, sort of.

"Instead, I would help the older kids on their movie projects."

Even at the age of 11 Harvey was the kid behind the camera making films with his buddies, rather than the talent in front of the lens.

The early passion and perseverance has borne fruit. Now 29, he is one of six Canadian producers who will take part in the Whistler Film Festival's (WFF) first-ever Feature Project Lab.

The lab is an intense four-day program to support Canadian filmmaking by immersing producers in how the business works and the role of the movie marketplace. It takes place over the festival, from Dec. 3 to 6.

Harvey's eponymous company, Peter Harvey Films, was selected for coming-of-age drama "Talk Like a White Boy," written by Toronto screenwriter Natty Zavitz.

"I've never done anything like this lab before, so it is quite an honour. Man, I hoped I would get this because I knew it would definitely help," Harvey said.

Harvey has previous success at the WFF. His film Picture Day won the Borsos award in 2012. As well as the lab, he has two movies showing, including Cas & Dylan, which is the opening gala film on Dec. 4.

Participants in the Feature Project Lab work on their current features with the aim of getting them from script to the screen, "by facilitating feedback as well as collaboration on and investment in film projects that have U.S. and international appeal," said a film festival release.

The other five producers and their projects are:

- Daniel Domachowski, Domogeneous Creative Film (B.C.) with hockey drama Hello, Destroyer written by Kevan Funk;

- Geordie Sabbagh, Geordie Sabbagh Productions Inc. (Ontario) with alien comedy Two Guys written by Randall Lobb;

- Jordana Aarons, Cedar Avenue Productions Inc. (Ontario) with crime thriller Needles written by Riel Stone;

- Josh Epstein, Motion 58 Entertainment Inc. (B.C.) with coming-of-age comedy "Public Schooled" written by Josh Epstein and Kyle Rideout;

- Laura Perlmutter, First Love Films (Ontario) with the crime drama, Tenzin written by Joshua Reichmann and David Young.

Angie Nolan, WFF's programming manager, said film producers — the people who support the whole operation behind getting a film completed, whether it be funding decisions or choosing the team to make it — are not necessarily neglected in this country.

"But Canadian producers are used to following a certain format for looking for funding for their films. We're lucky in one way, where have Telefilm and The Harold Greenberg Fund and all those great resources for producers in Canada," she said.

"But part of it, too, is there can be limitations with the final product, as well. A lot of independent filmmakers cannot go to some of the bigger markets all the time, because of budget (constraints)."

Some go to the Toronto Film Festival, which is a great market, Nolan said, "but you're drowning in the market there, trying to get your project pitched to people, or meetings.

"The great thing about (the WFF producer lab) program is that we pick six producers and we put them for three-and-a-half days in front of people they might not normally be able to get to."

Industry experts participating in the 2013 Feature Project Lab include Ellen Pittleman, president of Hybrid Entertainment; Mimi Steinbauer, president of Radiant Films International; Ariel Veneziano, president of Recreation Media; and Jon Gerrans, co-president of Strand Releasing.Marketplace analysts and facilitators include Peter Wetherell of Magus Entertainment and Tim Brown of Joker Films.

Support for the new lab has come from Telefilm Canada, which is also sponsored by The Harold Greenberg Fund, Creative BC, the Canadian Media Production Association – BC, and the Westin Resort and Spa Whistler.

WFF's Summit industry schedule is now available at www.whistlerfilmfestival.com.

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