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North Bay Mayor woos film industry after "unfortunate comments" by councillor

"A lot of work is going on behind the scenes to repair those unfortunate comments. There are 135 people working up here today on a Saturday. This type of industry could really help the economy of our city.”
Producer Lief Bristow explains details of “Joseph and Mary” to Mayor Al McDonald and Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli in the Herod’s Palace set. Photo by KA Smith.

North Bay media had the chance to be on set of the biblical film “Joseph and Mary” currently in production.

The tour was walked through the various sets at the former Bomarc Missile Site where a town of RVs home cast and crew. Bristow talked about how the sets are repurposed. He also revealed technical secrets of perspective and lighting. He pointed at a plain set wall and called for the tour to imagine the splendor of Nero’s garden in an upcoming feature. The effect will be done with a chroma key green background.   

Standing in the stable – built with local rented barn wood – I heard that later Saturday night, a couple of camels would be standing right where I was, creating atmosphere for ‘the big night.’

The city released a statement within the invitation for the media tour. “Film and television is an important sector for North Bay with projects that support our economy by creating employment and work experience opportunities for our growing talent pool and through direct cash injection to our local businesses.”

Mayor Al McDonald had asked that the tour be provided to educate the public after receiving a number of calls about comments by North Bay councillor Mark King in Bay Today.

King had been responding to the provincial interjection of $3.4 million into the local film industry by the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation. He called the film industry “tricky” and that it doesn’t create long term employment.

Soon after, in a letter to the editor of Bay Today, seasoned actor Jim Calarco rebutted with, “This statement by Councillor King is totally incorrect and he should retract this statement that minimizes the government investment in our film and culture in the North.” Calarco stated that four films were shot in North Bay in 2015 and that the next three months would have another three major productions based here.

North Bay Mayor McDonald said conducting the tour was important. “The film industry brings lots of money into our community adding to our local economy. It is unfortunate that one of the members of our council decided to criticize the film industry when we are hosting so many films in our city. A lot of work is going on behind the scenes to repair those unfortunate comments. There are 135 people working up here today on a Saturday. This type of industry could really help the economy of our city.”

Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli was on the tour and asked about the economic benefits to the city.

It was heard that 1.6 million dollars will be spent in the city during the current film.

The film’s producer says that "Joseph and Mary" and the next film slated for production have already been sold to Shaw.

Bristow says there is enough work for a full time crew in North Bay and foresees a permanent depository of set pieces.

Bristow added “Joseph and Mary” is a film’s single largest cast using northern actors. He expects to use 16 to 18 local actors per film. Many extras will be hired to create the background in various scenes.

When the lunch break was called for the filming crew and actors, an extra — radio personality Dean Belanger --- addressed the tour dressed authentically as a peasant.  

North Bay resident Lianne Koivukoski is working double duty on the film. She provides post production, colour correction and dailies through her company Post Production North. Koivukoski is also the production manager of the film. She explains there is a partnership with Canadore to provide intern positions for Canadore film students.

“It is also attached with an honorarium which is a little unusual. They will actually get two credits from Canadore but they will also get their first film credit which is the first thing they are going to need when they go on to the professional world.”   


KA Smith

About the Author: KA Smith

Kelly Anne Smith was born in North Bay but wasn’t a resident until she was thirty. Ms.Smith attended Broadcast Journalism at Canadore College and earned a History degree at Nipissing University.
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