December 2014 Issue

December 2014

Canada’s Call Sheet

By Judith Klassen

Branded Commandments and Dirty Singles

December 2014There’s a mystery monument in a farmer’s field in Elbert County, Georgia. The Georgia Guidestones have been called a cross between an American Stonehenge and the Ten Commandments. The sculpture is engraved, in multiple languages, with 10 guidelines for rebuilding civilization after World War 3.

These controversial stones, which advise capping the new world population at 550,000,000, provided a eureka moment for Guidestones creator, Jay Ferguson who was searching for the perfect story for his painstakingly designed interactive model.

December 2014A decade ago, Ferguson was one of many watching YouTube ignite the web. Already an established TV producer, he was seeking a radical approach to financing his dreams. Guidestones, the lushly photographed interactive story of global conspiracy and murder, was erected via that most enigmatic of economic models, branded content. With its integrated sponsorship this compactly run Canadian series defies the laws of natural funding.

Says Ferguson, “Bridging the gap between traditional and gaming audiences became an obsession. But hey, despite 10 years of passionate focus, we still heavily subsidize with sweat equity—we live and die by our content and our sales.”

With branding partners like Pizza Pizza throwing them much needed dough the team at 3 O’clock TV has attracted a world-wide audience, landed a sweet deal on the new digital channel CTV Extend, and has won multiple awards including a Canadian Screen Award and an International Emmy. This year they’re even up against the cool kids: Orange is the New Black and Portlandia for the Cynopsis Digital Model D Award. Ferguson may not have the luxury of a big crew and a writing room but he is master of his own digital universe.

Guidestones starring Supinder Wraich (Haven) and Dan Fox (DeGrassi) is available for binge watching on CTV Extend.

Down and Dirty in Toronto

December 2014No matter how witty and unique your screenplay might be, pitching your feature film to the people who can make it happen can be devastatingly difficult. When writer / director Alex Pugsley made the rounds with his feature script, Dirty Singles, he was turned down by absolutely everyone.

Says Pugsley, “I even chopped relevant characters out at one point, just to try to get it made. When I found the right producer, she agreed that we should go back to the original version.”

The right producer was Melanie Windle.Together Pugsley and Windle screened over 200 actors to find the exact chemistry they needed to make Dirty Singles sing. Says Pugsley, “The movie wouldn’t have worked if one actor was out of tune.”

December 2014Dirty Singles is the kind of raunchy, catchy, imaginative tune you can’t get out of your head. The characters are real people, sometimes gorgeous, sometimes a little hung over and defeated. The dialogue is deadly sharp without being overtly honed, a credit to both the writing and the acting– a very successful coupling, indeed.

Dirty Singles is currently rocking the festival circuit and will be airing on TMN. The fab ensemble cast includes: Paul Campbell (Spun Out), Alex Paxton-Beesley (Copper) Lauren Ash (Super Fun Night), Ennis Esmer (The Listener), Jefferson Brown (Carrie), Samantha Espie (Rookie Blue), Matthew Edison (House Party) and Melissa Hood (Flashpoint).

Judith Klassen is a Toronto-based writer, comedian, filmmaker, and host of the celeb talk show Judecast.

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