COLD LAKE – A local filmmaker is setting his sights on shooting a television show in the City of Cold Lake.
Chris Cowden originally wanted to shoot his new project Rebar as a full-length film but has decided to go in another direction.
There were a number of reasons for this change and a major component was what he learned from the successful launch of Kinosoo Productions, Cowden’s business, latest piece - Moments in Spacetime.
“At first, I just thought I’d develop another film, but after the whole experience with the pandemic, especially after selling my film to national distributors and getting into that world, I’ve learned so much about the industry and the future of it,” he told MD of Bonnyville council during a March 3 meeting.
Moments in Spacetime didn’t get the theatrical release Cowden was hoping for due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, which was distressing to him.
“But, in the long run, it actually helped us out because everyone is at home streaming movies and television shows and watching online content. That’s really where the future is.”
According to Cowden, the film industry in Canada employs almost 200,000 people and roughly $10-billion a year is spent on film production in this country.
Alberta is one of the busiest provinces for film production as it has the "most attractive tax credit in the world," Cowden stated.
“Dozens of Netflix shows and movies are shooting in Alberta, most of them in Calgary and the question is why? It's because there’s already infrastructure there, also Alberta has a lot of great natural landscapes and a diverse labour pool that supports this kind of idea,” Cowden said. “My thought is we can have a portion of that. We have beautiful landscapes and a very diverse work pool, especially because of our energy sector as a lot of people are looking for work right now.”
After wrapping Moments in Spacetime and taking the time to learn about where the industry is headed, Cowden has hopes of building a new industry in the area that focuses on television and film production.
Rebar is one of three television productions Kinosoo Productions is working on. The female-led action thriller will see Cold Lake turned into Soviet-era Russia and Cowden hopes to sell it as a television series to a major streaming service. He has a few reasons for opting to do this over making another movie in the area.
“Number one, 90 per cent of viewers are into streaming content right now and number two, if we develop these series or television shows that’s ongoing. That’s a continued income coming in. That’s continued jobs, something that would move on multiple seasons and also created an industry here. That’s really what I’m looking to do.”
Cowden was invited to a Netflix writer’s focus group last fall, which gave insight into what major streaming services are looking to develop over the next couple of years.
“Female-led action thrillers are among the top three on that list. We’ve been developing this project and we have three projects on the go. We have diversified over the next year to see which one takes off, which one pops so my distributors have lots of content to sell.”
The filming of Rebar’s pilot will happen at the beginning of April in Cold Lake. Cowden said Kinosoo Productions is putting around $100,000 into this project and all of the projects over the next year will be an investment of around $1-million "coming from Los Angeles distributors and our own funds we’re putting into the project."
A focus for Cowden is to ensure as much of the money as possible is put back into the local communities.
“For this project, about 80 per cent of that will be. There’s some post-production things like my sound designers are in Montreal because we don’t have that in our community, but our big-budget spending items, a lot of the time, end up being hotels for actors, building the sets and getting the materials, catering, construction, welding, and carpentry. All things we have in our community.”
Cowden made a financial request from the MD of up to $45,000 for the project. Council accepted the presentation as information and will discuss providing the money or not at a future meeting.