Eyes on Tourism - Big things happening in NL film and television

Nola Snyder
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Dare I say those two little words ‘arts’ and ‘culture’ for a third week in a row? Sorry but I can’t help myself with there being so much happening in that world. The Newfoundland and Labrador film and television industry is flourishing. I know you are wondering to yourself, “What does film and television have to do with tourism?” Well if you are a loyal follower of my columns you will recall that I wrote one back in August called ‘The Impact of Movies and Television on Tourism’. For those of you who didn’t read it or don’t remember, I’ll bring you up to speed quickly before going any further.

Studies have shown that film and television programming have a significant and positive impact on tourism. Screen products excite audiences and have the ability to touch upon so many cultural characteristics. Viewers can have a connection with the story, the character or the attractiveness of the location and sites used in a show. The audience can actually feel an emotional and intellectual connection to the country in which the film is shot or become curious enough about it to want to visit. They may be sold on the province simply because of its natural beauty. Now that I’ve brought you all up to speed, I’ll move right along.

According to the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, the Newfoundland and Labrador film and television industry is experiencing exciting growth and making a valuable contribution to the provincial economy. It is projected that $40 million in film and television production took place in this province in 2012, the highest ever recorded. With the industry being on the upswing I thought I would share some of the highlights of last year.

Based on news reports there were some big name stars visiting the province for leading roles and even many of our local film stars made a splash on the international scene. One of our big success stories in film and television, of course, is Republic of Doyle. Its faithful viewers were excited to see it come back for its fourth season. If you are loyal to the show you know that many past episodes have featured big name stars, some of which included Russell Crowe, Alan Doyle, Shannon Tweed and Victor Garber. Many guest stars were invited to take part in this 4th season of Republic of Doyle as well. There will be roles played from Canadian actors Paul Gross (Due South) and Erin Karpluk (Being Erika). Hollywood actors will include Luis Guzman (Traffic, Magnolia) and Angus Macfayden who starred in the blockbuster movie Braveheart. The star of the show Allan Hawco told the news that Season 5 is already in the making.

The relationship between Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea and movie star Russell Crowe continued to grow in 2012. They co-starred in the film Robin Hood several years back and they continue to work together today both on the music and film stage. As I mentioned above they both starred on Republic of Doyle, but more recently have announced co-starring in another movie called Winter’s Tale which is due for release sometime this year. In this movie Alan Doyle will be working right alongside such big name actors as Will Smith and Colin Farrell. Another Newfoundlander, Christine Tizzard was named the host of a national cooking show “Best Recipes Ever”. Christine is a St. John’s native and beat out about 400 people who auditioned for the role.

A new Newfoundland produced movie called Hold Fast will be released this year. An award winning novel by Newfoundland’s Kevin Major has been turned into a movie for television. You may recall my article on a local aspiring actress Taylor Vincent who was chosen for a part in this film. The movie was filmed in various locations across the island last year and shooting finished up in July. It tells a story of a boy whose life was turned upside down when his parents were killed in a car accident and he was uprooted from his small out port home and sent to live with his Aunt in the city.

Another movie filmed here in Newfoundland last year was ‘The Grand Seduction’ which is an English remake of a former Quebec hit movie. This particular movie brought many big Hollywood names to out port Newfoundland last summer. Taylor Kitsch known for his roles in John Carter and Battleship and Irish actor Brendan Gleeson who acted in the very popular Harry Potter series and the movie Braveheart both graced our film stage. Those are some pretty big names. The film also features some of our own well known actors such as Newfoundland film icon Gordon Pinsent as well as Mary Walsh and Cathy Jones. The Grand Seduction will be released sometime this year.

We also have a film and television success story to tell from right here in our own back yard. Well known actor/comedian, Shaun Majumder of Burlington is no stranger to the big screen. Shaun is a regular cast member on ‘This Hour Has 22 Minutes’ and has hosted the ‘Just For Laughs Comedy Festival TV series for three seasons. After moving to Hollywood he landed roles in Unhitched, 24 and Detroit, just to name a few. His most recent successes included his role on The Firm. In recent weeks he has been getting a whole lot of air time. Just in the past couple of weeks I’ve seen him on The Morning Show and the George Stroumboulopoulos talk show. He’s busy promoting his latest venture, an eight-part documentary series which was filmed in his hometown of Burlington. The show is called Majumder Manor and is an eight part series currently airing on Monday nights. The show is about Shaun’s attempt to create a market for tourism in his hometown, by building a five star ecolux lodge with high end guest cabins, a food supply system, guided tours and other activities. All of this in hopes to revitalize his hometown and bring tourists to Burlington. Shaun wants to give back to his community and this project will create jobs for the people of Burlington.

So why is the film and television industry enjoying so much success over the last few years? No doubt some of the success can be contributed to the veteran film makers and stars that have helped pave the road and set the stage for the great accomplishments the industry is enjoying today. Maybe it’s new talent, or perhaps some of the accreditation should go to the strong support system in the industry. There are industry related organizations that work hard together to ensure that Newfoundland has state-of-the-art infrastructure in place to remain competitive in the film and television industry. Others are dedicated to promoting Newfoundland and Labrador as the ideal destination for film, television and commercial productions. I think that Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism deserves some of the thanks. With its award winning national television ad campaigns over the last several years, they have cast a bright light on our province.

A growing film and television industry means a growing tourism industry. In my mind they work together hand in hand. Some of the faces of Newfoundland television can also be seen as the faces of Newfoundland tourism. The more involved we become in film and television the more exposure we receive, creating awareness and curiosity in the minds of non-resident tourists. Remember that every viewer tuning in to a Newfoundland made film, movie or programming of any kind, is a potential future visitor to our province.

Organizations: Department of Tourism, Great Big Sea

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Republic of Doyle, Hollywood Burlington Quebec Detroit Burlington.So

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