Three Bathurst mothers whose sons were killed in a tragic 15 passenger van collision two years ago are vowing to put up a fight if Dream Street Pictures of Moncton gets funding from Film NB to produce a film about the Bathurst tragedy.
Isabelle Hains, Marcella Kelly and Ana Acevedo say commercial film producers in New Brunswick have access to funding from Film NB, which offers a variety of incentives up to $250,000 or more.
"We have been told that Film NB is the 'only game in town' when it comes to funding film in New Brunswick," says Isabelle Hains, whose 17 year-old son Daniel was killed along with six other members of the Bathurst High School Phantoms basketball team. "And we're letting it be known that we will do everything in our power to prevent Film NB from funding this project."
Marcella Kelly's 15 year-old son Nikki was also killed in the Bathurst tragedy. She says it would be an “insult to the memory of her son” if the province of New Brunswick gives Dream Street $250,000 while citing “finances" as the reason for refusing to implement last May's Coroners Jury recommendation to have unionized, Class 2 Drivers behind the wheel of 21 passenger vehicles used by the Department of Education.
"There are only 14 MFAVs in the provincial fleet," says Ana Acevedo, whose 17 year-old son Javier was killed in the collision. "How many unionized, Class 2 bus drivers could $250,000 put behind the wheels of one of these vehicles that are driving children to extra-curricular events? If the province funds this film, then we will know where its priorities are, and it's not in the safety of children," Acevedo said.
The mothers say they had to fight for $5000 worth of winter tires to put on the 21 passenger MFAVs in the provincial fleet and now the province could potentially give $250,000 to Dream Street Pictures through Film NB.
"The province says it doesn't have money for children's safety but when it comes to funding films, they seem to have plenty," said Isabelle Hains.
The three mothers have known since February that Dream Street Pictures has been planning a film about the Bathurst High School Phantoms basketball team and its successful run for the Double A Provincial Basketball championship last year. All three contacted Tim Hogan, producer with Dream Street, and Rick LeGuerrier, to voice their objections but the producers seemed unmoved by their concerns.
"They told us that the movie will not focus on the tragedy or the deaths of their sons," says Marcella Kelly, "But there is no story without the tragedy and we do not want our sons deaths being exploited for profit by a television producer," she said.
"It would be one thing if the profits were going to promote road safety or to pay for Class 2 Drivers," says Isabelle Hains. "But we know that there will be no benefit for anyone in this film except Dream Street and we intend to make sure that the province does not give them one red cent."