Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dream Street Pictures Do Not Make This Movie: Bathurst moms don't want government money to fund proposed movie project

Film: Moncton-based production company researching possible made-for-TV project

Published Tuesday March 23rd, 2010

A5Jennifer Pritchett

Click here to read original article in the Telegraph Journal

A group of Bathurst mothers whose sons were among seven youths killed in a school van crash two years ago say they'll do everything in their power to stop a Moncton-based film company from receiving taxpayer funding to make a movie about the tragedy.

While the women find the whole concept for a film that touches on their own personal loss to be insensitive and distasteful, they are most upset about the notion that Dream Street Pictures may get public money to do it.

Marcella Kelly, whose 15-year-old son Nikki was one of those who died, said it would be wrong if the film company receives taxpayer dollars to make a movie when the province has cited finances as the reason for not implementing a coroner's inquest recommendation last year to require drivers of vehicles for school extra-curricular activities to have a Class 2 driver's licence.

"If they can afford to give $250,000 for a film, they can afford to implement the coroner's recommendations," she said. "That public money could be used elsewhere for children's safety."

Film New Brunswick offers financial incentives, the maximum of which is $250,000, for the local movie industry.

Dream Street Pictures lists Film New Brunswick as one of its partners on its website and has received funding from the agency in the past, but hasn't yet applied for funding to tell the Bathurst story, according to Elizabeth Joubert, spokeswoman for the department of Wellness, Culture and Sport, which oversees the agency.

"We didn't get any applications in that regard and so, we don't have any involvement in this project," she said.

Rick LeGuerrier, producer and co-owner of Dream Street Pictures, an independent production company, said his firm is in the early stages of researching a movie about the Bathurst sports team that went on to win the provincial championship after seven members of the previous year's team were killed in a horrific motor vehicle crash.

"This is a very early process where we're in a research mode looking at the possibility of making a movie about the championship run of the BHS basketball team last year," he said.

LeGuerrier said this project is one of many that are being researched across Canada currently for Canadian broadcasters and "many of them get developed and very few of them get made." He was reluctant to speak more about the project until it moves forward.

"We're researching this as a television movie that could potentially be made for the CBC if it were to go forward," he said.

LeGuerrier said his company hasn't applied for provincial funding and declined to comment on whether it plans to do so.

"There's no provincial funding involved at this point," he said.

He describes the story of the team's win in the face of human tragedy as an "inspiring" and "uplifting" one. He said he had no comment on "what anyone else has to say" about the research his firm is doing.

Isabelle Hains, whose 17-year-old son Daniel died in the crash, finds it disturbing that the production company is contemplating the idea of telling an "uplifting" story that's connected to the tragedy.

"I'm against it," she said. "Our children were killed in an unfit vehicle with bald tires in bad weather. They want to make a movie about children who came together afterward. This is just not about that."

Hains said you can't tell the story about the victory without telling the story about the boys who died in the crash.

"You can't tell one without the other," she said. "It's not a feel-good movie. I'm not sure if it's too soon or whether it should never be done."

Hains is also bothered by the fact that an independent production company will make a profit by telling a story that's so closely associated with the death of her son and six others.

"I'm going to fight this, if they pursue it, in every way I can," she said.