Friday, July 29, 2011

Times Transcript: Tim Hogan in Damage Control Mode, Spin Cycle on Full Tilt - Producer defends movie's intentions

Tim Hogan can defend this movie all he wants: he's absolutely wrong and he knows it. The proof is in his actions. He and Rick LeGuerrier have been planning this movie for at least two years, they went through the entire script development process with CBC (which I am sure paid a few dollars), he got the funding from the usual suspects - Film NB, CBC, etc. - and to this date, Friday, July 29, he still has not called any of the victims' parents to ask them what they think of this movie.

Published Friday July 29th, 2011

Despite concerns from parents, film company says feature movie aims to show community's spirit following tragic loss

A8 by shawn berry
Times & Transcript Staff

One of the producers behind a planned movie about the Bathurst boys basketball team's recovery from a tragic van crash that left seven players and the coach's wife dead says he's sorry news of the project has upset some and is willing to meet with anyone with concerns.

Click here to read original article in Moncton Times Transcript

"We've always been very sensitive to the situation. We are very aware that it is a sensitive story," said Tim Hogan, a producer with Fredericton-based Dream Street Pictures.

Dream Street Pictures announced last week that it plans to begin filming a made-for-television movie, produced in conjunction with CBC, this fall.

Tentatively titled The Phantoms after the team's nickname, the movie will be shot in Bathurst and Fredericton.

Producers say the film will be about how the team, and the community, rallied after the tragedy, lifted community spirit, and the team went on to win the coveted provincial basketball title.

But there is debate over the movie in the community.

The superintendent of Bathurst's school district has been approached about allowing the production to use some school facilities.

Isabelle Hains, whose 17-year-old son Daniel died in the crash, has made her opposition to the project known. She is asking the superintendent of the local school district not to participate in the film.

She says the film comes too soon after the incident and amounts to exploitation from the tragedy.

Hains says she isn't alone in her opposition. She says most of the parents of the victims - all those she could reach - share her opposition to the plan.

"They said that they don't support the movie. It's too soon and they haven't been told about the movie, only what they've learned through the news."

In a letter she sent yesterday to school superintendent John McLaughlin, Hains says she doesn't want the district to participate in a film that glorifies the deaths of the boys.

"I am asking you, as a parent who lost a beloved son in the most terrible way, to reconsider your relationship with Dream Street Pictures and decline their offer to be part of this film."

She said there's an inherent contradiction when the province can find $250,000 to provide a tax credit for the movie while the Department of Education doesn't have the money to pay for professional, licensed Class 2 Bus Drivers to transport students between extracurricular sports activities.

Since the tragedy, Hains has lobbied tirelessly for safer vehicles, procedures and the use of professional drivers to transport students.

McLaughlin, superintendent of the school district in the Bathurst area, said in a prepared statement that he has not decided whether to participate or allow filming in any of the district's schools.

He said he is very proud of the 2009 junior varsity and senior varsity Bathurst High School basketball teams, noting that the players and coaches showed tremendous courage, determination and strength as they pursued and achieved great personal and communal goals.

"At the same time, I am constantly aware of the terrible suffering from which this story emerged, and I am acutely sensitive to those whose grief continues, day after day," he said.

"Whether our school district co-operates with the production company will depend upon the extent to which we believe this experience might further the healing process in our community."

He said with that in mind, the district has begun contacting various individuals who were most impacted and involved, and a decision will be made at a later date on whether or not to participate.

Hogan said he understands that people are looking out for the best interests of the community.

He said the film will focus on how the team and community bounced back the year after the 2008 accident.

"It's a great story. I think when people see it they're going to understand. If there are concerns out there right now, we're willing to talk to people to address them," Hogan said yesterday.

"That's my hometown. I'm very aware of the feelings and I would never do anything to make people feel bad in that town. Our true intention is to show Bathurst as an inspiring and uplifting community."

Bathurst Mayor Stephen Brunet knows people in the community have a range of feelings over news of the film.

"I don't think you can ever have enough time to deal with the loss. The loss of the team, those young people and the coach's wife, will be with those families forever."

Brunet said he would like to see the movie filmed in Bathurst.

"It's not about the tragedy. It's about this team that came together and they probably didn't have a top-notch team, but they certainly went a long way and proved they could do it. ... It's a real happy story."