National Canadian Film Day (NCFD 150) is only a little over a month away and soon you’ll be seeing a couple of commercials featuring some very special folks. Back in February, virtually the whole Canadian film industry answered our call and came together to help film two NCFD 150 PSAs. With a shared desire to celebrate our culture and identity through cinema, it was great to see such generous participation from DGC Ontario, ACTRA Toronto and IATSE locals 873, 667 and 411.
We are also grateful for the generous support of makeup artist Danielle Vincent, hair stylist Lisa Vella at Oribe, wardrobe stylist Angela Kazuta, Rapp Optical (you can replicate Esther Park’s look by heading over to Rapp Optical), staff in our filming locations (Kevin Palin and the grounds grew at St. James Cemetery, Simon Vidoczy at The Royal Theatre, Melanie Campbell-Yu and the staff at the OMNI King Edward Hotel), Blazing Kitchen, Shasta Lutz and the staff at JigSaw Casting, location scout/manager Shane Krick and ROOSTER (including editors Michelle Czukar and Marc Langley as well as executive producer Melissa Kahn).
William F White also made a significant contribution of technical equipment worth many thousands of dollars. Says Whites CEO Paul Bronfman “Whites is happy to lend our support to this important initiative, which helps connect Canadian audiences with our world-class storytelling.”
Developed by the award-winning creative agency Leo Burnett Canada, the two PSAs reunited many longtime collaborators. Our first spot, directed by Atom Egoyan and starring Vinay Virmani, brought together many of Atom’s former colleagues, including DOP Doug Koch (who worked with Atom on Next of Kin), best boy Ramesh Yogendran and gaffer Eddy Mikolic (aka “Fast Eddie”).
— Vinay Virmani (@Vinayvirmani24) 7 February 2017
The sets were filled with some lighthearted ribbing, too, as we saw during our first shoot with a trip down memory lane for director Atom Egoyan and DOP Doug Koch. As they later shared with us, early in their careers, they both competed for the BC Students Film Festival. Doug won first prize while Atom got an adjudication that was scathingly bad, advising him to forget about filmmaking forever. Funnily enough, Doug kept the trophy and brought it on set. Teasing Atom with his win, Doug and his trophy brought back many memories and laughter for those present.
That same long history of friendship and working together was also in full display during our second day of shooting. For director Don McKellar and star Sandra Oh, the spot reunited these two longtime collaborators (who’ve co-starred in countless films from Blindness in 2008 to the newly released Window Horses). In fact, Don told us this was actually the first time directing Sandra since his first feature, Last Night (which, coincidentally, was also shot by Doug Koch).
“I am who I am because of my country — which is Canada,” said Sandra Oh in an interview with etalk about the PSA. “I’m so proud and so happy to be able to give back in some small way.”
While both shoots were a reunion of sorts for many in the crew, it was all done to help promote and celebrate our culture, our stories, and our cinema for National Canadian Film Day (NCFD 150), which, on April 19th, will see more than 1,700 screenings of great Canadian films across every corner of the country.
The PSAs will debut on CBC during the national broadcast of the Canadian Screen Awards on March 12th.