Town council approved a motion to grant $25,000 to local filmmaker Kelvin Redvers during a special council meeting, Jan. 31.
Redvers, born and raised in Hay River and owner of Ice Road Productions, will be filming part of a feature-length movie called Cold Road in Hay River and surrounding areas in March.
The film is to be a fictional story that will place emphasis on northern highways. Much of the work in Hay River is expected to take place at the same time as the Polar Pond Hockey Tournament, March 11 to 13.
According to the contribution agreed to by council, the municipality will give the money to Redvers to support an $80,000 budget with about 20 crew members. In return for the money, council is asking for access to the secondary footage shot of Hay River to use for promotional purposes.
Council also agreed that the municipality should be credited in the film, and that Redvers should visit local schools to discuss the use of local people and resources during the production. The filmmaker is also expected to use hotels in town for the crew.
Most councillors viewed the request from Redvers as an opportunity to boost the town’s image and supply economic development within the municipality.
Senior administrative officer Glenn Smith said municipal staff didn’t have a recommendation on the request. He pointed out that the town doesn’t have grants to provide to private business ventures like other municipalities.
There is money budgeted to promote marketing, promotions and visitation, however.
Smith pointed out some benefits an agreement could bring.
“We have a little bit of a film industry or those that are involved in film production in town and (Redvers has) already been in conversation with them,” Smith said. “So the opportunity to support them or have them involved seems to be on the table.”
He added that other levels of government and various organizations have contributed to Redvers’ project, including Telefilm, the Canadian Media Fund, Crave TV, the Municipality of Wood Buffalo and the Government of Alberta. The GNWT Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment has also been approached.
Council largely warmed up to the idea of granting the funds after some discussion.
“Personally, I’m OK with it if we have access to the dollars in-house and we can we can find a way to do it. I think this is a pretty unique opportunity,” said Coun. Keith Dohey, noting that it is a positive way to support a Hay River native who has found success in the Canadian film industry.
Mayor Kandis Jameson said after meeting with Redvers Monday and becoming aware that his film team will likely contribute $100,000 to the local economy, she thought giving support is a very good idea.
She also liked the idea of sharing the experience of driving remote northern highways with a broader audience.
“I think the concept was something that really spoke to me that maybe there’s an opportunity there that people would want to do that,” Jameson said. “So getting something like that out there because it is so unique, I think is only a plus for the NWT and the community as well.”
The Hub attempted to reach Redvers on Monday night following the meeting but was unsuccessful by publication deadline.