Behind the Screen: Starring Vancouver Island
Cowichan valley gets to play upper New York state in a TV movie featuring a young actress who started life in Nanoose Bay
Michael D. Reid, Times ColonistPublished: Monday, July 09, 2007
For its second big Hallmark moment here in less than a year, North America's most venerable family entertainment empire is putting a literal spin on the term "moving pictures," with an all-star cast and an Oscar-winning actor/director at the helm.
Six-time Oscar nominee Sissy Spacek (Carrie, Coal Miner's Daughter, In the Bedroom) is heading the cast of Pictures of Hollis Woods, a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation based on Patricia Reilly Giff's Newbery Award-winning young people's novel.
Spacek plays Josie Cahill, an eccentric, increasingly forgetful elderly artist who befriends and inspires 12-year-old Hollis Woods, a trouble-prone girl named after the town where she was abandoned as an infant. Since then she has spent her life being shunted through a series of foster homes.
Sissy Spacek plays the eccentric old artist who befriends the troubled girl in the title role.
Pictures of Hollis Woods is being directed by Tony Bill (Flyboys, My Bodyguard), who co-produced George Roy Hill's 1973 Oscar-winner The Sting. He's directing from a screenplay by Anne Peacock, with additional writing by Dan Petrie Jr. and Camille Thomasson.
The film co-stars Emmy Award-winning actress Alfre Woodard (Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, Cross Creek) as Edna Reilly, the social worker who describes Hollis, who has trouble fitting in and often runs away, as "a mountain of trouble."
It also features Judith Ivey (Compromising Positions, Designing Women) as Beatrice Gilcrest, Josie's quirky best friend; and Nanoose Bay-born actress Jodelle Ferland (Silent Hill, Good Luck Chuck) as the introverted title character who dreams of belonging to a loving family and expresses her feelings through art.
The Regans, the family who attempt to give Hollis the home she dreams of, are played by Ridge Canipe (I Walk the Line, The Bad News Bears), as her pal Steven, and James Tupper (Men in Trees) and Julie Ann Emery (Hitch) as Steven's parents.
Pictures of Hollis Woods is being shot by a director of photography with a local connection. Paul Sarossy (The Wicker Man, Where the Truth Lies), the Genie Award-winning lensman is known for his collaborations with Victoria-raised Atom Egoyan.
"We're spreading our wings on this one," said Ted Bauman, the Vancouver producer collaborating on the film with executive producer Brent Shields, producer Dan Paulson and Hallmark producer Shawn McClaren.
Bauman said almost half of the film's principal photography, already under way in the Cowichan Valley, is taking place outside of Victoria, including locations in Saanich and near Duncan and Ladysmith, with the region masquerading as upstate New York.
Pictures of Hollis Woods is a perfect fit for Hallmark, said McClaren.
"We try to find strong character dramas, and every kid we've talked to knows that book," said the boyishly enthusiastic production supervisor as he was on his way to catch a plane back to Kansas City to spend the weekend with his family.
"They [Hallmark] really encourage that, which is wonderful. They're very family-friendly."
Although Giff's book -- required reading in many schools -- is aimed at children aged 10 to 12, the movie will aim to reach not only that demographic but also an "older adult female audience," said McClaren.
He said the film also reflects Hallmark's mandate to try to feature actors who are on their way up.
Being able to cast Emery (Commander-in-Chief, E.R.) reminded McClaren of another star Hallmark helped launch.
"It was Catherine Zeta-Jones. We were her first domestic film," he said. "We're going to be seeing a lot more of Julie."
McClaren said it made sense for Hallmark to return nine months after wrapping its maiden production voyage here -- Crossroads: A Story of Forgiveness, an inspirational anti-road racing movie starring Dean Cain and Peri Gilpin.
"You have a multitude of looks and the incentives in Canada are still stronger than they are domestically in the U.S.," he said, noting that there are only a few places stateside, like New Mexico and Louisiana, that can compete with such incentives.
Even so, there are drawbacks.
"New Mexico is a one-horse town, so you'd better have a Southwest-looking story for that location to work," he said. "And we could shoot in Wilmington and those places in Carolina, but you have to dodge hurricanes."
Pictures of Hollis Woods will be aired as a CBS Sunday Night Movie during an upcoming holiday season, he said.
I never realised that Sissy Spacek has been Nominated 6 times,quite an achievement for a very unassuming gal:...............
Maybe it'll be a good film,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,