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CINECOUP: ALIEN ABDUCTION, BAD & GRADE NINE in Film Accelerator’s Final Five

Update June 10, 2013 – Regina’s Wolf Cop won the $1-million in production financing and guaranteed release.

After  three months of missions, CineCoup’s film accelerator has advanced three Vancouver teams — sci-fi comedy Alien Abduction, crime drama Bad and dramedy Grade Nine — one Edmonton team — sci-fi thriller The Uprising — and one Regina team — horror fantasy Wolfcop — to the final five. All five finalists are based in western Canada, so they won’t have far to travel to pitch their projects to a panel of film industry professionals at the Banff Media Festival on June 10th. At stake: up to $1-milliion in production financing and guaranteed theatrical release through Cineplex next year.

Click on the key art to go to CineCoup page for each finalist.

For laugh-out-loud funny, nothing beats Alien Abduction from Gen Y writer/directors Matt and Mike Granger of  Funny or Die fame (The Charlie Da Clown Show) and producer Kaleena Kiff, the only female on the final teams of three. “It’s a boys club”, she says ruefully. Alien Abduction is about turning the tables on the aliens who have been abducting us for decades. Patrick Gilmore is the abductor and Peter New the Alien. The two pals last worked together on the wickedly funny mockumentary Sunflower Hour. But this time it’s Peter New’s face that cracks me up not Gilmore’s. Like Mad Men Yourself or Walking Dead Yourself, Alien Abduction even has a mobile app to Alienate Yourself using New’s alien face. Team Alien Abduction has been wonderfully inventive in their missions. It helps that beer is a constant in their movie and in their choice of office at The Moose pub off Granville, where I met them. It’s also how everyone involved gets paid. For now. But after  months of preparation, this comedy team is serious about going into production But not too serious — today they tweeted some bonus footage of Patrick Gilmore spoofing the Elliott role from E.T. the Extraterrestrial. I’m betting the bicycle will fly if AA gets the $1-million.

Crime drama Bad comes from a team of BC film industry veterans — director-writer Jeff Cassidy and producers Riley Walsh and Kristian Andresen — and it shows in their extended trailer with a remote-controlled camera-helicopter shot of traffic on a highway and a technocrane shot of the iconic 2400 Motel on Kingsway used by so many TV series and another finalist. Plus the casting of Cassidy’s friend Tyler Labine as the drug dealer who sets up the young brother and sister (Matty Finochio and Avery Konrad) to take the fall for missing drugs. That’s what pushes the pair into a crime spree where they discover they like being Bad. Being bad might be fun but making the Bad extended trailer sounds expensive. Cassidy says it wasn’t because he called in every favour he could  to get gear donated, including the helicopter, technocranes, camera equipment, police cars and 40′ lifts for lights and paid everyone with food. Industry cred helps: “CineCoup could be really huge and help propel Canadian cinema to the next level and I think without extensive experience in film, how can you expect success at that level?”

Dramedy Grade Nine bridges the line between full-on drama and comedy for a story about a young Dungeons & Dragons-playing  Indo-Canadian kid who discovers his gift at wrestling gives him access to the violent world of a small northern high school in 1989. It’s from another veteran BC Film team: Jay Rathore, Toby Gorman and Seth Campbell. Writer-director Rathore says he knew they were in for a heavy workload, but “the reality of  grinding out the weekly mission videos, with very little money,while juggling regular life, is brutal.” On the plus side, the film accelerator pushed them to develop their story and “shoot key moments from it” and charged Rathore creatively more than ever before in his life. Team Grade Nine is ready to make a movie.

They all are, after the competition wraps in Banff.

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