Two Edmonton projects are getting a boost in production, after receiving an investment fund.
The fund is managed by the Edmonton Screen Industries Office, a non-profit organization primarily funded by the City of Edmonton, that supports film, TV and interactive digital media.
The intent of the ESMF is to support economic development, help create jobs and generate returns that can be revolved into new screen media projects and ventures.
Dylan Pearce, director of Christmas with a Crown, said the investment enabled the production to have creative freedom.
“It allowed us to dream. We could bring in bigger names. The production design was better,” Pearce said. “When you watch these films, you’re supposed to be enamored with a classic Christmas fable. That vision came to life.”
The movie was filmed in the Whyte Avenue area in March.
“The story is about a woman who comes back home for the holidays and finds a festival her mom had run for a long time is over,” Pearce explained. “The local library where she grew up is about to shut down and the only way she can save it is to invest in her own heritage and family memories.
Curved Space‘s Andrew Czarnietzki and Jen LaFace applied for the fund in February and said the investment helped take their business to the next level.
“We went from working on this project in the evenings and weekends… now we do this full time,” Czarnietzki said. “We have a total of six part-time contractors. All of a sudden this is a real business. ESIO was a big part of that catalyst to make it happen.”
Czarnietzki said the investment helped bring the game to market.
“I have a background in game design. I know the software side and Jen has brought the story side,” Czarnietzki said. “But the big piece of making a commercially successful video game is that you have to get it to market and reach people.”
ESIO CEO Josh Miller said the non-profit, which was established in 2017, is excited to partner with local projects for its first ESMF initiative.
Miller said the projects, though different formats, share something in common: local talent.
“Edmonton entrepreneurs, Edmonton developers and producers. They have track records in their field and we believe these are commercial projects,” said Miller.
The fund was partially established with seed money from the City of Edmonton.
“Many years ago the city set up a film fund. When the film commission was shuttered, that money was put in a reserve and held,” Miller said. “We made a case to the city about why we should administer it and what the benefit would be.”
The fund investment will be paid back with interest. The non-profit will reinvest that money into other local projects.
“We think these two projects will attract audiences and users and generate some revenue for companies and it will be a good investment for us,” Miller said.
Pearce said investing in Edmonton talent pays off.
“It allows people to see what else is possible and also to dream a little bit,” he said. “There’s lots going on here. Anything can be possible.”
Christmas with a Crown will be released in Canada on Dec. 1 on video on demand and online platforms. It will also be released in France, the United States and beyond for Christmas 2021.
Curved Space is expected to be released in Spring 2021.