Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Sawchuk Gets Celluloid Treatment

Legendary Winnipeg-born goaltender Terrance Gordon Sawchuk has been called a lot of things thanks to his hockey career. He was a Red Wing, a Maple Leaf, a Bruin, a King, and a Ranger. He was once called the winningest goaltender in NHL history. He's been named as one of the Greatest 100 Players in NHL history. I'm sure there are other words that his opponents used to describe him that aren't really fit for print as well, but I'm quite certain that prior to his death in 1970 he'd never been called "biopic topic". That will change in March when a biopic about Sawchuk's life and career hits the big screen in a theater near you in the upcoming film Goalie!

Sawchuk will be played by Newfoundland-born Mark O'Brien, a Canadian actor whose works includes Bad Times at El Royale, The Darkest Minds, Halt and Catch Fire, and Republic of Doyle. The 34 year-old is a lifelong Montreal Canadiens fan - as seen to the right - and he still plays in Los Angeles when he's not on the set of his next project. He's a good friend of former Canadien and author Terry Ryan, and he'll be the man behind the mask as Terry Sawchuk in the film. Among O'Brien's favorite players, according to his NHL.com interview, are Saku Koivu, Vincent Damphousse, and Patrick Roy!

Hollywood star Kevin Pollak will assume the role of Jack Adams, the legendary GM. Pollak is best known for his work in The Usual Suspects, A Few Good Men, and, most recently, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Georgina Reilly - O'Brien's wife in real life - will play Pat Sawchuk, Terry's wife, in the movie. Reilly is best known for her work on Murdoch Mysteries. The film was shot in the hockey hotbed of Sudbury, Ontario, the same city that Letterkenny is filmed.

The film follows Sawchuk from his youth as a kid growing up in Winnipeg through to his tragic demise in 1970 at the age of 40. All of his moves between the five NHL teams will be chronicled, and every one of his 400 stitches is reportedly account for in the movie. From the early press release, the movie is based largely the David Dupuis book Sawchuk: The Troubles and Triumphs of the World’s Greatest Goalie and the book of poetry Night Work: The Sawchuk Poems by Randall Maggs, the father of the movie's co-writers Adriana and Jane Maggs. Adriana Maggs also directed the film.

Maggs stated that she tried "to explore masculinity in a world where a man's worth is measured in the ways he is a warrior," noting that the movie was written specifically for O'Brien who is listed as one of the films executive producers. It seems that O'Brien's love of hockey has found a way to manifest itself in his work!

The announcement of this film came with some big news from Manitoba's film sector as well. While Goalie was shot in Sudbury, Winnipeg has been lucky enough to have had Jay Baruchel's hit film Goon filmed in the province. Why is this important? It was announced today that tax credit for labour in film and video productions made in Manitoba will be permanent, making film productions in this province hopefully a permanent fixture.

"Renewal of the Manitoba Film and Video Tax Credit and removal of the sunset clause signals to the local, national and international media production industry that Manitoba is in business for the long term," said On Screen Manitoba executive director Nicole Matiation in the release.

"This is an industry built on collaboration and it is the combined investments of government, production companies, service suppliers, unions and other private and public investors that have contributed to the growth of the Manitoba media production industry and it is that collaboration that will ensure it continues to flourish."

So while the film about a Manitoba goalie was shot in Ontario, the hope is that Manitoba becomes a far more attractive place to shoot films with this permanent tax credit being offered to film-makers and studios moving forward. As it stands, anyone who chooses to "produce film or video projects in Manitoba can get back either 45 per cent of a project's labour costs or 30 per cent of all production costs, and there are bonuses for shooting in rural or northern locations."

Having had the likes of Jared Keeso and Tim Cherry shoot the Don Cherry CBC movies here and the aforementioned Goon being shot here, it seems Manitoba is open for business for all movies and video production. While I'm not on the inside of any future projects being filmed here, my hope is that more hockey stories may be told in this great province. We seem to have a pretty track record when it comes to producing hockey movies here.

I'm already looking forward to seeing Goalie. Here's hoping it's a massive hit!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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