An Albertan-shot television series will be coming to a screen near you.
Abracadavers, shot by Alberta-based production company Numera Films, has acquired a distribution deal with the Washington-based company Zombie Orpheus Entertainment.
After more than 20 festivals worldwide Abracadavers will be available on The Fantasy Network and iTunes in Canada on January 1, 2020, and will continue to be available on Telus’ Optik TV. The series has won more than 35 award wins and nominations including Best Web Series at the Los Angeles Film Awards, the AMPIA Rosie Awards, the New Vision International Film Festival, the Global Film Festival Awards and CSIF’s first inaugural Stinger Awards.
“Abracadavers was our largest undertaking as filmmakers and as a company and we could not be happier with it’s journey,” said co-producer Griffin Cork.
In May 2018 the series was filmed over six weeks in locales all over Alberta including Cochrane, Drumheller and Sylvan Lake with the support of The Calgary Film Centre’s Project Lab, and Telus’ STORYHIVE program. Cochranite Reamonn Joshee, who has appeared in Alberta-shot Wynonna Earp and Heartland, plays a highway patrolman in the series.
“Albertan cast and crews are the first ones to step up when something needs doing, but are also the first ones to buy you a drink at the end of the day when the work is all done to find out how you are doing,” Cork told the Cochrane Eagle.
“Our careers and livelihoods were fostered in Alberta, so there is no way the Numera team would turn it’s back on Alberta now. Any chance we have to support the talented cast and crew from our home province, we do.”
The plot-line to Abracadavers follows the story of Chris, whose mom died in a freak hair salon chair accident. Since the traumatic incident, Chris has been attached to the chair responsible for her death. His friends worry for their friend and kidnap him - and the chair - on a road trip. During the trip his friends discover what he already knew, the chair has superpowers. Whomever is near the chair also has powers. The group has their ups and downs, but ultimately works and grows together to understand their new-found abilities and themselves.
Audiences will recognize a few Cochrane residences and nearby highways in the series. Cork explains that other locations will remain anonymous for “privacy reasons”. He adds that selling the finished product to distributors is challenging when the story revolves around a less recognized region like Alberta compared to New York City and Los Angeles. Cork said the filmmakers were so compelled to put a spotlight on their home province that they put a puzzle of Alberta as the main plot point.
Cork says maintaining a vibrant film industry in our province is important to diversify the economy. Last year Toronto earned $1.96 billion and Vancouver $3.4 billion from film and television production in the 2017/2018 fiscal year, he said.
“The time that Ghostbusters: Afterlife spent filming in Drumheller generated $1 million dollars for (Alberta’s) economy alone,” he said.
“If nothing else, (the film industry) puts Alberta on the world map for more than just oil.”
Recent changes by the UCP government have made making films in Alberta more challenging endeavour, according to Cork. The government announced in October that they will phase out the screen-based production grants in exchange for a film tax credit. The initiative is intended to grow Alberta’s cultural industries by 25 per cent, or $1.5 billion over the next 10 years.
“In very simple terms, it makes us less competitive in the global film market,” Cork said about budget restrains and grant funding in Alberta.
“It’s why Numera is so committed to filming in Alberta, to try and show the importance of this industry and the good it could do for Alberta. I know there are a couple of the local companies staying positive with us, but it’s the larger Ghostbuster/Jann/Wynonna Earp-esque productions that are in imminent danger.”
Abracadavers stars Griffin Cork (Heartland, The Black Donnellys, Everfall), Emma Houghton (The PsyBorgs), and Samantha Jeffery (The Magicians, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before 3).
For more information visit their website at: www.abracadavers.tv/, or you can find the series on Facebook and Instagram: @Abracadavers or Twitter: @AbracadaversWeb