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Big Muddy headed to Toronto film festival

07 August 2014 Written by  Cam Fuller, The StarPhoenix

Hogtown is about to meet Big Muddy.

The Toronto International Film Festival has accepted the Saskatchewan-rooted film Big Muddy into competition this year. It's a big break for the Saskatoon filmmakers.

"I was delighted, obviously," said Bob Crowe of Angel Entertainment. "The competition is intense."

He was one of the producers and, along with his business partner

Wally Start, one of the executive producers. Jeff Moneo, originally from Saskatoon, wrote and directed the full-length feature.

The story is about a woman living in seclusion whose dark past comes back to haunt her. It was shot on location at Big Muddy where Moneo's relatives have land. The region was notorious in the past as a refuge for outlaws.

"I like the fact that it deals with real family struggles. I also like the tone. It feels like a western but it's set in modern day," said Crowe.

Made for around $1 million, Big Muddy was the last film to benefit from Saskatchewan's film tax credit, which provided about $220,000 in funding. Were it not for that and the director's family connection to the location, it wouldn't have been shot in the province, Crowe said.

"At the time, if we didn't have the tax credit, we would have moved to Manitoba and shot it there."

Today, it would qualify for slightly more funding under Creative Saskatchewan but so many crew members have moved or changed jobs that it would be hard to find staff, said Crowe.

"It's a lot harder than it used to be," Crowe said of the movie business. If he were younger, he might have moved on as well but his wife has her medical practice here and they're settled.

"I don't physically need to shoot here, I just want to. I'm too old to be living out of hotels for weeks on end."

It helps that feature film is only one aspect of Angel Entertainment. A very busy wing of the company does corporate films, shoots the SaskTel Max video on demand productions and produces the video and graphics in the stadium for Saskatchewan Roughrider games.

For Big Muddy, getting into TIFF provides enviable exposure and might lead to international deals. It already has a Canadian distributor. The next step is the film festival circuit and a hoped-for week or two on the big screen in Canada next year, Crowe said.

"I'm hoping it will make it into a Cineplex near you."


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