Come North, movie stars
Film commish woos haunchos

by Nancy Gardiner
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 05/97) - Archie Gillies is trying to bring the film industry North.

The Yellowknife Film Commissioner sits wedged between two desks, talking between two different telephones in his city hall office.

"Ya Mel, Wherez my pictures? Well, they should be here Monday morning eh?" He hangs up one phone, then grabs the other. "...don't know what the cost factor would be. Just a minute, I'll get you a phone number for him...."

Mr. Gillies is a busy man. At 71, he'll be celebrating his birthday March 18. He's a dynamo.

What better person to pitch the NWT to the film industry? With an office festooned in bubble-wrapped wrist watches, posters, plaques, videos, accordion folders and files, Gillies keeps one desk for stuff, and one desk for phones.

"Our big advantage is we have snow longer which means they (film industry) can shoot longer -- better than Alaska and the Yukon," he says.

One such potential client, New York's Wishful Thinking Productions, wants to shoot in early May and the production house wants snow.

If Yellowknife or Fort Smith are chosen and the company really wants the location, it would be willing to truck up snow if ours melted by then.

The New York company is seeking a "beat-up type orphanage building" for a John Irving novel turned film.

He recommended a building in Fort Smith and sent the company photocopied images.

Another attraction for the Americans, says Gillies, is about 40 cents on the Canadian dollar.

This Thursday evening, Gillies will be holding a reception at the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto to promote the NWT at a film industry destination.

There will be documentary, CBC mini-series, commercial and film companies from all over Toronto at the Thursday evening reception, says Gillies.

"Brochures aren't enough. Not in this day and age. You have to let people know Yellowknife is here," he says, picking up the phone.