Lea Thompson films TV show in Manitoba

A new TV show starring Back to the Future’s Lea Thompson, filming in Manitoba this month, is boosting careers as the local film industry booms in the wake of the pandemic.

The Spencer Sisters, a joint production of Entertainment One and CTV, is filmed in various locations in southern Manitoba. Described as a “lighthearted Canadian process,” the show also stars Stacey Farber from Degrassi: The Next Generation.

Farber plays Darby Spencer, a hot-headed ex-cop, while Thompson plays her estranged mother, who is also a crime writer. The show sees the two solving mysteries and their differences while running a private detective agency.

Rod Bruinooge, interim CEO and film commissioner for Manitoba Film and Music, is excited about the show.

“Lea Thompson is just a huge star, everyone of my generation adores her in all the roles she had in the ’80s,” said Bruinooge. “We’re very excited to have her talent here in Manitoba and hope the series goes really well.”

Production on the 10-episode first season of the series has begun, with Thompson recently posting photos and videos from the shores of Lake Winnipeg to her Instagram feed.

According to Bruinooge, Manitoba’s film industry is doing better than before the pandemic, with more than $300 million in production dollars spent this fiscal year. He adds that the numbers have only taken a “small dip” in 2020.

It’s one of 10 film and television productions currently filming in Manitoba, which Bruinooge says is great for the economy.

“It’s a huge impact, especially when they shoot part of the show in the rural economy,” he said. “There are hundreds of people hired to make a production like this happen, and every time a production gets the green light in Manitoba, it has a huge impact on our local economy.”

But Bruinooge notes that like many other sectors in the post-pandemic, local industry is experiencing labor shortages. He says there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill the jobs needed.

The Red River College Polytechnic (RRC Polytech) Digital Film and Media Production (DFMP) program is responding to this call. This year-long diploma program trains students specifically for work in the local film industry.

“The entire program is really very basic,” said instructor Aaron Zeghers. “We’re really trying to give students as many tools as possible with cutting-edge technology and equipment training.”

Zeghers teaches introductory courses in the DFMP program and gives students an overview of the film industry. He says the coursework is well suited to modern day filmmaking.

“A lot of the courses in the program focus on things like flying a drone or using a gimbal, using cameras or creating motion graphics,” said Zeghers. The DFMP program will start in the fall with the next intake of 20 students.

Zeghers works to build connections between students and industry by regularly bringing in relevant guest speakers.

“Independent filmmakers, editors, people who run production companies, people who represent the various unions,” said Zeghers, “[I]really try to give these students as many connections as possible so that they can decide which path to take want consequences.”

According to Zeghers, there are many career paths for Manitobans who want to work in the local film and television industry. “It’s really a ‘choose your own adventure’ situation, there are so many different options and different paths that you could take.”

According to Bruinooge, Manitoba’s film industry is doing better than before the pandemic, with more than $300 million in production dollars spent this fiscal year. He adds that the numbers have only taken a “small dip” in 2020.

“I have to hand it to the producers and the local crews, they’ve really solved all of their COVID issues in incredibly innovative ways,” Bruinooge said, “they had closed sets, they had tests every hour and they just really kept the show going.” ”

Although the star of this new show is a well-known Hollywood actress, he says there will be many Manitobans in front of and behind the camera.

“A majority of the rest of the cast will be local actors and actresses … I expect the majority of this crew will be from Manitoban.”

Bruinooge says it’s a great field to work in, and anyone interested in becoming a filmmaker should check out On Screen Manitoba’s website for more information.

“Anyone who is looking for a fun career, who may be unemployed or thinking about a career change… there is an incredible opportunity in the film industry right now.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.