The American remake of a top-rated British TV crime series will give Greater Victoria’s film and TV production industry a shot in the arm next year.
Joe Schlosser, head of communications for Shine America, confirmed Thursday that Gracepoint, the Los Angeles-based production company’s American remake of the hit ITV series Broadchurch, will begin shooting “in the Greater Victoria area in late January.”
David Tennant, the Scottish actor of Doctor Who fame who plays Det. Inspector Alec Hardy in Broadchurch, will play Det. Emmett Carver in the 10-part series Fox television plans to air in its 2014-15 season. Anna Gunn, best known as Skyler White on Breaking Bad, co-stars as Det. Ellie Miller, Carver’s conflicted new partner. Jacki Weaver, the Australian actress who earned an Oscar nomination for her role as the mother of Bradley Cooper’s character in Silver Linings Playbook, plays Susan Wright, a reclusive mystery woman who lives with her dog in an RV park.
The project’s executive producers include the original’s creator Chris Chibnall (Doctor Who), who is also writing the première to be directed by James Strong (Downton Abbey).
The region will masquerade as a picturesque American seaside town where a young boy’s mysterious death sparks an intense police investigation and a nationwide media frenzy.
Victoria film commissioner Kathleen Gilbert said her office, and others in the industry, have been working behind the scenes for months to attract such a series.
“They’ve been scouting here all week,” said Gilbert, who attended a meeting with Oak Bay council, tourism and business improvement officials on Wednesday.
“I think the producers were testing the waters, saying if we were to shoot here, ‘This is what you can expect,’ ” she said. “You cannot shoot in a town that is not film-friendly.”
Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen described Gracepoint as “an interesting opportunity and a boost economically, for sure” with another potential spinoff.
“The nature of what they’re trying to do is impressive, so we can all hope it’s as successful as Downton Abbey,” he said. “It has the potential of really putting the [capital region] on the map.”
Gilbert said producers have been scouting locations throughout the region, from homes in Fernwood to the Sidney waterfront.
“There’s going to be a piecemeal approach. Someone might be walking down Oak Bay Avenue, then turn a corner and suddenly be on the pier in Sidney.”
While expressing cautious optimism, Gilbert, also a veteran locations manager, said she never considers a show as having “landed” until cameras start rolling.
“You never want to count your chickens before they’re hatched,” she said. “You want to be as open and as welcoming as possible.”
Gracepoint would be the longest, most labour-intensive project filmed here since Terminal City, the 10-part mini-series produced by Vancouver’s Crescent Entertainment in 2004.
It would also have a significant economic impact, Gilbert said. “This is not a low-budget series. We’ll have the best year ever.”
Local production activity has been sparse this year, with an estimated impact of $7 million in direct spending, mostly from small pieces of shows such as Spooksville, Disney XD’s Zapped and British filmmaker Gareth Edwards’s Godzilla reboot.