Big film set for Okanagan

A big name in Hollywood is on his way back to the Okanagan. 

"A Score to Settle" starring Nicolas Cage will begin filming in Kelowna and Vernon in early July. 

Kevin Dewalt, president and CEO of Minds Eye Entertainment has confirmed the news.

This is the second movie for Cage in the Okanagan. He starred in another Minds Eye production “The Humanity Bureau,” which was filmed in the South Okanagan two years ago.

"It is about two weeks of shooting in the Kelowna area and about a week of shooting in the Vernon area," says Dewalt.

Details and locations can't be shared, but the shoots will be high profile and noticeable. 

"We are shooting a big-time, Hollywood scene here that involves the community," says Robert Bricker location manager with Minds Eye. "We may even need a whole bunch of extras."

"A Score to Settle" is the sixth Okanagan-based production for Minds Eye Entertainment. The film is a Saskatchewan/B.C. co-production, utilizing crew and equipment from both provinces.

The Canadian company is based out of Regina but has set up a satellite office in Vernon. 

"Vernon works well for a number of locations," explains Bricker. "It is kind of that small town, the mid-west United States feel, Vernon has that element."

Meanwhile, another Minds Eye film shot in the Okanagan will be released across North America this Friday. 

"Distorted" starring Christina Ricci and John Cusack is a psychological thriller shot in the Okanagan using many Vernon locations. 

In the trailer, those with a keen eye will notice Vernon locations like Paddlewheel Park, the Mackie House, Triumph Coffee.

In the movie, locations like Nixon Wenger, Restoration Lands (the former Lavington Glass plant) and the water reclamation plant are all featured in pivotal scenes.   

Bricker, who served as an executive producer on "Distorted" says the Okanagan film industry is growing, in large part, thanks to supportive communities.

"Last year when we filmed "Distorted" the Vernon community was so supportive. The film we just completed in West Kelowna, (The Daughter of the Wolf) in any other area that film would have stopped in its tracks at least five times, but because there were people that were on our side in the community, within the government we were able to get it done."  

Bricker says for "Distorted" the Vernon businesses in the locations used in the movie forgave their fee, which was then donated to the Upperroom Mission.

"At the end of the film, I was able to present a check to the mission for $2,500 on behalf of all those people."

Bricker, who is originally from Vernon and recently moved back, says he is now part of a growing group of film professionals that call the Okanagan home. He's even started up his own production company, Moonlight Productions Inc.  

"The goal is to promote Canadian film and feature the Okanagan on the world stage. There's just so much awesome stuff here." 

In a February interview, Jon Summerland from the Okanagan Film Commission told Castanet that the increased interest in the Okanagan helped British Columbia top Ontario as Canada's top locale for film and television production for the first time — in 2016/17 production volume in B.C. hit $2.991 billion. 

"We have created a film industry which is growing," said Summerland. "Because of that, the whole province is a shinier place."

Thanks to the efforts of people like Summerland the infrastructure in the Okanagan has grown and is now capable of supporting an increase in demand. 

"We have all the trucks and gear. We have more than 400 names on our crew database."

A large portion of which is due to Mind Eye's committment to the region. 

Minds Eye has helped bring roughly $25 million in production value to the region through five films, and more films are either planned or in the works.

"At the moment, we're scouting for another couple films for the fall and winter, unfortunately, we can't release titles or cast yet," teased Dewalt.

To its credit, Minds Eye Entertainment has produced films in the Okanagan starring Richard Dreyfus, Wesley Snipes, Christina Ricci, John Cusack Gina Carano and now Nicolas Cage, twice.

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