A television mini-series is being shot in Dawson between April 7 and 17. The two episodes of Her Next Plan are being produced by the newly formed Big Plan Pictures Ltd.
Dawson filmmaker Lulu Keating (Red Snapper Films) and Max Fraser (Hootalinqua Motion Pictures), formed the new partnership to bring this short series to the small screen via the Community Cable 9 channel run by NorthwesTel in Whitehorse.
Her Next Plan builds on earlier work by Keating; the story is about two cheechakos from Atlantic Canada who arrive in Dawson, broke but hopeful. It stars Stephanie Davidson, who is a co-writer on the project, and her real-life partner, Brian Wildey. There are two animal actors as well — Buster and Brutus.
Keating says the story began as a five-minute short film planned and improvised during the Yukon 48 Hour Film Challenge in 2010. Called Her Next Plan, it won the audience choice award at the post-challenge screening.
In 2013, a sort of sequel took the lead characters up the Dempster Highway in the middle of winter to try and work out some of their domestic problems. That film was used as the pilot to pitch the mini-series, which Keating and Davidson have been planning since. Keating says it will be sort of like a Klondike version of Trailer Park Boys.
It had been difficult to find a broadcaster willing to try its luck on this enterprise. Keating says the Canada Media Fund’s limitations were hobbling small independent productions. But she says the recently established Northern Incentive Program has changed that situation enough to allow her and Fraser to access some funding and find a broadcaster.
The funding for Her Next Plan has come from community sponsors and government funding agencies — the Yukon Film and Sound Commission and the Canada Media Fund, Northern Production Incentive. The Dawson Community Grants Fund chipped in $1000. “This project is really exciting,” she says, “because, except for Max, everybody, as far as we know, is going to be from Dawson. Even the cinematographer is moving here.”
In addition, auditions took place on March 22 and no one in the cast is a professional actor. That suits Keating; this is the sort of cast she dealt with a lot during her years in Nova Scotia before her two years producing the Dawson City International Short Film Festival in 2005 and 2006 caused her to succumb to the spell of the Yukon.
Using Dawson as the location makes the town another whole character in the fi lm. The basic plot has Steph and Brian seeing a counselor to help them deal with some of their marital issues. Since the counselor is the mayor, their sessions keep getting interrupted by mayoral duties. Their sessions — and the counseling couch itself — get moved all over Dawson, depending on the mayor’s schedule. “Shots from locations all around town are built into the script so Dawson will really get shown off,” Keating says.
Interviewed ten days before the cameras were due to start rolling, Keating was raring to get started.