Nicolas Cage isn’t the only Hollywood superstar actor who is going to be spending some time in Osoyoos – and other parts of the South Okanagan – in the coming months.
Cage caused quite the stir locally when he showed up unexpectedly at the Osoyoos Buy-Low grocery store a couple of weeks ago and had his picture taken with a longtime staff member.
Cage was in town shooting the science fiction thriller called The Humanity Bureau, which is being produced by Mind’s Eye Entertainment from Regina, a film production company that has already shot another full-length movie in the Okanagan Valley several months ago and plans on shooting four more in the coming months.
Kevin Dewalt, who is the Chief Executive Officer and President of Mind’s Eye Entertainment, has produced over 50 film and television projects since forming his company back in 1986.
His company was looking for “a desert like setting” in Canada to shoot The Humanity Bureau and they settled on the Osoyoos and Oliver area to shoot most of the film after travelling here after shooting his previous movie called The Recall, starring Wesley Snipes, near Vernon last year, said Dewalt.
“This area had everything we needed … with the desert and the lake (Osoyoos Lake) and the mountains,” said Dewalt. “It’s a very beautiful part of the world.”
The script for The Humanity Bureau was written by Dave Schultz and he knew he wanted a big-name Hollywood actor to play the lead role, said Dewalt.
“Dave came up with this brilliant script … he’s one of the very best in the business,” he said. “What happens after that is you start sending the word out to actors you would like to work with one at a time.
“You make some offers and try and negotiate a fair deal. We finally hooked up with the team that works with Nicolas Cage … he read the script and agreed to sign on with us.”
Set in the year 2020, global warming has wreaked havoc in parts of the American Midwest. In its attempt to take hold of the economic recessions, a government agency called The Humanity Bureau exiles members of society deemed unproductive and banishes them to a colony known as The New Eden.
An ambitious and impartial caseworker named Noah Kross (Cage) investigates a case appealed by a single mother and her son. Knowing the unjust fate of this innocent boy, Kross sets off to save the lives of the mother and child and to expose the truth about The Humanity Bureau’s secrets once and for all.
“We’re certain that The Humanity Bureau will be a hit with Cage’s legion of fans,” said Dewalt.” We’re excited to be working with Nicolas Cage on this incredible film and we felt that the subject matter, given the current state of the world following the 2016 U.S. election, is very relevant on a global scale.”
The entire four weeks of filming for The Humanity Bureau took place in the South Okanagan and the vast majority of that took place in Osoyoos and Oliver and shooting is expected to wrap up this week or next, he said.
The economic benefits of shooting a big budget film like The Humanity Bureau are immense, he said.
“I would estimate we’ve had about 100 cast and crew staying locally since we started shooting,’ he said. “We’ve all been staying in local hotels and eating in local restaurants.”
Dewalt says many of his films over the past several years have fallen into what he calls “the action thriller, science fiction genre.
“This is my 24th film and the last one we did with Wesley Snipes in Vernon was also what most would call a science fiction thriller. It’s a category I feel very comfortable working in.”
Being able to shoot movies in small towns like Osoyoos and Oliver is a pleasure and nice change from working in big cities, said Dewalt.
“The community has been great and so supportive,” he said. “Working in small towns is wonderful because you get so much community support and people seem to be genuinely happy that you’re here.
“I know I’ve really enjoyed our stay here and I know all of the cast and crew feel the same way.”
Dewalt said he’s enjoyed his experience in shooting The Recall and The Humanity Bureau so much that Mind’s Eye Entertainment has committed to shooting another four movies at least in the Okanagan Valley in the next year or two.
“We have committed to at least four more movies in 2017 and 2018,” he said. “They will all be shot in the Okanagan, but I can’t tell you right now if that means we will be back in Osoyoos or not, but I would think there’s a very good chance.”
Once filming wraps up in the next week or two, it will take about a year of post-production work to get The Humanity Bureau ready for worldwide release and he expects the movie to hit the silver screen some time in the fall of 2017, said Dewalt.
Jon Summerland, the commissioner with the Okanagan Film Commission, said he’s thrilled that major production companies like Mind’s Eye Entertainment are shooting major movies in the Okanagan Valley.
“We have The Humanity Bureau shooting now and I can confirm there will be a second major motion picture being shot in the South Okanagan starting in February,” said Summerland.
That made for television movie, which has not yet been titled, has a budget of $2.5 million, but that’s about all he would divulge at this time.
It’s a great time to be in the film industry in this part of the world, said Summerland.
“I’ve been at this job coming up on nine years and this is probably the busiest it has been when it comes to film production in the Okanagan. It’s a great thing to see.”
More than 50 cast and crew from across the Okanagan Valley have been hired to work on The Humanity Bureau, he said.
“Plus we have another 12 from B.C. and another 24 from across Canada. Those people are filling up 36 hotel rooms for over a month and we have dozens of people getting good paychecks and paying off mortgages and being able to buy Christmas presents for their kids. It’s awesome.”
Having a big Hollywood star like Nicolas Cage in town creates buzz not only in the community, but raises the interest of producers and directors in the movie industry who might consider coming here in the future, said Summerland.
Summerland agrees the economic spinoffs of having a major film like The Humanity Bureau shot in this area are immense.
“Not only have they booked dozens of hotel rooms for over a month, but they’re eating in local restaurants, buying stuff in local stores and going on wine tours across the region,” he said. “It definitely has a significant positive impact on the local economy.”
The fact Dewalt and his production company have committed to shooting at least four more movies in the Okanagan in the next two years is wonderful news, said Summerland.
This means dozens of technical crew, actors and support staff are going to be hired to work on those films, he said.
“Having the people the commission represents get work and be able to pay their mortgages is what I’m most excited about,” he said.
For more about Mind’s Eye Entertainment, you can go online and visit their website at www.mindseyepictures.com.