Previous Article Next Article FNPI Search Home Previous Year Next Year Year List

Filming Of Big Bear On Pasqua First Nation Inspires Community And Young Film-Makers

Neil Pasqua

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      FALL 1998      v28 n03 p03  
The Pasqua First Nation in Saskatchewan served as the site the production of Big Bear, CBC's $8.5 million, four-hour mini-series.

The First Nation community not only welcomed but assisted in numerous capacities in the huge production, both in front and behind the camera.

Chief Todd Peigan and his Council, saw first-hand the benefits a film production such as this can bring to a community. Jobs were created with employment going to as many local people as possible. Community members served as security personnel, production crew and extras.

The production crew was composed of Saskatchewan and Quebec's top film-makers. The cooperative nature ensured the film remained on budget, on-schedule and with out incident, a rarity in film production.

Pasqua Film Site
Pasqua Film Site

The effort was blessed with optimum conditions for the entire shoot, with the little exception of some record rain fall. Production, however, was completed rain or shine.

This was also the directorial debut for Gil Cardinal, who enlisted the efforts of Blue Hills Productions, Kanata Productions, Claudio Lucca, and Colin of Tele-Action Films, Dorothy Schreiber and producer Doug Cuthand to ensure that historical and cultural content was as accurate as possible.

The provincial government of Saskatchewan also had reason to be pleased with the filming. The governments recent implementation of the 30% tax credit drew the production to the province and ultimately to Pasqua. An additional 5% was given to productions close to urban settings which includes Pasqua First Nation.

The east-west co-production saw a 10-day shoot in Quebec prior to coming to Saskatchewan. They then shot an additional 31 days in Pasqua, with the last four in Wilcox and Saskatoon.

Big Bear was a fine introduction to the film industry for the entire community. They now eagerly await the airing in January.

The event, however has also encouraged First Nation people to consider careers in film.

"I just want to make films" stated Calvin Obey. The twenty-two year old served as an extra on Big Bear and later on Maggie Siggins' Revenge of the Land. Obey hopes to begin working on his own films and he and others have taken the initiative to do just that.

They are in the process of organizing a film society to develop new opportunities. The belief is that independent filmmaking allows First Nation people to tell their own stories. By getting some initial film experience, such as with Big Bear, Pasqua members hope to be prepared for the next film production.

Big Bear featured talent from the Aboriginal community across Canada, including North of 60's Gordon Tootosis and Academy Award nominee Tantoo Cardinal. 90% percent of the cast were of First Nation decent.

Pasqua contributed 40 extras to the set; many had reoccurring roles and some were special skills' extras, in that they were deft in handling rifles and horses-saddled or bareback.

First Nations people are beginning to make inroads into the Film Industry, and the Pasqua film society hopes to ensure that the representation continues to grow.

In the meantime, the Pasqua First Nation hopes to establish a location file with SaskFilm, the Saskatchewan film agency, that would attract further productions to the community.

A location file would put Canadian and American producers on notice that Pasqua has a lot to offer.