Saskatchewan routinely lives up to its moniker as the Land of Living Skies, but what happens when sunshine and fertile soil turns into a desolate wasteland filled with disease? Don’t worry, this isn’t a call to action for the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Agriculture, and we’re not looking to book a flight to the world’s seed vault anytime soon, this horrifying scenario is the main focus of the newly released Welcome to Kittytown. The project was funded via one of our previous micro-budget film grants and premiered last October in Saskatoon.
Like most films, especially ones on very small budgets, the process wasn’t quick but it was intentional. The team behind the film, led in part by Robert Bryn Mann (producer, writer, actor), believe that the time was needed to bring the film to life in the way that it needed. Mann says that, without the funding from Creative Saskatchewan, the project would not have gotten off the ground.
“We took our time with it, because we knew the importance and value of the funding you gave us. It could’ve gone to others, but it went to us. And now, we are looking for distribution.”
Welcome to Kittytown follows the story of a farmer who is one of the last members of a society that has been affected by a plague brought forward by the use of genetically modified seeds. Director Douglas Luciuk says that the film was a fitting one to be working on in the midst of a pandemic.
“Here I was at the start of the pandemic, editing this post-apocalyptic film that deals with a shortage of toilet paper, then I look in my bathroom, and my wife and I only have 3 rolls of toilet paper left…it was surreal. Life imitating my art.”
The film involved 27 local artists and has been selected for a number of film festivals, including the 2022 Montreal Independent Film Festival, Snowdance Independent Film Festival, and Newfoundland’s Fog Fest Horror Film Festival. Almost exactly three years from when the team started shooting in October, 2019; Welcome to Kittytown premiered at the Roxy Theatre in Saskatoon.
Mann says that he’s hopeful for the future of Saskatchewan’s film industry because of the $7.5 million investment that was made in October of 2022.
“I would like to congratulate the team for locking investment from the Saskatchewan Government. Said hard working team truly deserves it, and I am thankful for Creative Sask for helping Saskatchewan-made films and TV opportunities flourish for more homegrown filmmakers. We at Land of Darkest Skies Creative Works support your team in making more magic here at home.”
Examples of that magic can be found on the film’s website. Early on, it was clear that the team behind Welcome to Kittytown was going to use Saskatchewan’s landscape to their advantage, shooting their footage using some of the newest affordable gear on the market. You can see evidence of this very prairie videography on the project’s website. Though the main shoot took 17 days, the rest of the project’s development meant many hours in an editing booth. The official trailer for the film, which was released in June of 2022, has thus far garnered over 142,000 views. We’re looking forward to seeing where the film will take the emerging cast and crew as they navigate a film landscape that is on the road to blossoming.
If you’re looking to get financial support for your feature film, take a look at our guidelines. If you receive the funding then you’ll be following in the footsteps of projects like Summer at Charlotte’s and Shadow of… Both the Feature Film and Television Production Grant and the SaskTel Max Equity Fund are part of a wider assortment of funding programs that include streams dedicated to music video creation and film and television development.
By John Loeppky