Local writer tapped as new film and sound czar

The Yukon’s endless summer days and long winters are perfect for filmmakers, says the territory’s new film and sound commissioner.

The Yukon’s endless summer days and long winters are perfect for filmmakers, says the territory’s new film and sound commissioner.

“We have beautiful vistas; we have endless wilderness, very warm light and long days for filming in the summer and a long snow season,” said Barbara Dunlop, the new Yukon Film and Sound commissioner.

A novelist who has published books with Harlequin Romance, Dunlop spent 15 years as a policy analyst in the Executive Council Office before moving to her new post.

Her background in the arts community — she has organized several writers’ workshops in the Yukon — combined with her policy experience will be an asset, said Dunlop, who has been acting commissioner since December.

“Story in novels or story in film — a story is a story and that’s helpful to know,” she said.

The Yukon’s culture scene is vibrant, said Dunlop, listing a number of successes: Kim Beggs nomination at the Western Canadian Music Awards, and two films — Werner Welcher’s River of Life documentary and Martin Berkman’s Adrenaline Bach — were both official selections at the Montreal Film Festival.

Now that locals know the Yukon can sustain a vibrant film industry, the commission is focusing on telling everybody Outside, said Dunlop.

The commission will be marketing the Yukon as a filming destination at an upcoming location expo in New York.

The commission already attended shows in London and Los Angeles.

Marketing the territory to Outside filmmakers is only one priority identified in the recently completed Shared Vision strategic plan, said Dunlop.

It sets goals to strengthen Yukon film and sound industries and will help improve identified weaknesses, such as film infrastructure.

Dunlop said it is too early to go into specifics about the film infrastructure — such as soundstages — needed in the territory.

She also plans to work with people in the industry to increase training opportunities.

“We can always use more training and development,” she said.

“But we have generous funding programs here. We’re competitive across Canada and we’re certainly competitive internationally.”

The commission established a filmmakers’ fund that contributes to local productions and offers a rebate of up to 35 per cent for labour used in Outside movie productions operating in the Yukon.

Established in 1997, the commission provides money for individuals and organizations, such as the Yukon Film Society and local musicians, markets the Yukon to Outside movie productions and provides advice to people within the film and sound industries.

The commission contributed $783,800 in the 2004-05 year to people working in film and sound, and $693,400 in the 2005-06 year.

Economic Development Minister Jim Kenyon refused comment on Dunlop’s appointment.