Moviemakers for the film Two Lovers and a Bear are asking Iqaluit City Council for help in turning off street lights during filming, saying it’s too expensive for them based on quotes they’ve received from the power company.
Apex will be the site of an important scene of the $8.8 million movie – where the main characters meet the polar bear for the first time.
Unit manager Francis Choquette told council the company was quoted a cost of $22,500 by the Qulliq Energy Corporation to shut off 15 lights in Apex, but they need to switch off 50.
“I’ve been on this project for over two years trying to push them to film in Nunavut, and now it’s happening,” Choquette told council Tuesday night.
“If I showed [the quotes] to my producer, I don’t think he will come to Iqaluit [for future projects] because of the cost.”
When Choquette approached city council this week, both the film company and the city had mistakenly thought approval had to come from QEC. In fact, any approval for turning off the lights would have to come from city council.
The film company will send a delegation to Iqaluit’s next council meeting on March 24 to formally submit its request.
Qulliq’s president Alain Barriault said the process is more complicated than just flipping a light switch. Linesmen will have to climb each light pole individually and disconnect the power source.
“We wouldn’t arbitrarily just turn them off just to meet somebody else’s convenience,” Barriault said.
“We have an agreement whereby we provide a service to the City and we can’t go turning it on and off unless it’s something that they’re requesting of us. So any agreement we would come in to would have to be with our client, not with the film company.”
Iqaluit streetlights give off coloured light
The reason the film crew wants the lights turned off is because they are sodium-based and give off an orange-green hue. They’d prefer to switch those off and instead install lighting towers with their own brighter, whiter, lights.
Councillor Joanasie Akumalik asked Choquette why they wouldn’t just buy a better camera, given the money they’re willing to spend on solving this problem.
“I wish it was that simple,” said Choquette. “I think it’s the latest technology in cameras. The camera is very sensitive. We did some tests in Montreal [with the same bulbs as on those lights] and it comes out orange and green. So it doesn’t work. We can’t shoot with those lights on.”
The movie is scheduled to start filming around Iqaluit next month, with the bulk of it being shot in Apex April 13 to 23. Only four of those days will be night shoots.
Choquette said they will leave their own lights up during some periods and in certain places, even when they’re not filming. Still, some in Apex are concerned.
“My concern is the safety of my child, and other children in Apex, as well as adults who may be on the road come dark. It’s just a general safety concern,” said Apex resident Kerry McCluskey, who added she’s had some close calls with collisions, despite driving slowly.
“Things happen. It gets dark at 7:30 p.m. and kids aren’t necessarily home at that point. I don’t want to throw a wrench into their plans, but what’s more important to me than filming is that my kid and other kids in Apex are safe.”
The film company will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, March 17, at 7 p.m. at Okpik Hall in Apex to discuss the proposal with residents.