Arts & Life, Movies

Buffalo ready to roam after merger

Just like the magical horses it’s bringing to life, one film company is spreading its wings and ready to… err, that’s about as far as we can handle that analogy. 

The point is: good things are happening for Buffalo Gal Pictures. On Monday, the Winnipeg-based production company — credits include cult fave comedy series Less Than Kind — announced it is formally joining forces with Toronto’s Entremedia Digital Films to create a brand-spanking-new production company, Buffalo Media Group.

And the deal could help keep new film jobs in Winnipeg.

The merger’s roots extend back about a year, ever since Buffalo Gal and Entremedia teamed up to work on a new 3D animated feature called Emma’s Wings: A Bella Sara Tale. The fanciful film — based on a popular kids’ game about magic horses — is the first full-length animated feature to be produced in Winnipeg.

As it turned out, Buffalo Gal head and now Buffalo Media Group CEO Phyllis Laing said, the two companies had complementary skill-sets. Buffalo Gal had been looking to move more into animation and effects, and in September launched a new animation subsidiary called Opus Animation just to work on the Bella Sara project. It was the first animation studio in Winnipeg.

Meanwhile Entremedia, headed by experienced animation producer Dan Krech, came with extensive expertise in that particular department — and they were hoping to move into producing dramas, which is Buffalo Gal’s bread and butter.

By merging their mutual talents and bringing on a couple key new faces — including Frantic Films co-founder Ken Zorniak, who will become BMG’s VP of business development — the two companies are poised to be a one-stop shop. “Now when we receive a script, we would be able to produce it if it’s a live action project, and we also have elements be able to provide visual effects, provide a new media production,” Laing said. “So we can provide internally all of those pieces. Basically, it’s a full content company.”

There’s a benefit for Manitoba too, Laing said: since September, over 40 new film jobs in Winnipeg have been created as a result of the Bella Sara project. Teaming up with Entremedia to attract a full range of work could help ensure that those jobs stick around. “Up to this point there’s been a wonderful talent of animation in Winnipeg, but no studio doing regular ongoing work,” Laing said. “So it’s a great opportunity for young talent to stay.”

Well, here’s one opportunity for them: while the first Bella Sara movie is slated for release in 2013, Buffalo Media already got a green-light for a second Bella Sara movie, and will begin developing the script for that project right away.