While curling is a popular winter sport in Canada, it doesn’t often get the limelight on the small screen. A Yellowknife trio hopes to change that.
Keith Robertson, Bridget Rusk, and Amy Lechelt are working on a scripted comedy series named Curlfriends. Already, the concept is gaining attention.
Curlfriends took home the top prize at last week’s Yellowknife International Film Festival, where northerners annually pitch ideas in the hope of winning financial support.
The group’s idea won $5,000 in cash and $5,000 in Wamp bucks (a form of grant to be redeemed at Western Arctic Moving Pictures, or Wamp, which provides movie equipment rental and related services).
Curlfriends won a bonus $250 cash prize for the audience choice award.
“It was very sudden and surprising. We were thrilled,” Robertson said of the win.
“It was funny and fun to hear that, and very exciting that a project we have an idea about is going to come to fruition and that we get to create it,” Lechelt added.
Lechelt said the show is inspired by a Yellowknife recreational curling team of the same name, on which Lechelt and Rusk play. In searching for a project to develop over the winter, she suggested a mockumentary about the team and curling.
“It all snowballed. The three of us got together and just started throwing out ideas,” she said.
“We have endless plotlines and a Google doc that has way too much content.”
Robertson and Rusk co-authored a short scene, shot at the start of November, that served as a miniature pilot for the pitch contest. The judges were impressed.
Rusk said she is “pumped” about the show’s potential. It will feature a talking-head style similar to that popularized by Parks and Recreation and The Office.
Robertson described Curlfriends as a “frenetic, chaotic, oddball comedy” where people in a small town come together at the rink.
“I really like the idea of using curling as a metaphor for aiming for lofty targets and then getting stuck behind obstacles or smashing into obstacles,” he said. “I think it might have legs.”
The show features three main characters.
Lechelt will play Karen Bram, a “by-the-book” team captain with a strong moral compass. Her best friend Washington, to be played by Rusk, is a more provocative athlete.
“She is very much at the curling rink for two main objectives,” Rusk told Mornings at the Cabin. “One: she wants to get laid. Two: she is there because she’s more of a hockey player at heart and curling, juxtaposed, does not have any refs and doesn’t have any rules.”
A third and as-yet uncast character, Ruth, is more naive and a bit of a mystery to her teammates.
Lechelt said each episode will involve the team looking for a new fourth teammate, and the production hopes to feature local celebrities.
“I think it’s really exciting to be doing it in Yellowknife,” Lechelt said of the show. “I think it’s a perfect place to be doing a project like this, given the small-town feel of the city and the idea that everybody’s connected.”
With their winnings, the three plan to produce a full pilot episode of Curlfriends and, if all goes well, a larger first season of episodes.
Jesse Wheeler contributed reporting.