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Arts
Mornings at the Cabin
Yellowknife

Yellowknife mockumentary Curlfriends will have June screening

Last modified: March 27, 2022 at 9:33am


Curlfriends, a Yellowknife-based curling mockumentary, has announced an air date for the show’s pilot episode.

Keith Robertson, Amy Lechelt and Bridget Rusk have spent almost 18 months producing the pilot since winning a pitch competition at 2020’s Yellowknife International Film Festival.

That win earned an initial $5,000 in funding and $5,000 in equipment support, and started the team down the long and winding road of producing a television episode.

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The cast and crew are local – and Mornings at the Cabin’s Jesse Wheeler even found his way into the production, although whether you see him in the final cut remains to be seen.

Rusk joined Mornings at the Cabin on Friday, March 25 to announce the date and venue for the premiere of Curlfriends’ pilot, starring Rusk and others in a show that, like Schitt’s Creek or Letterkenny, tries to capture the humour in small-town Canadian culture.

Listen to the podcast (Rusk appears from 14:45) or read a partial transcript below.

Jesse Wheeler: In 2020, you pitched a sitcom called Curlfriends. You won. You got some funding to do a pilot last year. You filmed it. What’s going on?

Bridget Rusk: We are going to show the world – if they live in Yellowknife – Curlfriends. It’s going to be on June 11 at the Northern United Place at 7:30pm. And tickets are $10. Obviously, the dream of showing people something on the screen, you immediately think Capitol Theatre. And then maybe your next slot would be NACC. They both declined me pretty quickly. Prince of Wales declined me. And so then I thought, you know what? This is a show about a local curling thing. What’s better than a local church and community hall?

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That’s a great spot.

Curlfriends, if you don’t know, is a sitcom – kind-of in a mockumentary style – about a curling team in a Friday night beer league. It’s just the pilot episode. It’s going to be about 20 minutes. We’ll have some stuff before and after to flesh it out and make a whole evening out of it.

Curlfriends cast and crew members
Curlfriends cast and crew members. Photo: Supplied

We had such fun working on it. I was only there for a day last February. How’s that whole process been? I don’t think a lot of people know how big a haul producing even a 20-minute sitcom is.

I won’t name names but definitely, even last summer, last fall, people would be like: “Do you know how long I’ve been waiting for Curlfriends to come out?” Oh! You explain to me my process.

I’ll take it back to November 2020. We got the funding to do this. And then we go, OK, well, I guess we need to learn how to write this. So we take a screenwriting course that was really involved for about a month and a half and that’s how we started developing the pilot script. We had the actual production in March and then we took a sabbatical from it, just because it had been so much of our time. The weather was turning nice. Keith and I had to travel and see family. We came back to it in the fall.

It takes a lot of hours just to attach sound to the video. When you shoot a scene, you shoot it from multiple angles, so that it’s not just one shot of a conversation. You have to select which angle you are using and when. Now it’s finally in the final part where we have the sound being mixed, which basically means that each individual who’s talking will have an independent mic, then there’s also like a room mic, but sometimes those pick up sounds like scuffling from your coat, so that all needs to be finessed to sound the same.

And then the colour! Sometimes when you’re in different environments it looks different, so you need to make that look the same. It’s super involved. When you see credits at the end of a TV show or a film, it’s because all those people are really needed to make that piece of content.

Keith Robertson on the Curlfriends set
Keith Robertson on the Curlfriends set. Photo: Supplied
Jesse Wheeler, left, as cast member Loren McGinnis delivers play-by-play for the show
Jesse Wheeler, left, looks on as cast member Loren McGinnis delivers play-by-play for the show. Photo: Supplied

Keith has stick-handled the majority of this post production stuff. I’d be in the seat beside him kind-of saying, oh, this scene! Oh, no, that scene! That looks funny! He has put in so many personal hours and he’s an editor by day, so it’s been evenings and weekends. It would not be a success without him.

Editing must drive people crazy.

It’s an art and a science. For comedy, I’ve been really finding – observing the process and kind-of participating – timing is everything. When do you cut the scene? How quickly do you switch to something? And that’s also why we’re making sure that we have sound mixed, because sound is so critical and if it’s off, you’re going to lose the momentum.

This is very exciting. We had such a good time. Now, I understand all my parts have been cut. I know you feel bad about that. But that’s fine. Are you taking donations for any kind of funding or anything like that?

Plan number one is television. Plan number two? Kickstarter.

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