At the RCMP’s 140-ha farm in Pakenham, Ont., 50 km west of Ottawa, John Phillips and his team work diligently to fill a rather peculiar request.Their mission: create perfect black horses for the RCMP’s worldfamous Musical Ride program.“Black is a hard colour to obtain in North American horses,” says Phillips, who’s worked with RCMP horses for 26
years. “You can travel for 50 days and find only one.”
The lack of black horses in Canada and the U.S. became apparent to the RCMP in 1938, when Commissioner Stuart Taylor Wood ordered that all horses in the Musical Ride program must be black-a colour he thought best complemented the officer’s red uniforms. To fill yearly quotas, the
RCMP has relied on improved breeding techniques using black Hanoverian broodmares and stallions imported from Germany. “We do get about two per cent that pop out chestnut,” says Phillips, “but the odds of getting black are pretty good.”
The farm’s current stallion, which cost about $130,000 when purchased two years ago, will be used to impregnate about half of the 28 mares this summer. Horse semen
purchased from Germany and North America will be used to impregnate the remainder. In all, the department is looking for 10 near-perfect creations. A public auction is held every two years for those foals that aren’t deemed black enough or don’t fit the Musical Ride mould-approximately 1,150 to 1,600 pounds and 16 to 17.2 hands high. For the RCMR black beauties are serious business. John Intini
Over and Under Achievers
Right on the button
^ Don Boudria: Public works minister claims victory after bulk of misplaced $550,000 report by Quebec firm finally found. But why did Liberals spend half a mil of taxpayers money for warmed-over PR advice in the first place?
^ Robert Lantos: Hype offensive used by Men With Brooms producer pays off as curling flick cleans up at box office in first week. But you gottaz
keep sweeping-haaard!-to maintain the momentum.
^ Stewart Phillip: B.C. native leader threatens summer protests over pragmatic federal plans to clean up band finances.Yeah, this is the same chief who forced filmmakers to drop Ogopogo references from a $32-million movie.
Michael Stadtiänder: Chef’s Ontario farmhouse restaurant, Eigensinn Farm, is one of world’s
best 10 eateries, says Restaurant magazine. Sure he cooks what he grows, but how is he when all the fridge holds is mustard, past-bestbefore-date yogourt, and domestic beer?
John Manley: Deputy PM says too many Canadian firms rely on low Canadian dollar, not high productivity, to export. Loonie sinks on comment, but Manley is dead right. Next day’s news: Canada’s productivity growth lagged U.S. in 2001.
Six (or so) degrees of separation
Cordell Barker is the director of the only Canadian film that has received a nomination for this year's Academy Awards. Strange Invaders, an animated short, tells the story of a childless couple, Roger and Doris, who discover a mysterious child. Anyone wondering how Barker-who also directed the 1989 Oscar-nominated short, The Cat Came Back-got singled out as The Canadian Filmmaker need only consider his sofew-degrees-of-separation Hollywood connections. In fact, almost all the Oscar nominees this year are curiously linked to Barker. For example, one of his three sons (the “evil boys” who inspired Strange Invaders) is named Jackson and was conceived around the same time that Peter Jackson pitched the idea to direct The Lord of the Rings (nominated for 13 Oscars.) Coincidence? We think not.
One for the mooks and day moes
For those in “the industry” or those who want to be in the know, Vancouver’s all-around film guy Tim Moshansky has just published the third edition of The A to Z Guide to Film Terms. Chock full of technical jargon and slang expressions, the guide has become a Canadian bestseller and required reading in some university and college film programs. So for all you mooks-totally green or low-on-the-totem-pole crew members-here’s a primer:
Duster: Term for a western or cowboy film. Also known as a horse opera or oater.
Groucho: A director may ask an actor to do a “groucho" or a crouched walk in order to appear shorter. Jack Lord: Camera term for a 50mm lens. Named after Lord’s television show Hawaii Five-O.
Mae West Shot: A shot that frames an actor from the top of the head to just below the chest.
Mickey Rooney: A very short and
slow moving camera shot-“a little creep.”
Blonde: A 2000-watt light named for its yellow colour.
Day Mo: A somewhat condescending term for a temporary member of the film’s crew.
Greek: Filmmakers can change or “greek” a sign that they don’t have permission to use.
Poor Man’s Process: Shaking a car and flashing lights and shadows upon it to provide the illusion that actors inside are actually driving somewhere.
An angel in Canadian film
He was known as the godfather of Canadian film. Winnipeg-born Don Haig worked behind the scenes as an executive producer, a mentor to aspiring directors, and an editor who brought a calm, discerning eye into the cutting room. The Toronto-based filmmaker, who died of cancer at the age of 68, was “the nicest, most generous, most self-deprecating finder of talent," says Piers Handling, director of the Toronto International Film Festival. “Don was a very quiet silent partner, but had his fingers everywhere that counted.”
Often donating his time and editing facilities, Haig helped guide over 500 films to the screen, including Patricia Rozema’s Cannes sensation I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (1987) and Brigitte Berman’s Oscar-winning documentary feature Artie Shaw: Time is All You’ve Got (1985). “I wouldn't have entered the film in the Oscars if it wasn’t for Don," says Berman. “But when we won, I had to drag him onstage."
A pioneer of the documentary form, Haig edited Beryl Fox’s The Mills of the Gods (1965), a seminal protest film about the Vietnam War, which aired on CBC’s This Hour Has Seven Days. (Haig edited the popular current affairs program in the mid1960s and saved CBC’s discarded prints of the show-which CBC Newsworld recently aired.) “Don made many of the documentaries that inspired me to become a filmmaker,” says Ron Mann, who worked with him on Twist (1992). “Everybody went to see Don. He was an angel."
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