Labour board rules producers of Alberta-shot western cannot touch Alberta Film grant funds until workers paid

The Alberta Labour Relations Board has ruled that producers behind a troubled western shot in 2013 starring Kiefer Sutherland cannot gain access to an estimated $1.7-million in Alberta Film Grant funds until matters are resolved with film workers and suppliers that are still owed money.

The ruling is just the latest twist in the labour board proceedings that found IATSE 212, which represents Alberta film workers, and the Directors Guild of Canada, Alberta District Council, filing complaints with the Alberta Labour Relations Board against producers of the western, which shot at the CL Ranch in 2013 and starred Sutherland, his father Donald and Demi Moore. The film, which used to be called Redemption, is now known as Forsaken or John Henry Clayton. Named in the complaints are Redemption Alberta Inc. and Redemption Production Inc., which are two single-purpose companies set up specifically for the film, Edmonton-based Panacea Entertainment Inc., Regina’s Minds Eye Entertainment Ltd.and Kiefer Sutherland’s L.A.-based Camel Entertainment Inc.

According to IATSE, production on the film wrapped in the summer of 2013 still owing nearly $2-million to workers and suppliers. Proceedings aimed at getting back the unpaid wages are still ongoing. But last September, unions representing film workers attempted to rope Sutherland into the proceedings by filing an application claiming that Camel had taken possession of the director’s cut and work was continuing post-production of the film despite money still being owed for principle photography. It claimed Camel Entertainment, for which Sutherland is president, lent money to the project on a “highly selective basis” to “salvage the shoot and advance the project through post-production.” The unions are seeking to hold Camel, the two Redemption Companies, Panacea Entertainment Inc. and Regina’s Minds Eye Entertainment Ltd., responsible for the unpaid wages. On April 15, the board ruled that the companies could be tied to the production.

“Ultimately, they are all tied to the production of this film,” says Damian Petti, president of IATSE Local 212. “Our reality here is that we only have a contract with an asset-less company, which is Redemption Alberta. But this board ties all those other groups together and that’s very useful to us.”

The board also ruled that “The Redemption Companies and Camel are prevented from taking receipt of any Alberta Film Grant funds to which any of them might be entitled until all proceedings involving these parties are concluded or the Board orders otherwise. ” The board agreed with the unions’ position that there was a danger of the film grants being removed from Alberta and used to pay down “preferred creditors” that would not include local cast, crew and suppliers.

“The film fund monies are earmarked for Alberta expenses, so it stands to reason that a producer shouldn’t be able to do that in the first place — give preference on the grant money to an out-of-province producer when bills are unpaid,” Petti says.

Herald calls and emails to Panacea Entertainment and Minds Eye Entertainment Ltd. were not returned. Kiefer Sutherland’s publicist did not respond to phone and e-mail requests for a comment by deadline.

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