By Lana Michelin – Red Deer Advocate
Published: March 22, 2015 9:16 PM
A locally-written play about human sex trafficking could soon become an independent movie that merges activism with commerce.
Local investors are getting behind the She Has a Name film project, which will be based on a script by local playwright Andrew Kooman.
Nearly $500,000 has been raised towards creating the movie, which would need about half of its budget of $2.6 million if filming is to go ahead this summer in Thailand, said executive-producer Lance Kadatz.
Kadatz, who is a vice-president and chief financial officer of the Red Deer car finance company Rifco, believes the film stands to make a good return for investors. While She Has a Name deals with weightier subject matter than the 2002 sleeper hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a $5-million film that earned $241.4 million across North America, he sees parallels.
Kadatz believes Kooman’s story about the plight of a young girl who is turned into a captive prostitute would also interest a broad audience — from religious to humanitarian to the indie film festival crowd.
“I don’t think anyone is in favour of sex slavery,” said the executive producer, who sees the project as becoming a “catalyst for change.”
When Kadatz saw Kooman’s powerful She Has A Name play in 2011, he was left feeling “what can I do to make a difference?” Imagine how many people would have that same reaction if the movie was distributed worldwide, he added.
In turning his stage script into a screenplay, activist/playwright Kooman hopes more people will realize they can support non-profit advocacy groups that are trying to stop human trafficking.
His two-act stage drama was produced by Calgary’s Burnt Thicket Theatre, and toured across Canada after its initial run in Calgary and Red Deer. It’s still being staged by various groups in the U.S., and it being translated for a Latin American version, said Kooman, who wrote the play after 54 people suffocated to death in a tiny sea container in 2008 while being smuggled from Myanmar into Thailand.
He also sees the film project as another creative opportunity, in terms of allowing him to expand his story line and cast.
While no actors have yet signed on for the project, Kadatz would like to see some Canadians with name recognition in the cast.
Filmmakers are hoping to start shooting on location in Bangkok in August. Digital footage would be edited this fall in the local Unveil Studios in Red Deer, which Kooman runs with his brothers Matt and Dan Kooman, who will be involved in the directing, producing and editing process.
Matthew previously directed the 2007 documentary E for Everyone: The Mouse and the Elephant, which was created by a team of Red Deer filmmakers and is about how prosperous Westerners view the developing world.
If all goes well, the She Has a Name film might be ready for distribution by the end of the year, said Kadatz. He aims to get a distribution deal in commercial theatres, but also plans to make the film available for private showings as fundraisers for non-profit groups.
More information about the project, as well as investment opportunities, are available at unveilstudios.com.