September 30, 2022 September 30, 2022

Swift Current filmmaker collaborates on six-part documentary television series

Posted on 13 September 2022 by Matthew Liebenberg
Swift Current filmmaker collaborates on six-part documentary television series By Matthew Liebenberg mliebenberg@prairiepost.com Swift Current filmmaker George Tsougrianis is focusing on dedicated efforts to care for injured and orphaned wild animals in his latest project in collaboration with two other Saskatchewan production companies. He is a managing partner with Carol Andrews in the Swift Current production company Overtime Studios. Their partnership with Little Ox Film Company and 3 Story Pictures will result in the creation of a six-part documentary television series. Staying Wild will air weekly on Citytv Saskatchewan in early 2023. It will feature the work of wildlife rehabilitator Jan Shadick and a team of committed volunteers at Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation in Saskatoon. “It's an exciting thing that we're working on,” Tsougrianis said. “There are three different companies involved. So there's a lot of moving parts, but it's a great project in that it has some real meaning behind it. Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation is a wonderful organization. They punch well above their weight. I think they help around 3,000 animals over the course of a year.” The location of a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Saskatchewan’s largest city is one of the interesting aspects of this documentary series. “You'll never know that it's actually a wildlife rescue centre until you go in the backyard and see all the kennels and the cages and the runs for the animals,” he said. “It's just truly amazing.” He added that from a storytelling standpoint this sets up a contrast between the hustle and bustle of the urban setting where the rehabilitation centre is located, and the places where animals are released back into their natural habitat. “Whatever animals come in, the goal is to ultimately try to release them back into the wild,” he said. “So we've gone on several releases where you're in the middle of a forest or in the middle of a really nice grassland area. It's just a really interesting contrast that you find between that urban busyness and the serenity of the country where ultimately these animals live.” Each of the 30-minute episodes in this television series will provide a glimpse into the work done by Jan Shadick and her team, the animals they work with, and the challenges they face. “It really does allow the audience to peek behind the curtains, so to speak, and see the realities of what it takes to run an organization like this with that many animals and volunteers,” Tsougrianis said. Viewers will experience the successes and the heartbreak that make the work of wildlife rehabilitation both rewarding and challenging. “Hopefully people will get a much better appreciation for the work they do and also get an appreciation for some of the wildlife around us,” he noted. The filming of scenes for Staying Wild started in May, because annually during spring the rehabilitation centre receives and cares for a lot of young animals. Principal photography for the documentary series was completed at the end of August. He is excited about the footage that was captured by the filming crew, because they used two main cameras as well as 10 small GoPro action cameras. “The GoPros in my mind are one of the stars of the show, because we put them in very strategic places to capture action that was hard for us to get in with a camera,” he said. “It also gave us an opportunity to put a camera unobtrusively up close to an animal that otherwise we wouldn't be able to do. So in instances the camera is right in the carrier when an animal is going out to a location to be released.” Tsougrianis and Jackie Kripki from Little Ox Film Company are the co-producers of this documentary series, and he credited her for coming up with the concept. “She had this idea for quite some time,” he mentioned. “She's known Jan for several years and she's an animal lover herself. I've known Jackie for a long time and we reconnected probably three years ago. We started doing some small projects together, and just one day we were having a conversation, because I was looking for ideas that we could put forward to the broadcaster and she mentioned this.” Citytv Saskatchewan expressed interest in their proposal and thereafter the production team had to secure financial support for the project. They were able to obtain funding from Creative Saskatchewan. The provincial government increased the 2022 budget allocation to Creative Saskatchewan from $2 million to $10 million, and Staying Wild is one of the first projects that will benefit from this. “Timing is everything,” he said. “We're at the right place at the right time. I believe we’re definitely one of the first to access that new money that was there from Creative Saskatchewan.” According to Tsougrianis this is the largest project he has ever worked on during his career and this is also the first time he is involved in the production of a six-part documentary television series. “This is something totally different and it's got a lot of moving parts,” he noted. “There's probably a dozen or more people working on this show. That's a whole different dynamic as a producer and what your role is.” The size of this project made it necessary to follow a collaborative approach involving the skills and experience available within the three production companies. “I think for any person in the creative field, there's always that itch to do something a little bit bigger, something that will stretch you a little bit more,” he said. “So that's a big part of why these partnerships are really important, because I don't pretend to know all the pieces and how to make these things work. Sometimes it's just finding the right connections that maybe will have the right answers.” The past few months have been an interesting time for Overtime Studios. The company’s documentary Wild Prairie Man has been receiving international recognition at various film festivals while it has been collaborating on this six-part documentary television series. For Tsougrianis a compelling story is the key to the success of any production and he is looking forward to more such opportunities. “It's an exciting time to be part of the industry,” he said. “There are lots of up-and-coming people that are very creative and I'm excited to see what the future holds.” Camera assistant Bo Shingoose uses a small GoPro action camera to film a scene at Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation in Saskatoon.

By Matthew Liebenberg

mliebenberg@prairiepost.com

Swift Current filmmaker George Tsougrianis is focusing on dedicated efforts to care for injured and orphaned wild animals in his latest project in collaboration with two other Saskatchewan production companies.

He is a managing partner with Carol Andrews in the Swift Current production company Overtime Studios. Their partnership with Little Ox Film Company and 3 Story Pictures will result in the creation of a six-part documentary television series.

Staying Wild will air weekly on Citytv Saskatchewan in early 2023. It will feature the work of wildlife rehabilitator Jan Shadick and a team of committed volunteers at Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation in Saskatoon.

“It’s an exciting thing that we’re working on,” Tsougrianis said. “There are three different companies involved. So there’s a lot of moving parts, but it’s a great project in that it has some real meaning behind it. Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation is a wonderful organization. They punch well above their weight. I think they help around 3,000 animals over the course of a year.”

The location of a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Saskatchewan’s largest city is one of the interesting aspects of this documentary series.

“You’ll never know that it’s actually a wildlife rescue centre until you go in the backyard and see all the kennels and the cages and the runs for the animals,” he said. “It’s just truly amazing.”

He added that from a storytelling standpoint this sets up a contrast between the hustle and bustle of the urban setting where the rehabilitation centre is located, and the places where animals are released back into their natural habitat.

“Whatever animals come in, the goal is to ultimately try to release them back into the wild,” he said. “So we’ve gone on several releases where you’re in the middle of a forest or in the middle of a really nice grassland area. It’s just a really interesting contrast that you find between that urban busyness and the serenity of the country where ultimately these animals live.”

Each of the 30-minute episodes in this television series will provide a glimpse into the work done by Jan Shadick and her team, the animals they work with, and the challenges they face.

“It really does allow the audience to peek behind the curtains, so to speak, and see the realities of what it takes to run an organization like this with that many animals and volunteers,” Tsougrianis said.

Viewers will experience the successes and the heartbreak that make the work of wildlife rehabilitation both rewarding and challenging.

“Hopefully people will get a much better appreciation for the work they do and also get an appreciation for some of the wildlife around us,” he noted.

The filming of scenes for Staying Wild started in May, because annually during spring the rehabilitation centre receives and cares for a lot of young animals. Principal photography for the documentary series was completed at the end of August.

He is excited about the footage that was captured by the filming crew, because they used two main cameras as well as 10 small GoPro action cameras.

“The GoPros in my mind are one of the stars of the show, because we put them in very strategic places to capture action that was hard for us to get in with a camera,” he said. “It also gave us an opportunity to put a camera unobtrusively up close to an animal that otherwise we wouldn’t be able to do. So in instances the camera is right in the carrier when an animal is going out to a location to be released.”

Tsougrianis and Jackie Kripki from Little Ox Film Company are the co-producers of this documentary series, and he credited her for coming up with the concept.

“She had this idea for quite some time,” he mentioned. “She’s known Jan for several years and she’s an animal lover herself. I’ve known Jackie for a long time and we reconnected probably three years ago. We started doing some small projects together, and just one day we were having a conversation, because I was looking for ideas that we could put forward to the broadcaster and she mentioned this.”

Citytv Saskatchewan expressed interest in their proposal and thereafter the production team had to secure financial support for the project. They were able to obtain funding from Creative Saskatchewan.

The provincial government increased the 2022 budget allocation to Creative Saskatchewan from $2 million to $10 million, and Staying Wild is one of the first projects that will benefit from this.

“Timing is everything,” he said. “We’re at the right place at the right time. I believe we’re definitely one of the first to access that new money that was there from Creative Saskatchewan.”

According to Tsougrianis this is the largest project he has ever worked on during his career and this is also the first time he is involved in the production of a six-part documentary television series.

“This is something totally different and it’s got a lot of moving parts,” he noted. “There’s probably a dozen or more people working on this show. That’s a whole different dynamic as a producer and what your role is.”

The size of this project made it necessary to follow a collaborative approach involving the skills and experience available within the three production companies.

“I think for any person in the creative field, there’s always that itch to do something a little bit bigger, something that will stretch you a little bit more,” he said. “So that’s a big part of why these partnerships are really important, because I don’t pretend to know all the pieces and how to make these things work. Sometimes it’s just finding the right connections that maybe will have the right answers.”

The past few months have been an interesting time for Overtime Studios. The company’s documentary Wild Prairie Man has been receiving international recognition at various film festivals while it has been collaborating on this six-part documentary television series.

For Tsougrianis a compelling story is the key to the success of any production and he is looking forward to more such opportunities.

“It’s an exciting time to be part of the industry,” he said. “There are lots of up-and-coming people that are very creative and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”

Camera assistant Bo Shingoose uses a small GoPro action camera to film a scene at Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation in Saskatoon.

Leave a Reply

Get More Prairie Post
Log In To Comment Latest West Edition Latest East Edition