Canuck Producer Puts His Budget Where His Mouth Is

Claude Leger, the Montreal-based producer of “Highlander – The Final Dimension,” is lensing another adventure pic chock-full of high-tech special effects, and “Habitat,” currently shooting in Montreal, will feature computer-generated effects by Tom Brigham, the Oscar-winning creator of the “morphing” technique used in “Terminator 2.”

“Habitat” sports a bigger budget – $C13 million ($9.1 million) – than most Canadian features, and Leger argues that local producers have to start making more high-budget co-productions to keep the Canuck industry alive.

“To compete with the Americans and the big-budget international productions, we in Canada have to create these entertaining, big-budget films,” says Leger. “I start with the principle that we have to make films that reach the broadest possible audience, and that takes bigger budgets. It’s the only way to crack the international market.”

Like “Rainbow,” which Bob Hoskins filmed in Montreal last fall, “Habitat” is being lensed in high-definition video, which will be transferred to 35mm stock for theatrical release. “Rainbow” will launch just before Christmas this year, with Malofilm distributing in Canada and August Entertainment handling all sales outside Canada.

Dutch writer-director Rene Daalder is helming “Habitat,” a Canada-Holland co-production. The cast includes Balthazar Getty, Canuck thesp Kenneth Welsh and Laura Harris from the “Highlander” TV series. Daalder designed the computer effects for “Robocop” and “Robocop 2.” Shooting will wrap in Montreal in March.

“Habitat” is being produced by Leger, head of Transfilm of Montreal, and Pieter Kroonenburg with Malofilm Communications topper Rene Malo serving as executive producer.

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