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Producers of CBC’s ‘Cavendish’ say finances played role in where they filmed TV show

Andrew Bush, Mark Little and Zoe Doyle take a selfie outside the Holman Grand Hotel while filming CBC’s Cavendish in Charlottetown last summer.
Andrew Bush, Mark Little and Zoe Doyle take a selfie outside the Holman Grand Hotel while filming CBC’s Cavendish in Charlottetown last summer. - Sally Cole

The adventures of CBC’s “Cavendish” may have taken place in a fictional Prince Edward Island town, but Island viewers did not see much of their province during the eight-episode run that wrapped up at the end of February.

Producers say money was one of the main reasons they chose to shoot much of the series in Nova Scotia instead. The crew filmed for two days in P.E.I.

“In a perfect world, we would have done it all in P.E.I.,” said Chuck Thompson, head of CBC’s public affairs. He noted producers often substitute one location for another.

“In this industry, it’s not uncommon for that to happen.”

Lesley Grant, supervising producer with the show’s production company, Temple Street, refused an interview on the topic but sent The Guardian a brief emailed statement.

“We made a decision to shoot Cavendish in two locations, for logistical and financial reasons.”

One of those financial reasons may have been that the show was eligible for financial support in Nova Scotia. The Nova Scotia Film and Television Production Incentive Fund rebates a base amount of 26 per cent on Nova Scotia expenditures, with potential for more.

Cavendish N.S. Productions Limited was approved by the N.S. fund in November 2018. It was eligible to receive about $958,000 of about $3,300,000 spent in the province.

“First we have to learn to tell them, and then we have to be able to tell them, and then we can blast them out. Right now, we’re in a first year of that development process.”
-Michelle MacCallum

P.E.I. also has a program like this.

Innovation P.E.I. handles applications for the P.E.I. Film Media Fund, which supports productions filmed in this province.

Michelle MacCallum, Innovation P.E.I.’s director of cultural development, says P.E.I.’s fund was designed in collaboration with the Island film community.

“The intent of it is to encourage and incentivise homegrown productions for local P.E.I. filmmakers,” she said.

Its goal is to foster the filmmaking scene in P.E.I. and is able to rebate up to 25 per cent on any Island-spent expenditures. Off-Island production companies may be eligible as well.

MacCallum says her department was never approached to discuss filming “Cavendish” on P.E.I., though she acknowledges P.E.I. might not have been able to handle a production like “Cavendish.”

The fund favours applications that prove their film will use Island crew, talent and locations, as well as have economic benefits for the province.

“We’re encouraging co-productions that work with Island filmmakers,” MacCallum said.

But P.E.I. might not have had the production resources needed, such as a full working crew.

The fund’s current priorities are to build the Island’s ability to service productions, to show off-Island production companies what can be done here and to help Islanders tell quality stories.

“First we have to learn to tell them, and then we have to be able to tell them, and then we can blast them out,” she said. “Right now, we’re in a first year of that development process.”

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