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Avan Jogia’s ‘Door Mouse’ Acquired by Gravitas Ventures

EXCLUSIVEGravitas Ventures has acquired U.S. rights to actor Avan Jogia’s first feature Door Mouse from Highland Film Group. The thriller starring Hayley Law (Riverdale), Keith Powers (The Tomorrow War), Famke Janssen (Long Slow Exhale), Donal Logue (Gotham) and Jogia (Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City) is slated for release in theaters and on demand on January 13.

Pic follows Mouse (Law), an irreverent dancer at a dead-end burlesque club run by Mama (Janssen). When Mouse’s only friends and fellow club dancers go missing under mysterious circumstances, nobody at the club seems too concerned about them, and the police couldn’t care less. Mouse and her constant sidekick Ugly (Powers) quickly realize that it’s up to them to dig up all the dirt and start the hunt for the culprits. 

Jogia directed from his script, with Kyle Mann producing for Independent Edge, along with Jason Ross Jallet from Cause and Effect Entertainment. Goldrush Entertainment’s Eric Gozlan served as exec producer. Highland Film Group sold the film’s Canadian rights to Elevation Pictures, negotiating its Gravitas deal with Senior Director of Acquisitions Bill Guentzler.

Read the full article on Deadline.

Filming true-crime caper Bandit was practically a heist in itself

“It was the shortest shoot I’ve ever been on, and the biggest movie I’ve ever made.”

That’s Toronto director Allan Ungar talking about his new movie Bandit, which stars Josh Duhamel in the true story of Gilbert Galvan Jr., an American who came to Canada in the 1980s and pulled almost 60 bank robberies and other heists, taking in more than $2.3 million, before being caught.

The film is a comedy, its light tone helped by the fact that Galvan – dubbed The Flying Bandit by the media for his habit of jetting across the country to rob banks in other cities – was unfailingly polite and never violent. “He was basically an honorary Canadian,” says Ungar. “He adopted the Canadian mentality.”

Ungar, 33, says he took inspiration from films like Lethal Weapon and Die Hard that combine action and humour. There’s also a little of Catch Me If You Can in Bandit’s DNA. “That’s how Josh was pitched the film. His agent said: This is your Catch Me If You Can. That’s why he read it. And he called me a week later and said he’d take it.”

The cast is rounded out by Elisha Cuthbert as Galvan’s wife; Nestor Carbonell as a determined police officer; and Mel Gibson as an Ottawa crime kingpin. Filming was supposed to take place in Vancouver and Ottawa, but COVID restrictions, especially quarantine requirements for any out-of-country cast and crew, necessitated a move. American producers suggested Georgia or Puerto Rico.

Ungar recalls telling them: “I don’t know if any of you have guys have ever been to Ottawa, Vancouver or Toronto, but Puerto Rico will not work. However, I think rural Georgia can double for rural Ontario, and I think Atlanta can double for Vancouver.”

Filming in the U.S. was expensive, and so a planned 32-day shoot featuring 200 scenes and 95 sets and locations was cut to just 21 days. “It was gutted,” the director groans. “I’m still trying to figure out how we did it.”

He found himself driving around southern Georgia, peering between plantations and colonial buildings for anything that could pass for the kind of Victorian architecture more common to Canada, or looking for a building that could be shot from three angles to look like different banks. The small towns of Valdost, Tifton and Thomasville came through.

“I don’t think it’s ever been done before,” Ungar says of having Georgia play Canada. Usually those civic impersonations go the other way. “And I was terrified what Canadians would think if the movie came out and they could see right through it.” He notes that getting the period details right was its own challenge, but “Georgia as Canada was much more difficult.”

Ungar says one of the producers did suggest changing the script so the story happened in America. “That went in one ear and out the other,” he says with a chuckle. “I didn’t even give it the time of day. There was no other way to do it.”

Indeed, Bandit wears its Canadian heart on its sleeve, notwithstanding the necessity of shooting stateside. (The crew did manage a few days of filming in Ottawa before production wrapped.) The soundtrack is stocked with period-appropriate music by Canadian acts likes Trooper, Doug and the Slugs, and Burton Cummings.

And while the banks’ names had to be changed to things like Golden Crown and Royale East, their corporate colours will be familiar to Canucks. Also, calling the then-new air miles program Air-o-plan isn’t fooling anyone. The joke in the movie is that Galvan travels so much for his job as a “security consultant” that he racks up the points.

There’s even a cameo by Galvan himself, whose story was told in the 1996 book The Flying Bandit: Bringing Down Canada’s Most Daring Armed Robber. Kraig Wenman adapted the book for the screen. Galvan is in two scenes as a patron at the bar where Josh’s version of him meets Gibson’s character.

“He’s there,” Ungar confirms. “Eagle-eyed viewers will be able to see him.” He says Galvan liked to tell stories to the crew but mostly stayed out of the way of the filmmakers. “I think he realized that we had done our homework,” he says. “He was so happy to be there, and so happy that his story was being told.”

Read the full article on National Post.

Why Georgia Doubled as Canada in Josh Duhamel’s Bank Robber Drama ‘Bandit’

Toronto and Vancouver routinely double as New York City, Chicago and other American cities in Hollywood movies and TV series that tap generous tax credits and currency savings when shot in Canada.

But in what Canadian director Allan Ungar claims is a first, he had to re-create 1980s Ottawa, Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton in modern-day Georgia to shoot his bank robber drama Bandit, which stars Josh DuhamelElisha CuthbertMel Gibson and Néstor Carbonell.

“In certain parts of the U.S., people are very patriotic. And so it was very bizarre for some of the locals to be walking down Main Street and see Canadian flags everywhere,” Ungar tells The Hollywood Reporter ahead of Bandit getting a theatrical release on around 100 North American screens starting this Friday.

Ungar had originally been set to shoot in Canada his true-life movie about American Gilbert Galvan Jr., played by Duhamel, who escaped from a Michigan prison and crossed the border in 1985 to assume a new identity and rob, in all, 59 Canadian banks and jewelry stores as part of a cross-country crime spree.

Because Galvan Jr. would often rob a bank at one of end of Canada and quickly board a plane to be home the same evening, he became known as the “The Flying Bandit.”

“This guy literally racked up 160,000 Aeroplan miles and used those points to fly himself first class around Canada, robbing banks in pretty much every province. It’s just a wild story,” the Bandit director explains.

It was the COVID-19 pandemic, however, with its requirement that Hollywood actors quarantine for 14 days before stepping onto a Canadian film set, that made luring American talent across the border to work on Bandit impractical.

“It’s a really hard sell to convince actors to come to Canada during a time when they’d be spending more time quarantining in a hotel room than actually working on set,” Ungar recalls. So the producers on Bandit, Goldrush Entertainment and Yale Productions, shifted production to Georgia, where the local film tax credit was itself a draw, along with welcoming locals.

Except for wary bank workers, it turns out. “Nothing is more awkward than walking into a bank on a location scout and having the managers listen to you talking about all the ways you could rob that bank,” Ungar recounts.

To allow Duhamel to play Canada’s John Dillinger, the movie’s producers relied on banks in the Peach State that had been shut down, or built bank teller wickets and safe deposit box areas in a film studio. And for exteriors, Ungar embraced tight camera shots and computer generated removal of modern-day buildings to get a Canadian look in rural Georgia.

“Ultimately, it came down to know exactly what we needed in each scene and saying, ‘If this is going to be a street corner, we need the Canadian mailbox, a couple Canadian flags and some really polite extras saying sorry a lot,’” the director jokes about the American stereotype that Canadians are especially apologetic to avoid conflict.

That and classic Southern hospitality allowed Georgia to double as Canadian city centers in Bandit. “It’s Canada with a Southern drawl,” Ungar adds.

Bandit is also getting a simultaneous on-demand release via Quiver Distribution on Friday.

Read the full article on The Hollywood Reporter.

‘Bandit’ Review: Josh Duhamel Steals the Show as a Legendary Canadian Bank Robber

“Bandit” may be, as it proudly declares up front, based on a true story. But it’s hard to believe the titular antihero was quite as charming as the guy playing him.

Josh Duhamel is Robert Whiteman — or, technically, Gilbert Galvan Jr., as he’s known before he escapes a Michigan jail and flees to Ontario in 1985. He becomes Whiteman when he buys a homeless man’s ID, so he can get a job selling ice cream. But when he’s fired, he needs a new gig fast. Unfortunately, even in Canada it’s tough to find work as a wanted convict.

So Robert starts looking around for ways to make some easy money. Actually, make that fast money. Canadian banks, he learns while robbing them, have very little security, and he’s in and out in minutes. But it’s definitely work, what with the careful planning, the costumes and prosthetics, and the inevitably complicated getaways. 

Before he makes enough for regular rent payments, he crashes at a church shelter run by social worker Andrea (Elisha Cuthbert). Initially, he tells her he’s working for his dad. Then, when they get serious and she finds the stacks of cash, he promises he only wants to earn enough to buy a little bar in the Bahamas. She believes him every time because, well, she’s the kind of person who works in a church shelter. But we see the glint in Robert’s eye from his very first heist, when he flirts with the teller, and she flirts right back. He’s in it for life, and that means he needs to level up.

In comes Tommy Kay (Mel Gibson), the neighborhood heavy. Tommy owns a seedy strip bar, but he really keeps himself busy as Ontario’s biggest fence. Even as Andrea gets pregnant and sets up their home, her fiancé is flying around Canada robbing banks and casing jewelry stores.

Everyone seems to fall pretty hard for Robert, who is now known across the country as the Flying Bandit, given his penchant for dropping in on a new city, politely relieving a local establishment of its cash, and making it back home by dinner. That he captivates so many of his victims is only understandable because he’s played with so much elan by Duhamel.

Detective Snydes (Nestor Carbonell), who’s been trying unsuccessfully to bust Tommy for years, is more resistant to Robert’s charms. As he looks for yet another way to take Tommy down, he notices that Robert seems to come and go from the bar pretty often. From there, it’s only a matter of time: either Snydes will finally get his bust, or Robert will humiliate him for good.

Canadian director Allan Ungar (“Gridlocked”) and screenwriter Kraig Wenman (adapting a book by Robert Knuckle) are as enamored of Robert as everyone else. Wenman mimics his playfulness with amusing interjections to the audience, assuring us that “this really happened” at particularly preposterous moments. Ungar, who co-edited with Michael Lane, tries to replicate Robert’s energy with mostly snappy pacing, though the movie is about 30 minutes longer than it needs to be.

Like Robert, who times everything out to the second, Ungar should have been in and out before we realized what’s hit us. Instead, things slow down when we spend too much time with the side characters. Gibson is sour and indifferent, and Cuthbert has nothing more to do than play a generic supportive spouse.

But Carbonell — who, like Duhamel, brings fizz to his every role — doesn’t disappoint. When the story bounces between Snydes and Robert, it feels as though the two of them are tossing a ball back and forth.

Robert’s costumes are a little too outlandish, but the ’80s set design is pretty strong, especially considering the film was shot (with Atlanta serving as Canada) during the pandemic. And music supervisor Cody Partridge has put together an aptly dynamic soundtrack, from the opening warning of Trooper’s “Raise a Little Hell” to the best use of Yello since “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

Ultimately, though, it all comes down to Duhamel. For a brief, heady moment, the real Galvan had all of Canada intrigued by his exploits. But the greatest coup of all is that his legacy will now forever be defined by “Bandit.”

Read the full article on TheWrap.