Hey everyone! Thanks for visiting our Kickstarter page and sticking around to find out what we're all about! Here's a peek at what we're up to...
We want to produce a lifestyle (or documentary style reality) series that chronicles a year in wine making, from pruning in the cold, early months of the year, right through bottling and shipping almost twelve months later.
A full season in the vineyard and winery, from start to finish, complete with not only the ins and outs of the process, and the why, where, and when the decisions get made, but also taking a good look at who is growing the wine, and of course, why?!
Oh, and we want to film it in Canada's beautiful Okanagan Valley! No too shabby, hey?
The Okanagan has beautiful weather, spectacular scenery, and a ton of great events, people, and stories to help backdrop the process, but it's also home to a number of increasingly more world-renowned wines and wineries, and we want the success of the Canadian wine industry to be an underlying theme throughout our first season.
We visited almost two dozen locations over the last few months, and shook a lot of hands. There are some great personalities and stories in the valley - probably enough for another season or two, so finger's crossed! But to start with, we picked three locations whose stories really compliment each other well, and decided it's time to move forward!
We’re really excited about the potential for this series. The wine industry appeals to such varied groups of people - wine lovers, food lovers, food growers, chefs, nature buffs, and even the hundreds of thousands of people who visit the Okanagan for vacation each year. There’s so much Reality TV dedicated to each one of these groups, and we think there’s a great audience for a show that wraps so much up into one.
But good Reality TV also needs at least a little bit of drama. Wine making still presents some unique challenges in such a cool climate, and the wine industry in Canada is still relatively small. Luckily, we feel that makes the successes that Canadian wines are having on the world scene an even more interesting story to hear... and to tell!
One of our main characters said it best while we were filming our trailer: each bottle of wine tells the story of the year it was made. How hot it was, how wet it was, when the harvest began, what was done with the soil... the main story arc couldn't be more simple. How did we get from these vines to this bottle of wine? Each episode will explore one stage of production and compare how the process differs at our three locations.
And as mentioned above, the Okanagan is also alive with festivals, events, and tourists throughout the year, so each episode will have its own unique backdrop for flavour. But reality TV really does need some compelling side-stories and great characters, so here's a little bit about where we're headed this season!
Our first stop is Covert Farms, overlooking the town of Oliver, “Canada’s Wine Capital”. Covert Farms is a huge organic farm that sits on a 700 acre plateau overlooking the valley, and has been Gene Covert's home since the day he was born. He's seen it all, and has the stories to prove it! We spent a day with Gene and and sales guru / chef Derek Uhlemann, exploring the farm, the vineyard, and the winery, and getting to know their process a little. The vineyard itself is fairly small, but the farm is a non-stop source of action through the season, and is a great foil for showcasing what makes wine production unique. Throughout the season, the farm welcomes tourists, seasonal workers, kids camps, and U-pickers, obstacle course racers, dinner guests, and wine-lovers alike.
And for the first time in 75 years, there are salmon spawning in the Okanagan River just beneath the plateau, so we expect the farm to be a great source of drama and B-Roll, as well as a great forum for exploring the concepts of food pairings, sustainability, and responsible development.
So, we initially thought we could probably fill a whole season just on the farm, but another half hour up the valley, we found another great story we really wanted to integrate somehow.
I talked with John Skinner at Painted Rock who’s on what sounds like a pretty bold mission. He thinks the Okanagan has the right climate and soil to start making some of the best wines in the world, and he spent a long time hunting for JUST the right piece of land, and consulting some of the top wine minds out there.
He thinks Painted Rock is poised to put Canada right up there with France and Italy, and wants to make THE world’s best wine, right in our back door!
This story seemed too good to pass up, but it’s such a different theme than Covert, so we needed something else to help tie them together, and that’s when we met Rob Ingram.
Rob is building a new winery called Helios (Now 'Black Swift' ) near Kelowna, and when I first spoke to him on the phone, I thought documenting the winery construction process would be pretty interesting on its own, but we found Rob’s goal as a winery owner to be a really great foil for John. He thinks Canadian wine can be a real money maker, and has a pretty unique business model up his sleeve. Rob and his son Scott, who manages the vineyards, are still really big on quality, but their bottom line is the bottom line, and we thought that was the perfect third piece of this puzzle.
So, that’s that - three locations, three very different approaches, a brand new winery being built, and one long growing season. We want to hit each major point of the process, which starts with pruning the vines in February and March, so we’ll need to get started as quickly as we can!
- $2,500 - Pre-Production. This includes additional scheduling, story writing and pre-editing, and location scouting. Might be nice to get some b-roll done while we're at it!
- $17,500 - Production. We're aiming for between 7 to 9 days "on set", and will need a director, location manager, production coordinator, DP, sound technician, gaffer/grip, etc.
- $11,000 - Post-Production. All the usual stuff here - logging, editing, graphics, narration, sound editing, mix, and music, and additional television related expenses like closed-captioning, broadcast mix, etc.
- $5,000 - Administration & One Time Costs. All the fun stuff we can't do without, including insurance, contracts, licensing fees, additional concept development, marketing, story development, logo design, etc.
- $4,000 - Contingency. Ten percent for bad weather, illness, and locusts.
The Stretch Goals
Our aim for this project is to produce a vine to glass series, and that's what we intend to do. We're trying not to get ahead of ourselves, so we're starting by requesting enough to produce a pilot. But if things go well, here's what we're committed to doing:
- $40,000 - Pilot Episode.
- $75,000 - Two Episodes and/or Full Length Documentary.
- $105,000 - Three Episodes and/or Full Length Documentary.
- $180,000 - Six Part Series showcasing snippets from a full season.
- $250,000 or more - We will complete a vine-to-glass, ten or twelve episode season telling the story of a full year at our three locations.
We are Jon Hunwick and Kenton Gilchrist, and we head up the team at Asymetriq Productions Inc. After four years of working together on dozens of projects as freelancers and employees of Vancouver production companies, we finally officially joined forces in 2012, and opened our Okanagan studio later that year.
We're not wine experts by any means, but certainly enjoy a glass now and then, and are thoroughly enjoying everything we've learned so far in our research and exploration for this series. The process is fascinating! Just as importantly, we both love the outdoors, and are looking forward to spending some time out of studio in the Okanagan sun this Summer.
We've been lucky enough to have worked on several highly acclaimed projects over the last few years, including Anirniq (Brudder Productions) which won Best Short at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival.
Risks and challenges
There are always risks associated with a production like this. No matter how well you prepare, some things just don't go as planned. Weather can wreak havoc on an outdoor shooting day (or week), equipment can fail or malfunction, and people get sick. We are also trying to capture some really particular stages of growth and development, and will need to be ready and able to shift into high gear on fairly short notice.
We've tried to account for any potential problems by adding a contingency category to our budget, and making lists of potential backup crew and locations, and knowing where the nearest source for replacement gear is at any given time.
In the unlikely event that several worst-case-scenario issues arise that force us to make sweeping changes to our schedule, locations, or concept, we have also developed several contingency treatments, scripts, and proposals to include fewer (or different) locations, or even transition the project from a number of television episodes into a full length documentary.
On another front, it's tough to talk about risk without thinking of our own. We are staking the success of an entire year on a single project, which is on one hand energizing and exciting, and on the other hand a tad nerve-wracking, we're not afraid to admit! We're putting our reputations, livelihoods, and our free time on the line to do something we're passionate about. We hope that the implications of that aren't lost on potential investors. We have every reason to make this show a success, no matter the obstacle.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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