October 29, 2008
Latest Piper film family-oriented
By PAUL MORDEN - Sarnia Observer
PETROLIA, ON -- Filmmaker Mark McNabb won't be loading up the truck and moving to Hollywood any time soon.
"It's cool to visit -- wouldn't want to live there," said the father of three who runs Skylight Films in the town in which he grew up.
Skylight Films will roll out a red carpet at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia Nov. 29 for the premier of Billy Owens and the Secret of the Runes.
It's the sequel to The Mystical Adventures of Billy Owens, a family fantasy-adventure that premiered on Super Channel in October.
The new film, shot last summer in Sarnia, Sombra, Courtright and Pelee Island, brought wrestler-actor Roddy Piper back together with the young actors from the first film, including Chatham's Dalton Mugridge in the title role of Billy Owens -- a young boy with magical power.
McNabb said they got the green light for a sequel from Skylight's Los Angeles based partners, Artist View Entertainment, while shooting the first Billy Owens film.
Piper, who plays the "wise, wizardly" role in the story, also agreed to return.
In the first film, Billy gets his magic wand and in the second he learns how to use it, McNabb said.
A curse traps Piper's character in an amulet in the sequel and it's up to Billy and his friends to save him.
"They end up going through all kinds of adventures to get there."
McNabb directed the film and produced it, along with Kelly Rae Irwin.
This is the third film McNabb has made with Piper, a notorious wrestler in the WWE in the 1980s and 90s.
The first was the action film BLINDEYE, which was when McNabb approached Piper with the idea of acting in a family adventure film Skylight was developing.
Right away, Piper said he was attracted to the project's values and said he was in, McNabb said.
This fall, Skylight began shooting a children's western, Home Alone on the Range, and it recently finished Ghost Trap, a film McNabb described as a "junior Ghostbusters."
In all, McNabb has shot more than 25 films in Petrolia and around southwestern Ontario.
Over the last 15 years, Skylight has gone from showing its films locally to the point where it has three titles playing on Super Channel this fall, he said.
The family-adventure television and DVD market has turned into a good one for Skylight Films and one that McNabb said he's enjoying as a filmmaker.
"You're an adult and you get to play."
The Nov. 29 premier of Billy Owens and the Secret of the Runes will benefit the United Way of Sarnia-Lambton.
McNabb said actors from the film will be at the premier, although Piper isn't expected because of a scheduling conflict.
Tickets are $15 and showtime is 7:30 p.m. at the Victoria Playhouse Petrolia. Call Skylight Films, 519-882-0025, for ticket information.