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The Valley Below Invites Audiences Behind the Scenes

Calgary-based North Country Cinema Collective's first feature film offers audiences a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how a movie gets made. 

Directed by Kyle Thomas and produced by Top 40 alumus Cameron Macgowan, "The Valley Below" is based on the collective's award-winning short "Not Far From the Abbatoir" and is funded by Telefilm Canada's first annual highly competitive microbudget program. It was one of only eight projects to be selected from across the country to receive a non-repayable contribution of up to $120,000.

As part of the agreement with Telefilm, North Country created a digital media strategy to promote the film, which includes daily blog, video and photo posts on thevalleybelow.ca.

"We're a tiny indie, so we want to do whatever we can to get eyeballs on the project." Macgowan says. The website is a way to offer audiences an inside look at the creation of a film. "We want to show audiences the highs and lows of making a film," Macgowan says. " By being transparent we're hoping to encourage audiences to become personally attached to the process."

The films explores four parallel relationships that take place in a different season and are symbolic of the distinct stages of a romance, including the painful end of one and the buzz of summer love. It stars a bevvy of local talent including Top 40 Under 40 alumnus Mandy Stobo and Calgary's poet-laureate Kris Demeanor.

The film is shot entirely in and around Drumheller, a location that Macgowan describes as "one of the most supportive communities to work in." Macgowan says the positivity of the locals and the fact the landscape is so beautiful and unique to Alberta adds enormous value to the production. 

"The Valley Below" will be finished spring 2014, with the goal to make it easily available to the public through screenings and online, which is something Macgowan says is a benefit of working with tight finances.

"That's the joy of having a small budget," he says. "We're not worried about making tons of money back, we can offer it directly to our audience."

Follow the process at The Valley Below.

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