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‘Spooksville’ lives on in school donation

Front Street Pictures has donated a large amount of set equipment to Cowichan Secondary’s Performing Arts program.

From spooky beginnings good things come.

Vancouver-based Front Street Pictures has donated a large amount of set equipment to Cowichan Secondary’s Performing Arts program from their locally shot and now discontinued television series Spooksville.

“We just wanted to give something back. We wanted to make sure that some of the stuff we had on the show that we won’t be using anymore went to a good place,” said Paul Russell, who worked as an assistant location manager for Spooksville, which was shot in the Cowichan Valley and ran on television from 2013 to 2014. The donation to CSS includes theatre flats and a number of other items.

“Some handmade foam raven pieces, gargoyles, stuff like that,” Russell said, adding that unlike some production companies from Vancouver who’ll bring over their sets from the Mainland, Front Street sourced almost everything locally.

“All of the stuff that we used on the show for the most part, that we purchased, was purchased in the Cowichan Valley. We spent a few million dollars in the Cowichan Valley to put this show together and the stuff that was given back [to CSS] was stuff that was purchased locally,” Russell said. “We wanted to create more of a local feel to it and really make it a local show and contribute to the community as much as we could.”

Russell graduated from CSS in 1996 and, when brainstorming what to do with now-unneeded sets, his old drama teacher Mike Moroz and CSS immediately came to mind.

“That was sort of the first phone call I made to Mike Moroz,” Russell said.

Russell had Moroz as his drama teacher in his first year as a teacher at CSS, which was not too shabby.

“It was great, fantastic. I called him 20 years later to come and get some stuff, I think he did OK,” Russell said with a laugh.

Moroz said the set pieces from Spooksville are much appreciated and will be especially, eerily helpful if CSS does end up choosing to do The Addams Family as one of its productions this coming school year.

“There are tombstones, costume racks, costumes, and a bunch of set flats that you would construct to build a house, interior of a store,” said Moroz. “It’s kind of fun to have him come back and make a donation like that,” Moroz added, noting that Russell is currently involved in some big things.

Indeed, Russell is currently working as location manager in Vancouver for the BBC America television program Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. The show stars Elijah Wood and is based on the work of late science fiction and humour writer Douglas Adams.

“It will be going into production in May and will probably show up in late fall,” said Russell, who’s worked in the film industry for 15 years.

With thanks to Front Street and his former student, Moroz is all smiles.

“It’s a couple of thousand bucks of material alone before you invest the labour,” Moroz said of the donation. “It’s awesome.”