Chris Bickford wants to help put the Canadian Football League on the big screen.
Movies have always been a useful vehicle to connect audiences to sports with films such as The Little Giants, Mighty Ducks, and The Sandlot becoming generational classics. Bickford wants to do the same for the CFL — create a film that will help inspire kids to become passionate about Canadian football.
“The CFL would be showcased repeatedly to a sought-after demographic year after year and generation after generation,” said Bickford. “I think it could really become a classic in Canadian households.”
The Toronto native is a former teen actor on Nickelodeon’s You Can’t Do That On Television who has since transitioned into the production side of film and television. He is not formally affiliated with the CFL but is a diehard fan who would be honoured to help put the league on the big screen.
Bickford is looking to create the movie with Russ De Jong of North Films Co., the largest privately-owned film production company in Canada. De Jong recently worked on the popular Netflix series The Umbrella Academy and has previously worked with celebrities such as Megan Fox, Heather Graham, Tommy Lee Jones, and Shawn Mendes.
The film would have a budget of $4 to $5 million and be shot over a period of four weeks. North Films Co. is based in Hamilton and Toronto, so the Tiger-Cats would be the team featured in the coming-of-age film that Bickford calls a cross between Rocky and Stand By Me.
“The movie would stand alone and promote the CFL with or without the XFL,” said Bickford. “It is not contingent on any type of merger or partnership.”
Bickford only needs to secure the remaining 20 percent of the film’s budget to make it viable. He’s offered the CFL the opportunity to invest and share in the potential profits, though the project is not contingent on funding from the league. Two high-profile athletes — a Super Bowl champion quarterback and a Hall of Fame New York Yankee — are also in consideration to support the film.
“If the CFL doesn’t play this year, having a movie on Netflix would allow the brand to stay fresh in people’s minds until players hit the field again,” said Bickford.
The movie would be released in theatres and shown at film festivals, barring COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. It would then be put on Netflix and made available to its 200 million subscribers worldwide.
Production has had preliminary conversations with a number of well-known Canadian actors regarding roles in the film. Bickford is confident that they would be able to secure at least one household name, though it’s too early to begin the casting process.
Bickford and his team have a number of other productions planned for future years. He’s hoping that his first film can promote the league he loves at a critical time in its history.