Filmmaker begins project on Dr. William Mainprize

A native Midale resident and Saskatchewan filmmaker, Jack Hilkewich, has begun an ambitious project to honour Dr. William Mainprize, which will include a feature documentary film and an interactive display that fully details his life and accomplishments.
Born and raised in Midale, and now based in Regina, Hilkewich has launched a fundraising campaign to help him realize his dream with a high-quality documentary film and legacy project, as well as creating a bursary foundation for a scholarship to be awarded in Dr. Mainprize’s name.
In addition to asking for donations, he is asking to meet people who knew the doctor, who have photos or home movies of him, or who may have worked with him or can relate stories about some of the ways the legendary doctor helped them or their family.
Hilkewich noted he was delivered by Dr. Mainprize in 1964, the same year he retired from active duty, as a premature baby.
“I was so small, my dad said I could fit into a matchbox. Doc did everything he could to keep me in this world, and for that I am eternally grateful. Now it is my turn to return the favour,” said Hilkewich in a brochure he is distributing to area towns in the Midale region, hoping that longtime and former residents might be able to help him with facts, stories, photos or other materials.
He also wants photos and memories of people relating to the old Mainprize Park, before it was flooded in 1994 by the Rafferty-Alameda dams, and replaced by the current Mainprize Regional Park and golf course.
“The film is essentially a love letter to the brave people who settled this province. Doctor Mainprize was an extraordinary human being, going to great lengths to carry out his practice, but he didn’t do it all alone. He was the leader, but had a lot of people who worked alongside him to make sure he was able to do what he did,” said Hilkewich in explaining the rationale behind this film project, noting he also wants to document how the weather often played a huge factor in the doctor’s ability to help people.
“The sometimes harsh conditions made Doc’s job a difficult one, and would tax the limited resources he had to work with. The infrastructure, in those days, were very minimal. When rain or snow happened, it would make a short trip to a nearby farm to treat an ailing person a journey fraught with perils of a Homeric odyssey,” said Hilkewich.
“Right now I am collecting names of people that may have worked with Doc or have some sort of connection with him and his family,” he added, saying there is a tone of urgency in this request, as those who knew the doctor are advancing on in years, and he wants to record their stories before they are all gone.
The project will take about a year and a half once production starts, with shooting to take place during all four seasons of the year, and then six months will be needed for production and animation.
“We are hoping to raise enough money to make it a feature-length film. If we do that, we would also be able to edit a TV one-hour version. We will send it out to film festivals around the world, and eventually obtain a distribution deal. We will also sell it to local broadcasters upon completion,” explained Hilkewich.
He is arranging for a full orchestral score of original music by Jason Cullimore, who is a Gemini Award nominee, and it will include an original song by Midale native Brad Johner; he will also have aerial photography done to show the landscape that the doctor lived and worked in.
“I felt that I have one shot at this, and that it needs to be done right,” said Hilkewich.
The second component of this project is the wish to develop an interactive exhibit and website, with the physical display to be placed either in Mainprize Park, or at the Midale Museum. In part, the purpose of the display is to inform those of the current generation of area residents who have no idea about the history of Mainprize Park or how it got its name.
Part of what Hilkewich envisions is a full-scale model of the old Mainprize Park that will be interactive, with animation and touch-sensitive components, music and sound effects, plus some parts of the exhibit will relate to the documentary, including having some of the interviews available for viewing.
The proposed bursary “comes from the spirit of Doc Mainprize himself,” said Hilkewich, and will be awarded to a Saskatchewan resident attending post-secondary education and who is enrolled in an area of the medical profession, including veterinary, medicine, nursing, optometry or dentistry. The bursary will assist someone who may not otherwise have the means to attend post-secondary education.
“Doc was so giving of his time and money that we feel it is only right to do the same,” said Hilkewich.
On the fundraising front, he notes so far they have raised nearly $60,000, and the minimum goal will be $335,000, with the dream to raise much more, closer to $900,000 if it’s at all possible.
“We intend to talk to as many oil companies and related businesses in the area as we can. We just hope that they see the importance of bringing this story to light,” said Hilkewich.
He has been in the film and TV industry since 1984, including working on a couple of Roger Corman films in Toronto, and working with nearly every production company in Saskatchewan.
He has worked on a number of commercials and TV shows like “Cottage Country” and “Street Sense” for the CBC, and creating the Access Communications show, “James and Kevin Show”; he started the 3D Animation and Visual FX company, Tyrell Media, in 2007, and in 2012 he joined forces with Melcher Media where he is now the animation supervisor.

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