Book of Negroes production team asks council for Dock Street closures

Greg Bennett
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The Book of Negroes production team tweeted out a picture of the director's claboard for the first scene in South Africa. The team will now focus on shoots in Nova Scotia, including Shelburne in the coming weeks.

The Town of Shelburne will be negotiating a location agreement with Book of Negroes producers this week.

Location manager Gary Swim made a formal request to council for the use of Dock Street to prepare and film scenes for the production during late April and early May.

Paved areas of Dock Street will be covered with dirt and traffic will be rerouted around the area as the production crews try to recreate Shelburne from more than 225 years ago.

Businesses in the area have been notified about the changes and a complete schedule for the Shelburne part of the international production is expected soon.

Filming in South Africa has wrapped up and plans are being made to shoot segments of the mini-series based on the Lawrence Hill novel, The Book of Negroes in Shelburne in early May.

Casting for extras was to take place April 4-6 for the Shelburne shoots. The open casting call is being held at the Loyalist Inn Hotel on Water Street.

The production company Conquering Lions Pictures has plans to use Shelburne to represent the early Loyalist town of Shelburne as it was highlighted in the novel.

Producers also plan to shoot scenes in Lunenburg, Halifax and Louisbourg.

The Shelburne shoots will focus on Dock Street and will include filming on the Freedom Schooner Amistad, which will make a special trip from the U.S. for the shoots.

The Canadian company partnering in the production, Conquering Lion Pictures, is an independent production company based in Toronto and is under the leadership of Damon D'Oliveira and Clement Virgo, The company’s films have in the past been selected for Cannes, Berlin, Sundance and TIFF (the Toronto International Film Festival), and have been sold around the world.

The story follows Aminata Diallo, who is kidnapped from West Africa at the dawn of the 18th century, survives a harrowing Atlantic crossing, is separated from her love and must navigate the American Revolution before returning to Sierra Leone, and ultimately securing her freedom in England.

Shelburne, Birchtown and the Black Loyalists all figure prominently in the novel.

Producers plan to eventually donate pieces of the set and other memorabilia from the production to the Black Loyalist Heritage Museum in Birchtown.

A documentary about the making of the film will also be offered to the museum.

Some big name actors are a part of the multi-national television project.

Cuba Gooding Jr. is an Oscar-winning actor who has appeared in many films in his career including Pearl Harbour, Radio, Jerry MacGuire, Men of Honour and Red Tails among others.

Lou Gossett Jr. is another Oscar winner, Emmy winner and veteran actor with a career reaching back into the 1950s and many credits behind him including noted roles in the TV series Roots and movies An Officer and A Gentleman and Iron Eagle.

Aunjanue Ellis is known for her roles in The Help, Ray and The Mentalist.

The BET network is joining forces with CBC and eOne to present the mini-series, which will air in Canada and the U.S.

The cast will also include the SAW franchise's Lyriq Bent who will be joined by actors Ben Chaplin and Allan Hawco along with four-time Oscar nominee Jane Alexander (Kramer vs. Kramer, All the President's Men).

Preliminary production in Shelburne is expected to start
April 30 and continue until May 14.

People who are unable to attend the casting sessions, can register online @

Organizations: Conquering Lions Pictures, Loyalist Inn Hotel, Freedom Schooner Amistad Black Loyalist Heritage Museum Iron Eagle CBC

Geographic location: Shelburne, Dock Street, U.S. Toronto South Africa Lawrence Hill Water Street Birchtown Lunenburg Louisbourg Cannes Berlin West Africa Sierra Leone England Canada

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