Turner to make movie in Iqaluit about Mathew Henson



A crew of about 100 will descend on Iqaluit next month to begin filming the story of Mathew Henson, the man who accompanied explorer Robert Peary to the North Pole.

Regional Tourism Officer Rick Hamburg said scouts from Turner Network Television came to the town to find out if the area is suitable to film Henson’s story.

Hamburg said they were looking specifically for pressure ridge ice, open water and general landscapes, similar to the type found in north Ellsmere Island and Greenland.

They also wanted to be able to transport film and supplies easily and house their staff.

Iqaluit has what they need

Everything, Hamburg told them, Iqaluit can provide.

“Most of what they required they found here and they didn’t have to go anywhere else,” Hamburg said. “They knew that films had been shot here before and pretty much knew what’s available and what’s not available.”

Hamburg said the strong American dollar attracts film companies northward to Canada because it’s less expensive to produce a movie.

Iqaluit and the Arctic have also been promoting themselves to movie producers at trade shows in the United States.

Though many people have heard of Peary’s expedition to the North Pole early in this century, few know the role Henson played in that quest.

An African-American, Henson has often been referred to as Peary’s servant, despite the many citations for his work.

This made-for-television movie attempts to tell the story of this northern explorer, who played an intricate role in the pursuit to reach the North Pole.

The film crew is scheduled to arrive late next month. And though this isn’t a big-budget feature film, Hamburg expects spinoffs for the area.

“They’re supposed to be here the end of April, shooting into May,” Hamburg said. “I imagine with hotels stays and meals, hiring guys with skidoos to haul people in and out, they’ll drop a fair amount in the town.”

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