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Red-paperclip town to star in film Add to ...

For the folks in Kipling, Sask., all this fuss began with one red paperclip.

A town of about 1,000, Kipling shot to fame three years ago when it fulfilled the goals of blogger Kyle MacDonald, who had sought to turn a paperclip, through a series of trades, into a home for him and his girlfriend.

Mr. MacDonald was living in Montreal when he got the fateful call from the Saskatchewan town. It offered him the fruition of his "one red paperclip" campaign - a white, two-storey home at 503 Main St. - in exchange for what Mr. MacDonald had: the guarantee of a role in actor Corbin Bernsen's next film.

So began Mr. Bernsen's relationship with Kipling.

These days, Mr. MacDonald is gone, back in Montreal and looking to trade the house again.

But the town has found itself a friend in Mr. Bernsen, who is set to arrive in Kipling Wednesday to shoot another film, Rust, the story of a priest who returns to his hometown for what Mr. Bernsen calls a "midlife crisis of faith."

He wrote the script last summer, specifically to be shot in Kipling, two hours south of Regina. The cast and extras will be mostly Kipling residents, and nearly all the shooting will be done there over three weeks next month.

And the film's backers? Yep, look no farther than Main Street and the farms around Kipling, where residents have pitched in $250,000 to make Rust.

"The red paperclip was a good event, but we thought: 'What could it lead to next?' And it seemed the next thing was a movie shoot in Kipling," said Pat Beaujot, one of the directors of Kipling Film Productions, which is looking after the residents' quarter-million-dollar investment.

"You have to create your own excitement in a small town."

Mr. Bernsen said the town has a unique quality that brought him back. He has already satisfied his end of the paperclip bargain, casting resident Nolan Hubbard in an earlier film, but liked the "raw untrained talent" of the would-be actors he saw while auditioning people in Kipling.

"The town itself is just, for me, a little step into another way of living that's so different from Los Angeles, New York, Toronto or even Vancouver. People are people," said Mr. Bernsen, whose credits include L.A. Law and Psych. "I believe we really have something special."

Kipling is about to be transformed for the shoot, for which Mr. Bernsen spent Tuesday in Regina at a last-minute casting call. The hockey rink will become a sound stage, and a local church the focal point of the film.

An abandoned farmhouse, notoriously occupied by Peter Whitmore, the man convicted of holding two young boys there in 2006, will be razed for one scene, Mr. Bernsen said.

Volunteers will hold the production together, filling in as extras or serving food to the cast and crew.

"In small towns, things get done by volunteers," Mr. Beaujot said.

And when the time comes, the film will premiere there, though no one's quite sure where: There's no movie theatre.

"We've had to arrange a lot of interesting things to make it [the shoot]work," film producer Dana Lesiuk said.

Shooting is set to begin in two weeks. Most of it will wrap up this month, save for some summertime shots. The crew aims for a holiday release this year, and is concurrently shooting a documentary about Mr. Bernsen's dealings with the town since 2006.

"It's new, it's interesting, it's exciting," said Kipling Mayor Kevin Hassler. "It's an opportunity to bind together as a community and work on a project together."

But for Mr. Beaujot and the investors who wrangled together Mr. Bernsen's cash, Rust is not only an expensive toy. The group hopes to earn a return on its investment.

"Nobody's invested too much that it's going to change their eating habits or anything if we don't make any money," he said.

"But if the movie makes a bunch of money, I'll guarantee you there'll be another movie shot in Kipling."

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