Salter Street Films
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The company was founded by brothers Paul and Michael Donovan in 1983. Paul Donovan was trained as a director at the London Film School; Michael graduated from Dalhousie University’s Law School and began as a producer of Paul’s film projects. Salter Street Films was named after the street in Halifax where Paul and Michael had been living.
The company began life with early problems. Its first major feature film was Def-Con 4 (1985) which eventually became profitable, but other pictures such as George's Island (1989), Buried on Sunday (1992) and Paint Cans (1994), though critically acclaimed, were money-losers. The company's salvation turned out to be the science fiction series Lexx, which was a hit in Germany, Russia and Eastern Europe. This Canadian-German co-production went on to become a lucrative money-maker through international sales and was one of the first shows to develop a cult following almost exclusively through the Internet.
Concurrently, the Donovan brothers found success with the satirical This Hour Has 22 Minutes becoming a hit on CBC Television as well as other series such as CODCO, Emily of New Moon, Made in Canada, Blackfly, the children's series Pirates and the special Rick Mercer's Talking To Americans. These shows found homes on the CBC as well as other Canadian networks and cable channels. Salter Street also created the Stop motion children's show Poko which is still in production.
Based on their reputation for political satire, American documentary film-maker Michael Moore approached Salter Street to produce his Bowling for Columbine project. Michael Donovan agreed, and arranged financing in Canada and Germany. The documentary won both the Anniversary Prize at Cannes and the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.
In 2000, a year after the Donovan brothers had taken the company public, Salter Street Films was awarded the broadcast licence for the Independent Film Channel by the CRTC. This potentially lucrative award, combined with SSF’s reputation as a content-provider, attracted interest from the powerful media corporation Alliance Atlantis. Alliance Atlantis bought Salter Street from the majority shareholders the following year. Paul and Michael Donovan remained on as producers.
In 2003, two years after the purchase, Alliance Atlantis closed the operation, transferring Salter Street's ongoing television productions to Alliance.
Paul Donovan has continued as an independent producer and director. In May 2004, Michael Donovan has formed the Halifax Film Company with many of the former Salter Street employees. In 2006, Halifax Film merged with Decode Entertainment to form DHX Media.
- Salter Street Films Announces U.S. Premiere of LEXX on The SCI FI Channel BUSINESS WIRE, Sept. 30, 1999
- Alliance Atlantis buys Salter Street Films February 12, 2001, CBC News
- Salter.com, official Webpage of Salter Street Films (archived 2002-06-03)