Although he is known more for his role as a powerful hockey agent with star clients such as Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, Pat Brisson is always on the look out for new opportunities to harness talent. It is no surprise then, that the current co-head of the hockey division (along with partner J.P. Barry) at Los Angeles based Creative Artists Agency (CAA) is dabbling in the world of film.
Brisson along with former NHL star Sergei Fedorov and Priority Records co-founder Bryan Turner are executive producers of a new project named The Gracefield Incident created by producer, director, writer and actor Mathieu Ratthe.
Brisson describes the film as an "exciting thriller". The two-and-a-half minute trailer gives the viewer a sneak peak at what starts out as a fun cottage weekend in Gracefield, PQ., but takes a horrific turn when a fireball blazes through the sky and crashes into the nearby woods. When the group goes to inspect - paranormal activity ensues.
Currently there is no official release date for The Gracefield Incident as it is in the last phases of post-production. Brisson expects that they will know something more concrete in the coming months.
"In the next 60 days to 90 days we will have a lot more information as to what is the next step," Brisson said. "The project is done except for a few tweaks here and there. Mathieu is talking to different studios right now."
In describing why he became involved with Ratthe, it is clear that Brisson draws parallels between the potential he sees with future stars on the ice to those on the rise in the entertainment world, namely a combination of passion, motivation and talent.
"Mathieu is a young prospect so to speak," Brisson said. "Hockey is what I know best but in the field of entertainment I felt he deserved attention. I saw talent in him and I know it is going places."
As the saying goes - it's all about who you know and rarely is that more prevalent than in Hollywood. Ratthe, 32, happened to know the niece of former NHLer Luc Robitaille who is currently president of business operations of the L.A. Kings. Robitaille is a close friend of Brisson (they were former teammates with the Hull Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in the mid-eighties) and was able to get an introduction to a fellow Quebecer.
"He came from Chicoutimi and was 20-years-old when he first arrived here. He had a dream to make movies, showed us his stuff and we thought it was interesting," Brisson recalls. "We let him grow and by about three years ago he had put some good projects together."
Brisson then began to open up his contacts to Ratthe including entertainment heavyweight and hockey fan Jerry Bruckheimer. Ratthe was also able to secure a meeting with Steven Spielberg according to Brisson.
Ratthe's body of work includes producing, directing and writing several short films - the most recent as listed on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is Pretty Wicked, which was released in 2011.
As executive producers, the main role of Brisson and Turner was to raise money that Ratthe needed for the project. Russian born Fedorov - a former client of Brisson's and friend of Turner, could be utilized for foreign distribution, primarily in his country of birth. Brisson also says that he and Turner offer guidance on the project but he stops short of revealing the final operating budget for the film.
"We are not talking about $20 million film," he says. "Mathieu has done a fabulous job, I am extremely amazed at how he managed the budget."
It would seem that expanding into the film and entertainment world would be natural for 49-year-old who is known as one of the most powerful agents in the sporting world.
After all, hockey is just one division of CAA which represents A-List actors and world famous musicians. However, Brisson has been reluctant to try his hand as an independent film producer.
"I am not an investor in projects, I have always been told not to invest in movies and I don't see myself expanding into the movie business," he says. "I saw an opportunity to get involved with someone really talented that I believe in.
"Being at CAA we sure spend time with different divisions and learning from them so if I am going to take it somewhere of course it would be the first stop. The experience I have gathered over 26 years in the business has really helped me on deciding how and why I should be involved with Mathieu on this level. I am sure its going to lead to some positive results - if it is of interest to the experts on the movie side then fine."
Brisson previously dipped into film distribution in the early 1990's when he was involved in a documentary about the career of Mario Lemiuex entitled Mario the Magnificent. Amongst other things, he also was also involved with trying to get singer Roch Voisine to sign a deal with Capital Records and introduced him to Canadian music producer David Foster whom Brisson had met through Robitaille and Wayne Gretzky at a Kings game.
"If I look back on when I came to California, I was looking at different things, I explored a lot of things," he said. "It is the land of opportunity and I was always looking at options and I have always had my eyes open for talent."
Follow Neil Acharya on Twitter: @Neil_Acharya