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Author Topic: Canada subsidizes pro-Bush propaganda movie
LocoMoto
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posted 09 September 2003 02:02 PM      Profile for LocoMoto        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
While the film is intended for U.S. viewers, it is produced in collaboration with Toronto-based Dufferin Gate Productions in order to take advantage of Canadian government incentives. It is eligible for the federal Film or Video Production Services Tax Credit, the Ontario Film and Television Production Services Tax Credit, and a federal tax-shelter program, which together could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in Canadian government checks being sent to the producers.

Where's the "throwing up" smilie?

From: North Carolina | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
audra trower williams
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posted 10 September 2003 12:44 PM      Profile for audra trower williams   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
So move over Madonna and the Rug Rats and even Leni Riefenstahl, Viacom presents our latest TV superstar: President George W Bush as produced by Karl Rove. the president's in-house Machiavelli, with the help of Lionel Chetwynd, a Republican toady, screenwriter and producer. The production includes the cast of Star Trek, a comedian known for his role as "the ripper," and financial subsidies from Canada where this pro-American patriotic epic was actually made to avoid paying union wages.

AUGH!

more info about the movie.

[ 10 September 2003: Message edited by: audra estrones ]


From: And I'm a look you in the eye for every bar of the chorus | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
HeywoodFloyd
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posted 10 September 2003 01:12 PM      Profile for HeywoodFloyd     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Thats the problem with subsidies. They can go just as easily to something you don't support as something you do.

As has been shown time and time again, the government DOES NOT know best.


From: Edmonton: This place sucks | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 10 September 2003 04:14 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Most of the government incentives are in the form of tax credits rather than subsidies, which were put in place to encourage service productions from outside of Canada. The legislation governing the tax credits has quotas and limitations on the numbers of crew and cast from Canada and from outside Canada, but does not govern content.

This is just a service production, like many others that come through our country. It sucks, I hate it, but there it is. At least some Canuck techies are making a living.


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Sisyphus
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posted 10 September 2003 04:47 PM      Profile for Sisyphus     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
This is just a service production, like many others that come through our country. It sucks, I hate it, but there it is.

Is there another formula that the home-grown film community (if such a thing exists) would generally endorse? How would it differ?

I guess what I'm asking is: What would be a better system, do you think?


From: Never Never Land | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 10 September 2003 07:33 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Short question with a long and complicated answer, Sisyphus.

On the one hand, my idealist, indiginous-only-let-the-commercial-bastards-rot persona feels that we shouldn't be helping out service productions. Let 'em come for the lower dollar and fab locations -- aren't those enough?

Then there's the practical, have-to-make-a-living-and-so-do-the-crews persona. There are a lot of professional techies and actors who vastly prefer to work on indiginous productions, but there aren't enough of those to make a decent living. A lot of the skill-honing happens on service shoots, and that means that I can find people who really know what they're doing when I need them, even if I can't keep them employed at a comfortable level.

So it's an uneasy balance. I don't like the focus on service productions, but I understand why we have to put up with, at least to some degree.

I'd still like to see the degree lessened and more money put into Telefilm and Canada Council, Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund (particularly love them, btw), et al. I'd also like to see some energy put into promoting Canadian product and some limits placed on cinema screens in relation to the amount of American imports -- much the way other countries like France and Italy do, in order to help support their home-grown entertainment industries.

Warning -- some of this is oversimplified in order not to bore or wander off on tangents...


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
worker_drone
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posted 10 September 2003 08:18 PM      Profile for worker_drone        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I'd also like to see some energy put into promoting Canadian product and some limits placed on cinema screens in relation to the amount of American imports

Sorry for the drift, but I'm not so sure about limiting American cinema in Canada. I think this could have some very unfortunate consequences. Hollywood moneymaking blockbusters would still get through, and what might get forced out are the lower grossing American independent films. If being able to see "American Splendor" means the theater next door is playing "American Pie 3" then so be it!


From: Canada | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 10 September 2003 09:33 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
If being able to see "American Splendor" means the theater next door is playing "American Pie 3" then so be it!

As opposed to any number of good Canadian films you've not heard of because we don't have the money to promote them?

Perhaps one could make the argument that creating audiences for something other than blockbusters would generate more demand for better quality American flicks, too. Might be worth a try.

In the meantime, with allies like you, who needs enemies?


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
worker_drone
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posted 11 September 2003 08:29 PM      Profile for worker_drone        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Come on. You can't create an audience by limiting people's choices. I hear the same argument from lots of independent musicans too. "My band is just as good as Radiohead, and if we only had the money to produce a decent demo tape then we'd be millionaires too". And you know what? They're rarely that good. Competent, but nothing special.

Canada already produces world class filmmakers. Denys Arcand, David Cronenberg, Gary Burns, Atom Egoyan, Don McKellar, etc. The list goes on and on. The government already subsidizes the film industry heavily. We already have can-con requirements on Canadian tv stations. What more could the government possibly do? What more should they do?


From: Canada | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 11 September 2003 10:28 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Subsidizes heavily in terms of what? Other countries? Or just your uninformed opinion?

quote:
I hear the same argument from lots of independent musicans too. "My band is just as good as Radiohead, and if we only had the money to produce a decent demo tape then we'd be millionaires too". And you know what? They're rarely that good. Competent, but nothing special.

Way to miss the point there, Sparky. Keep trying, though.

I'm not talking about limiting choices here, btw -- I'm talking about creating more choice. Right now, in most cities around this country, we have very limited venues (if any) for our own films. Doesn't that strike you as a little bass-ackward?

Sure, leave room for the H-wood dreck. Whatever. But make room for quality films produced in this country, too.

You are aware that the vast majority of the screens in this country are owned by Americans with carved-in-stone contracts with the studios, aren't you? That Canadian films are largely excluded not strictly because there is a smaller audience, but because they represent competition (albeit slight because of the difference in promotional budgets).

Canadian content regulations for TV are actually considerably laxer than any other Western country. We are way, way, way behind the French, British, [insert name of country here] in preserving space for our own cultural product. Don't even get me started on how lax Cancon standards are.

There is a real pinch right now in financing features. The directors you mention (Not all of them are world-class, in my opinion, but we'll just have to agree to disagree.) are all experienced directors with more than one feature under their belts. Funding has been seriously cut to Telefilm's feature program (and, incidentally, the CTF, on the TV side). As Telefilm's John Dippong said in a session last winter "The news is bad and it's getting worse." If you are a first-timer looking to direct a feature, your chances are goddam slim, regardless whether you are talented or not.

Right now, Telefilm isn't funding on merit, competency or anything related to being truly good at your craft.

Just because you're not aware of any crisis doesn't mean there isn't one.

[ 11 September 2003: Message edited by: Zoot Capri ]


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
worker_drone
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posted 11 September 2003 11:00 PM      Profile for worker_drone        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
You are aware that the vast majority of the screens in this country are owned by Americans with carved-in-stone contracts with the studios, aren't you? That Canadian films are largely excluded not strictly because there is a smaller audience, but because they represent competition (albeit slight because of the difference in promotional budgets).

Yes. I used to be an usher for Cineplex Odeon. I know why they charge so much for pop too. But one thing I've also noticed, as the SilverCities go up in the suburbs I'm seeing a lot more independent and repetory theaters springing up, that will give independent films a venue. I saw Waydowntown on an Air Canada flight for crying out loud.

The funding cuts to Telefilm are terrible. You're absolutely right. The only way to support Canadian films is to support Canadian filmmakers, and not by limiting their competition. I think the real crisis in Canadian film is the content. British films reflect an interesting British identity (very interesting that it's the stories of the immigrant communities in Britain that are getting big now) and they're an ocean away. They're also losing control of their release dates. Where American films used to take months to get to the UK, they're often released simultaneously now. And the French have the language divide to compete against Hollywood.

One funny thing about Canadian television is that it can steal an American idea and do it better. Muchmusic is a better station than MTV, TeleToon is better than the Cartoon Network, etc. Where's out Independent Film Channel? Getting that up and running before we have to import the American channel (is it too late?) could be a great thing for Canadian filmmakers.


From: Canada | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 12 September 2003 12:13 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
IFC is up and running (the Canadian version) and is one of the better broadcasters to talk to -- but they have very little money to put into tv projects just yet. It takes about 5 years minimum before the channel starts to be able to offer licenses of any size. Plus, they're a digital channel, which means an even more restricted audience than the other specialty channels. Same with the Documentary Channel. Nice people, I loved meeting with them, but they don't have much in the way of licenses.

It's not just Telefilm that's gotten slashed -- the CIFVF is getting major cuts (Canadina Independent Film and Video Fund), they fund less commercial projects that promote Canadian identity. We just completed a project with their assistance, a doc on a violent union stuggle in the '30s.

Which is why it's interesting to me that you talk about content being a crisis. I don't think that's the case, so much as we have everybody from Telefilm to the broadcasters worrying about whether a project has the "legs" to go international. If we had a little more space for our own stuff, if we put money into distribution and audience development, maybe we wouldn't have to fight so damned hard to defend projects that are "too Canadian".

Is it too much to ask that, if I manage to create a film that reflects the identity and tells a story of my own country-people, that I could at least have a shot at putting it on a screen in my own homeland?

And these new cinemas springing up... Sure, in urban centres. Smaller urban centres and other towns don't have access. There is a huge population out there that does not have any opportunity to view Canadian film.

Oh, yes, and Britain... They release American films there and here simultaneously, however, there is still a quota for the ratio of American to British film in the theatres. It's one of the reasons the British film industry is much stronger than Canada's. Our service industry is pretty strong, but when it comes to producing our own films, we're hamstringing ourselves.


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Sisyphus
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posted 12 September 2003 01:13 PM      Profile for Sisyphus     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Zoot, thanks for the thumbnail sketch. It does seem grim at the moment.

I mentioned in another thread that I'm tired of Hollywood formula films. Not for any particularly deep or incisive reasons, just because there doesn't seem to be anything new.

I mentioned an independent Canadian film I saw a couple of months ago, Another Planet, which was promising, but seemed to suffer, more than from anything else, from a low budget. It seems to have had a brief festival run, but other than that, it's hard to imagine how it could have made any money at all.

Documentaries are probably in worse straits, though I suppose there might be limited returns if they are used as educational films in schools.

I wonder if netcasting might not be the answer...

If it's true that the lack of accessibility to commercial screens is due right from the getgo to theatre chains wanting to eliminate competition, or at least fulfill contract obligations with distributors, I wonder if it might be more efficient for film subsidy money to go to refurbishing theatres in small towns that have them (or converting existing multi-use buildings) and setting up a low-tech distribution network, rather than directly subsidizing production costs.

These could be defrayed by means of loans made against potential ticket sales. This would, of course, be a test of the hypothesis that Canadians just aren't interested in CanCon vs. Hollywood dreck.

If repertory theatre troupes can survive (albeit, barely), it seems that something alongs these lines should be feasible for film.

However, I admit I'm coming at this from a position of virginal innocence of the film industry .


From: Never Never Land | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
radiorahim
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posted 13 September 2003 01:29 AM      Profile for radiorahim     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
You are aware that the vast majority of the screens in this country are owned by Americans with carved-in-stone contracts with the studios, aren't you? That Canadian films are largely excluded not strictly because there is a smaller audience, but because they represent competition (albeit slight because of the difference in promotional budgets).

There was talk of establishing some quotas for Canadian content in the movie theatres back in the 1980's...but I understand Ronald Reagan personally intervened with Brian Mulroney on behalf of Jack Valenti to make sure that never happened.

Hollywood's argument has always been that there's no such thing as "culture"...just an "entertainment industry" and have therefore fought tooth and nail every attempt by a country to protect its culture.

Now that the media conglomerates have taken over the industry and are indeed treating it as an "industry" like any other...and moving productions out of Hollywood to other countries...the folks in L.A. are crying the blues about "runaway productions".

So...if Canadian techs can grab some work...even if on a piece of crap...fine by me!


From: a Micro$oft-free computer | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 14 September 2003 12:47 AM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I mentioned an independent Canadian film I saw a couple of months ago, Another Planet, which was promising, but seemed to suffer, more than from anything else, from a low budget. It seems to have had a brief festival run, but other than that, it's hard to imagine how it could have made any money at all.

Documentaries are probably in worse straits, though I suppose there might be limited returns if they are used as educational films in schools.


Canadian films rarely, if ever, make a profit. You're considered to be doing very well if you cover the cost of production. Most Canadian producers take heavy deferrals -- ie: I only take 40% of my fees, and if there's any revenue then I can get the other 60% later. Telefilm gets its money back if you recoup the cost of production, for example. And distributors take a hefty percentage, too.

Docs can be at a slight advantage in some cases because, unlike most features, if you get a pre-production license from a broadcaster, you use that to finance production. If you're really doing well, you get a number of broadcasters who accept different windows (like History gets to broadcast first, first window, and Vision gets to broadcast it later, second window, and so on.) This isn't universally true, though, as some of the movie channels will pony up money in advance for the broadcast rights of a feature.

And we do sell docs to school boards. Sask Ed often will purchase the right to show the doc in schools, but will have you do a special cut so that it's in half hour segments, which can also mean extra cost in getting the editor to do more work for an extra version. You make a little on it, but not much.

quote:
These could be defrayed by means of loans made against potential ticket sales. This would, of course, be a test of the hypothesis that Canadians just aren't interested in CanCon vs. Hollywood dreck.

If repertory theatre troupes can survive (albeit, barely), it seems that something alongs these lines should be feasible for film.


That's an interesting idea. I think, though, that the first step is getting the distributors to put some money into promotion of Canadian films, too. Often they'll take the contract on a flick so they can pay lip service to carrying Canadian product, then promote it really half-heartedly and accuse the audiences of being completely disinterested -- which is largely true, if the audience has never heard of the film.

quote:
Now that the media conglomerates have taken over the industry and are indeed treating it as an "industry" like any other...and moving productions out of Hollywood to other countries...the folks in L.A. are crying the blues about "runaway productions".

There's a lot of hue and cry over runaway productions to Canada, but it still amounts to a very small percentage of the US industry.


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
audra trower williams
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posted 09 October 2003 03:11 PM      Profile for audra trower williams   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
VANCOUVER - The Canadian film industry is waiting to see what impact Arnold Schwarzenegger's win in the California recall election will have.

The actor-turned-politician has spoken out against so-called runaway productions - film shoots coming to Canada to take advantage of favourable economic conditions. During the recall campaign, Schwarzenegger also made it clear he intends to protect jobs in California.


the rest.


From: And I'm a look you in the eye for every bar of the chorus | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
bittersweet
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posted 09 October 2003 05:50 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
With reference to features, we have to tell better stories in Canada if we want better audiences--in our own country, or internationally. Our successful exceptions prove the rule. It's not just a distribution problem, or just a money problem. Higher creative standards need to accompany financing. I know, I read the dreck that gets funded. It's barely literate. No one but crew and family and a few brave souls willing to risk $9 at a festival will ever see these films--deservedly so--although they may win scores of local awards and receive accolades from our booster-critics.

Relatively easy access to soft money without linking it to quality at the story level has resulted in short-term assistance to producers, and long-term harm to the quality of our productions, and hence, the size of our audiences. Our crews are second to none. Our producers are good at producing. But our stories too often suck. It's not the Canadian content that audiences object to; it's the quality of the stories.

Attending the Vancouver Film Fest demonstrates that projects are being produced too early (and many shouldn't be produced at all). They're promising, but are just not ready for Prime Time. Telefilm, etc., have too often funded projects before their time in order to keep production companies operating. This is done in the name of supporting the indigenous industry: the hope is that, with practice (if they stay in business long enough), production companies will get better and produce something good. Long term, this philosophy is terribly damaging because it's not linked to quality. At the film fest, I hear people saying things like "No wonder I never watch Canadian movies--that was so boring." I've been hearing that lament for two decades. Why don't we listen to the audience for a change? These reactions are inevitable when scripts get funded too early. Such comments are made by people who aren't employed in the film biz, but who are knowledgable about film, because that's the kind of person who goes to festivals. We have to stop crowing so much about distribution and pay attention to what is being produced for distribution in the first place.

There is a history of auteurism in Canada; filmmakers like Arcand, Egoyan, Cronenburg, et al, but with these few exceptions aside, that history, combined with easy access to soft money, has encouraged dilletantes. There are director/writers with three lousy films to their "credit" who will not improve, cannot improve, but they keep getting money. And so they become indignant when funding is contingent on quality. "Who are you to judge me--I'm an auteur!" Yet most people who can operate a camera cannot write, and vice versa.

All of this relates to the need to put more resources into training better writers. Adopting far more rigorous standards at the creative level before funding projects. Because, in the end, audiences don't care about "production values" nearly as much as story values. We can't compete with Hollywood's production values, but that doesn't matter. We can compete by telling better stories.

[ 09 October 2003: Message edited by: bittersweet ]


From: land of the midnight lotus | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 09 October 2003 06:12 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hey, bittersweet! You haven't posted in a while -- good to see you!

I think what you're saying is perfectly true. Scripts tend to be badly underdeveloped in Canadian film. I saw "The Event" the week before last, and was, after some of the hype it was given, sorely disappointed. The writing was terrifically uneven, big chunks of dialogue were unbelievably bad. And yet, for Canada, this was a large budget film.

Telefilm should not be in the business of floating companies, but supporting projects. In my case, a project has a strike against it from the word go because my company is new and small (although I prefer to describe it as having a sensible overhead).

quote:
There is a history of auteurism in Canada; filmmakers like Arcand, Egoyan, Cronenburg, et al, but with these few exceptions aside, that history, combined with easy access to soft money, has encouraged dilletantes. There are director/writers with three lousy films to their "credit" who will not improve, cannot improve, but they keep getting money. And so they become indignant when funding is contingent on quality. "Who are you to judge me--I'm an auteur!" Yet most people who can operate a camera cannot write, and vice versa.

Even the three you mention make films that are often fringe-y and off-putting.

The thing is, there are two things that everybody thinks they can do: write and direct. Both are very difficult jobs and it takes a long time to develop the skills necessary. And a particular bent of personality to be self-critical enough to improve and grow, too.

quote:
All of this relates to the need to put more resources into training better writers. Adopting far more rigorous standards at the creative level before funding projects. Because, in the end, audiences don't care about "production values" nearly as much as story values. We can't compete with Hollywood's production values, but that doesn't matter. We can compete by telling better stories.

Yes. I can't add anything. That's exactly true.

(Although distribution up here still sucks.)


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
ronb
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posted 09 October 2003 06:26 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
There are plenty of highly trained talented Canadian screenwriters capable of churning out commercially viable stories. Problem is, almost every one of them lives in the 90121 Zip code.
From: gone | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
bittersweet
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posted 09 October 2003 06:59 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
That's true, ronb. Being inherently unpatriotic and selfish, creative talent will go where it can survive and flourish.

Interestingly, the cutbacks to Telefilm have resulted in producers educating themselves about co-productions with other countries--specifically European ones. Other than in the straight-to-video market, this has meant writers and producers have had to look harder at their stories before soliciting projects. This situation compensates for the stifling provincialism that has deadened Canadian film. This will be a permanent situation, and I think it will result in better movies, bigger audiences, and more talent staying at home...where it can survive and flourish.

Hi, Zoot!


From: land of the midnight lotus | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 09 October 2003 08:32 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
On one level, it is encouraging, but not on others. It's difficult to get a co-pro at the "emerging" (I hate that term) stage, or even at the semi-established stage. It's good for medium-sized enterprises, but makes it tough for us small prodcos.

So what do the little companies and new filmmakers do? Besides work for nothing, that is...


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
bittersweet
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posted 09 October 2003 09:03 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
So what do the little companies and new filmmakers do? Besides work for nothing, that is...

Ideally, revamp CTF regulations so that 10% of the combined producer/broadcaster proceeds of all "Reality" TV programming goes into a fund to support small companies and new filmmakers. This would have the effect of checking the proliferation of such broadcasts, while reinforcing a more fragile, but vital, sector. Special consideration would be given to prairie producers, and thus the chaff would finally support the wheat for a change.

One can dream.


From: land of the midnight lotus | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged

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