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Author Topic: How Do We Promote Canadian Movies?
Aristotleded24
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posted 18 September 2005 11:12 PM      Profile for Aristotleded24   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The topic on this thread started drifting into the problems and challenges faced by the Canadian film industry and the lack of Canadian films on Canadian theatres. Does anyone have any ideas on this topic specifically that can be discussed here?
From: Winnipeg | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged
chubbybear
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posted 19 September 2005 10:53 PM      Profile for chubbybear        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Lets trade Celine Dion for two David Cronenbergs.
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Timebandit
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posted 19 September 2005 11:24 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Firstly, I think bittersweet made some interesting points about the state of Canadian film in the other thread. He wrote:

quote:
Why is that? I have two pet peeves. The first is that we have a historical system of training which encourages auteurism--i.e., the writer/director. With the emphasis on "director." I think it's ridiculous. Writing a decent script is damned hard, a specialty, and a completely different task than directing. Very, very few directors have writing talent AND directing talent. Egoyan does. Cronenberg does. A few more. Thing is, auteurs are going to crop up anyway; we don't need to encourage it. But because we do, we get crappy writers directing from their own scripts, and though they may be good directors, the result is predictably humdrum. And yet English Canada has no lack of talented directors, some of whom are also helming Emmy winning HBO series episodes.

My other peeve is that feature scripts are rushed into production way, way too early. This is so the producer can get the production fee to stay afloat. It's short term gain, long term pain, because the picture dies, and with it, the production company's reputation, not to mention that of English Canadian films. The really frustrating thing is, I cannot count the number of times I've read really decent drafts with loads of potential, and yet despite the need for more work they're steamrolled into production anyway. The results are always disastrous. Disastrous not only because the movies are duds, but because the writers usually don't learn anything. It's just too easy for them to revert to the catch-all excuse: "It was our lousy Canadian exhibition system!" Give for me big break! Yes, absolutely, it is a lousy system, but it's also true that the writers' feet weren't held to the fire long enough. It's heartbreaking to see so many potentially great stories ruined because of this short term thinking. And you only get one kick at the can.


These two factors are both absolutely valid. Good English-Canadian films are hard to find, and part of the reason for that is that we are clumsy in our development of both writers and directors. Producers, too, in my opinion.

Next, we live next door to the proverbial 800lb gorilla. A lot of money is put into the Hollywood industry, and a lot more is spent on marketing that product. Canadian films, in comparison, have much, much lower budgets and also have very little marketing/distribution money behind them. Add to this the fact that most Canadian cinemas are owned by American interests and are affiliated with Hollywood distributors and studios.

Now, most sensible countries have quotas that cinemas must follow regarding the films produced in their own coutries. England, France, the Scandinavian countries, etc, all have them. We do not. And it's not going to happen, either -- and we have good ol' NAFTA to thank for that.


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Papal Bull
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posted 20 September 2005 02:56 AM      Profile for Papal Bull   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Zoot it's hardly proverbial...Didn't you ever see the movie Buddy or Mighty Joe Young?
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Hephaestion
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posted 20 September 2005 06:35 AM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
How do we promote Canadian movies? Get Rogers Cable to announce that they're gonna offer them as a negative-billing option. It's one of the few things that can garner wide-spread attention from an apathetic public...
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The Wizard of Socialism
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posted 20 September 2005 12:08 PM      Profile for The Wizard of Socialism   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
How do you make people, many of whom are subsisting on generic Kraft Dinner because they can't afford the real thing, plunk down their few remaining canadian pesos to watch the dregs from "Street Legal" and "The Beachcombers" muddle around behind the Toronto skyline? I suppose you can tax real entertainment and subsidize mediocrity. That's the Canadian way. But it isn't going to put any more asses in seats. Mom can make us eat our spinach, she can't make us like it.
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Hephaestion
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posted 20 September 2005 02:46 PM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Ummm... that was sarcasm, WOS. I was being a little snarky over the uproar over Rogers Cable, which dwarfed any kind of backlash to the GST, Free Trade, additives in our gasoline, BSE, softwood lumber, Ipperwash, sponsorship scandal, etc. etc. Seems like we'll put up with any indignity or band of conniving swindlers, just don't screw with our cable tv!!!!
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blake 3:17
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posted 20 September 2005 02:58 PM      Profile for blake 3:17     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'd love to see Canadian Content laws applied to cinemas.

The National Film Board and indie film and video organizations and artists get decent funding. I know a few people who've got decent grants for film and video projects, but they're always dicey.

I'd also love to see a TV channel devoted to experimental narrative or nonnarrative film and video. Canadian experimental film is well respected internationally, but has little audience here. Some interesting work has been shown on Zed and other late night programs, but that makes it difficult for us early risers to see or appreciate. A week of Barbara Sternberg's films in rotation would be wonderful.


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ToadProphet
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posted 20 September 2005 03:14 PM      Profile for ToadProphet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Alright... gotta ask a question which won't win me any friends on this thread, but what's wrong with the Canadian film industry? I know it's only one gauge and may not even be the appropriate one, but it seems Canada is in the top 5 film producers worldwide. I doubt that statistic accounts for the large number of Canadian films that actually get made south of the border.
This opinion is probably rather blasphemous, but I'd actually like see some of the resources behind Canadian film production put more into countries that don't have a prominent voice. Just a thought.

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Timebandit
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posted 20 September 2005 11:23 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The problem with your map and graph, ToadProphet, is that it does not seperate indiginous Canadian film production and service production.

Indiginous productions are films that are produced by a Canadian production company, written, directed, crewed and produced by Canadians. Service productions are productions that originate elsewhere (commonly the US, but sometimes other places) and are produced as co-productions with Canadian companies, but the key creative roles are generally held by non-Canadians. In other words, they bring an idea to Canada, find a local producer to facilitate, hire Canadian crew and minor cast/extras, apply for our federal and provincial tax credits to reduce the costs of production, and go home. Canadian producer usually recieves a share of the producer's fees, but does not hold copyright.

Canada actually has a fairly successful service industry, but I and a lot of others would quibble that these films are not, except by a technicality, Canadian. Certainly not in their creative and cultural content.

Indiginous production actually constitutes only a small part of overall Canadian film and television production.


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ToadProphet
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posted 20 September 2005 11:28 PM      Profile for ToadProphet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Zoot:
The problem with your map and graph, ToadProphet, is that it does not seperate indiginous Canadian film production and service production.

Ah, ok. Thanks for the clarification. My remarks were a tad subjective as well. I watch quite a few Canadian movies (great selection at the local video store).
Dumb question withdrawn.

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Timebandit
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posted 21 September 2005 12:02 AM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It's not necessarily a dumb question. A lot of Canadians have very little idea how the feature film business works here.

In terms of the graph, I'd also like to see how much money is spent on production in addition to the number of films. Size of budget on a production makes a difference.

Also, the numbers were taken from IMDB. While I use the IMDB site and appreciate that it's pretty good, you're taking the information from a western source. India, for example, is not on the list at all, and their feature film industry is HUGE. They make a lot of films, but most are not seen or heard of in North America or Europe, for the most part, and won't end up being catalogued on IMDB. Not a very good source for something like this.


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thorin_bane
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posted 21 September 2005 12:10 AM      Profile for thorin_bane     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Bollywood makes more movies than the states every year. They are servicing a billion people so It shouldn't be hard to find an audiance for just about anything.
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Timebandit
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posted 21 September 2005 12:31 AM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Whoops, on second look, India is there -- but with only 284 films, which is likely inaccurate. I'm also fairly sure that China produces more than 25 films per year as well -- but again, we would not know about the majority of them here in the West.

Here is an interesting international comparison of film releases.

I suspect that the IMDB stats are including shorts and television shows as well as feature films, while the above link deals strictly with features, as far as I can tell.

Anyway, that's thread drift... Back to Canadian film.

[ 21 September 2005: Message edited by: Zoot ]


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beluga2
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posted 21 September 2005 12:43 AM      Profile for beluga2     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It's also worth noting that many of the "Canadian" productions which count in TP's graph represent the dregs of Hollywood dreck, which no self-respecting country would want to be made within its borders.

I'm still recovering from the trauma of stumbling upon the filming of Scooby-Doo 2 a couple blocks from my home.

In any event, our Hollywood North industry has been suffering greatly lately, due to the combined effect of our rising dollar, foreign competition in countries with even lower productions costs than ours, and Governor Gropenfuehrer's California jingoism. Which may not, in the grand scheme of things, be a bad thing. Perhaps we'll be forced to develop our own film talents instead of serving as a cinematic sweatshop assembling Hollywood crap.


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mayakovsky
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posted 21 September 2005 01:15 AM      Profile for mayakovsky     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
In referring to the Canadian film industry I gather we are talking about the film industry outside of Quebec. Inside of Quebec the homegrown industry is hugely popular and from what I have heard the envy of the English Canadian film industry. Like in english Canada a wide range of films are produced: there are mainstream comedies and art films but they do well. Granted you will often see the same actors over and over again. Its interesting that Quebeckers don't recoil at (to use that CBC term) "telling our stories" or emit that collective groan when someone suggests something Canadian. For the record Quebec is also awash in Americana, the blockbusters all play here usually in a dubbed version.
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FabFabian
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posted 22 September 2005 01:46 AM      Profile for FabFabian        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think what is missing from this discussion is the fact that Hollywood rules the film industry. The American companies own the rights to distribution of films on this continent. They aren't interested in Canadian films.

I remember watching an interview with Don McKeller on Vicki. She asked him what the deal was with the lack of distribution and little exposure Canadian films get in their own country. He gave the example of his film "Last Night", where on the first week it was released it was doing well in the theatres. Unfortunately, the next week a big Hollywood film by the name of "Meet Joe Black" with Brad Pitt was scheduled for release and as a result his film got bumped for screen space for Hollywood crap that did nothing at the box office. Canadian films either get limited showing or are stuck in the arthouse ghettos of major cities in Canada. There has to be a mandate that Canadian films are guaranteed to be accessible to Canadian audiences.

And when exactly are we going to get over this lousy attitude towards our films in this country? I'm sick and tired of hearing this crap that Canadian films aren't slick enough to compete with American films, or that if they were any good people would see them. No country in the world produces box office successes constantly, as one only has to look at the dismal business film in general has done over the summer.

Talent is everwhere and if we foster an environment that nurtures talent, then we will have a healthy film industy in English Canada.


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bittersweet
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posted 22 September 2005 12:03 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Talent is everwhere
Actually, it's not, unless that word is so used so generically as to lose all meaning.
quote:
if we foster an environment that nurtures talent, then we will have a healthy film industy in English Canada.
Implying that we haven't nurtured talent enough subverts your own disagreement with "this crap that (if) Canadian films...were any good people would see them." Regardless, something more rigorous is obviously needed to nurture, because already too much money and potential talent is wasted by "nurturing" projects into a quick death.

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FabFabian
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posted 23 September 2005 01:19 AM      Profile for FabFabian        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Oh silly me! Talent only exists in New York, London and Sydney I guess.

Don't be so flaming obtuse.


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Fitz
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posted 23 September 2005 04:01 PM      Profile for Fitz     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What would you say if, instead of trying to ape (so to speak) Hollywood blockbusters and trying to elbow them out of Cineplex and Famous Players screen space, someone were to create an alternative cinema chain a la Atom Egoyan's Camera? 50-odd seat cinema with HiDef projection focussed on smaller films (Canadian wherever possible) that engage audiences rather than deafening them. Here in Toronto, Canadian (non-Cronenberg or Egoyan) films get a week or so at the Cineplex Carleton (I think Vancouver's equivalent is the Tinseltown [someone out there correct me if I'm wrong]) and then it's off to video or oblivion.

For the same reason that the Alouettes are more fun at McGill instead of the Big O because you're not reminded of just how many seats aren't filled, the same could likewise apply to films. If assymetrical warfare is the boondoggle of the States' armed forces, maybe it's time for assymetrical cinema!

Edited to add: Any interested in this notion, please PM me.

[ 23 September 2005: Message edited by: Fitz ]


From: Toronto | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged
Reality. Bites.
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posted 23 September 2005 04:18 PM      Profile for Reality. Bites.        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Except for the projection method, the Carlton is pretty much exactly what you describe.

The screen's already not much bigger than my screen at home, and the sound quality is nowhere close.

At $28 for two people to see one of those movies, there just isn't a lot of incentive to not wait until it's on TMN.


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'lance
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posted 23 September 2005 04:23 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Back to the original question for a second: This Magazine's Film Club is an on-going attempt to promote Canadian films on the cheap.

Not sure how well it's working, but I for one would never hear about most of the movies if I didn't get the weekly emails.


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Fitz
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posted 23 September 2005 04:32 PM      Profile for Fitz     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'd hardly compare the pig-to-park-at-concessions-cost-an-arm-and-a-leg-and-can't-get-anything-decent-anyway-Carlton to Camera. IIRC, Camera charges $10/head, there's snack service at your seat (extra charge at the Varsity VIP) and last time I was there, they were expecting to be licensed in the theatre as well as the bar area.

The other issue is will you see this film on TMN? When? And does this really amount to effective support for the filmmaker? Any opportunity to discuss with the filmmaker or others who saw the film?

Few short-comings to your methodology (at least if the alternative was there).

[ 23 September 2005: Message edited by: Fitz ]

[ 23 September 2005: Message edited by: Fitz ]


From: Toronto | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged
Reality. Bites.
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posted 23 September 2005 04:45 PM      Profile for Reality. Bites.        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Fitz:
The other issue is will you see this film on TMN? When? And does this really amount to effective support for the filmmaker?

You'll find few Canadian feature films that didn't receive funding from TMN/Movie Central/Super Ecran.

According to this article tmn generates four times more revenues for Canadian films than earned in Canadian theatrical release.

32% of TMN's revenues have to go into acquisition or investment in Canadian TV and films. In 2003, that would have been over 28 million dollars.

http://www.friends.ca/News/Friends_News/archives/articles04200503.asp


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Fitz
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posted 23 September 2005 05:01 PM      Profile for Fitz     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Let me get my foot out of my mouth!

Your first point is depressing to say the least and if there was an alternative cinema outlet, I'd be interested to see how those figures would change.

Your second point would be more meaningful if they were to put the same level of promotion into the debut of Canadian original films and series as they do for the Hollywood blockbusters they air.

[ 23 September 2005: Message edited by: Fitz ]

[ 23 September 2005: Message edited by: Fitz ]


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blake 3:17
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posted 23 September 2005 06:08 PM      Profile for blake 3:17     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I know my cinematic interests aren't to most people's liking and don't really address commercial interests.

That being said, why not focus on doing really really good film that will stand up over time? While I may have some quibbles with it, Ryan has been a tremendous national and international success -- I've seen it 5 or 6 times in different contexts and I don't know a sould who hasn't been moved, amazed or troubled by it.

I was lucky enough to be an adult attendee at at a children's animation workshop this summer which was AMAZING! We got to make 2 page flips, make each of animation by way of drawing on film, and got to make a claymation video. And then see it in the theatre with music blasting! Very cool and very inspiring. Not all 9 year olds get to be film makers!


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bittersweet
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posted 23 September 2005 06:39 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by FabFabian:
Actually, it's not worth quoting, but the gist of it is, she missed the point and called me a name. That's a kind of talent, isn't it? Gee, looking at it like that, it really is everywhere. Kewl.

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Timebandit
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posted 23 September 2005 08:07 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Fitz:
What would you say if, instead of trying to ape (so to speak) Hollywood blockbusters and trying to elbow them out of Cineplex and Famous Players screen space, someone were to create an alternative cinema chain a la Atom Egoyan's Camera? 50-odd seat cinema with HiDef projection focussed on smaller films (Canadian wherever possible) that engage audiences rather than deafening them. Here in Toronto, Canadian (non-Cronenberg or Egoyan) films get a week or so at the Cineplex Carleton (I think Vancouver's equivalent is the Tinseltown [someone out there correct me if I'm wrong]) and then it's off to video or oblivion.

For the same reason that the Alouettes are more fun at McGill instead of the Big O because you're not reminded of just how many seats aren't filled, the same could likewise apply to films. If assymetrical warfare is the boondoggle of the States' armed forces, maybe it's time for assymetrical cinema!

Edited to add: Any interested in this notion, please PM me.

[ 23 September 2005: Message edited by: Fitz ]


I think this is something that could work in larger centres. The problem is that most of Canada isn't larger centres. Toronto has enough of a population base that an alternative cinema could make a go of it -- out here in the regions, we struggle to have a very few alternative venues, usually attached to non-profits.

It still doesn't address the marketing machine behind Hollywood and the lack thereof behind Canadian film.

The talent thing... No, it isn't everywhere. It can be in some disparate places, but location can often be a serious stumbling-block for a filmmaker. It complicates things. I do think that the current system for "nurturing" filmmakers is not working especially well for us, for the most part.


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Fitz
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posted 23 September 2005 11:18 PM      Profile for Fitz     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What qualifies as a larger centre in your book? Certainly the provincial capitals could support a Camera-like cinema. maybe the cinema component might need scaling to work in different locales but hey...how'd cinema get started except by small nickelodeons?

I'd say that the way to circumvent the marketing machine is two-fold:

a)roadshow the picture and leverage the press across the country
&
b)Internet and alternative media (viral worked just dandy for Hotmail before the beast from Redmond came along).

There isn't a feasible way that Canadian cinema is going to out-hustle, out-spend or out-muscle Hollywood blockbusters in their own court. The solution, therefore, is to do what they aren't doing in ways they aren't doing it. IIRC, Nia Vardalos went to bridal shows and all over hell's half-acre generating word-of-mouth interest in her little film. Ever heard of My Big Fat Greek Wedding?

It can be done. We've created a demand for Canadian stories on the idiot box and created the actors, directors and all the technical trades to do the job. Now's the time to ensure an outlet for their craft.


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bittersweet
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posted 24 September 2005 07:26 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Fitz: Ever heard of My Big Fat Greek Wedding?
Ever heard of Rita Wilson?

From: land of the midnight lotus | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Fidel
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posted 24 September 2005 09:20 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Did anybody see "Night Zoo" a few years back?. I think it was filmed in Montreal. It was a very good movie, I thought.

"Perfectly Normal" with Robbie Coltrane, Deborah Duschene and Michael Riley was a laffer. This Canadian movie had hockey, comedy and operatic waiters in an Italian restaurant. Priceless.


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Fitz
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posted 25 September 2005 12:07 AM      Profile for Fitz     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Bittersweet,

You think Rita just tripped over MBFGW?


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Fitz
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posted 25 September 2005 12:08 AM      Profile for Fitz     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
"Perfectyl Normal". Complete laugher. One of my favourite Canadian films. "The Wrong Guy" a close second on the absurdity scale.
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bittersweet
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posted 25 September 2005 12:34 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Fitz: Rita Wilson saw the play. In the United States. Where Vardalos had tried, unsuccessfully, to get interest in her screenplay. The movie was financed, produced and distributed for the most part by American companies, who made the vast majority of the profit. With help from Canadian tax credits. This is not a useful tale for Canadian filmmakers trying to make it on home turf.

[ 25 September 2005: Message edited by: bittersweet ]


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Timebandit
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posted 26 September 2005 01:36 AM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
What qualifies as a larger centre in your book? Certainly the provincial capitals could support a Camera-like cinema. maybe the cinema component might need scaling to work in different locales but hey...how'd cinema get started except by small nickelodeons?

I live in a provincial capital of somewhat under 200,000 people. We have one cinema, part of our public library, that routinely programs outside the Hollywood system. It is non-profit and constantly under threat of closure.

The only other alternative film venue is the screenings held by our provincial film/media cooperative.

There is one privately owned cinema that will occasionally carry alternative work. However, they do so sporadically, and a lot less than they did when they first opened. Even with a lower price of admission, they cannot make ends meet on non-Hollywood films, and this is related to marketing pull.

So no, it won't work in all provincial capitals. I've looked at the issue with other members of the film co-op, as we've considered opening a cinematheque. It would be very difficult, would have to be non-profit, and would take some seriously careful planning -- and even then might fail.

quote:
I'd say that the way to circumvent the marketing machine is two-fold:

a)roadshow the picture and leverage the press across the country
&
b)Internet and alternative media (viral worked just dandy for Hotmail before the beast from Redmond came along).


a) Sometimes that works and often it doesn't. "Leverage the press" is also a hit and miss affair. It could help you to break even, or perhaps make money on an extremely low budget film, but it's unlikely to guarantee enough return on, say, a $5million picture.

b) Viral marketing is also highly unreliable. It also depends on your target market. Internet/alt media only works to generate a slim segment of the audience you need to make back enough to break even on a film with a decent budget. Aside from the fact that you can't do it single-handedly, and that means it will still cost you SOMETHING.

I find both of these ideas incredibly naive.

quote:
IIRC, Nia Vardalos went to bridal shows and all over hell's half-acre generating word-of-mouth interest in her little film. Ever heard of My Big Fat Greek Wedding?

quote:
You think Rita just tripped over MBFGW?

It was a play before it was even thought of as a film, yes? And Rita Wilson happened to see the play. Before that, no, nothing much was going on -- I've read an interview with Vardalos where she said as much. And although the concept originated in Canada, it wasn't a Canadian film. bittersweet's got you on this one.

quote:
It can be done. We've created a demand for Canadian stories on the idiot box and created the actors, directors and all the technical trades to do the job. Now's the time to ensure an outlet for their craft.

Other than Corner Gas (which is something of a phenom), we haven't created much "demand" on tv for Canadian product.

I will agree that we have great techies, and that a pool of experienced technicians has grown. However, our technicians get a lot more experience than our actors, directors and writers tend to get. We have, I'm sure, some talented people, but it's a bitch to get hands-on experience. The result of that lack of experience is that a lot of Canadian films have stilted dialogue, odd acting and are phenomenally well-lit.


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Fitz
rabble-rouser
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posted 26 September 2005 09:25 PM      Profile for Fitz     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Zoot:
I live in a provincial capital of somewhat under 200,000 people. We have one cinema, part of our public library, that routinely programs outside the Hollywood system. It is non-profit and constantly under threat of closure. The only other alternative film venue is the screenings held by our provincial film/media cooperative.

What's the theatre size and what else is there to do at the theatre once the film's done? Correct me if I'm wrong but my guess is that it's about 400 seats and the answer to the second part is nothing that would encourage discussion and socializing.
Camera Bar's about 45 seats with a bar/café for pre and pos-show socializing. Or maybe just for socializing, film-be-damned. Don't tell me Regina doesn't have any bars.

quote:
Originally posted by Zoot:
There is one privately owned cinema that will occasionally carry alternative work. However, they do so sporadically, and a lot less than they did when they first opened. Even with a lower price of admission, they cannot make ends meet on non-Hollywood films, and this is related to marketing pull.

Rep cinema I'm guessing? Again, what's the cinema size? I'm not talking blowing-out with a huge space, far from it. I'm suggesting a size of space that will support the product. My earlier point about the Alouettes and McGill Stadium is a fair comparison. Going to see them play at the Big O was a disheartening experience by virtue of the size of the place. It makes you instantly aware of just how empty it feels as opposed to how full McGill feels with the same number of people. Same issue with a 400-seat cinema as opposed to 40.

quote:
Originally posted by Zoot:
So no, it won't work in all provincial capitals. I've looked at the issue with other members of the film co-op, as we've considered opening a cinematheque. It would be very difficult, would have to be non-profit, and would take some seriously careful planning -- and even then might fail.

Strictly a cinema-only operation?

quote:
Originally posted by Zoot:
quote: IIRC, Nia Vardalos went to bridal shows and all over hell's half-acre generating word-of-mouth interest in her little film. Ever heard of My Big Fat Greek Wedding?

quote: You think Rita just tripped over MBFGW?

It was a play before it was even thought of as a film, yes? And Rita Wilson happened to see the play. Before that, no, nothing much was going on -- I've read an interview with Vardalos where she said as much. And although the concept originated in Canada, it wasn't a Canadian film. bittersweet's got you on this one.


My error. I meant the play and the rest vis a vis the film version is history.

quote:
Originally posted by Zoot:
quote: It can be done. We've created a demand for Canadian stories on the idiot box and created the actors, directors and all the technical trades to do the job. Now's the time to ensure an outlet for their craft.

Other than Corner Gas (which is something of a phenom), we haven't created much "demand" on tv for Canadian product.


TPB? Da Vinci's? Trouble With Tracy?

quote:
Originally posted by Zoot:
I will agree that we have great techies, and that a pool of experienced technicians has grown. However, our technicians get a lot more experience than our actors, directors and writers tend to get. We have, I'm sure, some talented people, but it's a bitch to get hands-on experience. The result of that lack of experience is that a lot of Canadian films have stilted dialogue, odd acting and are phenomenally well-lit.

Yer right! Might as well pack it in. No sense trying to maintain the charade of a separate, non-gun-based culture. I'll be stopping off at Walmart before I chow down on some Mickey D's take-out!

[ 26 September 2005: Message edited by: Fitz ]


From: Toronto | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 26 September 2005 11:45 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
What's the theatre size and what else is there to do at the theatre once the film's done? Correct me if I'm wrong but my guess is that it's about 400 seats and the answer to the second part is nothing that would encourage discussion and socializing.
Camera Bar's about 45 seats with a bar/café for pre and pos-show socializing. Or maybe just for socializing, film-be-damned. Don't tell me Regina doesn't have any bars.

The RPL Film Theatre is only about 100 seats, at best. There are several bars within easy walking distance, as well as coffee shops. I don't really think that's the issue, though.

quote:
Rep cinema I'm guessing? Again, what's the cinema size? I'm not talking blowing-out with a huge space, far from it. I'm suggesting a size of space that will support the product. My earlier point about the Alouettes and McGill Stadium is a fair comparison. Going to see them play at the Big O was a disheartening experience by virtue of the size of the place. It makes you instantly aware of just how empty it feels as opposed to how full McGill feels with the same number of people. Same issue with a 400-seat cinema as opposed to 40.

Not exactly, more along the lines of a second-run. Rainbow Cinema is a multiplex, and they occasionally show art films. That's about it.

quote:
Yer right! Might as well pack it in. No sense trying to maintain the charade of a separate, non-gun-based culture. I'll be stopping off at Walmart before I chow down on some Mickey D's take-out!

I didn't imply that we should "pack it in". My point is that the public policy on feature film in this country needs work -- it isn't supporting the best that we should be able to produce, and it won't until some of our directors and actors can work on a regular basis instead of simply training crews to work on service productions.

I get the impression, Fitz, that you think you know a lot more than you do about Canadian film production.


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Rufus Polson
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posted 27 September 2005 02:55 AM      Profile for Rufus Polson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by mayakovsky:
In referring to the Canadian film industry I gather we are talking about the film industry outside of Quebec.

First really useful thing anyone's said in the whole thread, and then it got ignored.
Clearly, it's not a question of population size or whether Hollywood exists. What does Quebec do that the rest of us don't? Basically, get serious about insisting that Quebec content will happen. F'rinstance, don't they have rules saying Quebecois films *will* be distributed?

In English Canada, Canadian films that have somehow gotten distribution and promotion have been quite popular. If we say "OK, there will be distribution and promotion of Canadian films or we'll break the goddamn US-owned oligopoly on film distribution in Canada", then people will see Canadian films and get to know Canadian stars. The rest is details, frankly--there's plenty good Canadian actors (sometimes it seems like every second talented person in Hollywood is an expat Canadian) and production talent and directors, and I'm sure if there were a Canadian film scene happening on a noticeable scale some of the world-class Canadian writers would start writing some scripts. Good movies would happen. Heck, good movies already happen. Distribution is the basic issue.

quote:
Granted you will often see the same actors over and over again.

Yes. Quebec has its own home grown star system. English Canada has acquired one of those for music. We could have one for movies too.


From: Caithnard College | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
bittersweet
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posted 27 September 2005 12:44 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
First really useful thing anyone's said in the whole thread, and then it got ignored.
Well, once you shrug off that supercilious opening line, you discover that the rest of the post is in fact a repetition of what someone else already wrote. Zoot, namely. And if you can also ignore that earlier context, Mr. Polson's post might actually seem thoughtful. But who is really fooled? What's actually being said, or rather shouted, hasn't to do with Canadian film. It's: "Look how smart I am compared to everyone else!" Wonder why there's such a need to prove that.

.

[ 27 September 2005: Message edited by: bittersweet ]


From: land of the midnight lotus | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 27 September 2005 02:25 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
First really useful thing anyone's said in the whole thread, and then it got ignored.
Clearly, it's not a question of population size or whether Hollywood exists. What does Quebec do that the rest of us don't? Basically, get serious about insisting that Quebec content will happen. F'rinstance, don't they have rules saying Quebecois films *will* be distributed?

When we talk about English-Canadian and Quebec films, we are really comparing apples to oranges. It actually makes more sense to look at Australia in comparison to the ROC, since they have an indiginous film industry within our already-saturated English language film market -- and not living next door to the 800lb gorilla makes a big difference, too.

For one thing, there's the language factor, and a difference in culture in general in Quebec. Quebec film is also marketed in Europe, specifically France. There is less interference from the service industry -- service productions tend to be more prevalent in the ROC. IIRC, there are also more European coproductions coming out of Quebec -- this is attributable to the fact that Quebec's culture and film industry is more similar to Europe's than the rest of North America.

Please note that the above is a gross oversimplification... I don't have a lot of time today.

quote:
In English Canada, Canadian films that have somehow gotten distribution and promotion have been quite popular. If we say "OK, there will be distribution and promotion of Canadian films or we'll break the goddamn US-owned oligopoly on film distribution in Canada", then people will see Canadian films and get to know Canadian stars. The rest is details, frankly--there's plenty good Canadian actors (sometimes it seems like every second talented person in Hollywood is an expat Canadian) and production talent and directors, and I'm sure if there were a Canadian film scene happening on a noticeable scale some of the world-class Canadian writers would start writing some scripts. Good movies would happen. Heck, good movies already happen. Distribution is the basic issue.

Name one. One (anglo)Canadian film that has gotten "popular". And a definition of what exactly "popular" means in the context of box office in general would be helpful -- there's precious little consensus out there, but the break-even point isn't often hit.

Secondly, do you have any idea what distribution and promotion cost? Often as much as (or more than) the average Canadian feature costs to make. No distributor in his right mind wants to do that. Telefilm is now leaning heavily on distributors to put real money behind films seeking production funding, but that becomes yet another hurdle for the filmmaker -- it isn't helping more films get made.

So okay, let's start with actors. Ex-pats, specifically. See, according to Canadian tax credit legislation, you don't need to use actors who actually reside in Canada. You can use a better-known ex-pat -- so the best way for a Canuck actor to get work in Canada is to move to LA. Really. So Canadian actors get to a certain level, smaller roles, and never progress to more challenging parts. They remain less experienced.

Next, let's look at writers. Most of our screenwriters are not especially experienced. There are really only a handful of screenwriters that have really worked enough to have their chops. If, by "world class writers" you mean novelists -- and we've got quite a few of those -- then you're dreaming. Screenwriting is a very different process and different style. It is, in fact, the opposite of writing a novel. It's all about "show me, don't tell me". It takes a novelist time and experience within the format of screenplay to get up to speed, so no, that's not really a solution.

I would agree that distribution is a serious sticking point, but it isn't the only one. We're not developing the key creative people in the numbers or to the level that would make a thriving industry possible.


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Rufus Polson
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posted 27 September 2005 07:54 PM      Profile for Rufus Polson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Zoot:

Name one. One (anglo)Canadian film that has gotten "popular". And a definition of what exactly "popular" means in the context of box office in general would be helpful -- there's precious little consensus out there, but the break-even point isn't often hit.

Seems to me "Men with Brooms" made some decent box office. It was also, by an odd co-incidence, about the only Canadian film I can think of that was being screened in the ordinary Famous Players theatres, not just the cool independent places.
Then there's "The English Patient". Not sure just how Canadian one would consider it--but it was, I think, Canadian enough for the Oscars to consider it a foreign film. It did pretty well as I recall--and again, it also managed the incredible hurdle of getting widespread distribution.

Now, The English Patient doubtless did well because it was a really, really good movie. But Men With Brooms was just OK, certainly nothing special. It was a pretty typical little comedy with a Canadian spin. Other typical little comedies with a Canadian spin could do fine if they were in theaters and had some promotion. Or typical little sci-fi flicks, or whatever.

As to scriptwriters--if there's a Canadian place to go with a script that might actually make a movie out of it, there will be Canadians coming up with scripts to take there. The earliest ones won't be polished Hollywood product--maybe. Although we're talking some pretty media-savvy population out there. And if there are screens for Canadian movies, the already-existing production companies will be perfectly willing to make those movies. The problems being talked about may be real, but they're details--Hollywood doesn't rule because it's solved all the problems involved in making the best movies ever. It rules because it makes sure its movies will be in the theatres and the video stores.

Arrange for there to be lots of seats in front of screens showing Canadian movies, and a fair amount of advertising and buzz letting people know it's happening, and there will be bums in those seats. Any other problems will get settled once it's clear there's some point to settling them. They're symptoms, not causes. Even the advertising and buzz is a symptom, really--there's no point having a sizable advertising budget for a movie that won't make back that ad budget if every theatre it's in sells out for the entire run. If, on the other hand, it's gonna be on a screen in every cineplex, suddenly it's worth putting out the ads and schmoozing the press, and suddenly the press will pay some attention.

As to the opening of my initial post--yes, it was provocative and perhaps overstated. But it kind of shocked me that a bunch of progressives are spending tons of time analyzing fiddly details while largely ignoring the elephant of oligopolistic US-controlled film distribution taking up most of the room--the very kind of basic structural problem I would have expected progressives to be all over.


From: Caithnard College | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 28 September 2005 12:39 AM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Look, I wish it were that simple. I really, really do. But it isn't -- it's a very complex problem with no single solution.

quote:
Seems to me "Men with Brooms" made some decent box office. It was also, by an odd co-incidence, about the only Canadian film I can think of that was being screened in the ordinary Famous Players theatres, not just the cool independent places.
Then there's "The English Patient". Not sure just how Canadian one would consider it--but it was, I think, Canadian enough for the Oscars to consider it a foreign film. It did pretty well as I recall--and again, it also managed the incredible hurdle of getting widespread distribution.

Now, The English Patient doubtless did well because it was a really, really good movie. But Men With Brooms was just OK, certainly nothing special. It was a pretty typical little comedy with a Canadian spin. Other typical little comedies with a Canadian spin could do fine if they were in theaters and had some promotion. Or typical little sci-fi flicks, or whatever.


The English Patient was based on a Canadian novel, sure, but that's the only tenuous link to Canada that the movie had. It was made by a US production company in partnership with Miramax. The screenplay, ferfuxaches, was written by a British playwrite of Italian descent. Not a Canuck in sight once the option agreement was signed. So no, it does not count.

Let's move on to Men With Brooms. It had a budget of $7.5 million. It grossed $4.2 million. Nice that it made some money, it did very well in comparison to most Canadian movies, but there's one wee flaw -- it lost over $3 million. That's not exactly sustainable as an industry standard.

quote:
As to scriptwriters--if there's a Canadian place to go with a script that might actually make a movie out of it, there will be Canadians coming up with scripts to take there. The earliest ones won't be polished Hollywood product--maybe. Although we're talking some pretty media-savvy population out there. And if there are screens for Canadian movies, the already-existing production companies will be perfectly willing to make those movies.

The problem isn't that there is a lack of quantity of screenplays out there -- it's the dearth of good ones. Everybody and his fricking dog thinks they can be a screenwriter. And being "media-savvy" won't make a good writer out of you. Trust me, I've read quite a few stinkers from people who really believe they understand the medium.

There are, actually, production companies out there who want to make features, but it's finding a way to do it sustainably that's the trick. Funding is tight, and revenue models.... Well, go back up to Men With Brooms. But still, many production companies aspire to making features.

But writing the screenplay is only the first step. There's the next phase, dealing with story editors and rewrites and so on. That's where you really learn to be a professional writer. And guess what? It costs money. And funding is tight.

quote:
The problems being talked about may be real, but they're details--Hollywood doesn't rule because it's solved all the problems involved in making the best movies ever. It rules because it makes sure its movies will be in the theatres and the video stores.

Arrange for there to be lots of seats in front of screens showing Canadian movies, and a fair amount of advertising and buzz letting people know it's happening, and there will be bums in those seats. Any other problems will get settled once it's clear there's some point to settling them. They're symptoms, not causes. Even the advertising and buzz is a symptom, really--there's no point having a sizable advertising budget for a movie that won't make back that ad budget if every theatre it's in sells out for the entire run. If, on the other hand, it's gonna be on a screen in every cineplex, suddenly it's worth putting out the ads and schmoozing the press, and suddenly the press will pay some attention.


Okay. So how does Hollywood ensure its product is in theatres in stores?

Smaller American distributors are dealing with the same problems that Canadian distributors deal with -- and this is an oversimplification because it's a very complex system -- because Hollywood has a monopoly on screens. They've got the big sure-fire moneymakers, and if the theatres want the latest star vehicle that's guaranteed to pack the house, they have to go along with taking the other films that studio produces. Package deal. That means that the screens are tied up, and the others have difficulty getting in at all. So making sure YOUR film is on every screen is a whole lot more easily said than done.

Most smaller distributors will do a limited release in a larger centre, and then try to create some buzz from that before attempting to go into a wider release. But that buzz is still competing with multimillion dollar ad campaigns, and like it or not, that's going to get more attention than buzz for a smaller film. It's not that simple and it's not that easy.

quote:
But it kind of shocked me that a bunch of progressives are spending tons of time analyzing fiddly details while largely ignoring the elephant of oligopolistic US-controlled film distribution taking up most of the room--the very kind of basic structural problem I would have expected progressives to be all over.

You know something? I hate that the Canadian film industry struggles. I want nothing more than to be producing quality Canadian features. It has been a life-long goal, still is. I hate the fact that Hollywood dominates Canadian screens. If you have any advice at all on how to get past NAFTA, I'd welcome it. But screen quotas for Canadian film isn't going to happen, and we don't have the economic clout to beat H/W at its own game. Saying that the obstacles are mere details that will take care of themselves is incredibly naive.

[ 28 September 2005: Message edited by: Zoot ]


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
bittersweet
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posted 28 September 2005 12:27 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
One of the more interesting developments in getting screen time for "Canadian" films is the rise (and fall, and rise) of co-production deals. This can result in the ironic situation of a Canadian producer seeing decent Canadian business...as long he/she's not trying to sell a 100% Canadian product to his/her own country. So, you have something like "Being Julia"--pretty iffy, but still legitimately part-Canadian. There are also cases, especially in "genre" movies that have a half-assed chance of making back the budget, where Canadian talent can do well mixing it up with the Yanks. For example, I worked on a big budget (for Canada) horror feature shot in Canada, written by Canadians, directed by a Canadian, produced by Canadians, all of us in bed with a ginormous Hollywood distributor. Cozy, eh?
From: land of the midnight lotus | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 28 September 2005 05:24 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Cozy indeed, you lucky thing, you!

Then there are those films that are only Canadian because they have the bare essential qualifying positions filled with Canadians...

The definition of a Canadian film is fairly soft. Or is flexible a better way to put it?

[ 28 September 2005: Message edited by: Zoot ]


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged

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