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Author Topic: Supporting Canadian films
Fitz
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posted 04 May 2006 12:31 AM      Profile for Fitz     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Just stumbled across this group trying to get people out to support Canadian films.: The First Weekend Club. Sounds like an interesting idea but I'm wondering if anyone knows anything about it above and beyond what I've seen on their website

TIA
Fitz


From: Toronto | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 04 May 2006 12:46 AM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Fitz:
...I'm wondering if anyone knows anything about it above and beyond what I've seen on their website...
Which would be here, BTW.

I don't know, but it sounds bizarre when they talk about having thousands of members across the country who are alerted to the opening of new Canadian films and are pledged in advance to flock to see the films (presumably without regard to whether they are worth seeing), apparently for the sole purpose of generating some kind of buzz or momentum around the films in order to keep them running longer!

Are Canadian films really so bad that they need this kind of stunt-audience to fill the seats?

I guess I have just answered my own question.


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Fitz
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posted 04 May 2006 08:34 AM      Profile for Fitz     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by M. Spector:

I don't know, but it sounds bizarre when they talk about having thousands of members across the country who are alerted to the opening of new Canadian films and are pledged in advance to flock to see the films (presumably without regard to whether they are worth seeing), apparently for the sole purpose of generating some kind of buzz or momentum around the films in order to keep them running longer!

Are Canadian films really so bad that they need this kind of stunt-audience to fill the seats?

I guess I have just answered my own question.[/QB]


Hokay!

According to their website, their "goal is to help keep more good Canadian films in theatres". Really gibes with your flashmob characterization!!

So, is anyone familiar with them?

And Spector, you can keep scarfing-up the Hollywood dreck. I'm looking for something other than mega-hyped media properties that'll be turned into thrillrides in a few years.


From: Toronto | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 04 May 2006 09:52 AM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I don't go to movies, as a rule.

Last two movies I went to were Wallace & Gromit and Syriana.


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Fitz
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posted 04 May 2006 10:24 AM      Profile for Fitz     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
OK, so you were posting to waste some bandwidth without actually adding anything relevant to the topic.

Thanks. Whatta hero!


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M. Spector
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posted 04 May 2006 07:19 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I added at least two relevant things to this thread:

1. I posted a link to the website you referred to, so that others would know what the fuck you were on about;

2. I made a comment on the contents of the website, which at last count, no other babble poster had done.

So sorry if I interfered with the rush of other posters who are eager to sign on to this bizarre project. Oh, wait! Where are they?


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 04 May 2006 07:20 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 

[ 04 May 2006: Message edited by: M. Spector ]


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 04 May 2006 07:44 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Okay, let's simmer down a bit. M.Spector isn't wasting bandwidth by posting his opinion here, and I also don't think it's the end of the world that Fitz forgot to post a link to the web site in his first post.

This is an interesting initiative, Fitz. I don't really have a problem with it - I think it's a good idea to promote Canadian films in this manner. I think a lot of the reason so many people go on opening nights to major blockbuster films is because they've been hyped up so much in previews and advertisements, not because they're necessarily better. Probably most Canadian films don't have that kind of ad hype budget, so this sounds like a good way to address that and get people to make their opening nights good ones.

I think it's too bad that filmmaking (or at least the business of it) seems so wrapped up in how many people go on the opening weekend. I always avoid opening weekends simply because I don't want to fight the crowds.

(Thread drift: M.Spector, I've been wanting to see Syriana for a while now.)


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Fear-ah
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posted 04 May 2006 07:45 PM      Profile for Fear-ah        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Fitz:
OK, so you were posting to waste some bandwidth without actually adding anything relevant to the topic.

Thanks. Whatta hero!


That was mean...M. Spector's comments were perfectly in line with the topic and fair debate...

He made a good point that indeed there is some marketing involved behind various groups that are sometimes crude.

But a better response might be that--

Well you can get a stack of emails from any group, lame cel msgs, the works, but it doesn't necessarily mean you would get off your ass to go and see the bloody thing.

Canadian films don't go good box office; a 'net' buzz to promote a film has become a pretty sophisticated and standard marketing tool with independent films and even major studio releases, isn't necessarily sinister.

American movies have gotten so bad that even Canadian movies look good...so I agree M. Spector, there is not much out there to go and pay 13 bucks to see--the whole industry is tanking away.


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M. Spector
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posted 04 May 2006 08:58 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
I've been wanting to see Syriana for a while now.
Rent the DVD. The story is kinda hard to follow in the cinema, and I kept wishing I could rewind and view a previous scene.

From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Stargazer
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posted 04 May 2006 09:45 PM      Profile for Stargazer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Fitz was mean? You're joking right? I watch a lot of Canadian films. I think Canadian films for the most part are excellent. What I do not get is the dismissive attitude from other Canadians regarding these films, like the reactions above.

"Oh it's Canadian, it must be crap"

People with this attitude seem to have no real idea about how great Canadian films can be and are.

Did no one see CRAZY? Do people not think that some of the best comedy on television is Canadian? Well I certainly do. I think it is excellent to support our own talent. It's a shame that we don't because they can become bitter (and who would blame them if the average reaction was "It's Canadian it must be crap") and they relocate, and take their talent to the US, where people actually pay attention to them.

We have lost a lot of great talent because we don't support our own. How sad is it that people have to leave Canada for better opportunities? Seriously, open your minds a bit and get out and support some homegrown talent. They could certainly use the support.

The Adjuster
Erotica
Crash (both of them)
Highway 61
Dance Me Outside
Black Robe
Mon oncle Antoine

For TV:

The Rez
Trailor Park Boys
Kenny and Spenny

The list is endless.


From: Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist. | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
Reason
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posted 04 May 2006 10:06 PM      Profile for Reason   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Stargazer, I knew there was a perfectly good reason why I like you...

Adam Egoyan ROCKS!

Check out this webpage for his filmography.


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Stargazer
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posted 04 May 2006 10:13 PM      Profile for Stargazer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I haven't seen all his films but out of the ones I have, I have to say The Adjuster is an amazing film.

I really enjoyed Exotica as well.


From: Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist. | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
Fitz
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posted 05 May 2006 12:22 PM      Profile for Fitz     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
Okay, let's simmer down a bit. M.Spector isn't wasting bandwidth by posting his opinion here


Sorry Michele,

I just took exception to what came off as a glib, reflexive put-down of a site that seems to be trying to sweep against the proverbial tide of States 'culture' while completely mischaracterising its contents and intent. That he then goes on to admit that he doesn't go to movies "as a rule" says to me that the drive-by "opinion" carries as much weight as mine about NASCAR.

quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
This is an interesting initiative, Fitz. I don't really have a problem with it - I think it's a good idea to promote Canadian films in this manner. I think a lot of the reason so many people go on opening nights to major blockbuster films is because they've been hyped up so much in previews and advertisements, not because they're necessarily better. Probably most Canadian films don't have that kind of ad hype budget, so this sounds like a good way to address that and get people to make their opening nights good ones.

I think it's too bad that filmmaking (or at least the business of it) seems so wrapped up in how many people go on the opening weekend. I always avoid opening weekends simply because I don't want to fight the crowds.


I'd concur about it as an idea. Working in film and television, I'm interested in the site as a (hopefully) grassroots alternative to the major media buys that seem to be necessary just to cut through the background noise that is commercial television. The budget line for promotion alone of your average Hollywood 2-star wonder typically exceeds the entire budget of most Canadian films. I geuss if I take any satisfaction at all in the state of the feature film business last year it's that it seems like people are tired of the production-line schlock that dominates the screens and mindspace.

Now to actually make people aware of these films. Is every Canadian film art? No. But the trouble for too many is that the many worthwhile films there are get overlooked because they can't compete when it comes to the advertising dollars sprayed willy-nilly in support of dreck like "RV".

Of course, people used to bitch and moan about radio CanCon rules back in the day calling it enforced dreck. Fortunately, we now have the likes of Nickleback, KOS, Great Big Sea, etc.


From: Toronto | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged
Fitz
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posted 05 May 2006 12:27 PM      Profile for Fitz     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Stargazer,

I'd add "Perfectly Normal", "The Wrong Guy" and "Seducing Dr. Lewis" to your list as well. "Perfectly Normal" is one of my absolute favourite films, bar none. Very droll and featuring a young Michael Riley in one of the lead roles. As far as I know, it isn't out on DVD yet but I'd recommend it highly.


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bittersweet
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posted 05 May 2006 01:02 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
First W/end club will sometimes have director Q+A's after a screening, which some people may enjoy.

Seems to me that if membership is made up of people who are already inclined to watch Cdn. movies (and to be clear, this is about English Cdn. movies), the effect of sending email reminders of forthcoming premieres to that group may not be all that significant. To get really significant results, you'd still have to break past that demographic. But it's a start.

Meanwhile, there are very concrete things we could do to boost the quality of dramatic scripts in English Canada. Yes, we want to make Canadian actors and directors household names, and attract a solid percentage of the box office, etc., yet all of that hinges on the anonymous writer and the effectiveness of his or her script. Because it's not just Canadians who aren't watching English Cdn. movies--on the whole, they are also not sought after internationally.

[ 05 May 2006: Message edited by: bittersweet ]


From: land of the midnight lotus | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Fitz
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posted 05 May 2006 02:14 PM      Profile for Fitz     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, getting screentime is the toughest part. Since Cineplex has a hammerlock on exhibition and they're inclined to overwhelm with tons of Hollywood schlock, it's kind of hard to get the stuff out there on enough screens to generate momentum. What alternatives are there across the country in terms of alternative venues?
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Michelle
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posted 05 May 2006 02:53 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I wouldn't be against some kind of minimum Cancon regulation for the theatres. Although there would probably be a lot of kicking and screaming were that to be attempted.
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
bittersweet
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posted 05 May 2006 03:52 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, in Vancouver, English Canadian movies often premier at a multiplex called Cinemark Tinseltown. Other than that, one guy, Leonard Schein, has three art-house theatres that offer English Cdn. movies from time to time.

I don't think it's necessarily a bad idea to impose demands on exhibitors, as long as there's a concomitant demand to deliver pictures with the best chance of doing business, and that exhibitors still have discretion to show the pictures they think have the best chance of attracting audiences. In other words, make them part of the team.

To deliver the best possible candidates, again, changes have to happen, both in training and in the development process. We've got talented directors. Talented actors. But there are too many scripts being shot before they're ready for prime time. The really disappointing thing is that so many of them are based on good premises, and have a lot of potential. And then there are the many director/writers who have zero dramatic writing skill; they're more interested in being arty than creating great stories people actually want to see. They sometimes get awards at festivals (Sundance gives 'em out like candy), then they bomb with the general public, then they go back to the trough, get more (tax) money again, then they waste it again. Nobody's telling them: "No, this won't do." The bias toward auteurism has to stop. Very, very few directors can write, and vice versa.

If the commitment to being rigorous about scripts doesn't happen, it'll be disastrous because enforced exhibition won't offer incentive to improve, and moreover, the greater exposure will only confirm English Canadian films' lackluster reputation. Then we'd really be up a creek.

What's interesting is that French Canadian movies often do better in English Canada than English Canadian ones. For example, "Barbarian Invasions" did terrific business in English Canada, and I'll bet that Francois Gerard's "Silk" is going to do the same. Well there's a reason for that: exhibitors want to show these pictures, and people want to see them.

It's also exciting to see companies with business models like Infinity ("Capote") and Peace Arch doing co-productions and developing projects independently of the usual bureaucracy. That's another way to circumvent exhibition and marketing budget limitations.

[ 05 May 2006: Message edited by: bittersweet ]


From: land of the midnight lotus | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Fitz
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posted 05 May 2006 05:15 PM      Profile for Fitz     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Granted, that's definitely part of the issue. But I think there's also a not-necessarily-deserved 'if-it's-Canadian-it's-crap' mindset that needs to be overcome as well. I mean, we have no end of talented artists of various and sundry stripes in this country. But there seems to be a mindset that wants us to carry our 'hewers of wood and drawers of water' past forward into new territory where it needn't be that way.

I honestly don't think we give our creators near enough credit or support until they've been validated elsewhere (usually the States). Until that changes, I think we're doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and over again.

My two bits FWIW

[ 05 May 2006: Message edited by: Fitz ]


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bittersweet
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posted 05 May 2006 08:52 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Sorry, I don't quite get this line: "there seems to be a mindset that wants us to carry our 'hewers of wood and drawers of water' past forward into new territory where it needn't be that way."

Does it refer to trying to outdo Hollywood at its own game? If so, I think I agree with you. And this is where we really need to think hard as creators. Because it's still show business. It's easy to fall into the trap of trying so hard not to play the same game as Hollywood that we end up playing an equally unwinnable one--by making independent dreck. I would argue that there's as much independent dreck as studio dreck; crucially, though, independents haven't the cushion of star power to at least pay for themselves, so they actually have to be much more careful that their stories sing. And this is where I see the disconnect. Again, I've seen such super potential wasted by a reluctance, even an arrogance I would say, in English Canada to push scripts harder. That's the danger with soft money.

So if I'm following your meaning, I agree that we shouldn't compete directly, with the caveat that we should also not strive to be "arty" either, since either way isn't likely to attract significant audiences.


From: land of the midnight lotus | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Adam T
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posted 05 May 2006 09:29 PM      Profile for Adam T     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
If you check the Georgia Straight (here in Vancouver) there seems to be a least 1 Canadian film opening every couple of weeks. I would assume that Toronto probably even has more Canadian films that play there, and we all know the box office success that Quebec films have become. Obviously once you're out of those 3 major Canadian population centres finding Canadian films is likely a lot more difficult.

The American website Boxofficemojo.com used to list more of them than it does now for some reason.

American indie non documentary films seems to be in a bit of a growth spurt right now, at least in terms of the number of films released. Last year there were about 140, this year is on track for about 200. Many indie films just get essentially platform releases before going onto dvd, but there are always a number of more major indies.

I don't know how 'risky' they are to make, as was suggested above. In many cases, they get fairly well known actors to star in them for a lot less money. They also, despite the 'indie' label, generally have a lot of money behind them: most of the major indie producers are actually owned by the big studios.

Still, there have been two recent major newcomers to indie production/distribution: the independent film channel, and the Weisnstein Brothers who used to be Miramax which was owned by, I think, Disney.

There have been 15 indie films this year so far to make over $1 million at the U.S/Canada box office. Thank You For Smoking, which had several major stars, being the biggest hit so far taking in about $20 million to date.


From: Richmond B.C | Registered: Nov 2003  |  IP: Logged
Fitz
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posted 05 May 2006 10:28 PM      Profile for Fitz     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by bittersweet:
Sorry, I don't quite get this line: "there seems to be a mindset that wants us to carry our 'hewers of wood and drawers of water' past forward into new territory where it needn't be that way."

Does it refer to trying to outdo Hollywood at its own game?


No. It's a shot at those in this country who would have us know our place and stay there like a good little country. Tall-poppy syndrome.

As far as out-Hollywooding Hollywood, that's a mug's game. They've had near a century to finetune their product. That said, I've rather enjoyed the panicky squeals eminating from that direction last year when the box office dropped despite putting out the same schlock that people'd paid to see in previous years.

quote:
Originally posted by bittersweet:
I would argue that there's as much independent dreck as studio dreck; crucially, though, independents haven't the cushion of star power to at least pay for themselves, so they actually have to be much more careful that their stories sing.

I'd argue that there's much more Hollywood dreck. Their chief advantage is having enough advertising money available to convince enough people to say "that was alright" as opposed to calling a spade a spade. Money talks.

And when was the last Hollywood flick you saw that took any kind of real chance with its story? Risk is anathema to the big-budget Hollywood producer. If there isn't a big name attached to act, direct or major literary property with built-in audience, the majors avoid it like the plague.

quote:
Originally posted by bittersweet:
And this is where I see the disconnect. Again, I've seen such super potential wasted by a reluctance, even an arrogance I would say, in English Canada to push scripts harder. That's the danger with soft money.

Agreed. Without a good script, there's precious little chance of a good film. Supporting the script process to refine stories until they're actuall ready for filming would do the Canadian film industry a world of good.


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Fitz
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posted 05 May 2006 10:38 PM      Profile for Fitz     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yeah, but Canadian films by and large get precious little screen time overall. 1 screen for 1-2 weeks per Canadian film doesn't do anything to address the disparity with the rest being saved for American films.

And qualifying the Weinsteins as independents isn't really accurate anymore. Back in the day maybe but not now.


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up
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posted 05 May 2006 11:11 PM      Profile for up     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
We should do like Japan and Korea- tax movies from other countries and give the cash to Cdn producers.


Anyway, Syriana is very over-rated imo. I thought it was a missed opportunity, the characters weren't that compelling etc.

Im sick of the Sodenberg story-telling style- It's a gimmicky way to add the complexity that should have been in the characters and the interaction of characters, and the story itself.


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Timebandit
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posted 05 May 2006 11:27 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
We should do like Japan and Korea- tax movies from other countries and give the cash to Cdn producers.

We can't. Ever heard of NAFTA?

That's also the reason we can't institute screen quotas for Canadian film like other countries do.

"Indie" film does not necessarily equal good film. There are a lot of indie films that begin with a good concept and fail to execute it, as well as a lot of Hollywood films that basically phone in the formula. But bittersweet has a point -- enough people will show up to watch a name star that, for the most part, has the potential to at least break even. Independent filmmakers (and this would be all Canadian filmmakers) have to be far more careful to make a really good film so that there is some slim chance of breaking even. And profit? Well, you can dream, can't you...

quote:
Very, very few directors can write, and vice versa.

But bittersweet, don't you know that those are the two things *everybody* believes they can do?

[ 05 May 2006: Message edited by: Timebandit ]


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Adam T
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posted 06 May 2006 04:23 AM      Profile for Adam T     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
There are a lot of good big studio films and a lot of bad indie films.

V for Vendetta is a very good film put out by the big studios. Many of the film versions of graphic novels are quite good.

The Canadian films will only play in 1 to 2 theatres for one or two weeks if that is all the market will support.

I'd probably agree that more could be done to support Canadian films, though I'm not sure what I'd support. But, getting onto the big screen is in many ways nothing more than a big ego trip. The fact is, there is plenty of money to be made in direct to video and the CBC will always play Canadian films. So, there are already ways to get Canadians to see Canadian films.


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Adam T
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posted 06 May 2006 04:28 AM      Profile for Adam T     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The Weinsteins are certainly as independent as Sony Independent Films or Fox Searchlight. That's my point anyway, most of the indie film studios are owned by big studios anyway.

I don't have a problem with that as long as the indie division has control over their films. It gives them access to more money and probably contacts with big name actors.


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Fitz
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posted 06 May 2006 01:44 PM      Profile for Fitz     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 

[ 06 May 2006: Message edited by: Fitz ]


From: Toronto | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged
Fitz
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posted 06 May 2006 02:18 PM      Profile for Fitz     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Said up:
We should do like Japan and Korea- tax movies from other countries and give the cash to Cdn producers.

Replied Timebandit:
We can't. Ever heard of NAFTA?

That's also the reason we can't institute screen quotas for Canadian film like other countries do.

Says I:
Not so. Cultual exemption from NAFTA. We can do these things so long as we don't mind the States hitting back at something unrelated in a disproportionately large way in response. So don't expect anything on that front. Sorta like the softwood lumber thing.

Said Timebandit:
"Indie" film does not necessarily equal good film. There are a lot of indie films that begin with a good concept and fail to execute it, as well as a lot of Hollywood films that basically phone in the formula.

Says I:
Nobody's really saying 'all indie gooood, all Hollywood baaaad'; the issue at hand (and for which I started the thread) is supporting worthwhile Canadian films and hopefully hearing our own voices and stories. The Québecois have done so and more power to them (and it's more than language issue); TROC could take a few lessons.

Why the resistance is beyond me. Is it just too damn much trouble?

[ 06 May 2006: Message edited by: Fitz ]

[ 06 May 2006: Message edited by: Fitz ]


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Stargazer
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posted 06 May 2006 03:49 PM      Profile for Stargazer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Not for me. I will always support Canadian Film and indie movies.
From: Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist. | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
Fitz
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posted 06 May 2006 04:30 PM      Profile for Fitz     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Moi aussi but I could be fairly accused of having a vested interest. I work in film and television but I think I'm fairly honest in my judgement. My favourite film (Canadian or otherwise) is "Perfectly Normal" with Michael Riley and Robbie Coltrane. See it if you can.
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Stargazer
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posted 06 May 2006 04:33 PM      Profile for Stargazer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'll definietly take your advice and check it out. Thanks Fitz
From: Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist. | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged

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