Archive for the ‘Studio’ Category

Buy A Ticket

Monday, February 27th, 2012

So the big award show happened last night. And no, I’m not going to take the all too easy pot shots. Every year everybody chimes in about how much they hate the Oscars yet every year, there we are, back for more.

What’s being said about the Academy Awards north of the border is… Very little. And if it weren’t for Christopher Plummer that chitchat would probably drop to zero. I am, of course, only referring to the chitchat coming from the mouths of Canadian filmmakers about Canadian film. The Canadian masses were pleased as punch, I’m sure, to revel in the glimmer of the American glitterati. And why shouldn’t they? Without American film we wouldn’t even need to build cinemas up here.

I think most Canadian filmmakers blame the public for this. I may have been guilty of this too, once upon a time: Why can’t you all just support your homegrown films? Why does our talent have to go south of the border to make a name for itself before anybody will give them the time of day here at home?

Maybe - and I’m just spitballing here - maybe, it’s because we don’t have anything to offer?


I’m not saying the talent isn’t here. It is. Until it’s not; because it’s gone south. So why can’t we take that talent and turn it into films everyday Canadians want to watch? Could it be that, as filmmakers, we have a bit of a skewed way of thinking about an audience’s relationship to the medium? Allow me to illustrate my point:

I recently received a mass email from a Canadian producer promoting their latest film. Nothing wrong with that. Get the word out there. Sure. Except– At the end of the very enthusiastic letter about how happy we are with the movie yadda yadda, comes the line: “Please buy a ticket, even if you don’t go to see the movie. It would really help me out.”

It’s important to understand that the producer wasn’t literally panhandling for change here - though that’s not unheard of up here. What they were after was a theatrical run. See, getting your movie into a theater for anything longer than a weekend is the mother of all Canadian film achievements. It also means you acquire bona fide producer credits as determined by our nation’s film financing agency. Producer credits mean you’ve arrived. You can just sit there and massage the federal teat for as long as it takes to squirt.

What’s more is, I was told by this producer in person, a month earlier, that the movie in question was terrible. Yes, he said this about his own movie.

Going to our movies - or worse, buying a ticket to a movie we’re not going to watch - shouldn’t be a favour we ask of the public. It’s embarrassing. For everybody. Including, and perhaps foremost, the financiers of these make-work projects. The public has to want - desperately - to see what we’ve created. Before you laugh, think about the Star Wars geeks standing in line to see The Phantom Menace for the first time with their Darth Maul tattoos already inked on their chests. That was just a movie too. Just like what we can do here.

I don’t despair however. Ever slowly things do change. Risks do get taken and are rewarded. That’s Canadian “risk” by the way - not real risk. But it’s certainly not the fault of the public. They - we - just want to be entertained. Don’t ask us to do stuff. Or to care about your career. Just make something good for us to watch. Then maybe, just maybe, someone will give a shit when the Genies roll around.

They’re March 8th, incidentally.

I had to look it up.

Dotting The Ts & Crossing My Eyes

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Work work work work and then… Nothing.

I’ve just spent several weeks and, yes, months preparing various projects for what can be summarized simply as pitches. And suddenly I find myself at the end of this process and entering a new stage of “development”: Waiting.

I’m not a big fan of waiting. Never have been. It’s a mortality thing, I suppose. I’d rather do than wait to do. There’s a stereotype about writers; that they’re lazy or procrastinators. By this prejudice I am most certainly not a writer. Perhaps I’m only one by default of the creative process. But I digress.

I’ve never been a big proponent of pitching. Probably because of that waiting element. After all, what’s pitching if not doing something other than actually creating. Unless it’s a means to that creative end. A part of the process. And it is. For some projects. Not necessarily a super fun part, but still a necessary part in order to achieve a certain level of satisfaction. Once again, this all comes back to mortality. Shoe-string art projects and boiling the broom for soup for years and years sounds really great and all, but I’ve got a few more ideas than that. Ideas on a larger scale.

Whether it’s applying to arts funding agencies, pitching to production companies or (just shoot me now) distribution companies there’s something to be said for mortality. I’m eventually going to be dead and I don’t want my legacy to be a bunch of movies I didn’t get made but that look absolutely stellar on paper. Likewise, I could go out and shoot and shoot or animate and animate the hell out of no-budget darlings but to what end? I’ve done that. I know how long that takes and I know what the outcome is. Mortality dictates that I take things to the next level.

So I’ve been dotting the Ts and crossing my eyes over what I know are great stories and turning them into great pitches. And I’ll keeping making those pitches. And while those doing the catching deliberate, I’ll keep right on creating new things.

I am a filmmaker after all, not a filmdreamer.

The Success of Others

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

My mom sends me links to news articles. So does yours - c’mon. She used to clip out newspaper articles and leave them on the kitchen table for me. But she’s tech savvy now. Anyway, the latest tidbit of entertainment information that Mom deemed worthy of my attention was about a successful writer who’s living the Canadian writer’s dream; working in the US.

I kindly replied to her email that it’s always nice to read about the success of others.

Mom immediately took the tone of my email to be sarcastic. That my reply was me lashing out with cantankerous envy. And I can see how that’s a reaction that may arise. But it wasn’t, on my part. I thought it was genuinely great to hear about the success of others who share your pursuit.

There’s so much rejection; so much unrelenting defeat in this industry that hearing that someone else has actually hit the target for which they were aiming is - if nothing else - a comforting reminder. A reminder that what you’re after is not impossible. It’s also a nice reminder to take a look at your own accomplishments and remember that for every one of you there are a dozen more yous out there who are reading your story and thinking the same thing. That if a cantankerous jerk so sarcastic that even his mother assumes the worst can do this, so can they.


Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Just doing some home improvements around the old homestead here. Here being Not the actual homestead. It’s January and -15 out, gimme a break.

Apparently, while I was off(line) building a healthy career in traditional media, Flash became the scourge of the internet. Who knew? Not me. I just recently found out. Now it’s all HTML5 this and you’re-not-smart-enough-to-code-things-yourself-anymore that.

Anyway. I’m happy to say that is now all spiffed up with the latest the web has to offer in streamlined efficiency… Until otherwise pointed out to me.

And it feels pretty good. It’s in keeping with my goal this year. To streamline. To operate with more precision than ever before.

Flash content has started to get a bad rap online because it causes your computer to lag. It’s too heavy. It bogs down your CPU so it can’t operate efficiently. Or so I’m told. Personally, I tend to work very efficiently myself. Or so I’m told. Perhaps as a result I find myself with a lot of projects that are starting to pile up. Not pile up in a bad way. Just pile up in an I’ve moved on to another opportunity without fully exploring this project’s possibilities way. As a result, I’m feeling a bit like Flash is running my work life. Things are starting to lag. Operate less efficiently. So this year will be about cleaning house. Tapping every project to its limit and if it fails to advance to a satisfactory level, to permanently retire it.


By the end of the year, I’ll either have a dumpster full of stories or a few new irons on the fire that I can call my own.

And yes, Mankind #3 gets worked on in every spare moment I have. Gonna go work on it now, as a matter of fact. Because why should I get a Sunday night off? Huh? Why? God… You’re insatiable.


Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Not so long ago, I got a call from a producer type guy in Los Angeles who’d gotten a hold of a piece of my writing. Hey, how are ya, lots of kudos, that kind of thing. Very flattering. A great call to get, all in all. But then– “Oh, you’re where?”



There was a sound on the line that I could only imagine was all the air being sucked out of his office.


We live in an age where Twitter feeds are being adapted into television shows and blogs are inspiring multi-million dollar films. Google can put me on a street in front of any building in the world and a Skype connection can put me inside. Not to mention anywhere is only an old school plane ride away. And if you need to be there right now, there’s always teleportation– No? Not yet? Alright well, the rest still begs the question: How on Earth is location even an issue anymore?

I don’t doubt that every once in a while a warm, fleshy hand shake or two is warranted. Hell, I’m all about the human connection. But there’s something suspicious about a person who’s position is immediately dismissive of anyone not a short drive away. Like they can’t actually screw you if you’re not there in person.

There’s a great speech in the movie Moneyball. It’s delivered by Arliss Howard as John Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox. It may as well be addressed to the old guard of the entertainment industry. The gist of it is that if you’re too afraid of the new ways, then you’re boned. I keep seeing evidence of these dinosaur ways all the time. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Never heard back from that particular producer type fella. Maybe he’s following up by carrier pigeon. Did however take a phone meeting with another producer who couldn’t care less where the creative energy is coming from. Hm. Wonder who’s still going to be making movies five years from now…