Had a chat with a producer today. He'd really rather our pitch for our single-camera comedy The alternative
were set in some American city rather than Montreal. It's hard to sell a Canadian show outside of Canada.
My response was an impassioned defense of Montreal in particular ("the undiscovered secret of North America) and shows set in the places they are shot in general. If you shoot Montreal for New York, you can't shoot any of the really neat locations Montreal has (Place d'Armes, the waterfront, Silo #5 at night, Beaver Pond on the Mountain). Nor can you shoot any of the really neat locations New York has, obviously, because you're not there. Wouldn't viewers rather see real Montreal than fake New York?
On Naked Josh
we fudged it. The US network clearly didn't want us to say the word "Montreal," but some characters had French accents, Eric lived upstairs from Ciné L'Amour, and we shot on the McGill campus. Cars had Quebec plates. Signage was bilingual. Etc.
I wonder if the audience really doesn't want to see a show set in a non-US city (assuming they can correctly identify Montreal as a non-US city), or if this is exclusively an issue for broadcasters and advertisers. Not that it would help if it were.
I would think the more exotic the locale, the more of a draw it would have. I have a friend who simply refused to watch TV during the 70s because "every place looks like Southern California."
On the other hand, I once got feedback from a pitch that went something like this: make the Russian an American -- nobody wants to hear about a Russian -- and make the English chick American, and set it in America and you got yourself a story.
I had the same bit of trouble early on with my series in dev, The Black Tower. The prodcos I first pitched it to about three years ago said they didn't want the series' setting to be Toronto or Vancouver. It had to be an American city, preferably New York, if I wanted this baby to fly. So, right now, I'm pitching it as New York but I'm completely open to my producing partners switching it back to Toronto or Vancouver. As it is, I'm fudging a little by making many of the epsiodes feature characters & B stories in various Canadian cites, right across the board.
My ex-girlfriend, whom I was together with at the time, went to McGill University. I'm from Chicago, now living in L.A, and can say that I love Montreal and would much rather see a show based there rather than fake NY.
That said, not sure the American "majority", which is really only a couple 100,000 more than the Minority, would embrace it.
I think it would be great, but I'm certainly not representative of the average American. In fact, I'm usually a good indicator of what they're NOT thinking.
But every rule is true until someone comes along and breaks it...If your ratings go through the roof, you'll suddenly be creative geniuses for setting it in Montreal!
The fact that The Collector is set in Vancouver doesn't seem to hurt its success. This and Corner Gas/Trailer Park Boys just goes to show you that the world is willing to see Canadian productions.
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