INTERESTING CHAT WITH TELEFILM - Complications Ensue
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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I had an interesting chat with my friendly local Telefilm guy. Telefilm seems to be trying to decide how best to fulfill its mandate to promote Canadian stories told on screen. They're not thrilled with the Screenwriting Assistance Program because while writers may be writing popular stories, producers aren't necessarily interested in those stories -- producers have their own stories they want to push. They don't want to go back to the idea of hiring CAA to promote Canadian screenwriters who have abandoned Canada for LA. They'd like Canadians to stay in Canada and make movies for a little while before going to LA. (Or, for that matter, didn't feel they needed to go to LA.)

How do you help the industry without becoming a crutch. Where is the bottleneck? If you just give producers money, they'll take it until it's all gone. Where is the ball being dropped?

Personally, I think there's not enough of a connection between those of us writing up here and producers down in the States who are looking to package co-productions. There is no US-Canadian co-production treaty (co-production treaties basically exist to allow non-US producers to survive; a co-production treaty that allowed US producers would defeat the whole purpose). But there are US producers who want to enable Canadian productions for money and an Exec Producer credit. There are also UK and European and Israeli producers in LA who want to do Canadian co-pros. But they have no idea who the good writers are up here. I know. I used to work for them. I had a hell of a time trying to identify the good Quebec anglophone writers.

In other words it's the reverse of the CAA deal. The point isn't to enable Canadian writers who are in LA. The point would be to hook up Canadian writers telling Canadian stories with producers in LA, with access to US bucks, who want to put those stories on the screen. (Which means, of course, when I say Canadian stories, I mean human stories about Canadians. Not stories about Mounties and maple syrup.)

We also talked about mentoring. There could a program where experienced screenwriters mentor promising beginners. I'd volunteer for that. I just want to know that whoever I'm mentoring (a) has talent and (b) will break their butt to take my advice seriously. I don't mind giving some of my time away. I only mind wasting it.

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7 Comments:

(Which means, of course, when I say Canadian stories, I mean human stories about Canadians. Not stories about Mounties and maple syrup.)

Oh, shoot, and here I was hankering for a darn good maple syrup movie.

By Blogger Robot Porter, at 2:53 PM  

For a long time I had been planning on moving across the border to LA at the earliest opportunity. But looking at the gov. programs like telefilm, I've come to realize that (unless I'm really missing something) I'd be a lot better off staying in Atlantic Canada and working my ass off to try and produce my own stuff low budget. I'm now in the process of trying to find out just how deluded I am, but at least telefilm's existance has convinced me that there is a hope on this side of the border...

By Blogger Rob Richard, at 5:54 PM  

I've never had any intention of living in or working in the States in an effort to carve out a successful showbiz career in L.A.

Early on in the development of The Black Tower, several upper echelon producers told me I should pitch my show to FOX, the WB or Sci-Fi. They had connections and promised to help get my proposal on the desks of various development execs. But I refused their offers. Why? Because they expected that the show would be filmed in an L.A. studio, with American writers and actors, with most of the Canadian characters changed to American.

That is SO not going to happen. Not with my baby. I'd rather wait another 10 years to get this story told the right way -- a proudly Canadian way -- than sell out to the States and have my series become just another version of Charmed, Night Stalker or The Others.

By Blogger Kelly J. Compeau, at 6:16 PM  

The mentoring program sounds like a great idea. I could really use a mentor in the business. As a young female writer in Montreal, I feel pretty helpless and without opportunity even when I think of I've got a great script in the works... or completed.

By Blogger Host, at 6:20 PM  

I think you're absolutely right....That's exactly what we need. I think you and I know very well why they look to Canadian writers...tax incentives...so, now I know what we're talking about. The question is, how good are you on a P.R level? What can be done to create this co-production between can writers, and U.S Producers?

By Blogger Quinn, at 6:18 PM  

I think you're absolutely right....That's exactly what we need. I think you and I know very well why they look to Canadian writers...tax incentives...so, now I know what we're talking about. The question is, how good are you on a P.R level? What can be done to create this co-production between can writers, and U.S Producers?

By Blogger Quinn, at 6:19 PM  

I think it has to involve Telefilm making it easier for producers in LA to find/meet/talk to writers North of the border.

'Cause our agents sure as hell aren't doing it.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 7:12 PM  

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