Crossing the Pond... to Vancouver? - Complications Ensue
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Monday, August 25, 2008

Q. I have a follow-up question to your recent post on Canadian Showbiz Geography.

I'm just getting going with a career in the UK industry, I have long wanted to try somewhere other than the UK (where I have lived all my life). The Canadian attitude to skilled migration is much more relaxed than the U.S., so I have had my eye on you guys for a few years now. I have no ties to Canada and no reason to pick a particular town. How about Vancouver? That was mentioned in the question, but not in your response.

I have been able to get something of an impression by Googling around for TV and film production there, but there's nothing like a first-hand opinion. It seems like it might have the advantage of a being a relatively small self-contained community in which it is easier to get noticed than Toronto/Montreal -- and perhaps benefits from being closer to California. But is the community there too small? Or are my impressions on completely the wrong track?
I spoke with my friend Evil D about Vancouver. He's a hard-working, crafty writer who just finished staffing a successful network show here. Of the four Vancouver shows he's staffed recently, exactly one originated in Vancouver. The others were created in Toronto and at least partly staffed in Toronto; in fact he had his interview for one of them in Toronto even though he's a Vancouver based writer and the show was Vancouver.

So while Vancouver has more production going on than Montreal, I think, not that much of it originates there. (And let's not even get into American service productions like Battlestar Galactica.) Which means that you might have more chance staffing a Vancouver show by hanging out at the Paddock or Aunties and Uncles in Toronto than you would building up your network in Vancouver.

No, I think it's still Toronto. Your career will move faster in Toronto. Evil D feels he'd be five years further along had he started in the Big Smoke.

DMc commented in the earlier post that there's a lot of support for regional production, and that means if you are in, say, Edmonton, it behooves you to get to know your Edmonton producers before decamping to the Annex. That's undoubtably true; but once you know them, there's no reason to stay at home. DMc himself, I suspect, would not be on the cusp of running his own show if he was not in the thick of things in Toronto. Sure, he'd still be a superb writer, but fewer people would know that.

Writers do have the big advantage that they can create their own shows. The pay cable show I'm developing is set in Montreal because I wrote it that way. (There are also big provincial subsidies, and some creative reasons, too!) NAKED JOSH was set in Montreal because I and my co-creator lived there, and took it to a local producer; and neither of us had big TV credits. So you can live in Edmonton and create an Edmonton based show. But if you want to staff -- and you want and need to staff -- it's hard to argue with getting to Toronto ASAP, while keeping up your home town contacts.

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3 Comments:

FYI Alex, the Spoke Club really has been working hard to take care of their big banker and advertising whore client base. Of the actual working writers I knew who were members two years ago, precisely none are members now. Including me.

There's plenty of other writer hangouts in T.O. But the Spoke made its choice -- don't believe the "arts friendly" hype. It's nothing of the sort.

By Blogger DMc, at 9:58 PM  

Noted, DMc.

Which are these writer hangouts then?

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 10:46 PM  

My best Doctor Hibberd:

Oh he he he he

You know it doesn't work that way, Epstein.

Come on by, I'll take you round.

By Blogger DMc, at 11:20 PM  

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