Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Directors...They Can Be A Funny Lot

I've been asked quite a few times to blog about directing or the 'directing TV in Canada experience', but found it a tough nut to crack. When talking about writing or the writing TV experience, it seems easier to find common ground for readers to grasp or relate to and understand, whereas directing seems to be a 'you kinda had to be there' sorta thing.

But I am planning some email interviews with some Canuck directors to see if that will suffice. One most definitely will be with Rockin' Ron Oliver.

I first saw Ron when I served him at the video store I was working at in downtown Toronto when I first first moved there right out of college. How I knew who he was still escapes me...perhaps it was just that he was talking loudly about having written Prom Night II: Hello Mary Lou. Then we crossed paths on the scary tales for kids show Are you Afraid of the Dark? (he was prepping, I was directing...or vice versa). Then he directed some episodes of Psi Factor that I wrote and produced. Then we hooked up for girly drinks at the Caboose or some such bar in what I remember as a rather ratty area of LA. And then...?

Well, Ron still makes his home in Los Angeles, or rather Palm Springs (the proverbial Canadian living in LA but working in Canada for the most part) and I, um, don't anymore.

Anyhoo, Ron has a very funny and entertaining blog called Ron Oliver's Fabulous Life filled with lots of anecdotes from his kooky existence mixed in with some wicked observations of the Canadian scene from afar. A taste:

But for the love of all that is right and pure in the world, WHY ARE THERE GENIES? Nobody inside or outside of the industry cares about them, the Canadian audience barely knows they nor the movies they apparently honor exist, and the show itself can't even attract Atom Egoyan, a filmmaker who will attend the opening of cigar box if he thinks he can find somebody to invest in one of his glacial cinematic endeavors.

Watching this farce (The Genie Awards) reminded me once again of why I fled the country years ago. I have never been interested in making movies nobody wants to see. At the most, I try to make entertainment. At the very least, I try not to bore the audience. But there wasn't room for my type of movie up here in the true north strong and free. So I packed up and left, went to "Hollywood" (or what passes for it in this era of co-productions, tax shelters and off shore financing) and took my B-movie imagination with me.

Things have worked out well, for the most part - there have been ups and downs, good years and bad ones - but not once have I ever regretted getting the hell out of Dodge City.

Canada is a wonderful place for children and retirees: free health care, as long as you're not in a hurry; good education, as long as you don't mind a stultifying political correctness draining every drop of adventure from the learning curve; and several weeks off every year to hibernate in snowbound luxury as long as you can afford the electrical heat. But it ain't a great place to flourish.

Government financing for mediocrity in the arts doesn't exactly encourage innovation. And in a country where money is routinely handed to writers who can barely string together a cohesive plot outline, it's no wonder nobody goes to see their homegrown movies - let alone watch an amateurly staged PR event to "honor" the damn things.

Brrrrr....but that's Ron. He calls it as he sees it.

And for the directors in the house, he has a great day-by-day diary of him directing 'A Dennis The Menace Christmas' movie this past winter up in Montreal, which begins HERE and HERE, and then you sort of have to navigate your way forward. It's a bit of a bitch fest, but an entertaining bitch fest, and an honest look inside a directors mind when they're ploughing through an insane schedule under impossible bad weather...and kids...and dogs!

Go say hi to Ron, and offer to buy him a drink. He won't say no.


Bill Cunningham said...

Outspoken X 10....

and right on the money.

Kelly J. Compeau said...

Yeah, he just lays it all out there on the table -- but damn if he isn't right.


blueglow said...

heck of a credit list, I'll be sure to take his comments as to what is "good" and "bad" tv and films seriously...

wcdixon said...

Check out all our resumes blueglow...NOBODY'S making 'The West Wing'. Just trying to do the best we can with what we get to work on.

Send me an email if you're going to be out this way soon.

Mef said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blueglow said...

yeah, fine. whatever i know none of us are making the west wing but folks like chris haddock and semi chelis are trying.

but i have to say the minute ron oliver makes something as interesting as crazy, fubar, or trailer park boys then he can chime in on the weaknesses of the "canadian" system. right now he is a cut rate craig russell clone carpetbagging on canadian kid shit and industrial crapola while trying to adopting a cut rate truman capote personna. shit even bruce la bruce is making more interesting transgressive cinema than he is.

wcdixon said...

Quit beating around the bush and mincing your words, do you 'really' feel?

Drop me a note when/if you're in town: