Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wherefore Art Thou, DGC (Directors Guild of Canada)?

For the record, my only goal here is to continue to push and prod as many readers as possible to write in comments to the CRTC regarding the recent task force report's proposed changes to the Canadian Television Fund (CTF).

Go HERE, where you'll find Notice 2007-70...scroll down to where it says you can submit comments, click and write up a comment (preferably opposed) like this example, follow the prompts and submit it by this Friday July 27.

Really, just do it... either as a working writing/directing/acting professional, or as an enthusiastic up and comer, or just as a fan and supporter of those who stay in this country to try to make Canadian television.

Hell, look at it as some form of payback for all these cool FREE blogs you get to read every day.

That said, earlier this week I was struck by how little I'd heard about the CTF task force issue from my other guild, the Directors Guild of Canada.

Yes, I belong to the DGC and the WGC (Writers Guild of Canada), and the WGA for that matter. In fact, I've directed nearly as much television as I've written.

Now, I feel I've been fairly well informed by the Writers Guild regarding the proposed changes, and also clearly encouraged to write comments in opposition to the recommendations, even with examples of where to take exception (see Exec Director Maureen Parker's letter HERE).

But the Director's Guild....meh, not so much.

A quick perusal of the DGC website shows one small post regarding the task force:

The CRTC CTF Task Force released its report on June 29, 2007 that made a number of disappointing recommendations for the future of the CTF. While the DGC was pleased to see that the Task Force recommended that BDUs continue to contribute to the CTF, we are extremely disappointed that it recommended that BDU contributions be directed to a new "commercial stream" that will fund 8 point Canadian productions instead of 10 point. The CTF is already well over-subscribed and there is currently a serious lack of funding available in the system for high quality and high cost Canadian dramatic productions. Allowing non-Canadian creators and performers to work on CTF funded productions will not serve to strengthen the Canadian production sector or the Canadian broadcasting system. The DGC will be filing detailed comments with the CRTC on the CRTC CTF Task Force Report by June 27, 2007.

Words like 'disappointed' and 'not serve to strengthen the Canadian production sector' is some pretty soft language...not to mention only non-Canadian creators and performers are referenced as the professionals that that will be getting hired to help make our homegrown product. What about directors? Does the guild think we are exempt?

N.B. I don't consider TV directors 'creators' me, creators are writers. If the DGC meant creators to include the directing community, they should be more clear.

I got to the DGC and Canadian directors see themselves as 'safe' when it comes to this 10 point to 8 point proposed change? Maybe they do, because in some ways, they could be.

I have no doubt that most companies/productions will go to foreign writer/showrunners and/or lead actors before going after a director. Plus, I can't think of too many U.S. television directors (Thomas Schlamme perhaps?) who could help 'sell' a series to an audience or foreign market.


And let's not forget there's also the task force proposed reductions of dollars for television development in this country. This definitely will affect writers, whereas directors (and actors) and the DGC might think...for us, not so much.

Curiouser and curiouser...

So is the DGC intentionally staying quiet? Or just not able to get their comments and responses and some kind of 'just say no' campaign together in the short window provided by the CRTC (less than a month, during the busiest part of the production season...sheesh). I'm more than willing to give benefit of the doubt...I'd just like to know, ya know?

So I set out today to find out things like: what is the directors guild's position on this issue? Have they commented already and what did they say? What should I, as a member, be taking as guidance or inspiration or a position from the DGC on this matter?

Short version...a handful of email exchanges with the DGC led to these conclusions:

1) the DGC is planning to submit their comments to the CRTC and will put out a press release of said comments...BY END OF DAY JULY 27th?!? No indication of what kind of comments members can expect to read, nor any encouragement to go write comments in opposition to the Notice.


2) the DGC employee in charge of Policy who I was told would be best able to answer all my questions WAS ON HOLIDAYS UNTIL AUGUST 7?!?


To state your guild's position to a Notice the day of the closing of comments on said Notice doesn't give its members any time to read, react, digest, and comment themselves. All 3,800 members I might add.

And as for the personnel issue, I will first state this isn't a knock against any of the staff at the guilds. I've been told Maureen Parker and Doris Tay at the Writer's Guild are also on vacation this week. If we want to point fingers, it should be at the CRTC for the extremely short timelines given to the guilds to respond during the summer months when staffers have already scheduled holidays.

But, that said, where's the leadership or directives from the DGC President or National Executive Board? Why so soft-spoken?

I'm sure the DGC is opposed to this Notice, they HAVE to be...but it seems like they're quietly opposed. Too quietly, in fact. While clicking through other press releases on the DGC website, I was surprised to find this little blurb buried deep in a statement of recommendations for a different Notice about achieving a diversity of voices in Canadian Broadcasting (dated July 19/07):

...the DGC also strongly opposed the CRTC CTF Task Force's proposal that a portion of transfer benefits received through broadcaster consolidations be directed to the CTF. The Task Force has proposed that money directed to the CTF by cable and satellite operators (BDUs) be used to fund 8-point instead of 10-point Canadian productions. The Task Force also proposed to eliminate the requirement that CTF funded productions be set and shot in Canada. The result of this will be fewer Canadian voices and fewer Canadian stories showcased on television.

So that's something, but like I's kinda buried. And quietly ain't going to get heard, not to mention it's still not encouraging members to get involved and comment to help shut this Notice down for the betterment of the indigenous industry and ALL the Canadian working creative television professionals.

Most every local DGC director I've spoken to this week had no idea about this Notice, the ramifications of the changes, and the impending deadline. You could argue it's their job to stay on top of what's happening in the industry, but I'd argue it's the guild's duty and obligation to keep the membership not only informed, but pointed in a specific direction.

So try to look at this post as a big shout out to all the directors and DGC members to get involved and register your comments. I know where the WGC stands, and though the actors have been rather quiet I'm pretty sure about ACTRA's position, but I'd still like to know where exactly the Directors Guild stands...and hopefully before Friday, when it'd be too late.

Who knows if saying anything is going to stop the CRTC from ramming these things through time and time again, but we gotta try.

And we gotta be united on this stuff, brothers and sisters. Seriously.

1 comment:

Mef said...

Yeah I think you're right about the DGC's "opposition".

I'm glad that Actra has come out against but basically, in my opinion, Canadian writers will suffer the most if (when) this all goes through.

Would love to be wrong about this.