Wednesday, September 30, 2009

We Must Be In Some Kind Of Sunspot Or Something...

A sunspot? Really?

I know this video has already made the fact I WROTE SOMETHING HERE a while back about the cell phone dilemma for writers (along with fax and answering machines), but it's still a fun watch.

No signal!

As Beck sings: Cellphone's Dead ...for screenwriters at least.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

One Take Wonder

In the good ol days of the blog, I would take this opportunity to write a piece on the pros and cons of the 'oner' (filming a scene or sequence in one take)...and discuss art vs. ego, story vs. 'look at me', substance vs. style and so on. But these days no one's reading magazines or newspapers anymore much less the blogs it seems, so I'll simply post this tasty morsel of one take video awesomeness by a group of students in Montreal and say you'll love it.

Trust me, I Gotta Feeling.

H/T Matt MacLennan

p.s. Over at his place, Matt wonders what doing a one take shot like this "gets you, really"...and when it comes to film school at least, I say it shows off your 'directing'. Note to students: wanna show off your writing, put together a good two-hander in a room with a couple of decent actors and shoot it simple...let the words and performances shine. Wanna show off your directing a wicked oner.

p.p.s. I Gotta Feeling lip dub reminds me of THIS CLASSIC from the College Humor offices.

Friday, September 25, 2009

All Her...Clothes Fall Off?

Sorry for the late post...busy day.

Patrick Stewart shows he gots some big-time comedy chops in this deliriously funny scene from Extras. "And I've seen everything. I've seen it all." Saucy Friday Fun.

Because it makes me smile.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Matt MacLennan is another Canadian TV scribe willing to toss his hat into the blogging ring (even though, according to Mystery Man on Film - "Blogs aren't what they used to be...I'm looking to do something new.")...but Matt's blog is cool because it's all about posting fun weird mostly new stuff. Like not eating marshmallows, or Sony Television ads.

Go see a Wakkanew at Matt's place.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

LPIF Redux

I'm going to repost my thoughts from last month on the Local Programming Improvement Fund as this blog's been swarmed over the past week via Google searches like:

What is this LPIF fee?
Why is there an LPIF fee on my bill?
What the hell is a LPIF fee?

And of course: LPIF WTF?

The reason for this sudden interest in the LPIF (Local Programming Improvement Fund) is that it's started showing up as a line item on people's September cable promised by the BDU's.

But there also seems to be a lot of confusion accompanying the apparent consumer anger with having to fork over yet another cable bill cost. You see, there's also the FFC or Fee-For-Carriage issue out there now and on people's issue that sparked a big fight between the Broadcasters and the Cable/Satellite Providers. Such a big fight that, as Grant Robertson reports, the government recently stepped in and gave fee-for-carriage its own special CRTC hearing in December to try to resolve the issue.

From the Globe & Mail:

In July, the CRTC opened the door for the networks to be compensated by the cable and satellite companies when it announced that it would allow negotiations between the two sides, and enforce an arbitrated solution if a compensation deal could not be reached.

However, the Conservatives are staunchly opposed to the proposal, which could be unpopular with some voters. Though the cable and satellite companies don't have to pass the cost on to customers, the major carriers such as Rogers Communications Inc., Bell Canada, and Shaw Communications Inc. have already said they will.

Yesterday's development (to hold another hearing in December) stems from a Canadian Heritage parliamentary committee hearing this summer, where the TV networks argued they need new funds to support struggling small market TV stations and to produce local programming.

Later in the article, the broadcasters chime in:

The big broadcasters were still optimistic, though, that the issue could go their way. CTV, CBC and Global are arguing their case together, arguing that the cable industry has been misinforming consumers with letters enclosed in bills that inflate the potential impact on their monthly invoices.

CanWest Global Communications Corp. said the hearings in December will be an opportunity to set the record straight on those figures. "I think what they're saying is consistent with what we're saying, which is that this is an important issue for consumers," said Charlotte Bell, senior vice-president of regulatory affairs at CanWest.

"I think it's important that consumers get the right information because this is about the future of local television. And the consumer is right in the middle of it."

"...this is about the future of local television. And the consumer is right in the middle of it."

" support struggling small market TV stations and to produce local programming."

And therein lies the confusion. This recent article is about FFC (fee-for-carriage), but it could just as well be about LPIF (local programming improvement fund). And most regular folks have been seeing it as such. As one commenter wrote: "Why am I paying a fee on my cable bill for improving local programming now when hearings won't be happening until December?"

Um. Because they're two different things. The broadcasters already received a fund to help local stations and local programming, the LPIF, and now they're seeking fee-for-carriage yet are still using the 'for local stations and local programming' argument (I'm guessing it gets more traction than the 'poor management and advertising dollars are down but we don't want to change our business model' argument).

Got it now? Make sense? I hope so, though I'm sure it won't make paying an extra cost on your cable bill (that wasn't supposed to be passed onto the consumer) any easier to swallow.

Monday, September 21, 2009

There's A Pipeline...

Dictionary. Actor = Daniel Day-Lewis

Friday, September 18, 2009

That's Sooooooo Unacceptable

Curb Your Enthusiasm has been one of my 'go to' shows for comedy over the past seven years. A new season premieres this Sunday...a season that will feature the cast of "Seinfeld" making a guest appearance beginning in episode 3. So it's only fitting that Friday Fun is Larry David going too far yet again in a NSFW way during poker night at Julia Louis-Dreyfus' house.

Because it makes me smile.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Assignment 1: Review Your Canadian TV Policy...Review

“We’ve played by the rules and waited for this moment to address the decline in Canadian drama and the broadcasters’ overspending in Hollywood. The monetary issue of fee-for-carriage is a fight between the broadcasters and the cable companies, with Canadian artists and Canadian audiences being held hostage.”
Maureen Parker, Executive Director WGC

Maybe we need to stop playing by the rules, hmmm?

There's a big Canadian TV policy review scheduled for this fall, but you might not have heard about it with all the headlines this summer dominated by the broadcasters warring with the BDU's (cable providers) re: local programming and fee-for-carriage.. And now that the CRTC has decided to include fee-for-carriage in the November TV policy hearings, there's big concern that the key issue of Canadian content and specifically drama will be pushed to the sidelines. Nevertheless, the Writers Guild of Canada filed its TV policy submission today to the CRTC.

The short strokes from the WGC press release:

The Writers Guild of Canada filed with the CRTC its position on TV policy in Canada and its ideas for a revised regulatory framework that will apply to the conventional and specialty broadcasters. This much needed policy review was supposed to take place in 2007, and we have been waiting patiently to redress the failures of previous TV policy adopted in 1999. The WGC has come together with ACTRA, the CFTPA and the DGC in proposing a plan to help the CRTC achieve its stated goal of “ensuring that the Canadian broadcasting system is distinctly Canadian in its content.”

To ensure that high-quality Canadian programming will be produced and in the volume necessary to provide audiences with real Canadian choice, the WGC is proposing a three-point plan. First, the WGC recommends a specific Canadian programming expenditure requirement for all conventional services. Second, it recommends the continuation of existing expenditure and exhibition requirements for specialty services. And finally, in order to address the serious decline in drama, true documentaries and children’s programming, the WGC recommends that the CRTC set ownership-group-based expenditure and exhibition requirements for drama, documentary and children’s programming.

“This three-point plan gets to the root of the problem,” says Maureen Parker, Executive Director, WGC, “by ensuring an overall Canadian programming spend for the conventional broadcasters and creating a minimum group-based expenditure requirement for drama. The plan expands on the Canadian Programming Expenditure (CPE) in use for specialty channels by adapting the model to the entire ownership group – this model has proven itself effective in generating high-quality, high-cost programs. The plan also recommends an exhibition requirement to ensure those shows are aired at least once on conventional broadcasters, where there is an opportunity to garner a mass audience. The history of Canadian broadcasting tells the tale: only with both expenditure and exhibition requirements do we get both volume and quality. This proposal gives broadcasters additional flexibility while ensuring they meet their obligations under the Broadcasting Act.”

Nice. And go HERE and read the long version submission to get the bigger picture. It includes a very informative 'history' of Canadian TV and specifically the path traveled by drama production to this point in time. It's a somewhat daunting document, but I strongly suggest all newbies and students and up-and-comers make this their homework for the day and go read now.

Other worthwhile reads....

The Story So Far: a review of past CRTC measures

A Survey of Priority Programming Trends

Analysis of Canadian Television Programming Economics

Proposed Framework for Greater Support for Canadian Programming through a Group based Approach to Television Licensing

Stakeholder Submissions for the Rebooted Canadian Media Fund

I know....ugh. But like it or not this is the system we are burdened with to try to make television in this country. So you gots to understand how it all works, and help fight for change...otherwise Cancon drama will just continue to slowly slip away like it has for the past ten years. Seriously. Read. With attention. There will be a test.

H/T Kelly Lynne Ashton and the WGC for putting together the majority of this invaluable info

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Foundation Shakes Quietly Into Your Living Room

I'd heard some quiet murmurs over the past several months that Showcase was launching a new original TV comedy series this fall, but was having a tough time finding out anything about it. And then today I read on Facebook that a Showcase series was premiering tonight entitled The Foundation...and guess what, turns out it's in fact the new show in question.

Philanthropy has always been something of a sacred cow, most likely because people have a hard time understanding how charity can be seen as a selfish pursuit. The Foundation, a brand-new half-hour comedy series coming to Showcase on Sunday, September 13th at 10:40pm ET/PT, aims to change that perception, offering an absurdly funny take on the motives behind the money.

The central character of the series is Michael Valmont-Selkirk, an irresponsible, corrupt man who holds the reins of The R.J. Selkirk Foundation, a powerful not-for-profit organization. His foundation has a mandate of supporting various funds and important causes, but it's clear that Michael’s primary motivation for helping anybody with anything comes down to the potential for personal gain.

Here's the trailer (which I must say I had a really hard time locating...couldn't even find the show on

Kinda hard to get a read on who it's targeting audience-wise or its comedy style exactly, but if you go to the Showcase channel homepage HERE and watch a preview clip, it sure looks 'Curby' or 'Officey' (main character also named Michael). But the's Jason Anderson gives series a positive write-up, though it's hard to tell whether Anderson even screened the program as there's not a lot of 'reviewing' of the pilot in the article.

Anyway, check out The Foundation...I know I will (Co-Creator Michael Dowse was behind cult fav flick Fubar). But a polite note to the marketing departments at Showcase and Canwest Broadcasting. Considering how difficult it was to find out anything about this new show, much less see any ads for it (and I watched PGA golf simulcast on Global today and saw like, a hundred commercials for the Weeds Season 5 premiere tonight on Showcase), you really needs to ups your promotions game a bit.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Miracle! A Miracle!

No, I'm not referring to the recent CRTC decision requiring each of the Canadian broadcaster ownership groups to file/release the financial data (aka their programming spends) on behalf of the licensed broadcasting undertakings within their respective groups (aka each of the channels they own)...I'm referring to one of the 'holy grail's' of comedy.

"I was blind but now I can see!" Phwap!

Monty Python + "Life of Brian" = some saucy Friday Fun

Because it makes me smile.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

However, I Will Let You Buy Me A Drink...

I teach a couple of screenwriting courses, including a night class at the local university. This means I'll see twenty or thirty or so pitches and synopsis' and treatments and scripts cross my desk over the course of a semester. Yes they're from students, kids just starting out...but just because they have me at their disposal shouldn't make it any simpler or easier. Do the work, newbies...put the effort in...make whatever it is you're writing the best you can. Don't take advantage of the situation just because, unlike pro scribe Josh Olsen, who wrote this wicked piece for the Village Voice, I have to read your script.

Now, I normally have a standard response to people who ask me to read their scripts, and it's the simple truth: I have two piles next to my bed. One is scripts from good friends, and the other is manuscripts and books and scripts my agents have sent to me that I have to read for work. Every time I pick up a friend's script, I feel guilty that I'm ignoring work. Every time I pick something up from the other pile, I feel guilty that I'm ignoring my friends. If I read yours before any of that, I'd be an awful person.

Most people get that. But sometimes you find yourself in a situation where the guilt factor is really high, or someone plays on a relationship or a perceived obligation, and it's hard to escape without seeming rude. Then, I tell them I'll read it, but if I can put it down after ten pages, I will. They always go for that, because nobody ever believes you can put their script down once you start.

But hell, this was a two page synopsis, and there was no time to go into either song or dance, and it was just easier to take it. How long can two pages take?

Weeks, is the answer.

And this is why I will not read your fucking script.

It rarely takes more than a page to recognize that you're in the presence of someone who can write, but it only takes a sentence to know you're dealing with someone who can't.

(By the way, here's a simple way to find out if you're a writer. If you disagree with that statement, you're not a writer. Because, you see, writers are also readers.)

You may want to allow for the fact that this fellow had never written a synopsis before, but that doesn't excuse the inability to form a decent sentence, or an utter lack of facility with language and structure. The story described was clearly of great importance to him, but he had done nothing to convey its specifics to an impartial reader. What I was handed was, essentially, a barely coherent list of events, some connected, some not so much. Characters wander around aimlessly, do things for no reason, vanish, reappear, get arrested for unnamed crimes, and make wild, life-altering decisions for no reason. Half a paragraph is devoted to describing the smell and texture of a piece of food, but the climactic central event of the film is glossed over in a sentence. The death of the hero is not even mentioned. One sentence describes a scene he's in, the next describes people showing up at his funeral. I could go on, but I won't. This is the sort of thing that would earn you a D minus in any Freshman Comp class.

Which brings us to an ugly truth about many aspiring screenwriters: They think that screenwriting doesn't actually require the ability to write, just the ability to come up with a cool story that would make a cool movie. Screenwriting is widely regarded as the easiest way to break into the movie business, because it doesn't require any kind of training, skill or equipment. Everybody can write, right? And because they believe that, they don't regard working screenwriters with any kind of real respect. They will hand you a piece of inept writing without a second thought, because you do not have to be a writer to be a screenwriter.

The article is titled: 'I Will Not Read Your F***ing Script". Enjoy the rest of Olsen's words HERE...and newbies, take notes!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Cough Cough Cougar Town Cough Cough

Having a tough time finding any new TV series to get really excited about this fall...I mean, is it just me or does this Alphabet offering look sooooooooooooooo lame?

Look, I don't expect everything I watch to be of the Mad Men or True Blood or Breaking Bad variety and quality, but still....geeeeeezzzz!!

So maybe I'm not the target audience...fair enough, Eastwick perhaps?


Could be a long cold new show-free fall if ABC is any indicator.

TV Eh's A Winner!

I've sent some heartfelt praise in Diane's general direction before...praise she wholly deserved for setting up the TV, eh? website a few years back in an effort to highlight Canadian television shows. And right now she has a Fall Launch Giveaway Contest going on....with prizes and everything!

The broad strokes:

1) Twitter Contest

Are you on Twitter? Tweet your 140 character review of a current Canadian show or tell us why you’re looking forward to an upcoming Canadian show. Important: use the hashtag #tveh

2) Blog Contest

Write a review of a current Canadian show or tell us why you’re looking forward to an upcoming Canadian show and:

a) post to your blog, then send the link to TV, eh?


b) send the text of the review to TV, eh? (entries will be posted to
this website)

There's also a bonus prize if you make a donation to the Actors’ Fund of Canada and email TV, eh? with your name to be entered into the draw.

The fine print – for all categories:

◦One entry per person per day
◦Deadline: September 14, 2009

Prizes include a Durham County Season 1 DVD set, The Tudors book: “It’s Good To Be King”, Rick Mercer Report: The Book, The Movie Network stainless steel water bottle “Always Riveting”, and many head on over to TV, eh? and talk up some Canadian TV now, eh?

Monday, September 07, 2009

Let's Burn Some Rubber, Man

You gotta just love a great movie car chase, no? Some fave squeal and peel-outs can be seen in these excerpts from Terminator II, Bullitt, Bourne Supremacy, Matrix Reloaded, The French Connection, c'mon...The Road Warrior! ...but to try to pick just one?

So hard to pick just one.

My finalists each have something in common...they're all sans CGI and musical score accompaniment-free. As viz effects, and the sound of roaring engines, shifting gears, and screeching tires...that's the music of the scene. If you haven't seen these spectacular sequences before, check em out:

The Seven-Ups:


To Live And Die In L.A.:

I watched them all again tonight and as much as To Live And Die in L.A.'s sequence still holds a special place in my heart (it was the first time I was blown away by a car chase in a theatre), and The Seven-Ups sequence also holds a special place in my heart (first time I was blown away by a car chase while watching on television), Ronin definitely rules the movie car chase roost in my books.

It's perfect.

Feel free to agree to disagree.

PS - post inspiration didn't come from screening the latest The Fast And The Furious flick actually, but rather from watching Young People F***ing and at one point thinking: "Man, this could use a good car chase right about now."

Friday, September 04, 2009

Doin' The Chameleon

"I wish I could be Leonard Zelig, the changing man, and be different people. And maybe someday my wishes will come true."

Woody Allen's Zelig was the 'original' contemporary mockumentary - the story of an ordinary man who could change his appearance to that of the people around him in an effort to simply fit in. Watch the opening again HERE and enjoy when films could also be movies, and an adult comedy didn't rely on juvenile hi jinx. Leonard Zelig = Friday Fun.

Because it makes me smile.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Bitterest Pill Can Be Easy To Swallow

The Bitter Script Reader comes from the perspective of a Hollywood script reader who's tired of seeing screenwriters make the same mistakes over and over. It's a fun yet quite informative blog. This is from a recent post entitled: What Makes You See A Movie?:

A writer trying to sell his screenplay is often asked "Who's the target audience for this?" Now, it's easy to hear that question and fly into a rage over how horribly commercialized Hollywood is, with films not seen as art, but commodities designed to sell stale popcorn and salty pretzels. However, all the statement means is, "Who will see this? Who will want to see this? What viewer will this film reach?"

Check out the'll be surprised by some of the reasons given.

I tend to divide theatrical releases into two categories: movies and films. 'Movies' should be experienced at the local cinema, whereas 'films' can be enjoyed at the local Cineplex OR in the comfort of my own home. And speaking personally, I'll be swayed by films brought to us by certain writers, directors, and/or filmmakers...stars, not so much anymore (you burned me one too many times DeNiro!), and movies that demand being seen on the big, or a bigger at least, screen. Thus I've stood in line to watch Transformers or Wanted as opposed to The Reader or Revolutionary Road, even though I know darn well the latter two will be much better "films". And as for commercials and trailers, they've become more of a turnoff than a draw for me of late due to their tendency to expose pretty much the entire plot. A clever poster can actually be more seductive and enticing.

Anyway, having a sense of who will want to watch your film and why is really important to know when you're writing your screenplay. Duh. But it's a question a lot of screenwriters never seem to get around to answering until it's too late, especially up here in Canada.

What makes you see a movie?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

21:9 For 2010?

The Product

The Commercial

Kinda cool, though someone clearly watched The Dark Knight and got inspired, for 219 seconds in fact. Kinda makes you wonder why they didn't just use an excerpt from Nolan's movie. But if you're interested you can watch the making of the above short film HERE.

The Conclusion?

Should you have a separate TV in your abode just for viewing cinema? That's what Phillips seems to be selling with this new model. Sure it's shiny and sexy, but I likes my television to be more versatile, and a 16:9 TV is still truly the best of both worlds right now between 4:3 TV broadcasting and 16:9 and 21:9 movies.