Monday, March 29, 2010

Nice Place To Start Out...

...but I wouldn't expect to have much of a career there.

Denis McGrath has an excellent post up this morning about a number of issues facing the Canadian TV industry...and he makes some great points about how easy it is to get started in this business in this country, but really difficult to keep a career going. Read it HERE.

Nothing we do seems to create anything to build on. Admittedly, a lack of public interest in original home-grown programming combined with an over-reliance on U.S. service work using tax credit rebates and government subsidies doesn't help, but it sure can get demoralizing and frustrating.

Denis also references what has been going down recently out here in Saskatchewan.

If you're not a resident of Saskatchewan, you may not yet be aware of the latest doom n'gloom in the Canadian TV industry. In short, last week, Saskatchewan's only true local station, SCN, was shut down. In addition, the government refused to increase subsidies and tax credits to the province's film industry to help it keep up with other provinces, and an equipment supplier who'd set up shop in Regina is pulling out.

Basically, the entire film & TV production industry in that province is imploding. This is an industry that was built up through a bit of service work, and mainly on the back of Corner Gas. But with that show shuttered, the dollar high & times hard, everything is tumbling together at once.

In Canada, it seems, it is ever thus.

Okay so his facts may be a little off regarding how the industry was built up (believe it or not there was a small but thriving community here before Corner Gas (and Little Mosque, and, but the sentiment is well-intended and well-taken.

I was part of a small group here in Saskatchewan 20 odd years ago that joined SMPIA (Sask Motion Picture Industry Association) and helped lobby for SCN and SaskFILM. And it worked. And then I moved away and more hearty and determined souls pushed and lobbied and got a Tax Credit rebate program and a state of the art Soundstage and numerous other pluses and advantages for this small industry.

It didn't come simply and easily, but it all helped create and maintain a film and TV industry infrastructure that allowed us to tell our stories and be able to get them out there to be seen.

And then the government changed hands and the world had a recession and the film and TV business financing model as we knew it got broke and new media stormed the scene...and here we are today, starting over again it seems.

The abrupt shutting down of the Saskatchewan Communications Network was a shock and deals a serious blow to local film and television, especially for emerging and up and coming filmmakers. Its closure should not go unquestioned and without protest.

Go HERE and show your support for SCN. And if you live in Saskatchewan please get involved and join SMPIA to help your voice be heard, but not to try to get the old SCN back. Seriously. That horse has left the stable. We need to move forward and push for a new local network or "broadcaster" (however that will be defined in near future) that not only encompasses digital strategy and delivers local/regional programming to the province, but also has the ability to trigger investment from the likes of federal agencies like Telefilm and the Canada Media Fund. THAT needs to be the next "lobbying" agenda.

Getting off soapbox now. Spring has sprung and I'm going outside to try to enjoy it.

I hope you can enjoy your day too.