Merde, as the minister sees it

Which attitude ultimately seems more healthy and likely to encourage improvement—Lindsay Blackett’s, or Kirstine Stewart’s?


It would not be easy for a Conservative culture minister of Alberta to get a fair shake from the media and his arts-community clientele at the best of times. And this is not, needless to say, the best of times. I’m not going to defend, per se, Lindsay Blackett’s off-the-cuff Wednesday comment at the Banff Television Festival:

I sit here as a government representative for film and television in the province of Alberta and I look at what we produce and if we’re honest with ourselves, why do I produce so much shit? Why do I fund so much crap? Why aren’t broadcasters picking up more Canadian content? It’s because Canadian content isn’t what it should be.

Blackett admits he doesn’t watch much Canadian TV, and judging from the peripheral comments he made in his own defence, it sounds as though he may be unaware that there has been a renaissance in quality and production values. Canada, for example, can now claim to have been the home of several indigenous, watchable situation comedies, which is something we couldn’t say in 1990. Mastery of such an intricate, nuanced format seems to me a rough indicator of artistic progress, in much the same way that having an aerospace industry signals a country’s overall engineering ability.

But Blackett wasn’t talking about Canadian arts generally. He was speaking as somebody who has managerial control of a particular government funding envelope. If you want to pick a fight with him, it seems to me you had better be prepared to demonstrate knowledge of two obvious things. One is the full context of his remark—for which the interested reader had to turn to Sun Media:

After using a four-letter word to describe the quality of some Canadian-made films and TV shows, Culture and Community Spirit Minister Lindsay Blackett said more has to be done to make them better.

And that starts with him.

“I’ll take responsibility here in Alberta,” he said. “We don’t help enough quality scripts get written so they can have quality pitches to go and pitch for a production.”

During a discussion on our country’s TV industry at the Banff World Television Festival, some panellists questioned the quality of Canadian films and TV shows, causing Blackett—sitting in the audience—to wonder aloud, “Why do I fund this s—?”

“It’s a couple of things,” he said. “Our broadcasters, I don’t think, give enough money collectively to Canadian productions versus U.S. productions.”

To change that, Blackett said the provincial government will present new guidelines next week “which will show we’re giving new money and incentive to tell our Alberta stories.”

“And incentive to spend more money on scriptwriting and incentive to have more money spent on mentoring the new people in the industry who come out of school but still need to have the requisite skills on the ground to actually learn their job,” he said.

The money will come from the Alberta Media Fund, said Blackett.

“We’re talking about $880,000 to start with roughly and overall the fund is just under $20 million,” he said.

(Diane Wild, a witness to the scene, offers further observations at her weblog.)

No doubt there’s a very boring argument to be had over how much Alberta is doing overall for film and television, where government support (if any) ought to go, and what form it ought to take. But the attention to scriptwriting displayed here is new, and not obviously irrational. In the past, much of the discussion surrounding the film industry in Alberta has revolved around saving technical jobs by creating a friendly tax environment for Hollywood and other foreign productions. This only promotes “Alberta culture” insofar as artifacts like Unforgiven and Open Range are “Alberta culture”, and with the technical apparatus of filmmaking suddenly subject to Moore’s Law-like downward pricing pressure, one could argue that an ounce of funding for the imaginative side of filmmaking is worth a ton of tax breaks.

The other knowledge that critics ought to be prepared to display is some familiarity with the material Blackett’s department actually funds. I figure you can’t say it’s not crap unless you’ve at least poked it with a stick. Can the indignant Paul Gross, who received $5.5 million from the Alberta taxpayer for Passchendaele, claim intimate familiarity with In a World Created by a Drunken God or Caution: May Contain Nuts or The Last Rites of Ransom Pride? If not, then why is he shooting off his mouth? It would surely be much more sensible for Gross and for like-minded critics to admit that most culture funding inevitably pays for crap—that the arts world is, in fact, a colossal pyramid of crap, inherently necessary to provide the nurturing and elevating environment from which a few items of permanent value might spring.

But that is something the culturati can never admit. Kirstine Stewart, the general manager of CBC’s English television operations, reacted in the Globe to Blackett’s comments by saying “Nobody can ever question the quality of what we do here in Canada, creatively or otherwise.” Surely this is a much more revealing and intriguing comment than Blackett’s. Does she mean that questioning the quality of Canadian television and film is literally impossible? Or just that criticism is inherently objectionable, a malum in se? And at the risk of appearing to take sides, I must ask: which attitude ultimately seems more healthy and likely to encourage improvement—Blackett’s, or Stewart’s?


Merde, as the minister sees it

  1. The attention to scriptwriting here is charmingly naive–as if writers have some sort of authority over what appears on TV. I wish Blackwell all the best in promoting this fantasy.

    I tried to get pissed off over his remarks but it's no use. I love good TV–and hate bad TV–too much to disagree with anything he said. And anyway, this is a huge improvement over the "Community Standards" argument MLAs were pushing 15 years ago. (As long as this isn't a redux in disguise of course.)

    • I have to disagree. I worked in film financing for a couple of years. Getting private production funding (usually out of the US or Europe) is pretty easy once you have a well-developed story & a few key creative people attached.

      It could take anywhere from ten to upwards of a hundred thousand dollars to develop a script, depending on the number of writers involved. Most of this comes from private industry sources, but it's common in Canada for the gov't to pick up some of the tab. Mr. Blackett is correct in regards to the importance of funding scripwriting. Most projects die relatively early on in the process, due to bad quality or lack of money. This is typical of the film business anywhere, buthe Canadian film market is particularly weak in development funding. (Also typical of industry in general in Canada to be weak in development.)

      I think it's pretty safe to say that development funding results in a net positive benefit. Production investment really dwarfs development costs. In non-"cultural" industries this concept isn't nearly as controversial.

    • You are wrong. As Hitchcock said: "the 3 most important things in a film are–The Script,The Script,The Script.

      • Lookie, everyone, *I* think the script makes all the difference between good TV and most TV. I just don't think the networks think so.

  2. Who has the film rights for R&D – the movie?

    Is Dustin Hoffman available to play the intrepid reporter? On the otherhand, maybe Lewis Black's demeanour is better suited.

    Hey, that Macleans in Calgary snoozefest with the very provincial Blackwell as one of the panelists may pay off, personally. I know he's on at least one guy's rolodex.

    • Not sure I follow. Should we watch for a forthcoming television series about a curmudgeonly writer? Title: "Sh*t my Blog Says"

    • Two in a row… I'm really interested who this Blackwell dude is. Some stuffy British film studies historian, perhaps?

      • -ETT call home. All is not -well.

  3. I want to see Caution: May Contain Nuts. Catchy title.

    And I’d like to point out that if your audience is mostly perched, device in hand, on the crapper, watching your crap, and noting the reduced attention spans for what is not immediately gratifying, I wonder that scripts are still written, While there’s some crap left the goverment’s paying. What would they do if couldn’t sniff out good crap? That’s why they pay for really stinky crap. Keep the nose alert!

  4. I don't know about the other examples, but I don't think Paul Gross has much reason to be indignant. Passchendaele really was crap of the highest order, complete with sexy pickup lines like "would you like to insert some foreign matter into me?" …I kid you not… (that's from memory…and I've tried to blank the memory out so it may have a word or two wrong but you get the gist).

    It was essentially a terrible soap opera, with a few battle scenes, a really weird Way of the Cross sub-theme, and awful dialogue. It also managed to capture the usual Canadian war-film dynamic that war is entirely worthless, pointless, and heartbreaking with no hint of the notion that wars can have purpose, can achieve good things, and can be the best thing to do.

    I actually watched it with the bright-eyed hope that yes, here (finally) would be an uplifting Canadian war film about a piece of Canadian history. I had to go and rinse my mind out afterward by watching endless reruns of "Band of Brothers" and "Battle of Britain".

    Some day, just once, I'd like to see a great Canadian film made about the men who held the line at Ypres, or took Vimy, or battled for Caen, or captured the first Enigma machine, or surprised the enemy at Stoney Creek. And it would also be nice if it could be done without cheap romance or political correctness, and without blanketing the viewer in suicidal depression by the end.

    In short, can we not be uncompromisingly proud about anything in our military history?

    • Three cheers for Gaunilon!

      • I can't believe anyone would write this with a straight face: "…wars can have purpose, can achieve good things, and can be the best thing to do…" The men who fought in WWI would view such a statement with contempt. They knew from experience that war is not uplifting; and it is never the best thing to do.

        • It is conceivable when there are times it may be the best option – but those would be dark times indeed, and history has shown it's a bit of a crapshoot whether nation's get the call right.

          If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
          Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
          And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
          His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
          If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
          Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
          Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
          Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
          My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
          To children ardent14 for some desperate glory,
          The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
          Pro patria mori.

          • Thanks for posting, these lines were running through my head as I read Holly Stick's comment.

            And that was first-hand experience, written by a Wilfred Owen, a WWI poet who died in the war before he made it home — days before.

            So to D Mitchell who posted below — you can read the words of the actual soldiers who died, or saw their comrades die, as they defeated Nazi Germany and Japan.

          • Do you honestly not know the difference between WW1, in which Wilfred Owen fought, and WW2, in which Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Fascist Italy were defeated?

            And if you do, do you honestly not believe that WW2 was worth fighting, if only to save the millions of Jews, Gypsies, and other "unwanted" people whom Nazi Germany was trying to exterminate? If you don't agree with that, then how about for the freedom of Western Europe, which had been occupied by the Nazis?

            I have never spoken at length to a WW1 veteran, but I have met with and spoken to many WW2 veterans, including both my own grandfathers. My experience is that the actual soldiers knew that what they were doing was necessary and right, and they still believe that to this day. And I strongly resent your implication to the contrary.

            Why do I sometimes get the disturbing impression that Canadians know even less about history, or perhaps are even less concerned about innocent human life, than I had thought. All the more reason for the Canadian film industry (since the public education system seems to have abdicated its role) to step up to the plate and make these things known. Good grief.

          • Although it's a tangent, it is an ugly note how much more we care today about saving those jews and gypsies than the actual people who fought the war probably did.

          • Fair point, particularly since the full scale of the horror was not established beyond doubt until after the war.

            However, (1) the Holocaust alone was a good enough reason to justify the Allies going to war, whether or not this is what motivated all of them, and
            (2) the liberation of Western Europe, which is what motivated most of them quite strongly (one of my grandfathers, for example, volunteered the day he heard that France had been overrun and England was expecting an attack) was also a perfectly solid reason to go to war.

            In short, while the situation with WW1 is a lot more murky (but still established in my opinion), the justification for WW2 is indisputable. When people here suggest that no war is worth fighting, I can only assume that they are either astonishingly ignorant about WW2 or that they are astonishingly (well ok, not so astonishingly given other debates on these boards) callous.

          • Get a grip. None of the Allies chose to go to war because of the Holocaust. They had other reasons, Britain because Poland was invaded, Canada to support Britain, the US because of Pearl Harbor.

            Before you are judgmental of other people, explain the other holocausts at Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Any glory in those? Not unless you're callous.

          • Yep, those were awful. Dresden in particular. But people doing terrible things during war doesn't automatically invalidate the reasons for going to war in the first place.

          • Actually, if you could achieve the aims without doing the terrible things, then you wouldn't need a war now would you?

            After all, Canada and the US have numerous border disputes going on at any time. Nobody really cares.

          • First of all, the border disputes between Canada and the US are tivial (Machias Seal island), economic (beaufort sea) and even funny (the pig war). For the most part, all of these territories have no inhabitants. That's why nobody cares. Nobody cares because nothing of any significance would change no matter who owns the territory!

            There is no comparison with either of the world wars, or even any other war in history. You'd have to look to the war of 1812 for a real Canada/US dispute.

            Secondly, you'll notice that these various trivial disputes have been around forever and have never been solved.

          • And if they weren't trivial, they'd be solved. With war, if necessary. That was my point.

          • Since most wars are started by people who lie to themselves that it will be short and painless, the knowledge that any war you get involved in will cause you to do terrible things should indeed be a deterrent.

          • If the killing of the civilians of a nation that has initiated force against another is necessary for the victim nation to win the war, then it is a moral act. Especially Nagasaki and Hiroshima, which saved thousands of Americans and Japanese having to die in a grand invasion of Japan.

          • No they were unnecessary, since Japan would soon have had to surrender to Russia anyway.

            Anyway, why would you consider murdering civilians to be moral under any circumstances?

          • Hind sight, Holly, isn't very reliable. You , might get away with saying Japan "might soon have had to surrender". And besides, the West had a vested interest in preventing Russia from gaining too much influence in the Far East. Good thing, too, as Stalin had already killed millions of his own people.

        • Tell that to the men and women who defeated Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

          • You disagree that "…wars can have purpose, can achieve good things, and can be the best thing to do…" and yet you say that Canada "…had to fight…" in WWII.

            So we HAD to fight, but stopping the Axis was NOT a noble purpose and going to war was NOT the best option to deal with them anyway?

          • WWII grew out of WWI. WWI was unnecessary and the fools who started it thought they would be home in a month or two.

            In WWII Hitler was the aggressor and had to be stopped, but if you think there was any glory or nobility in doing that, you know nothing of the costs everyone paid.

            I am sick of these rightwing armchair warriors who think war is some kind of glorious video game with good guys vs. bad guys.

          • Do you think there is any glory or nobility in a policewoman putting her life on the line to stop a criminal?
            Do you think there is any glory or nobility in a fireman putting his life on the line to save a neighborhood from going down in flames?
            How are those any different than a soldier putting his life on the line to stop a evil regime that threatens the world?

            Granted, wars have been started for frivolous or even fraudulent reasons, but to paint them all that way is naive. And even in the dubious wars, the decisions made by political leaders doesn't have to diminish the courage or patriotism of the soldiers on the firing line.

          • You can honour people for acting with courage in all sorts of situations. Many soldiers fought with courage in the world wars, on both sides. But that is no justification for war and it does not make any war good or noble or glorious. And people who claim they are fighting an evil regime have a habit of coming to resemble what they claim to be fighting.

          • "And people who claim they are fighting an evil regime have a habit of coming to resemble what they claim to be fighting." -more pseudo philosophical BS from the morally retarded.

          • I'm not the pro-war sociopath here, buddy. Look around you, moral retard.

          • Nice language, Shtick. You have a real talent for speaking out of both sides of your mouth and sounding like an immoral, half-wit from both sides, all the while claiming the moral high-ground. Hypocrite!

            Under what circumstances would you justify war? Are there any? How much tyranny are you willing to live under and let your children and grandchilden live under?

        • Holly, I can't believe there are people so absolutely fargone that they can't even fathom a pro-military standpoint.

          • Anyone who thinks war can be a good thing is STUPID.

          • So you cannot think of a SINGLE thing that you would be prepared to go to war over? You have no beliefs strong enough that you think fighting for them is a good idea?

          • Do you understand the difference between being pro-war and pro-military? Do you understan that some things in life may be necessary, but never glorious, like cleaning a toilet?

          • Tell that to your children when the tanks roll in and the bombs start falling on them.

      • I am sure Libbie Davies is happy about that…

        • This is insulting and uncalled for.

          • No it isn't, what Davies said was insulting an uncalled for. Calling her on it is commendable.

          • How dishonest of you and "NiceGuy" to slander Davies.

          • Clearly you don't know the meaning of the word "slander".

          • Telling or implying lies about a person. QED.

          • Where is the lie in the statement: "No it isn't, what Davies said was insulting an uncalled for. Calling her on it is commendable." It's an opinion. It's called "commentary". Try looking that up.

            And while you're at it, look up "slander", you still don't know the definition of the word "slander".

          • Dishonest how?

    • "Some day, just once, I'd like to see a great Canadian film made about the men who held the line at Ypres, or took Vimy, or battled for Caen, or captured the first Enigma machine, or surprised the enemy at Stoney Creek. And it would also be nice if it could be done without cheap romance or political correctness, and without blanketing the viewer in suicidal depression by the end.

      In short, can we not be uncompromisingly proud about anything in our military history? "

      Hear, hear.

      • Double Hear! Hear!

    • Some day, just once, I'd like to see a great Canadian film made about the men who held the line at Ypres, or took Vimy, or battled for Caen, or captured the first Enigma machine, or surprised the enemy at Stoney Creek. And it would also be nice if it could be done without cheap romance or political correctness, and without blanketing the viewer in suicidal depression by the end.

      Agree with you 100%. I also had high hopes for Passchendaele. I left with the same impression of a below-average but passable war movie with terrible and totally unrealistic dialogue and a simplistic story.

      I would love to see something as good as war movies like "The Pianist", "Schindler's List", "Saving Private Ryan", "Platoon", "The English Patient" or "Apocalypse Now". Instead we get a cheesy soap opera named Passchendaele.

      The problem with Canadian film and TV is simple: they compete for funding instead of competing for viewers. So the twits with the best inside connections, the best ability to fill out government forms, and the best wardrobe get the funding. Just take a look at the great war-movie directors of yesterday and today like Oliver Stone, Francis Ford Coppola and Spielberg – you can be sure they would not get a cent from a Canadian film bureaucrat. Instead they'd be beaten out by prim and proper (boring) gentlemen like Paul Gross.

      • You expecting Passchendaele to be Canada's "Patton" or "Saving Private Ryan"? It was clear from the get-go that Gross was instead producing Canada's "Pearl Harbour"

        • That's a very good analogy.

          • I agree, "Pearl Harbor" was another crappy war movie. I caught a part of it on TV once, and fortunately, I've never wasted my own money on it.

  5. Who actually watches Canadian film and TV? No one, that's because most of it is crap and is only made because of various tax credits etc. There is NO film and video 'industry' in Canada – it only exists because of a low dollar (but not any more) and tax credits given out by politicians who have a burning desire to walk the red carpet somewhere.

    • Many people prefer watching the amazingly researched and low-budget documentaries we produce in Canada — and we do it better than any other nation, believe me.

      • So many people prefer to watch Canadian documentaries that not a single person can be found in any medium sized grouping of people who have done so.

        What's that stat? You're more likely to have AIDS than to have purchased a Canadian book in the past year? If you're talking watched a Canadian movie its likely more similar to the odds of having AIDS and liver cancer simultaneously.

    • You are talking about a multi-billion industry in Canada. Even in smaller producing provinces like Saskatchewan & Alberta, production regularly runs in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

  6. I started watching Passchendaele one night when it came on the Movie Network but I didn't last very long. It just screamed CANADIAN movie. Wooden acting coupled with an amateurish script and poor direction. (The only memory I have of the thing is: soldiers wallowing in the mud while rain pours out of sunny skys.)

    I then stumbled across "My Boy Jack" playing on TVO the same night. Mr. NIght meet Mr. Day. A British made-for-TV about Rudyard Kipling's son being killed in WW1. Written, acted, directed and staged by professionals. One tenth the budget and 10 times the enjoyment.

    Canadian TV and movies stink in a way our pop music doesn't because Neil Young, Burt Cummings, Gord Downie and Sarah Mclachlan et al never needed to lobby for government grants to do their work. Paul Gross is an insider with insider access and he will continue to get tax dollars to make more crap like last months "Gunless" as long he wishes and as long as we pony up.

    • Comparisons between Canadian music and TV often come up but they aren't valid. Creating music is nowhere near as expensive as creating television, and there are outlets for small time amateur music that simply don't exist for TV and film (they aren't lucrative, but they exist). If as many Canadians created fully funded television shows as started bands, they'd probably have about the same success rate, but that's a completely unrealistic expectation.

    • Not to mention that the "Canadian Content" regulations applied to the music industry in, I believe, the 70s (and increased in the 80s) helped create a viable industry. If those requirements weren't in place it's doubtful that many of today's success stories would be anything more than a garage band footnote.

      And at least two of the artists you mentioned benefited from government funding in their early days, in the form of production grants for rock videos.

      • He's also just taking a few names from across decades. Even if we don't like anything Canadian on TV right now, there might be a similar of number of decent shows over the same amount of time.

      • If you want to carry the analogy farther than it can bear, the CanCon equivalent for films is to require movie theatres to show a certain percentage of movies starring a Canadian, regardless of what the movie is or who produces it.

        Sarah Polley in a big Bollywood version of "The Margaret Thatcher Story" would qualify as Canadian.

        Russel Crowe starring in a France-produced "The Lester B. Pearson Story" would not. Possibly not even a Canadian-produced one.

        Lots of Canadian artists can meet CanCon while being on US record labels (even a Leonard Cohen).

  7. Thanks to Colby Cosh for this piece — I was angry when I read of these remarks in the news, but you have put them into context. Maybe Canada should focus on what we do best for the low budgets we tend to have — well-researched and crafted educational docs — and let Americans make the CSI shows.

    • 'well-researched and crafted educational docs'

      Name one.

      • Psychedelic Pioneers, about the LSD experiments in Saskatchewan in the Sixties; Buffy Ste-Marie: A Multimedia Life; Citizen Black, an engaging and often funny doc on Conrad Black; The Doll's Hospital, an amazingly personal look at breast cancer; Ted's Story: Honouring Melissa, a surprisingly unsentimental, frank look at a drunk driving tragedy — look, I'm busy and clearly you are just being a bit of a jerk and are not at all interested in learning about the world we live in, unless there are car chases and big explosion and of course, the ultimate American drama hook — a scantily clad female corpse.

        Educated, thinking people know that Canada does docs like nobody else. Those of you who decry public TV are just mindless; that only bothers me when you try to stop my country and province from building viable, relevant and interesting fare for TV. No, it is not commercial. That doesn't make it bad or unnecessary.

      • The National Film Board has actually produced a lot of top quality films over the years, interspersed with lot of hoey, too, of course. But yes, there is a body good work in the documentary field produced in Canada and much of it has won awards in the US, the UK and Europe.

    • Nice example. CSI was originally an Alliance-Atlantis co-production, making it a Canadian production filmed in the US.

  8. First of all, good on Mr. Blacket for calling a spade a spade.

    I think there are a few issues here which need to be discussed as separate issues:

    1) most importantly, the PROFOUND lack of Canadian stories, or even a Canadian perspective, in film or TV. Canadians are starving for reflection of our experience, but it seems the best we can expect are the few sardonic references to Canada in South Park or The Simpsons. If we had enough Canadian stories, Mr. Gross' work would be just one of many, which would include the counterpoints such as the kind that Gaunilon mentions.
    2) the quality of the work we DO produce – which often really is s***.
    3) the "brain drain" of our quality artists to Hollywood because there is no incentive for them to stay here. Instead they come back here to shoot American stories using Canadian backdrops – for cheap.
    4) the need to keep our local people in the film industry employed. I'd suggest we move the emphasis away from making American stories here, and move it toward making Canadian stories here.

    • 1) I'm not starving for Canadian stories, and I don't think Canadians are either. In fact I'm often happier to see movies from all over the world. I live my life in Canada, I see it every day, I don't need to see it in the movies too. Additionally, I think there are plenty of Canadian movies and TV, the problem is that they are not very good.
      2) agreed
      3) this is not a problem. Fix (2) and this is fixed. The reason for the brain-drain is the lack of quality in Canada. Artists go to Hollywood because they know it's necessary.
      4) all we need are good stories. We don't need an emphasis on American or Canadian, we need an emphasis on good. The whole emphasis on Canadian content with a lack of emphasis on quality is what causes (2).

  9. A number of our ex-pats in Hollywood are still proud Canadians. I'd bet that if we started a program to entice them back from time to time to make Canadian stories (say by giving them more artistic freedom than they experience in Hollywood), more than a few would jump at the chance.

  10. I'm with G above on the Paul Gross productions — each time they've come out, I've been hopeful that finally someone is going to produce a truly Canadian feature film aimed at English Canada that will be both high-quality and commercially successful. Instead, they're crap and nothing but crap. The English Canadian feature film sector is probably our biggest collective artistic shortcoming as a nation.

  11. Since Jack Bauer has been banished from the USA, I've been hoping that he (Kiefer Sutherland) will re-emerge in Canada for a movie. I know, I know, it's a pipe dream. But 24: Montreal would be pretty cool with Jack Bauer taking down FLQ terrorists.

  12. Cube was awesome, Bon Cop Bad Cop was also excellent and FUBAR was hilarious. I'm sure there are a number of other quality canadian films I'm forgetting right now.
    TV shows? Made in Canada was pure gold, Kids in the Hall were great, and This is Wonderland was disturbingly funny even if short lived. I guess most quality canuck shows are comedies. I heard good things about The Bridge and that Flashpoint show.

    • Ken Finkleman's Newsroom.

      • Pierre Berton giving joint-rolling lessons on Rick Mercer's show the other day: pure gold.

    • In terms of drama in this country, I've got time for anything with Chris Haddock's name on it. But that's it.

  13. He's correct it is crap, and I'm not surprised mothercorp is rather forceful in demanding we not call their productions crap but they are crap.

  14. Nobody can ever question the quality of what we do here in Canada, creatively or otherwise.

    Sounds like something Chavez would say. Or Castro. Or Kim Jong-Il. Or Mao. Or Stalin.

    Do not question! By definition, anything Canadian is also good. Nothing done in Canada is ever bad. Ever. Kirstine says so. The fact that you've rented a hundred foreign videos for every Canadian one you've rented, that's a crime, and should be punished.

  15. The truth hurts, but Blackett is right.

  16. Mr. Blackett may be right, but is an international forum the place to be spouting off about this sort of thing? Look at it from a practical standpoint on where this will lead to:
    1- Film workers in Alberta will be thrilled in the near future because there is no doubt going to be a cabinet shuffle in Steady Eddies domain for damage control purposes.
    2- There will suddenly be more cash and incentives thrown at the film industry there because Ed's Minions will be following King Ralphs advice to "Shoot, Shovel and Shut up!"
    3- More cash, more incentives= Welcome more Crap Film productions!
    The ironic thing about this whole deal is that Mr. Blackett was clearly trying to fit in with a bunch of so-so celebrities at best by saying what he did.
    Celebrities? as far as that goes, we hardly see them getting any work in the States that is worth watching to begin with.
    Jason Priestly dissing on Canadian film? His business partner in some winery in BC is a Canadian producer!
    We're hardly talking about smart people here, only ones who like to hear themselves talk.
    …Waiter! Can we get some smart folks over here? theres something wrong with my meal, it smells like sh*t!

    • Yeah, bringing back people from LA like Jason Priestly is not the solution. I have no idea why they would even have such a individual in the discussion.

      It is a complex situation though, because as Colby states there will be a lot of failed experiments with a few notable exceptions – maybe get rid of some of the overhead and red tape (inbred bureaucrats, pseudo-academics, and glib provocateurs) is the way to go. Get the money straight to the artists, but get individuals in charge who aren't afraid to call out the failures because that's integral to the process.

      • Agreed

  17. My solution in AB would be to take the 8 million over say 5 years and pay far-removed chosen experts to sift through scripts (scripts with no names given) to pick the best, then after 5 years say, "These are the scripts we are willing to fund for production."

    The experts would be foreigners giving some space between the decision (chosen script) and the community ( the Arts community is so tight-knit that it gives rise to situation where guys like Paul Gross are given million to indulge in their lackluster dreams). Further, a good story is a good story, it doesn't take an Albertan to judge a good Alberta-based story. Also the market for these productions is international, so stories appealing to proposed expert panel would be a good test.

    I know this is a little far-fetched, but just throwing it out there.

    • Sorry, in my previous post I state "foreign experts" a better term would foreign artists= expert. Also, the scripts that came back from this process should not be interfered with i.e. if it is a story of meth-head rig-pig then so be it.

  18. Film always come down to 2 things, a bag of money and a script, whether or not the script is any good or not will make no difference to the Alberta market in it's present state. Those folks are in a situation that is do or die and the blame for this is purely on Mr. Blacketts shoulders. Mr.Blackett wants to see the industry in Alberta swing over to the digital market instead of using the scenery that Alberta can sell. Unless this Einstien can figure out how to move the Rockies to Sask.

    • True, it is two different things. BC has/had a huge film production industry, but go through all the productions that have been filmed, post-produced in BC and you will find very few items that qualify as Art and none that represent/evolve BC culture. It hasn't yet spurned a prominent local indy scene.

      So, Blackett can decide to spend millions subsidizing an industry – which will potentially employ many people (with heavy competition), or if he is looking for non-s**t gem on a pile of s**t he can spend considerably less on building the medium in AB, but it will definitely employ less with a uneven and long road to maturity. But they are two different things considering this is Alberta not LA, and not Prague, Paris, or Rio de Janeiro.

      Cinema and Television are but 2 media – if it isn;t practical there are other media that may be more practical.

  19. Blackett is bang-on. There is nothing I watch on CBC, nothing. And the only Canadian program that I have watched and enjoyed in probably 20 years is Corner Gas. Before that it was the Frantics, SCTV, and a few others. Now, nothing, zip. Canadian programming is crap.