Inside The Insiders event

by Patricia Cullen on November 19, 2009

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Kick yourself, right now, if you didn’t go to this event for any reason other than work. Do it. I’ll wait.

Now with the other foot.

And now I’ll tell you why you have a footprint on each cheek.

Hosts Fiona Forbes & Michael Eckford (Photo credit: Dean Buscher)

Hosts Fiona Forbes & Michael Eckford (Photo credit: Dean Buscher)

Regardless of which role you play in Vancouver’s Film & TV Industry, every topic discussed Tuesday night, applied to you. Directly or indirectly. Whether or not it was about your particular craft or service, it was about your industry. Your business. Your market. Your bottom line. And that’s why you have two footprints on your bottom. It’s called…symbolic.

And it’s not without irony. An important key to the continued successes of our industry is community. Remember, you are a part of this industry. So suffice to say, that an important part of your success is being an active part of that community. Which in turn feeds the industry’s success which in turn feeds your success and round and round we go in perfect harmony in a perfect world.

But, back to reality and without further adieu, let’s get up to speed with on what happened Tuesday night at The Insiders.

The Coles’ notes version…

Insiders-Full Panel

Shawn Williamson, Stuart Aikins, Rob Bromley, Anna Archer, Matthew O’Connor, Louise Clark, Larry Sugar, Gary Harvey, Richard Lucas, Michael Eckford, Fiona Forbes (Photo credit: Dean Buscher)

Tax Credits

Louise Clark (Photo credit: Dean Buscher)

Producer and Development Exec, Louise Clark (Photo credit: Dean Buscher)

Yes, all the work is in Toronto. And yes, it sucks.  But according to Louise Clark, Toronto has been vocal and up front about their desire to bring all the work to Toronto with tax credits. And it was discussed that the reason Toronto has it now, is because we had all the glory then. They wanted a chunk of what we had. And now they’ve got it. The question is will they keep it? Louise feels that just as the pendulum swung from BC to ON, it will once again swing back this way. But Shawn Williamson of Brightlight Pictures, is concerned with how the two Provincial Governments view our industry. Ontario approaches the Film/TV industry as Revenue whereas BC seems to view it as subsidy. All considered, Shawn feels that BC still has a lot to offer our southern counterparts in regards to the tax credits BC currently offers to encourage them to come up Beautiful British Columbia.

Shawn Williamson (Photo credit: Dean Buscher)

Producer, Shawn Williamson (Photo credit: Dean Buscher)

If you ask me, it’s temporary. It’s a great big, not very secret Federal Government conspiracy. And yes, I use the term tongue in cheek and in fun. But think about it. Vancouver simply cannot play host to both the Olympics and the Film/TV industry at the same time. We simply do not have the resources. But can Canada stand to lose the gorgeous income our industry brings in altogether? No. So, how do we keep the business but move it temporarily out of Vancouver? Move it to the Tdot. Done and done. Everybody’s happy but the 35,000 British Columbians who make a living in the industry, are self-employed & without unemployment insurance. Statistically, that’s only .8% of BC’s population potentially out of work and who are also unlikely to cost the government in EI distributions. Which, back to irony, .8% is approximately the same percentage of people from our industry, who attended the event Tuesday evening. If .8% of BC’s population potentially out of work is not much for concern, then the protests of only .8% of that same population isn’t likely to be of consideration either.

But it’s not as simple as just a Tax Credit issue. Or my conspiracy theory.

Richard Lucas (Photo credit: Dean Buscher)

Talent Agent, Richard Lucas (Photo credit: Dean Buscher)

The Olympics

Dubbed ‘the blackhole’ for the evening, the Olympics pose one simple, yet massive challenge for any production in and around that time. Resources. Vancouver does not have the hotels, transportation, security, police force or required rentals like vehicles or barricades to facilitate both the Olympics and the industry. They had to choose only one. They chose. And everyone benefits but us. Us, the sacrificial lambs. Perhaps we could all move to Salt Spring and sell pieces of ourselves off as authentic organic Salt Spring lamb. Just to tide ourselves over. Then when the Olympics go away and our jobs come back, we could be revered as the most talented one-armed, one-legged cast & crew worldwide. Canadian TV just became even more unique. But don’t buy your ferry ticket just yet, shows like V, and possibly Fringe will remain in production during that time. You might not be able to actually make it to set, but you may actually get some work out of it. If you can rectify that first problem.

Larry Sugar and Gary Harvey (Photo credit: Dean Buscher)

Producer, Larry Sugar and Director/Producer, Gary Harvey (Photo credit: Dean Buscher)

Canadian Dollar

Stuart Aikins (Photo credit: Dean Buscher)

Casting Director, Stuart Aikins (Photo credit: Dean Buscher)

I cannot say I recall this topic really being touched on. But what I do recall, quite clearly,

because it surprised me, is Stuart Aikins speaking on US productions here in Canada. That Fox decided two years ago that it can’t afford to pay anyone over scale.  And that a project like Twilight, which was made on a fairly modest budget but grossed around 70 million dollars, puts very little of that money back into new productions. It goes into simply keeping their business alive.

Rob Bromley (Photo credit: Dean Buscher)

Rob Bromley, President of Force Four Entertainment (Photo credit: Dean Buscher)

CRTC Hearings

Here’s the deal. No one is buying any shows until they know the verdict of these hearings.  This, in conjunction with our non-competitive tax credit, the Olympics and high Canadian dollar, is why the industry is almost at a standstill.

I say almost, because you haven’t sacrificed yourself as lamb meat just yet. You still have the power to create within this industry, what you want out of it. In another twist of irony, since you’re not working as much, you theoretically have more time to create your own work. And time to write your MLA about how the lack of a competitive tax credit affects your livelihood. And maybe even time to keep updated on CRTC hearings.

What else can you do? Stuart Aikins likened surviving our industry’s present ‘illness’ to taking measures to protect yourself from H1N1. His advice. Sneeze into your sleeve. If you can adapt to sneeze into your sleeve to protect yourself from H1N1, then you can adapt to survive in this industry, because that’s what you’re going to have to do to survive it, adapt. And the crowd applaused.

I’ll leave you with that. And a suggestion for you to read the poem, Mutability by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

A note to mention that 100% of the proceeds from The Insiders event went to benefit PAL, Performing Arts Lodge Vancouver.

All photos by Dean Buscher – specializing in unit stills and actor headshots to the film and entertainment industry in Vancouver.

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