For years independently owned and operated theaters have become a rare thing. Growing up there were plenty of neighborhood-based theaters that ran a variety of Hollywood, independent or really any films that would fill the seats. I have happy memories of Sergio Leone shoot-fests, foreign films etc. at the Capital on Rideau, the original Bytowne, the Mayfair etc. So most of those theaters are still here and doing a great job in delivering films where spandex is not the prevailing fashion sense.
What’s changed is just how important this role has become in our current situation where while. We have plenty ways to deliver content across a variety of platforms and modalities, the actual ‘movie going’ experience has become less available as major chains focus on algorithm-based content that reduce choice and availability. To which I don’t fault them for doing so, its a business after all and the fact that any chains thrive at all in the Netflix universe is magic to me anyways.
Independents give you the choices you wont find in chains but also give you the experience of a theater which, for me, is a big part of the deal. Independents provide the opportunity for a new artist to see their work on the big screen, for festivals to reach out to their audiences as well as specialized programming to meet other needs. By extending choice independently owned theaters extend the experience of movie goers and for that they should be treasured.
While I was growing up it was pretty easy to recognize a ‘Canadian’ Film. It was on CBC, it had ‘NFB’ on the credits and it was usually a little depressing. Going Down The Road, Wedding in White and Mon Oncle Antoine stick in memory along with a lot of others.
Then came the era of insanely generous tax credits and the modern Canadian Film industry was born albeit with (usually cheesy) horror and teen exploitation flicks. From that base great artist grew though (David Cronenberg in particular) and Canadian films started to be known for something other that world class animation. I Heard the Mermaids Singing et al showed the world what we can do without losing that feeling they were part of us.
The next big wave came from the desire of American TV and Film producers to do more with less, namely less cost to feed an increasingly voracious demand for content across a variety of delivery modalities. So more and more shows and films started to be shot here using Canadian crews being paid in Canadian dollars for much the same rational that the original auto pact (pre NAFTA) worked – same cars, 30% less labor cost. The net benefits to develop our skills, experience has been enormous and as a result we are second to none in our abilities in 2017.
So the question remains, are we still producing ‘Canadian’ Films and the answer is simple, yes. Continue reading “What is a ‘Canadian’ Film?”
For me the appeal of Independent Film is the same appeal of Triple-A baseball or the OHL – you get to see potential million dollar players on their way up or on their way down. Either way its a privilege to see the talent, creativity and ability to do more with less that characterize independent artists.
Its fashionable to knock Hollywood as being a non-creative money machine and certainly that’s true in many cases. What’s interesting to me about big studio films is when filmmakers manage slip some art through to us anyways despite the bottom-line obsession. Conversely independent films have the reputation as the sanctuary of the artist, unconcerned about revenue as much as recognition and respect. Well that’s not true either. Every artist knows they have to sell their current projects if they ever want to make another or step up to a studio some day. Consequently there is repetition, familiar themes etc. that are drive by realities of the market. Continue reading “Why Independent Films?”