We Need Your Films, Also Your Hearts And Minds But Mostly Your Films

2018 is progressing much like we expected it would, discomfort at our world but also the realization that from great distress often comes great art.  To that end we are pleased (as punch) at the great quality of films submitted for this years Festival (November 3rd – bookmark it today!).  But we need more and I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of those reasons.

In a world where the modalities for the sharing of artistic vision would seem to be unlimited it is curious to me that this reality, paradoxically, seems to work against the interests  of many artists.  The challenge isn’t getting it out there, the challenge is getting it seen.  Festivals like OCanFilmFest are not a new thing but still play an important role in getting films seen by those interested in doing so.  That connective tissue is what is missing whenever an artist throws their work out into the void – huge potential audience but who sees the throw?

OCanFilmFest represents a great opportunity for Ottawa Filmmakers to get their films seen.  As a fledging filmmaker myself I can’t begin to tell you how important that is.  Everyone wants to be liked (we’re human) but more importantly we want to be thought about, we want ideas, impressions – anything that gives us a perspective on the art we make.  Festivals are the still the best way to do that in a fun and supportive environment that respects the audience and the artist equally.

So submit your work, take a chance, take a shot.  Not everything will make it but to quote the noted philosopher Wayne Gretzky ” You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”, take yours and we will see you in November!

 

Independent Theaters Are Cool

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.

What is a ‘Canadian’ Film?

 

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?”

Why Independent Films?

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?”