Big Sugar: Canadian
“Ride Like Hell”; ‘500 Pounds‘ (1993)
Five Essential Facts Aboot The Canadian Movie Industry:
1) Was That A Boom Mike In The Shot?: The Canadian movie industry mostly sucks. How bad? Australia’s industry is actually superior to Canada’s and, for crying out loud, they’re Australians. Why have Canadian movies sucked in the past? Two reasons:
1a) Time & Distance: In order to get into Hollywood, Australians must be named “Heath Ledger”, “Mel Gibson”, “Nicole Kidman”, “Hugh Jackman” or “Crocodile”, and so far each of those have only happened once. All Canadians have to do is: 1) buy a ticket and get off the bus at the appropriate stop, and; 2) make an “x” on the contract and taaa daaa, another Canadian Hollywood star is born — because there are two types of people waiting at a Hollywood bus terminal: pimps looking for girls who look like Jodie Foster in “Taxi”, and the
pimps agents looking for Canadians.
There are 1000’s of miles of water protecting Aussie, United Kingdom, Indian and Zimbabwean talent from US casting agents, which means the writers, directors and actors of the rest of The Commonwealth had decades to create independent Film Industries at home. Meanwhile, thanks to a 3500 mile undefended land border with America, Canada has managed to hold on to the stars and writers of “Air Farce” (I’m not explaining Air Farce to anyone).
1b) The Dollar Bill: Taxes. We used to give out incentives (ie: bags of money) for people to make movies here, and they did. And then they took the money and spent it in America. The movies they left behind were then burned as a service to good taste. ‘Bad taste’ often thanked us as well. Basically there was no quality oversight, and as long as the American movie people kept hiring its extras from the Canadian Acting Guild, which made them happy, no one was going to change things. So, for too long we had no talent willing to stay in Canada and no government support. But then the law got changed (Tax Credits) and it was easier for the money from Outside Productions to cycle faster into Canadian productions and the result has been… Canadian movies still sucking, but with less intensity.
Basically, because of the Talent Drain, Canada’s Film & Television Industry is ten years behind England and America. Which puts us five years behind India, but on par with Australia and ahead of New Zealand and Zimbabwe.
Oh yeah… Canada supplies more directors, screenwriters, producers and actors to the American (ie: World) Film & Television Industry than any other country (other that the US). Stuff that in your top hat you Limey bastards.
2) Come To Canada To See The America You Remember: If you’ve ever finished watching a movie set in America and thought “the plot was puerile at best, but New York looks so clean and inviting” or “those American mid-west vista’s were so dramatic and unspoiled” you’ve actually been watching Canada for two hours. If there were tallish buildings and the extras spoke English it was probably Toronto or Vancouver. If they had French accents, it was Montreal or Quebec City. If there were cowboys or “traditional” Natives, it was Alberta or Saskatchewan. Forests? Northern Ontario. Rainforest or Jungle? British Columbia. So come to Canada and we’d be glad to take you on a tour and show you the “America” you remember from your favourite movie aboot America.
3) American-Style Garbage In Every Production: American film productions have to throw garbage in our streets, and put ‘makeup’ and graffiti on buildings in Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto to make them look more like ‘American cities’. Staff cutbacks by the City of Toronto have allowed American producers to save some ‘garbage money’ recently, but “realistic American-style garbage” is still in the budgets of American movies filming in Canada.
4) Coming Into Its Own: From aboot the late 1960’s to the mid 1980’s we’d get American production companies coming up here because of the exchange rate ($0.75CND = $1US) and the tax shelter thing. They’d bring their Assistant Directors, their Clappers, their coke, their Gaffers, their Best Boys and their own Drivers to Canada, drop a couple of US Dollars and go home with new Beaver Hats, an airline and maybe a nickle mine or two.
But then “Jaws” and “Star Wars” came out and Hollywood realized movies could be used for more reasons than simply getting a young women to take her clothes off, and they remembered that favourable exchange rate. Then they remembered that Canadian English was a little more comprehensible than that spoken in Great Britain or Australia or India or… America, and suddenly Canada was the background for American blockbuster movies and television shows. So, again, a lot of the money being spent here by the Americans, British and now even Indian movie company’s is being pushed back into the Canadian movie industry.
Our Movie Industry is a spinoff of the American Industry (so is yours), but those spinoffs didn’t start creating actual Canadian Spinoffs until aboot thirty years ago. Now those Canadian spinoffs are 30-years old grandparents which now create a lot of the background stuff you find in American movies, like special effects, digital effects, animation studios and all that cool stuff. And now our industry has fourth and fifth generation spinoffs and now Canadian filmmakers are actually living and working inside Canada.
5) The French Connection: Quebec’s film industry is waaaay more successful than the Rest Of Canada’s (ROC). Since being “taken over” by the British 200-years ago Quebec had been a closed, super-strict Roman Catholic society until the 1950’s (religious fascism remarkably similar to Ireland). Officially the French-Quebecois couldn’t read books unless the local Bishop signed off on them, and movies in French were impossible to find.
But then in the 50’s and 60’s, mostly thanks to a newly literate society of teenagers and young adults (baby Baby Boomers), Quebec kicked the Church out of their beds, and out of their living rooms — and mostly right back to Rome. And then they, the young Quebecois, started doing things that had never been available to their parents. Like read books. And see movies. And have sex. Then film movies aboot books. Then aboot sex. And the movies were in French so the millions of Quebecois who had never had sex without the blessing of a Priest could now watch new positions, and new courting techniques (like fellatio and inviting the girl next door to join in a three-way). Then, after they had filmed all the positions they could think of, the Quebecois turned their camera’s to the politics of Quebec and Canada and the Roman Catholic Church. Today’s Scottish Film Industry is very similar to Quebec’s of aboot a decade ago.
Today Quebec has actual “blockbusters”, whereas a movie made in the ROC, by ROCians, is considered a success if it doesn’t completely bankrupt the parents of the director. Until last year the most successful Canadian movie ever created was “Porky’s”. In 2006 the record was broken by “Bon Cop, Bad Cop” a fully bilingual (French-English) cop-buddy movie. Aboot 90% of the business was done in Quebec. Why? Because in the ROC there’s no distribution network for ROC movies. There are aboot 300 movie screens in each major ROC city. Maybe two of those screens might have an ROC movie once a year. In Quebec, every theatre would have at least one screen available for a Quebec movie as soon as it was released. For the ROC Film Industry to become as successful as Quebec’s, let alone England’s, we’ve got to get the distribution into place.
Some Of The Canadians In The Movie Industry:
Keifer Sutherland “The Phone Booth”, “24” (TV); Donald Sutherland “Animal House”, “MASH”; Mike Myers “Wayne’s World”, “Austin Powers”; Sandra Oh “Hard Candy”, “Sideways”, “Grey’s Anatomy” (TV) ; Christopher Plummer: Shakesphere legend, “The New World”, “Syriania”; Catherine O’Hara “A Mightly Wind”, “For Your Consideration”; Graham Greene, “Dances With Wolves”, “Phil The Alien”; William Shatner “if you don’t know Captain Kirk you need serious help that I cannot offer”; Megan Follows “Anne Of Green Gables” (TV); Martin Short “Steve Martin’s sidekick”; Fay Wrey “King Kong”; Mary Pickford, 248 movies and co-founded United Artists Studios; Anna Paquin “The Piano”, “25th Hour”; Carrie Anne Moss “The Matrix Trilogy”; Keanu Reeves “The Matrix Trilogy”; Elisha Cuthbert “Nothing But Crap So Far”, “24” (TV); Ryan Gosling “Half Nelson”, “The Notebook”, Phil Hartman “The Simpsons” (TV), “Newsradio” (TV); Pam Anderson “Her Right Breast”, “Her Left Breast”, “Sometimes Her Ass”; Rachel McAdams “Red Eye”, “The Family Stone”; Gary Farmer “Smoke Signals”; Sook-Yin Lee “Shortbus”; Jim Carrey “The Mask”, “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind”; Michael J. Fox “Back To The Future Trilogy”.
Directors & Writers
Arthur Hiller (wow) “The Americanization Of Emily”; Norman Jewison “In The Heat Of The Night”, “Jesus Christ Superstar”; Lorne Michaels (producer, co-creator) “Saturday Night Live”; Denys Arcand “Love & Human Remains”, “The Barbarian Invasions”, “Jésus de Montréal” (amazing French-Canadian films); Paul Haggis (screenwriter) “Million Dollar Baby”, “Crash”, “Flags Of Our Fathers”, “Letters From Iwo Jima”; James Cameron “Titanic”, “The Terminator”; Jack Warner (wow) founded Warner Brothers Studio; Guy Maddin “The Saddest Music in the World”; Atom Egoyan “Ararat”, “The Sweet Hereafter”; David Cronenberg “Naked Lunch”, “The Fly”; Louis B. Mayer (holy shit) founded MGM Studios; Bruce McDonald “Hard Core Logo”, “Dance Me Outside”, “Highway 61”, “Roadkill” (four awesome Canadian movies), Don McKellar “The Red Violin”, “Last Night” (two awesome Canadian films); Mary Pickford, co-founded United Artists Studios.
Bonus Track — Talking Beavers: The funniest movie ever made is called “Phil The Alien”, it is Canadian. It’s basically a riff on Walter Tevis’ 1963 novel “The Man Who Fell To Earth”, later made into a movie starring David Bowie. It’s aboot an alien who crashes into the Northern Ontario wilderness. He then gets liquored up by a kid, makes friends with a super-intelligent talking beaver, joins a band as a frontman who can hover, gets arrested, becomes a Jailhouse Evangelical, sobers up, starts a religious movement and goes on tour so he can find a way home — all while being hunted by a super-secret American agency which may have an alien vessel stored under Niagara Falls. The beaver (“Beaver”) could also be a world-class assassin. You have to find this movie. It. Has. A. Talking. Beaver.