CC is for Creator’s Choice

I am amazed at how quickly technology has progressed to the point where we have the tools to inexpensively create and share all types of media.   I think we may be at the point where the most expensive aspect of creating a piece of artistic media is the human labour.   When I went to school for Media Arts (film, video, audio, a/v) that certainly was not the case. The equipment was expensive: we could sign out Nagra sync sound recorders that I recall cost a great many thousands of dollars, particularly for struggling students. But the cost of Film stock was very very expensive.

film

Which is why I was so incredibly impressed with filmmaker Robert Rodriguez‘ Cinderella tale of becoming a feature film director. His ingenuity allowed him to make El Mariachi for much less than the going rate of making a movie trailer.

film maker Robert Rodriguez in stubble, camo & a baseball cap at a press function

Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player was terrific.  Not just because the book is as well written a “making of” as you’re likely to find, but because young Rodriguez figured out how to become a feature film maker by thinking outside the box. He bypassed the crushing weight of the most expensive part of film making: the cost of film stock and prints for distribution.

[Even cooler, Rodriguez was willing to talk about it and share his insights with other filmmakers in an attempt to help those coming after.]

As it happens, the digital revolution which followed substantially lowered the barriers to entry and today digital imaging is the next thing to free. Movie theaters are switching to digital transmission for the same reasons.

[Note to filmmakers: You can still learn lots about film making from Robert Rodriguez’ Film School Shorts.]

music

The singers squeezed into the control booth dominated by a massive mixing board, manned by sound technicians.

It used to cost tens of thousands or perhaps even hundreds of thousands of dollars to outfit a music recording studio.  So naturally cutting a record was a pricey affair.

Once all the tracks were laid down and mixed you had the associated costs of artwork, pressing and distribution. An expensive proposition.

But just like the film world, media technology has gone digital and today, if you’re organized, it is possible to cut a full length commercial CD in a professional studio for around a thousand dollars. A tech savvy musician can DIY commercial quality product in their basement for next to nothing.

the written word

Big changes are afoot in the world of newspapers and magazines.   It used to be that the only market for short fiction and nonfiction articles used to be newspapers and magazines (with the occasional second life collected in book form). Like the music and movie industries, magazines and newspapers were in business by virtue of owning the infrastructure (print facilities and distribution).

Syd Field Screenplay ORIGINAL cover art

The same was true of book publication. Certainly publishers have editorial staff. They employ readers and editors and typesetters. One of the best books I’ve read on screenwriting was written by Syd Field, a Hollywood reader who distilled what he learned as a reader into practical writing advice in a book called Screenplay.

The editorial staff edits and assembles the product. One important function they have traditionally provided was to filter out the very best material.  And never forget that the addition of editorial input often improved the work.   Traditionally there has been lots of expertise in the publishing industry, but the bottom line was always that the guy who owns the presses and the distribution network is the guy in charge. The most brilliant book editor could always be over ruled by the publisher. (Or the publisher’s girlfriend.)

There is great deal of turmoil in all types of publishing today as the entire world has been altered by the Internet and the accompanying technology.

media evolution

In real terms this media revolution– not just for film or music but photography, writing, software and art– really anything that can be digitally reproduced — has made it possible for pretty much anyone to be a media creator. The monetary costs involved boil down to the initial outlay necessary for equipment and digital storage. After that the outlay is minimal

I remember when a blank video tape cost $20. That could hold one movie you taped off TV.   Of course that was back in the day when the cable companies encouraged Canadians to use this new technology to “time shift.” Today that’s one of the many diverse activities that are lumped together under the umbrella label of ‘piracy.’

The Nightengale and the Rose - One of the many public domain books preserved in a digital format and released without restriction by Project Gutenberg

About ten years ago or so I remember my sister had an unimaginably huge hard drive – far and away the largest of anyone I knew — on her computer. Today that 2 gigabyte drive is laughably tiny. At this point 2 gigabyte flash drives are routinely used to transport assignments between school and home (and probably at the low end).

And now I just read Michael Hart‘s observation about his seventy five dollar “terabyte pocket drive” (for books digitized by Project Gutenberg) that is:

no larger and not much heavier than a book, and it will hold 2.5 million such books in .zip format.”

Project Gutenberg: Timeline Events

One of the interesting things I’ve learned about recently from Wayne Borean’s excellent series on Copyright in his Through the Looking Glass blog, where Wayne describes this kind of revolutionary technology that changes the way the world functions as a “Disruptive Technological Change“.

Add the Internet to the mix and you have a perfect distribution medium that’s virtually free.
[With the proviso that net neutrality is protected Internet access won’t be degraded via ‘throttling’ and and carrier/ISPs won’t be able to price it out of the range of ordinary people with Usage Based Billing.]

This means we’re living in a world where we can all create.

Under Canadian copyright law any art we create is automatically protected under copyright law.

Since we all have the ability to be both content creators and distributors as well as content consumers, every citizen needs to have a say in the copyright debate and the eventual revision to our copyright laws.

Copyright = All Rights Reserved

copyright symbol - letter c in a circle
all rights reserved

The thing about art and culture is that it is for sharing.   I can’t think of any art in any medium that is created out of a vacuum. Everything is built on something else. This has been going on since the beginning of time.   Before we had written words, verbal histories were handed down.

We are all informed by our culture; all creators are influenced by others.   Everything we learn, everything we see, hear, feel and touch goes into our experience pool and will have an effect on our creations.    Shakespeare’s plays are re-mixes of other works,  and today we would call the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale aggregators.    In their day they had to physically travel all aver Europe to gather up all the best stories.   Today we just need a good search engine and enough bandwidth to get it done.

Teacher Raffaella Traniello holds up some movie making tools A standing joke firmly rooted in reality is that the only way to sell a movie idea to Hollywood is by comparing it to another.

And have you ever noticed that an overwhelming majority of Disney theatrical feature films are based on stories in the public domain?

Corporate agendas have been pushing for increasingly rigorous copyright law, detrimental to creators.   What’s good for a corporation that controls copyright is not necessarily good for the artists who created the copyright work. As a creator I think copyright terms we have alone in Canada are seriously detrimental to creators.

Creative Commons logoWhich is why I am extremely grateful for the development of Creative Commons Licenses that offer creators a variety of alternatives.

Creative Commons licensing is a marvelous tool that allows creators to get around the detrimental and restrictive aspects of copyright law. Creators can release their work in the way that they want to.

The reason I love Raffaella Traniello’s film so much is  because it does such a good job getting the message across.   Every song I’ve heard, every movie I’ve watched, every picture I’ve seen, every bit of  art I’ve ever been exposed to, everything that has danced across my senses has been absorbed and makes me who I am.   The creativity of others has become part of my life experience, and as it’s distilled through my unconscious and forms the basis of my own creativity.   No art comes out of a vacuum;  it collaborates with a culture.  Art needs to share and be shared, which is why I believe that the current copyright law has already gone too far.

Creative Commons License = Some Rights Reserved

Creative Commons logo: cc inside a circle
Some Rights Reserved

Creative Commons defines the spectrum of possibilities between full copyright and the public domain. From all rights reserved to no rights reserved. Our licenses help you keep your copyright while allowing certain uses of your work — a “some rights reserved” copyright.

What is CC

Copyright terms constrain other creators.

I try to generate all the images for all my own blogs, but sometimes that simply isn’t possible.   At this point with everything that’s happening in copyright law around the world, I’m less inclined to want to use “fair dealing” images; particularly as what is covered may well change.  So any time I do an image search,  I search for Creative Commons licensed Images. When searching either Google Images or Flickr Images you can select “advanced search” and choose “labeled for reuse”. Most if not all images in Wikimedia Commons are released under a CC license. And now the Creative Commons search page can direct your searches as well.

Creative Commons Attribution Symbol

Attribution (cc by)

This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered, in terms of what others can do with your works licensed under Attribution.

Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike Symbol

Attribution Share Alike (cc by-sa)

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial reasons, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use.

Boy Mouse says to Mouse girl who is fixing equipment, Hallo Fräulein, könnten Sie mich wohl zu einem Techniker bringen?

Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives

Attribution No Derivatives (cc by-nd)

This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.

painted on road BACKWARD I READ THINK ENGINEERS HIGHWAY

Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial

Attribution Non-Commercial (cc by-nc)

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

CD cover art - bearded guitar playing caricature

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Sharealike

Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike (cc by-nc-sa)

This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. Others can download and redistribute your work just like the by-nc-nd license, but they can also translate, make remixes, and produce new stories based on your work. All new work based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also be non-commercial in nature.

Plaster heads of 7 world leaders assembled on the grass

Creative Commons Button indicating Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivative License

Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (cc by-nc-nd)

This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, allowing redistribution. This license is often called the “free advertising” license because it allows others to download your works and share them with others as long as they mention you and link back to you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

Creative Common Licenses don’t replace copyright law, they work in conjunction with existing copyright law.

A Creative Commons licenses allow creators to tailor the license to balance their comfort level with the needs of their project.

The greatest thing about Creative Commons Licensing is that it gives choices back to creators.


Image Credit:

Robert Rodriguez photograph under a Attribution Sharealike (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/) by Thomas Crenshaw

Lynn Russwurm’s photograph “The Laurie Bauer Singers in recording studio – circa 1970s” used with permission

Raffaella Traniello video under an Attribuzione 2.5 Italia license

Charles Robinson illustration of Oscar Wilde’s “The Nightengale and the Rose” is in the public domain; one of many great works preserved via digitization by Project Gutenberg

Cory Doctorow” photograph by Joi Ito under a CC attribution (cc by) license

Sita Sings the BluesNina Paley – Creative Commons CC BY-SA

“Hallo Fräulein” cartoon oreillyblog cartoon (CC) BY-ND dyfa 2009

Ahead Stop image by XKCD. CC BY-NC 2.5

Performous Songs: Jonathan Coulton Collection available for legal download ZIP file (240 MB)under Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike License (cc by-nc-sa) via Performous Songs

“Big Heads” aka The Oxfam G8 Big Heads at Big Letters Performance by Oxfam (by-nc-nd)


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publishers, writers and rights, oh my

Spiderweb beaded with raindrops

The Internet has changed the world faster than any other technological revolution in history.

corporate vs. creator copyright

When that obsolete stuff known as videotape was new, it, too, wreaked havoc. Suddenly movies and tv shows were being released on the new medium. But the big media companies felt no compulsion to actually share the new found wealth with the creators.

an open trailer of video tapes for disposal

Some creators took issue with this, and fought it out in court.   And courts duly ruled that creators were entitled to compensation from these new revenues.

Having written the music for the Disney classic “Lady and the Tramp,” Singer/songwriter Peggy Lee was at the forefront of the fight. Urban Legend has it the Disney company did not take the court decision very graciously and vowed not to release the popular children’s film again until after Peggy Lee’s death.

It doesn’t matter if the legend is true or not, it would be a reasonable business practice; a sound corporate strategy. Suppressing the work warns other would-be litigants about the economic risk of asserting their legal rights with the added bonus of imposition of artificial scarcity which inflates the value of the product when finally released.

To me it illustrates the difference between corporate and creator agendas, and in particular why corporations should never be allowed to hold copyright. Creative works of any kind, what human beings call art, are valued differently by human beings, while to a corporation, the only value of art is the bottom line.

enter the lawyers

Here in the Twenty First Century, Intellectual Property Law has become the “sexiest” area of the legal profession because it is both one of the most lucrative areas of law and the source of mind boggling power.  IP law has been changing the world.

The primary changes to copyright and lawmaking have been driven by the big media interests.

Music, movies and television “rightsholders” have been driving the changes since those are some of the most lucrative forms of intellectual copyright product.

All the changes to Copyright Law over recent decades have been made to benefit corporations at the expense of both creators and culture; the rules of copyright have been quietly becoming madder and madder (as in the hatter).

writers and publishers

Ironically, although copyright began to provide incentive for the creation of literary works by making it possible for good writers make a living, the publishing industry has not been in the forefront of the current copyright war. The American book publishing industry was built on commercial piracy, more properly called bootlegging.
books

In the early days of twentieth century paperback novels sold for less than a dollar and writers were paid only a few pennies a word.

Nearing the end of the century I was surprised to learn that writers were still being paid mere pennies a word although paperback novels sold for upward of ten dollars.

The justification was always the great expense borne by the publisher. Printing and distribution costs rose with inflation while payment to the creators did not keep pace. Publishers impressed upon writers that demanding better pay would make books too expensive and lead to fewer books sold. Physical costs were tangible and so always managed to take precedent over the writer’s intangible creativity.

The 21st Century we have seen the introduction of ebooks. Digital books differ from physical books in one crucial way: they cost next to nothing to copy.

Yet customers have been conditioned to spend on the order of twenty dollars for a physical book. Naturally publishers have been happy to sell the average ebook in the ten dollar range. After set-up production costs are negligible, making the revenue stream approach 100% profit.

Amazingly, these same publishers begrudge any change in the royalty payments to the authors. Instead of sharing this good fortune with their writers, the golden egg laying geese of the publishing industry, most publishers have been trying on the same power grab movie companies tried with video: laying claim to legal rights they had not been granted.

One of the most compelling reasons I never seriously considered placing my novel with a traditional publishing house was the problem William Styron’s heirs had with the publisher.

Mr. Styron’s family believes it retains the rights, since the books were first published before e-books existed. Random House, Mr. Styron’s longtime publisher, says it owns those rights, and it is determined to secure its place — and continuing profits — in the Kindle era.

The discussions about the digital fate of Mr. Styron’s work are similar to the negotiations playing out across the book industry as publishers hustle to capture the rights to release e-book versions of so-called backlist books.

New York Times: Legal Battles Over E-Book Rights to Older Books

That was my tipping point. Would you trust this industry to do right by you?   I wouldn’t.   Given the choice, I’m not willing to hand over my creative work to traditional publishing. Particularly since this same digital revolution gives me choice: technology has made self publishing a valid and viable option.

The arrogance of publishers to assert claims to ebook rights by default– simply because they’d published traditional physical paper version– is ludicrous.

At issue is who holds digital rights in older titles published before the advent of ebooks. Publishers argue that the ebook rights belong to them, and authors and agents respond that, if not specifically granted, the digital rights remain with the author.

The Guardian: Publishers rage against Wylie’s ebook deal with Amazon

Odyssey Editions Logo

On Friday (June 23rd, 2010) the Wylie Agency shook the world

by taking a stand for authors and against the publishing houses. (And for themselves, never forget that. Wylie has launched a whole new business here; this may well be straying into anti-trust waters.)

This Literary Agency is setting up the Odessey Books imprint under which they will release older works as ebooks; specifically books whose digital rights have not been signed over to the physical publishers.

The publishers who believed themselves entitled to this copyright are of course greatly outraged that works they believed safely under their control has been snatched out from under them.

Odyssey certainly appears to already be a going concern, with a set of clean simple text based digital book covers for the classics they are releasing exclusively through Amazon’s Kindle for the first two years.

Good for Wylie, good for Odyssey.

From a consumer’s point of view I have reservations. I only looked at the pricing for one book, so the prices may vary, but I have to wonder how the ebook version of a books could cost more than the physical paperback version also sold through Amazon. Yes, the ebook version is sleek and lightweight, but the Kindle is after all a reader laden with DRM that I understand prevents copying for both format shifting and backups. In other words, the ten dollar ebook will be locked inside a brick if the Kindle breaks down or becomes obsolete. But that’s another story.

From an author’s point of view, there may be financial problems. Odyssey doesn’t seem to be offering authors such a great deal.

“Yes, there are costs of creating a digital version, but offering a 25, 30% royalty is insulting.”

~Kassia Krozser, Today in Publishing: A Skirmish

Although I don’t believe the Guardian’s assertion that Wylie’s Amazon deal brings the end of the publishing world nigh, I certainly do think this is a good thing.

It sounds to me that the Wylie Agency is stepping in and performing the service that that publishing houses should have performed for their clients. Adaptability is key to any business long term survival. The total control they have long held seems to have seduced the publishing industry in much the same way it has the recording and movie companies into believing that they deserve control of these copyrights.

this story can help start the copyright conversation

Technology has changed the world indescribably, and corporations have exerted untold amounts of pressure on lawmakers the world over to legislate anti-progress in the form of copyright laws and treaties.

Tony Curzon Price

@Tom_Watson

@tonycurzonprice rt @tom_watson
DRM lobbyists are back in parliament. they want even more.

The changes being made to the world in the name of copyright are still largely unnoticed by most people. Demographically young computer savvy people are among the most knowledgeable sector of society about these issues, but they are a minority. And the fact remains that the whole world NEEDS to be part of the conversation. Allowing corporate interests to control the conversation is increasingly leading to greater and greater imbalance.

copyright and the public domain

I’ve never understood how anyone besides the creator is entitled to the proceeds from copyright. License the work to the publisher sure, but giving them copyright? No legal system should ever have allowed this. Copyright was meant to encourage creation for the good of culture.

In the beginning there was the commons. Ownership of the songs and stories of belonged to everyone. Story tellers preserved and shaped the culture, and in return society made sure they could make living at it. Minstrels telling a good tale or singing a good song were fed. The introduction of the printing press changed things in that the words of the writers could now be spread and shared through this artificial means. Copyright is an artificial right assumed by society in an effort to encourage creators to continue to create by controlling the monetization of their work for a finite period of time. When the term was up, the work went into the public domain so that all of society could get the benefit.

tweets from ORGcon

The UK Nonpartisan Open Rights Group, working to fight the UK’s ill advised hastily passed Digital Economy Act, today held #ORGCon. Cory Doctorow tweeted highlights. Copyright and the Public Domain were central to the convention, and much of what @doctorow and other attendees shared online, particularly comments by keynote speaker James Boyle provide some powerful background for this article:

Cory Doctorow thumbnail taken at University of Waterloo, 2009

Black and white photo of James Boil from #org
James Boyle

tweeting at #orgcon
@doctorowsez:

rt @thepublicdomain
aka James Boyle keynote at #orgcon

@owenblacker rt @owenblacker

Our educators’ understanding of copyright is akin to playground understanding of sex

@footage rt @footage
Baby Boomers can legally share/use/mix much of their own history after 28 yrs. Generation X & Millennials can’t. Copyright discriminates.

@rob_jewitt
rt @rob_jewitt:
The odds of copyright incentivising dead authors is pretty low

@elmyra
@elmyra tweets:

For further first person #org coverage read:
Elmyra’s ORGcon 2010 Livejournal

rt @doctorow: Until the tenth Century a musicians just needed to play.
Until the 19th century musicians just needed to be literate.
In the twentieth century, musicians needed to be geeks,
But in 21st Century musicians need to be lawyers.

NO Canadian DMCA

These laws will force all of us to be lawyers.

Everyone from professional media makers to children putting together school projects.

The United States has enacted the DMCA. The UK the DEAct. Canada has tabled Bill C-32, copyright legislation misleadingly titled “The Copyright Modernization Act”. And the secret international copyright treaty A.C.T.A. seeks to subjugate the copyright laws of the whole world.

Copyright is no longer simply an area of special interest to publishers and writers. Changes being made in the name of copyright effect culture and the the way we access culture in every country of the world.

We all need to be part of the conversation.



Image Credits: spider web used under a CreativeCommons Attribution 2.0 Generic license (by) 2004 cybershotking
Fate of videotape (en:obsolence) © 2004 by Tomasz Sienicki used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license
William Styron, Santiago, Chile, 1988 photo by Marcelo Montecino Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
Wikipedia cropped cinema image of Peggy Lee, used under the public domain in the US and fair dealing in Canada



Why CanCon Hurts Canadian Culture [part 2]

Canadian Film & Television

Many Canadian actors, writers and directors have established a considerable presence in the American movie and television business since the very beginning.

pictured in "Canadian Women in Film"
Canadian Mary Pickford was “America’s Sweetheart”

Talented Canadians have been migrating to Hollywood to make movies for as long as there have been movies. Naturally. If you wanted to be in pictures, that’s where you had to go.

They called her “America’s Sweetheart,” for her movie acting, but she was also a hard headed business woman who was producing her own films early on, going on to co-found United to ensure she maintained her autonomy. Toronto born Mary Pickford, was actually a Canadian girl.

Over time things have changed and today films are made all over the world.

International Acclaim

The National Film Board of Canada became a world leader in documentary film making. NFB documentaries and short films have won many Oscars over the years.

The Sheridan College Animation Program offered at the Oakville, Ontario Campus has long been considered one of the best animation schools in the world – and in fact the prime source of Disney animators. Home grown animation companies like Toronto’s Nelvana produce and export a large proportion of children’s programming globally.

The innovative IMAX film system, now available around the world, was created and developed by the Canadian IMAX Corporation.

On the Home Front

It has traditionally been difficult for Canadian movies and television programming to compete with American fare. Partly because so much Canadian talent has flowed south of the border, but Cancon rules have made it worse by engendering a lack of confidence in Canadian productions .

Initially the fledgling Canadian movie and TV industry was behind in technical expertise. Remember how 1970’s Canadian television programming and films were conspicuous because of the tinny sound? But by the 1980’s the Canadian film and television industry was undergoing change. Thanks in part to the exchange rate which kept the Canadian dollar lower than the American dollar, budget conscious American productions began flowing north across the border.

Today the world acknowledges Canada as the new Hollywood North, boasting a qualified film & TV workforce and decent production facilities. No less a personage than The Terminator er California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has vowed to fight to keep American productions out of Canada (and coincidentally in California).

Night Heat title frame from series opening credit sequence

Although it was a successful prime time Canadian Television series, Night Heat was actually a Canadian/American co-production. Great care was taken to place the series in an unspecified North American city in an attempt to make the series acceptable in both countries. In fact, the only North American City that Night Heat could not have taken place in was Toronto, since in one episode the heroes travel to Toronto for a CN Tower chase scene. Of course in reality Toronto was where the series was actually made.

Economically the Canadian film industry may be holding its own, but that isn’t the biggest problem. Although American driven Canadian productions may employ Canadians they are American productions creating American culture. Even when working on Canadian soil it seems Canadians contribute to American culture.

Due South Title Graphic

Due South was a CBS/CTV co-production. Paul Gross played the incredibly principled Mountie Constable Benton Fraser stationed in Chicago in this dramatic series with a decidedly humorous bent.

Wolf and mountie, the Canadian stars of Due South: Benton and Diefenbaker

Due South was set in Chicago, and Fraser frequently wears the distinctive RCMP red serge uniform in the series, where he works with Chicago police detective Ray Vecchio. Although Fraser and his pet wolf Diefenbaker are usually the only nominal Canadian in the show, there is never any question that Fraser is the hero of the piece.

Although American audiences liked the show, CBS decided to pull out. But because it was a big hit in Canada and abroad financing was found to keep it running for a few more years.

The original Due South story editor, David Shore, went on to create the wildly successful American series House M.D.

House (Hugh Laurie) stares balefully up at the happy face balloon he hold the string to.

Due South series creator Paul Haggis went on to win Oscars for writing and directing the 2004 film Crash.

Haggis clutching Oscars in each fist, stands in front of a 6 foot Oscar

I wrote a bit about the Canadian talent-drain in copycon: the continuing saga.

As with musicians, Wikipedia also has a Wikipedia: List of Canadian Actors.

But it isn’t just actors, there are a great many successful Canadians working behind the scenes in Hollywood as well.

Writers and Directors are just as likely to head for Hollywood as actors are. Naturally there are also lists of Wikipedia: List of Canadian Writers and a Wikipedia: List of Canadian Directors.

Bon Cop Bad Cop poster

Why do so many talented Canadians flock to the States?

Triplets of Belleville poster

Quebec has long had a rich Francophone dramatic film and television tradition precisely because of its distinct language and culture.

This most probably accounts for the fact that many of the best Canadian feature films like The Triplets of Belleville, Bon Cop Bad Cop and Maurice Richard [English Title: The Rocket] and Polytechnique have come out of Quebec.

Quest for Fire, an excellent film set before language as we know it existed was made in Canada.

Maurice Richard  poster

Canadian director Ivan Reitman’s hit film Meatballs was his last Canadian feature before disappearing into Hollywood to make movies like Ghostbusters, Legal Eagles and Twins.   Sometimes Canadians get pretty good English language feature films, like Passchendaele, or Nurse.Fighter.Boy.

Passchendaele poster

An interesting Canadian film I’m looking forward to seeing is Before Tomorrow, the first feature film made by the Women’s Inuit film Collective Arnait Video Productions. I was very impressed with the trailer on the Genie Award site

Canada is sadly in the position of having a single first run movie theatre distribution network for the whole of Canada. Which means there is no competition at all. It’s a monopoly. When a popular Canadian movie like Passchendaele or Bon Cop Bad Cop is released, there is little chance of becoming a blockbuster because these films don’t get the opportunity. Their Canadian theatrical runs are very short.

Interestingly enough, there are no “Cancon” regulations for movie theatres. Particularly since we’re down to a monopoly, wouldn’t this be the perfect place to insist on Canadian content?

Arrow in Flight among the clouds
Avro Arrow: Painting by Lance Russwurm

Canadian television has been producing increasingly good television fare. Like the CBC mini-series The Arrow. Series like Slings and Arrows which has inspired a Brazillian version, Less Than Kind and 18 to Life.

Title graphic for comedy series Less Than Kind

Canadians are capable of creating good movies and television. Why has there been so little of it?

How much of the problem comes down to perception. In spite of all of this evidence to the contrary, Canadians don’t think Canadian television or movies are generally very good. After all, if Canadian film and television was good, there wouldn’t be any need for Canadian Content regulations.

maple leaf leaning left

This perception first makes it hard to raise the money needed to create television or movies, and again to distribute them.

The advent of the Internet has opened up new distribution venues for Canadian film and video. This can only bode well for Canadian Culture.

Great Canadian TV Series: Less Than Kind

A Canadian Movie I really want to see: Nurse.Fighter.Boy.

[Novel permitting, I hope to publish the conclusion of this article Why CanCon Hurts Canadian Culture [part 3] next week.]

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Image Credits:
Mary Pickford photo in the public domain, original made available from Library and Archives Canada: Celebrating Women’s Achievements Mary Pickford photo © Public Domain