Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bill Me: Passionately fighting Bill C-10

This is the letter I ended up sending to, well, everybody. I hope someone actually reads it.

Dear Prime Minister Stephen Harper,

Normally it would be hard for me to write a letter like this without feeling contrite because my patriotism and deep respect for this country are important parts of who I am. But, in this case, it would appear that you have struck the first blow and I have to say that it caught me quite off guard. Please forgive me in advance if my tone is less than jovial but it's hard for me to maintain pleasantries. You see, I've been helping to thwart blatant attacks on my country and my culture from my own government for the last 8 months.

I am a young, aspiring writer here in this country, a proud Canadian and an avid promoter of my homeland. Frankly, I am shocked and appalled by the amendment being proposed to the Income Tax Act in Bill C-10. An amendment that would allow for the Heritage Minister to pull the tax credits from any production that they deem to be "offensive". Tax credits that, due to the nature of the Canadian Film and TV industry, would've been spent the moment they were approved.

"The Conservative government has drafted guidelines that would allow it to pull financial aid for any film or television show that it deems offensive or not in the public's best interest – even if government agencies have invested in them.

The proposed changes to the Income Tax Act would allow the Heritage Minister to deny tax credits to projects deemed offensive, effectively killing the productions. Representatives from Heritage and the Department of Justice will determine which shows or films pass the test."
- Gayle Macdonald, "Tories plan to withhold funding for 'offensive' productions", The Globe and Mail

Now, I'm not going to spend my precious free time to write in and complain about censorship - that is an argument that goes without saying. I am writing in today to fight for the very life of an industry that this government seems dedicated to stamping out.

I've been actively following the developments at the CRTC since last July in regards to the whole CTF (Canadian Television Fund) Task Force fiasco. I call it so because - since Jim Shaw threw his now-famous hissy fit - the CRTC has been working to rip the backbone out of the Canadian Film and Television industry. Their original timetable quietly planned on having their laundry list of changes made and into effect for January of this year but thanks to passionate letters from Canadians all over the country, that timetable was stalled.

The changes they were looking to implement were far too numerous to mention in this letter but I've read the CTF's report and, in layman's terms, it essentially called for the utter disembowelment of the Fund; its organs to be harvested and used to benefit our ever-suffering Cable providers - in the form of a Broadcast Development Undertakings fund, no less. It's an action that would allow them the good grace to govern themselves in what they believe Canadian Television should look like (hint: it has less Canadians involved in it).

Now your first thought might be that I'm being a tad over-dramatic, that I'm caught up in the heat of the moment, but I've put lots of my free time into tracking down and following these events over the last 8 months. I watched live on CPAC over the course of a week as wave after wave of brave Canadian writers, directors, actors and producers stood before CRTC Commissioners Arpin, Morin and Cugini. I watched as they spoke, one after the other, for hours on end - passionately - about the blow that splitting the CTF would be to our industry. And I watched in disbelief as the commissioners belittled their powerful speeches with playful terms like M. Arpin's favourite: "playing Devil's Advocate"; Dismissing their countless suggestions and ideas with barely a glance in their direction.

And now this.

An amendment to the Income Tax Act that essentially gives a few people the power to determine what is 'okay' for us to see. A person or panel with the authority to CRUSH any production that they feel is not 'in the public's best interests'. This is a slippery slope at best, for who gets to make these decisions? And how do we know that they are truly acting in our own best interests? For it has already been proven today - this morning, in fact - that the government is not above being swayed by a group that wishes to censor what we, as free Canadian citizens, are allowed to be exposed to.

"Charles McVety, president of the Canada Family Action Coalition, said his lobbying efforts included discussions with Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, and "numerous" meetings with officials in the Prime Minister's Office.

"We're thankful that someone's finally listening," he said yesterday. "It's fitting with conservative values, and I think that's why Canadians voted for a Conservative government."
Mr. McVety said films promoting homosexuality, graphic sex or violence should not receive tax dollars, and backbench Conservative MPs and cabinet ministers support his campaign."

- Bill Curry and Gayle MacDonald, "Evangelist takes credit for film crackdown", Globe And Mail

So, please, tell me how I can support a Government that tries to stab our own culture and an entire industry - an industry I've been working all of my short life to be a part of - in the back based off the lobbying of a special interest group? In a sneaky, underhanded tactic no less - an amendment slipped in on the second reading of a bill already in the senate? How can I maintain my trust in a system, or you as a Prime Minister, when I know that you and your cabinet are beholden to people who are have only their own agendas at heart? You may think you're 'helping' us but you are, with a stroke of a pen, silencing us - potentially forever - at the behest of someone whom I did NOT vote for, or even have a say in their role in my government.

And never mind the fact that our already ailing Film and Television industry will crumble, never mind the fact that the talented artistic individuals in this country will be forced out to find work in another - YOU, a government without a decisive mandate, a government without a unified Canadian voice, a government without even 50% of the country's support - YOU are putting the final nail in the coffin of independent, original Canadian content.

For what bank in their right mind would ever support a project where a massive chunk of its funding could disappear overnight? Or at ANY time afterward - taken back as an after-thought by someone with an axe to grind? Who would take the chance that their idea of what is "in the public's best interest" is not the same as whoever happens to be in power? Who would ever greenlight a production where they could be left holding the bag and thus responsible for repaying hundreds of thousands of dollars?

It is nothing but sheer lunacy to enact something like this at a time like this - just when we're getting it right, just when shows like Little Mosque on the Prairie and The Border and Sophie and Jpod are taking off. Just when gritty Canadian directed films like Cronenberg's Eastern Promises are recieving Oscar nominations - literally, international recognition.

So I am here, right now, telling you NO.

As a tax-paying citizen of this country, as a proud Canadian and as an emerging writer who will be ultimately and intimately affected by your arbitrary decision, I am telling you NO.

NO you may not cleave our CTF in twain, offering the largest parts on silver platters to our already well-protected cable providers.

NO you may not appoint a person or a 'panel' to determine for Canadians what is okay for us to see.

NO you may not offer me tax incentives with one hand and rip out my heart with the other.

Because that is what you are doing.

You are standing there beneath my flag, in an office that I respect, and telling me that you're looking out for my best interests while handing off my hard-earned money and my culture to people who care about the former but not the latter. Or to people who have a desire to remould our great, diverse country into their own image. That is not why you were given the limited power that you were. You have been trusted to look after the running of this country, the health and safety and FREEDOM of the people in it.

By enacting Bill C-10 in its current form you are single-handedly killing an entire industry and subjecting the remnants to rule by a committee of partisan politicals with their ears already bent.

And for what?

With Regards,
Brandon Laraby

Dion, Stephane
Layton, Jack
Duceppe, Giles
Bennett, Carolyn
Adams, Willie
Andreychuk, Raynell
Angus, W. David
Atkins, Norman K.
Bacon, Lise
Baker, George
Banks, Tommy
Biron, Michel
Brown, Bert
Bryden, John G.
Callbeck, Catherine S.
Campbell, Larry W.
Carstairs, Sharon
Champagne, Andrée
Chaput, Maria
Cochrane, Ethel M.
Comeau, Gerald J.
Cook, Joan
Cools, Anne C.
Cordy, Jane
Cowan, James
Dallaire, Roméo
Dawson, Dennis
Day, Joseph A.
De Bané, Pierre
Di Nino, Consiglio
Downe, Percy E.
Dyck, Lillian Eva
Eggleton, Art
Eyton, John Trevor
Fairbairn, Joyce
Fortier, Michael
Fraser, Joan
Furey, George
Gill, Aurélien
Goldstein, Yoine
Grafstein, Jerahmiel S.
Gustafson, Leonard J.
Harb, Mac
Hervieux-Payette, Céline
Hubley, Elizabeth
Jaffer, Mobina S.B.
Johnson, Janis G.
Joyal, Serge
Kenny, Colin
Kinsella, Noël A.
Lapointe, Jean
Lavigne, Raymond
LeBreton, Marjory
Losier-Cool, Rose-Marie
Lovelace Nicholas, Sandra M.
Mahovlich, Frank W.
Massicotte, Paul J.
McCoy, Elaine
Meighen, Michael A.
Mercer, Terry M.
Merchant, Pana
Milne, Lorna
Mitchell, Grant
Moore, Wilfred P.
Munson, Jim
Murray, Lowell
Nancy Ruth
Nolin, Pierre Claude
Oliver, Donald H.
Pépin, Lucie
Peterson, Robert W.
Phalen, Gerard A.
Pitfield, P. Michael
Poulin (Charette), Marie-P.
Poy, Vivienne
Prud'homme, Marcel
Ringuette, Pierrette
Rivest, Jean-Claude
Robichaud, Fernand
Rompkey, William
Segal, Hugh
Sibbeston, Nick G.
Smith, David P.
Spivak, Mira
St. Germain, Gerry
Stollery, Peter A.
Stratton, Terry
Tardif, Claudette
Tkachuk, David
Watt, Charlie
Zimmer, Rod A. A.

This Just In...

The Canadian Minority Government has officially lost its marbles.
Tories plan to withhold funding for 'offensive' productions
Committee to decide whether material meets new criteria


From Thursday's Globe and Mail
February 28, 2008 at 2:07 AM EST

The Conservative government has drafted guidelines that would allow it to pull financial aid for any film or television show that it deems offensive or not in the public's best interest – even if government agencies have invested in them.

The proposed changes to the Income Tax Act would allow the Heritage Minister to deny tax credits to projects deemed offensive, effectively killing the productions. Representatives from Heritage and the Department of Justice will determine which shows or films pass the test.

(Full story here)

What do you do when your own Government basically stands up and declares War on your industry?

It wasn't enough to work towards ripping the backbone out of the CTF - the basis for most original production in Canada. It wasn't enough to look down from on high and tell us that Canadian TV sucks because there're too many Canadians involved (I'm paraphrasing there...).

Now the Canadian Government - a minority Government - has decided that they're going to utterly destroy original Canadian Production. Done. Finito.

Way to go Chairman Ma... er... Stephen Harper!

I could go into more detail but Denis has already done much of the legwork, so most of what I say would only be a repeat of his blog. Go, read there, then pop back when you're done.

Don't worry, I'll wait.

The trouble with being Earnest...

There are just some things that you can't talk straight to people about. It's a weird adult sort of thing where we just don't like being preached to and - for the most part - will rebel very strongly against any sort of advice that comes off as 'telling us what to do'.

I guess the days of Dontcha Put It In Your Mouth are over.

Needless to say, as a storyteller or otherwise, if you have a 'message' that you want to get across you've really got your work cut out for you if you can't figure out a way to hide it. A while back I heard some writers talking about how proud they were of being able to make shows that allowed them to sneak their message home and still ended up being successful; As if that alone was some sort of miracle/holy grail (which I'm sure it is).

So what do you do when you have a message to share and you're left fighting both ignorance and apathy as well? In this case, the CRTC and the CTF fiasco. How do you make people care without beating them over the head? How do you share a message without having your audience hit the automatic 'tune-out' button? Sure you can do a song and dance number or make them bust a gut about just how screwed they're getting - but at the end of the day they may still not care.

That must be the one true torture of being a writer: having something important to say, having something you feel is necessary for people to know and yet having John Q. Public say "Meh" when you finally get it out.

I'm not quite sure how other writers do it, maybe it's something I'll discover as I go along, as my skills develop: how best to ninja my point into my works.

Though maybe that's why comedy is such an effective tool in storytelling, in making people laugh you're more likely to build a rapport as opposed to being the wild-eyed guy on the corner pointing dirty fingers and muttering from a soapbox.

Basically, I've gotta strive to be the Canadian TV equivalent of Banksy.

Right. No pressure.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Shades of Wrong

Okay, so it's Tuesday and I'm just finally getting myself back into a state where I feel like I can write something that's going to be coherent and not spilling over with rage.

I'm sure most of you have read Jim's Blog. It would seem that most of the people who pop by tend to come here from some other place. Not a complaint in the least, merely an observation.

In the last 24-ish hours or so I've been battling with myself on how to react to the recent revelations - the newest of many first-hand accounts of the horrors of working from within my own country and within a system that's supposed to be designed to help us. It's a picture painted in runny shades of disgust and disbelief with a palpable undercurrent of anger that seemed destined to bubble to the surface eventually. And now that it's here, broken through the crust and spilled out into view, it has congealed into a singular cry. A cry that has been echoed over and over as more and more voices rise up- their once-meek whispers gaining strength.

"Follow the money..."

Yet there's a sad acceptance in those whispers. An urging that almost dares you to share in their pain. 'Run into that brick wall like we did, you'll see what we mean'. And these aren't just whispers from people like myself, people who're still on the outside looking in. They're stories from people who've waded through the morass, have been hip or neck deep in it, who've had their dreams drowned - foot-on-the-head style - and had no choice but to stay silent. Maybe they whisper their warnings to others, "beware the Jabberwock"; maybe they stand and fight - and serve to become a warning to the rest.

I've only been shown the tip of the iceberg, I've only seen a glimpse of what hides below the seemingly placid waters - and if I'm sickened by that, I'm honestly scared for others like me who will unwarily wade out toward that island. These waters are deep and shattered dreams don't float.

I listen to these stories, I hear the pain in their voices and my gut twists, my heart aches. THIS is what I've been fighting so hard for? THIS is what I want to be a part of?

Yes. I do.

These people have dared to walk into this world and they have bravely fought to stay in it - knowing the heartbreak these brackish waters can bring. They are storytellers and dreamers, they are court jesters and heralds, they are the some of the toughest people you will ever meet - and they are fed up.

So am I.

More to come.


Friday, February 22, 2008

An Open Letter...

... to the CRTC, Heritage Minister of Canada and the current Canadian Government.

To Whom It May Concern,

I’m writing to you today to express my dismay at the current direction it would appear that the CRTC is heading.

With Canadian TV experiencing such resurgence in both quality and interest I can’t help but wonder why anyone would want to try to mess with the formula. Yet it would seem that the CRTC is not only talking about but actually considering the utter disembowelment of the CTF - the program that is single-handedly leading the charge of distinct and exciting Canadian content.

Frankly, it just doesn’t make sense.

For a long time Canadians like myself have had to sit through whatever American programming our cable coms deemed fit to buy for us. In fact, I grew up in this kind of ‘American-content-only’ environment. And though I laughed throughout the seasons of Fresh Prince and Cosby, was captivated by shows like Seinfeld and Friends and X-Files and, now, Lost – through it all I’ve wondered to myself “Why can’t WE do stuff like this?”

It would be years after the end of Saved By The Bell that I would learn about amazing shows like Degrassi and even later when I’d learn about its Next Generation. In truth, I first heard about Trailer Park Boys from the stoner just down the street from me and his roaring approval – only to be surprised by how much of a hoot it was. I only found out that the brilliant show Intelligence existed when a friend of mine recommended it to me wholeheartedly, saying “This is deep stuff, man – and it’s CANADIAN”, as if that fact alone would blow my mind.

The Writer’s strike down South put me back in touch with Canadian TV in its current form and I was surprised by how absolutely captivated I was by it. In the absence of my usual American fare, I found myself addicted to watching episodes of The Border and JPod and soon found myself wanting to see what else was out there.

Since then I’ve checked out episodes of Little Mosque on the Prairie and Sophie and while they’re not quite my type of fare, I can see that they’re well-made shows. More importantly they are, undeniably, Canadian in every possible facet. These shows are all indicative of the kinds of programming that we are capable of in this country and I really, truly feel that the CRTC’s potential plan to split the CTF will irrevocably crush any hope of this new wave’s continuance in the future.

If where we are is any sign at all of where we're going, if it is any hint at all of the greatness to come, then I ask you – as a Canadian and as a Viewer - to allow the CTF to continue to function in its current form. Don’t stifle the brilliance that has only just begun to emerge out from under the smothering American blanket.

Thank you,
Brandon Laraby

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Left-hand turn, Clive

And then we all got sucker-punched by the Gatineau Orangutan.

In case you forgot:

On February 8th some of the most talented - and ballsiest - writers/directors/actors and producers in the Canadian Film and TV biz got together. Their goal: To convince the CRTC not to rip the backbone out of the Canadian Entertainment Industry. They made passionate, well-thought-out pleas, suffered through a banal, borderline-hostile environment and fought valiantly against an indifferent foe. (You can read the full transcript here, they start about halfway through.)

Yet it looks like it may have all been for naught.

The CRTC is poised to not only cleave the CTF in twain but serve the choicest bits on a silver platter to hungry, hungry Cable coms. It looks like there will be a "Heritage" Fund and a "Broadcast Distribution Undertakings" Fund and that (infinitely smaller) Heritage Fund will effectively 'ghettoize' anything to do with 'culture' in Canada.

You want to make a movie about Wayne Gretzky? Oh, sorry, wrong fund; You have to go wait in that other 'Heritage' line. The 'smelly' line.

You want to make a miniseries about the struggles of young Canadians to define their culture? Sorry, smelly line for you.

Want to make a Canadian TV show telling Canadian stories about Canadians living in Canada? Smelly line.

That's how it's going to work. Unless you're GUARANTEED to turn a profit (Yeah, good luck with that) you're better off racing to the trough early - gonna be a lot of people pushing their way to the head of that smelly line. The one that they created to deal with people like us. The ones who would dare to tell stories with our perspectives focused on our own people and country.

Essentially the CRTC and its Buddies will be saying - as was so brilliantly pointed out by Karen Walton in her speech to the CRTC - "... we are not successful enough because there are too many Canadians involved. "

To make matters worse, not only will the CBC have to draw from this smaller fund (almost halving the available cash) but the process to get at said money will only become harder and more complicated. The Cable coms, on the other hand, will be given a blank check to your tax dollars and a friendly pat on the butt out the door as they run off to spend it.

So, what can we do? Well, there's always something that can be done and if there's one thing I've learned it's that when someone steals from you, you don't keep quiet. You get loud. You tell everyone. If you can't get it back, then you let everyone know that they've been robbed, you keep it from happening again (and again, and again...)

'Cause that's what's going on. You are in the process of having your tax money stolen away from you. Your money will be given to companies who don't need it, companies who will use your public money to buy private assets with which they will make private funds. You are not going to see a dime of it. It's not like they're going to lower their cable rates with this sudden influx of cash. If anything else, with their new line up of 'quality' shows, they can charge you a premium!

That's right, they can take your tax money, buy new programs from elsewhere, air them here and charge you more for the right to see them!

Good times.

I, for one, am not going to go quietly into the good night on this one. My Grandpa always told me to pick my battles. And what better a battle than the one upon which rests my very future in this country?

Writing Challenge #3:
Format: Letter
Length: 1 page

Topic: Get informed here, here, here and here. Write a letter to your MP regarding your thoughts on the recent CRTC hearing Re: CTF Taskforce. Tell the people in charge of representing you that you're not happy with the direction the CRTC is taking. Let them know that you do not want your tax money subsidizing a private company's profits and allowing the ghettoization of Canadian Culture in Film and Television.

I'll try and put together a template letter sometime this week.

Alternate Topic: Write a love sonnet about Pandas.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In a word...

Perhaps the largest hurdle I've had to get over in my struggles to be accepted as a writer has been the one that has been put there by myself:

Am I worthy?

That question has been my biggest nemesis as I sit there staring at that white screen; Staring at that blinking cursor as it impatiently demands some sort of input.

I can drive myself near to madness sometimes, heck if I thought about all the half-finished stories I've got on my computer, the various scenes and lines of dialogue tossed away... All of it left unfinished because, well, 'who am I?' Surely there are people out there who've already said my words - and said them better. What can I possibly add that would be of any value?

Even as I fill out my application for the Prime Time program I can feel that fear writhing inside me: I'll be going up against best people in the country - some for whom this will not be their first application - who am I to think that I can get into this thing?

I've been learning the hard way, all my life, that self-doubt will absolutely destroy you. And it's something that rings especially true in an industry that (oh, so recently proved once again) prides itself on making you feel helpless and, well, unworthy.

For a long time I've struggled to find my own voice, burned myself countless times by trying to be things that I'm just not. I've tried to be the 'funny' guy, the 'brooding' guy, the 'witty' and/or 'wise' guy and well, I'm just not any of those things. The truth is that I'm just a guy, I grew up in the armpit of Ontario with my brothers and sisters; Living so far below the poverty line that having Pizza for dinner meant that mom won at Bingo that night.

I tell good stories, I share freely what I've learned and I'm prone to being a bit too big for my britches from time to time - but you know what? That's real. It's (part of) who I am. I'm the "Poor kid who done good". And it's taken me a long time to realize that that's okay. That my voice, my words and my perspective are valid - that there is room for me.

And that's why I'm here, thankful and utterly humbled by the letter of recommendation that Karen Walton has taken the time to write for me as I continue to work on getting into the CFC.

She wrote this letter for me at the end of January and I've kind of been sitting on telling people about it. In truth, I wasn't quite sure what to do. How do you react when someone whose opinion matters to you says things that not only validate you but inspire you to keep fighting? I mean, I said "thank you" of course, but some how it just didn't feel like it was enough. It didn't get across the true measure of what it meant to me.

I've been struggling for a while now, trying to think about how to show the full measure of it - fighting against that little voice in my head trying to shame me into silence. "Just accept it and be quiet" it says to me, even as I write this, "Don't embarrass anybody".

But I've never really been one for listening to the little voices in my head (thankfully). So please indulge me and allow me to properly thank a person who has made a great impact on my life:

Karen, you have made me feel worthy.

And I thank you for that from the bottom of my heart.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Writing Challenge #2

So, apparently I managed to sleep through most of last week.

Got a lot on the go here, life just keeps getting more interesting. I've decided to apply for a new job, don't know if I'll get it but it's something that I've been debating with myself for a while now.

I mean, all things considered, my current job isn't too bad but - and here's the big but - it's going nowhere. I've got Five years into my current job and, well, I haven't been promoted or have anywhere to be promoted to. My job is the very definition of 'dead end'.

It's a safe and secure little office nook where I can theoretically spend the rest of my days in well paid (well-enough...) comfort as my menial tasks slowly cause my mind to fall upon itself.

And thus, in an effort to bring some excitement and challenge to my life (outside of my upcoming CFC attempt) I've decided to try and make a move into something different. Not wholly different, but something that has potential for me to stretch out. I've got the application in, the resume and cover letter is sent. Nothing to do but wait and see...

Oh, yeah, and just to make things even more interesting, I found out on Friday there's someone at my job - a co-worker - who's been actively working behind the scenes to get my ass fired.


Here's this week's writing challenge - remember, explore, have fun!:

Writing Challenge #2:

Format: Any
Length: 1 page
Topic 1: A poor man finds a counterfeit $50 bill in the street.
Alternate Topic: "I've lost a piece of something I never knew I had".

Optional Bonus: Use a simile


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Being Heard at the Hearing...

I don't know how many of my fellow Canadian's have been following the CTF Task Force, its report and the ensuing fiasco but I've been following this off and on since the story broke last July.

There are many different ways this story can break down, many variables, many little facts and figures but the way I see it - for me - it breaks down like this:

The bigwigs who run the near-monopoly of Cable in this country - most notably, one Jim Shaw - realized they were giving a huge chunk of cash every month to this stupid Canadian Television Fund (CTF) thing - meant to fund purely Canadian content - and had the equivalent of an anal aneurysm. He said, essentially, that 'no one is making things that Canadian's want to watch'. And the CRTC, rather than giving him a solid bitchslap and telling him to go back to the golf course, promptly launched the CTF Task Force to investigate ways in which they can utterly strangle the life out of the program.

The CTF Task Force (donning red and white cape and cowl) leaped into action asking the hard questions like "How can we make things easier for our well-protected but ever-suffering Cable Distributors and Broadcasters?" (not an actual question).

After months and months locked away in the Looney-Cave they burst back onto the scene with their bright, shiny crown jewel (and secret decoder ring). Their 'report' unilaterally kicked the Canadian Film/TV production industry in the junk whilst flipping them the bird.

And while their 'recommendations' were numerous, this one is undoubtedly my favourite (yes, I'm paraphrasing here):

- Split the CTF into two streams: one called the Heritage Fund (meant for purely Canadian Content) and one for "Broadcast Distribution Undertakings". The latter, a much larger private stream (from which Public money would flow), would be used to buy programs that would be at least an 8/10 on the CAVCO scale. (CAVCO, aka, how CANADIAN the show is. 10/10 being the pure, uncut, shipped-in-bricks form.) These less-Canadian shows would, presumably, be BETTER and therefore more watched and appreciated by the Canadian populace. (Ergo, allowing them to sell more advertisements and make more Private money from Public funds.)

As an added bonus the CBC would be limited to pulling from the (insultingly small) Hertiage Fund to cover their costs et al, further limiting the size of the Fund and available venues for Canadian writers, producers, etc.

Needless to say the Industry exploded into a gory mess of fury and rage - actually, this is Canada, so 184 comments (read: complaints) were quietly sent in. So many, in fact, that the CRTC decided that instead of pushing this through - they had intended for this to all be completed by January '08!! - maybe they might want to give a listen to all these squawking people.

And so the current CRTC Hearings are underway (watch them here until this Friday).

Since Monday I've been watching these proceedings unfold and through it all (so far) I've seen three things:

1) Endless streams of genuinely concerned Canadians fighting to keep things as they are (not even to have them improved, just to make sure they don't get worse!)

2) Broadcast bigwigs sitting there with broad smiles as they explain how Canadians have no interest in watching their own shows and films.

3) CRTC commissioners hiding smugly behind terms like "playing Devil's advocate" to ask questions that are borderline insulting if not outright infuriating. ie. Comissioner Morin asking the WGC 'why don't you want this? Why don't you support this?' After the WGC had just spent 15 minutes clearly stating their case as to why they were opposed to the Task Force's recommendations.

I'm continuing to follow these events as they unfold (I'm watching it now, and you should be too) but here are some great quotes that came up yesterday and I think really show the frustration those in the industry (and those fighting to get into it) are feeling.

"If we do what the Taskforce wants us to do, we'll be doing a great disservice to the industry." - Monique Lafontaine

"We will only see Canadian culture when promoted to us by the United states, and that can't happen" - Peter Outerbridge

"$240 million is 3 US feature films - This just shouldn't be this hard" - Maureen Parker

And this brilliant quote from John Doyle (taken from Ink Canada - thanks Karen!):

"nothing is really moving forward here. I can smell it in the airless, windowless room. The smell of people who work for the CRTC wanting to move backward, to retreat from as much Canadian TV storytelling as possible to submit to the whining of cable-company executives. This is where the culture is killed off." - on CRTC Hearings. Monday Session, as reported in The Globe & Mail, today - Article link in Posts, title "Welcome to Where Culture Comes to Die"

In my opinion, the CRTC and the CTF should be there to support the Canadian Film and TV industry - working to help us expand and grow - not jumping to action, ready to change the entire way it does business the moment Jim Shaw (who didn't bother showing up) throws a hissy fit.

CRTC remeber this: They may have money, but it's still OUR money.


Friday, February 01, 2008

The first path ain't always the right one...

Well, I sat down and started playing with my first writing challenge. I had originally planned on writing a fun little scene between Yoda and Sigmund Freud - had some great ideas for dialogue (Freud would SO have a field day with the lightsaber!) - but it just didn't pan out.

I was writing away on it but I felt like I just wasn't hitting the right notes, it felt forced (yeah, yeah, like the concept wasn't...) and I realized I wasn't having much FUN writing it. I was getting frustrated trying to imagine what these two characters would say to each other.

So I stopped and put it away.

I picked up my alternate topic ("My leg, it clicks when I walk" said David) and started writing. Remember how I was saying that I felt I needed to express a darker tone? How I needed to examine that dark jelly-like spot in the back of my mind? Well, I shined a light on the bugger and it exploded in a caustic, gooey mess.
Needless to say, I pumped out a page pretty darn easily. I've decided to stop there (for now, may come back to it) and post, well, what I think turned out pretty good for a first challenge.

Incidentally, I didn't even get around to using my own 'bonus' word - I just felt it didn't fit with the flow of the story I was trying to tell.

So, anyways, I hope those of you who took part had some fun with it, I've already got a couple new ideas for the next challenge. Also, if you have any cool ideas for future challenges, feel free to let me know.

My story follows:
“My leg, it clicks when I walk” said David, his mandibles glinting in the dim light of the bunker.

“I told you these things were to be expected, David. The transition’s taken quite a toll on your body, I said the repairs will only fix…” He sighs, “...here, let me see it.”

The leg clanks forward and hisses open to reveal the fibrous, fleshy structure beneath.

Pushing the bulging muscle tissue aside, the sweaty, balding doctor is careful to avoid the many tiny ‘excretion’ tubes and their acidic, bluish-black payload.

“I don’t see what the…” His now slippery hands probe and prod around inside the cavity. “AHA!” He exclaims, shaking his head at his own foolishness. Adjusting his glasses he leans in closer with a penlight.

The pneumatic screwdriver whirrs to life and disappears inside, the scaled, metallic knee vibrating in turn. “I’m sorry David, a simple error on my part. Try it now.”

A few tentative steps around the room confirm that all is well. David closes the hatch and prepares to leave.


The cyborg stops in the doorway, his clawed hands flexing, anticipating the battle to come.

“You can’t get her back, she’s gone. What they did to her… there’s just no way to undo it.” He says, making one last plea to the remnants of his friend.

“It stopped being about Julia the moment they -- Listen, Mark…” His voice strains inside its bloodied, chrome housing; the servos whine as he turns. “Thank you. You were more of a father to her than…” His head tilts as the acoustic sensors detect movement above. David continues out the door and toward the elevator. “I fucked up, Mark. I ran and she paid for it.”

The twisting groan of the bay doors inform them that she’s arrived, the screams of Team Delta let them know she’s coming in fast, the crashing at the bottom of the shaft tell them she’s there.

Elevator doors crumple outwards as she steps from the wreckage. Through the cloud of dust and debris the taut, corrupted face of his daughter emerges. Living flesh stretched over raging machine. She towers above him, the stench of smoldering blood and oil filling the room; her long, mantis-like forelegs twitching with a mocking glee.

“Hello, Daddy.”

So, yeah, pretty much as far away from the 'funny' idea I'd had with Yoda and Freud as humanly possible - yet somehow this feels more satisfying.

I can only imagine what Freud would say about that...

Anyways, more challenges to come, lots more words to snare in my net until then.