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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Let's talk promotions

I've heard this one screeched from the back-benches for quite a while now, how Promotion in Canada is HARD. How we kill our own productions by sinking money into them to make'em but not to promote them.

Let me just say, right now, that promotion in Canada isn't Hard. I can tell you this from experience that it's the easiest thing in the world, it just requires leg-work and passion. There's no complicated formulas, there's no aligning of stars, it's just a matter of getting out there and beating the streets.

Canada is a different beast than the States, we don't 'clump together' in the same ways. We don't have the same interests. We don't have the same view of 'sales'. The moment we hear a sales pitch, our hackles go up. Just ask any telemarketer how hard selling things on the phone is in Canada versus the US. I've been a telemarketer, let alone a door-to-door salesman, and I can tell you that we're quite a suspicious lot.

You have to campaign from a place of passion in Canada; grass-roots, word-of-mouth.

It takes far more time to promote something here. And I think that's something people don't understand. You need months, not weeks, to build interest in Canadians. A steady drumming or undercurrent. The American markets can cheat this by brute-forcing it. They have the money to bombard you until you don't have a choice but to let it enter your skull.

We don't.

Promotions in Canada, good, solid promotions, take time.

And that's why I think if we're making a show in Canada, if it's something we think people should be watching, we should be out there banging on doors. Whenever we're not writing we should be fighting with radio stations and TV stations to let us come on and talk about it. Hit the free University radio stations, they LOVE to have a reason to promote things.

I just found out last night that there's a Season 2 of Durham County in the works. A whole other 8 episodes coming down the pipe. I don't know about you, but I LOVE this show. I think it's one of the best things we've ever had on Canadian Television.

How the hell is this not national news? Why aren't people spreading the word? Pushing the box set? Getting off their asses?

You can't just write it or direct it or produce it or broadcast it and turn the page.

What kills me the most is the simple lack of business acumen that's going on out there. These people are literally throwing away money. Seriously, grab a handful of cash and torch it.

Royalties, DVD sales, Ad Space, you name it.

How can people be saying that they're in the 'business' without understanding that fundamental connection? That watering the plant now brings fruit tomorrow?

And that's why articles like James Adams' "Gross's Passion No Porky's" pisses me the fuck off.

Promotion takes work. So when I see an article that seems only designed to slam the film - one that's not even a review; that literally starts off by calling the film a 'failure' - it's a stake in the heart and a slap in the face to all the people who worked on it.

Never mind the content - I haven't seen it yet, won't judge - the film pulled in $847,522 in Canada in its opening weekend. Not too damn shabby. THAT deserves some respect, if not for the film and the people who made it then for the audience who paid that money to go and see it.

I mean, hey if you saw the movie and you think it sucks, that's your bag. Write a review.

But don't go out there and slam a film that EARNED it's 2nd place opening.

I've written a little protest piece - inspired by Karen's urgings on Ink Canada - to see if we can't help undo some of the damage done.

George W. better watch his back, the Canadians are coming and only the forces of Heaven and Hell seem able to stop them.

Bounding up to the number 2 position in it's opening weekend - stopped only by the hallucinogenic Heaven/Hell flick 'Max Payne' - Passchendaele kicked sand in the face of Oliver Stone's presidential bio-pic W. as it blew past the competition.

The Canadian film by director-actor Paul Gross pulled in a solid $847,522 in its first weekend, leaving W. limping into 6th position with $601,240 (Source: http://www.tribute.ca/movies/boxoffice.asp)

"We're thrilled with the box-office," said Carrie Wolfe, Alliance vice-president of marketing, publicity and promotion, yesterday in Toronto. "Canadians across the country have embraced the film".

Though not everyone is lining up to join in the celebration, some chose a more introspective and some might say 'modestly-Canadian' approach to mark the occasion.

"Is it a commercial blockbuster like a Quantum of Solace [the new James Bond film opening Nov. 14]? It's not - but I don't think it was intended to be," says Howard Lichtman, a veteran Toronto-based box-office analyst. "If you take the just-under million dollars it generated and divide that by the average ticket price, there's still an awful lot of people that went to see a Canadian piece of history. Which isn't too bad."

Passchendaele is in theatres now across the country.


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