Thursday, June 19, 2014

China Canada Gateway for Film Script Competition

 This is on my

Jun. 4 China Canada Gateway for Film Script Competition: I cut out this Globe and Mail article “It’s a giant learning experience” by Marsha Leander on Dec. 5, 2013.  Here are the excerpts:

A year ago, the Whistler Film Festival launched its China Canada Gateway for Film Script Competition with much fanfare.
Three projects were selected: an animated children’s movie, Butterfly Tale; a romantic comedy set primarily in France, Blush; and The Eddie Zhao Story, based on a real-life Chinese immigrant to the United States who fell victim to a con man and became a private eye. But, 12 months later, all of the deals made at Whistler are off.

“You walk out of the room thinking that your movie is finally going to get made,” says Heidi Foss, who wrote Butterfly Tale. “It kind of sounded too good to be true when it happened, and it turns out it was.”

Canadian filmmakers can access development money and the increasingly important Chinese film market as they try to get their movies made. And China, eager to become a film powerhouse, gains access to the expertise of Canadian screenwriters and producers as they look for works suitable for both the Chinese domestic and international markets.

Applicants were advised in the application form that Chinese film projects are “incredibly fast by North American standards. From concept to release in 12 months.”

But organizers remain optimistic about the initiative, and say the main point of the Gateway is to make connections between Canadian filmmakers and Chinese studios.

Accessing development financing was a problem for both Butterfly Tale and Blush. In both cases the writers were reluctant to do work on their scripts on spec.

“Am I going to change my beautiful little film with no money up front?” says Montreal-based Foss, who is confident her film ultimately will be made outside this deal. “I’m not going to do a million rewrites to satisfy a company that hasn’t made a commitment other than sort of a handshake at the end of the competition.”

Richard Bell, Vancouver-based writer of Blush, says he and his producer had a hard time contacting the studio in China, and when he was encouraged to flesh out his synopsis, he refused. “I thought to myself: ‘My time would be better spent playing video games on my Wii than writing this script.’”

The number of entries is down this year – 26 compared with 110 last year – but Milner says the proposals are stronger this time around. Twelve finalists will pitch their projects this week. At least three will be selected for development.
Both Bell and Foss, in the runup to this year’s festival, say they have been approached by other writers and asked if it’s worth their while to enter the competition. Both said no.

But Massey says the competition was a huge boost to his project, even if his film didn’t end up getting made through the Gateway.
“The main point is that Gateway provided instant feedback. It was the first time we presented the project to any buyers or financiers and it validated immediately that we had a good project. The fact that it didn’t work out with the party that offered the deal is par for the course. Some of those things work out, some don’t.”

My opinion: I have never heard of Gateway before.  I guess I could look it up.  I’m making The Vertex Fighter into a TV movie.  If the ratings are good, it  can be a back door pilot.

What stood out to me was this line: “My time would be better spent playing video games on my Wii than writing this script.”

Canadian movies: I was reading the Globe and Mail article “Canadian movies had 2 percent share of domestic box office in 2013” by James Adams on Jan. 10. 2014.

It was compared to 2.5% share in 2012.  “The Quebec-made francophone films dominated the domestic market.”

My opinion: That’s kind of discouraging, but I am aiming more for TV than movies.

Canadian TV: I was reading the Globe and Mail article "How Canadian TV can start thinking really big "by Kate Taylor on Jun. 16, 2012.  Here are some excerpts:

The rise of the cable drama, expanding episodic television into long-form narratives that represent the most sophisticated audiovisual storytelling the culture has to offer, has no Canadian equivalent. Here, network television produces a handful of more-or-less successful procedural dramas (Republic of Doyle, Flashpoint, Rookie Blue), co-produces a few high-end European entries (The Tudors, The Borgias); and often relegates what little distinctive fare it does produce (in particular, unusual comedy, such as Ken Finkleman’s Good Dog and Good God; and the nasty Less Than Kind) to the relative obscurity of the Canadian specialty channels.

Canada isn’t playing television’s game of thrones. That’s partly because it doesn’t have the big audiences and big money to compete; but also, more sadly yet more reversibly, because its risk-averse television broadcasters are failing to back talent in a culture that too quickly turns to airing U.S. television rather than demanding better from its own.

“Every show that has succeeded has had people who stuck by it.”

The notoriously expensive 2010 pilot for Boardwalk Empire cost $18-million (U.S.) according to Variety. Of course, American budgets are bigger, typically $2.5-million to $3-million an hour-long episode versus $1-million in Canada. While Canadian series can access more money through international co-productions, especially for historical dramas, such productions aren’t visibly Canadian. Bigger budgets provide the money to pay for the fancier costumes and big-name stars that lure viewers – a Joseph Fiennes on Camelot or Jeremy Irons on The Borgias – but, more importantly, they pay for more writers, and more time to shoot.

Industry insiders say shows such as Mad Men on AMC or, previously, The Sopranos on HBO are considered loss leaders: What they deliver is critical buzz and Emmy nominations that will build a channel’s reputation and its subscription base. While Canadian specialty channels can also afford to be less ratings-driven than the networks, the space for high-quality Canadian drama in what is already a small niche in a small market is getting increasingly cramped.

“The problem in Canada is that there are so few networks, it’s hard to stick your neck out and make shows that are unconventional.”
Programmers often look to procedural dramas – always a favourite with audiences – which may explain why Canada has had a fair amount of success in that field in recent years, with U.S. partners signing on for shows such as Flashpoint, The Listener and the new medical drama Saving Hope. And yet, for the most part, the talked-about U.S. cable dramas are not programs that fit recognized genres; they’re character-driven shows created by individual visionaries.

My opinion: It was a good article, and I really learned how hard it is to get a Canadian TV show produced.
Kijiji: I got this Kijiji newsletter.  I clicked on the video on how they made a commercial for their website.  They called all these people who were selling things on the site and bought the items from there.  The video looked professionally made.

Jun. 5 Whistler Film Festival: I looked up “China Canada Gateway for Film Script Competition” and it lead me to this website.  It’s a very big site.  It has lots of info like festival info, industry, film and events, press, box office, etc. 

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