Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Soul Coughing - Screenwriter's Blues

This is in response to Will Dixon's post. I dig this tune, especially this year. It's Chandler....it's Kerouac...it's a place that is not really there, but it exists in your mind. A place you try to find and express it. Also...I often get the most inspired when driving on highways...


Exits to freeways twisted like knots on the fingers...
Jewels, cleaving skin between - breasts.

Your Cadillac breathes 400 horses between blue lines.
You are going to Ricida to make love to a model from Ohio
whose real name you don't know.
You spin, like the Cadillac was overturning down a cliff,
on television...
And the radio is on, and the radio man is speaking,
and the radio man says "women were a curse"
So men built Paramount, studios...
and men built Columbia, studios...
and men built, Los Angeles.
It is 5 am, and you are listening, to Los Angeles.

And the radio man says "it is a beautiful night out there"
And the radio man says "Rock and Roll lives!"
And the radio man says it is a beautiful night out there
in Los Angeles.
You live in Los Angeles, and you are going to Ricida
We are all in some way or another going to Ricida
Some day, to die...
And the radio man laughs, because the radio man fucks a model too.

Gone savage, for teenagers with automatic weapons and boundless love.
Gone savage for teenagers who are esthetically pleasing,
in other words "FLY"
Los Angeles beckons the teenagers to come to her on buses.
Los Angeles loves, love...
It is 5 am, and you are listening, to Los Angeles...

I am going to Los Angeles to build a screenplay
about lovers who murder each other.
I am going to Los Angeles to see my own name on a Screen
Five feet long, and luminous.
As the radio man says, "it is 5 am,
and the sun has charred the other side of the world
and come back to us,
and painted the smoke over our heads and imperial Violet!
It is 5 am! And you are listening...to Los Angeles"
You are listening...
You are listening...
To Los Angeles.


Monday, September 29, 2008


Here is a small movie called 'River' by Mark Wihak. Check it out. I found it inspiring, and hopeful after a week of bashing artists in the always mean-spirited political sphere. The story revolves around two 'ordinary' people trying to connect and find art in the everyday.

Simply wonderful. And if it doesn't inspire you to go out and make your own project, shame on you.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Roughriders Will Be Savaged and Other CFL Predictions.

Hey, the weekend is coming, and it's time for sports. Specifically, Canadian Football. Let's face it: the only true blood sport in this country is politics. You can dabble in sports, but when you start lusting for power or a majority government, the joke is over. Politicians are the real gamblers and there is nothing they won't do to win. Nothing involving jockstraps or sports bras will ever come close to it for drama, savagery and the lust for the spoils of victory. Unless you attend a Rider game and sit on the East-side after fourteen hours of tail-gating and drinking. With that, on to my CFL predictions for the weekend:

Edmonton (7-5) at Winnipeg (4-8)
The Bombers have won two weeks in a row but this week's opponent isn't just another Eastern dog like Toronto or Hamilton. Edmonton shit-the-bed last week in Montreal, a game head coach Danny Maciocia called the worst in his three-plus seasons leading the Eskimos. Well, he should know, he's the worst 'still-employed' coach in theCFL. After a terrible start, Winnipeg seems to be getting its act together behind quarterback Kevin Glenn, who's coming off back-to-back 300-yards-plus passing games. The always rabid Coach Berry will have whipped his troops into shape for this one. Winnipeg is not as bad as their record suggests, and Edmonton is not as good as theirs.
Prediction: Winnipeg by 6.
Final: Winnipeg 30 Edmonton 23
Calgary (8-4) at Toronto (4-8)
It's the rematch of the 34-4 debacle last week in Calgary where the Argos were a disgusting embarrassment. Toronto and Calgary are two teams headed in polar opposite directions. And while Toronto head coach Don Matthews has learned a lot about his team, the talent gap between these two is too large. Quarterbacks Kerry Joseph and Cody Pickett could share duties against the Stamps. Sound familiar? When Toronto's season is over, Matthews is likely to relapse into his anxiety disorder and burn the house down. Which is not a bad thing, a cleansing fire just might be what the lumberjack ordered. Deadwood and over-paid duds will be gone and the Argos can commence to starting over...if they haven't already.
Prediction: Calgary by 13.
Final: Calgary 44 Toronto 16
Hamilton (2-10) at B.C. (7-5)
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats can't buy a break, but they bought Kenton Keith this week. They also bought Casey Printers for $500,000 and look how that turned out. Three of the past four weeks they've had wins on a plate and let them slip away with dumb mistakes and weak coaching. The lone exception was a loss against B.C. that turned out to be former head coach Charlie Taaffe's last game. No team from the Eastern time zone has won in Vancouver since the Cats did during the opening week of 2004 — former coach Greg Marshall's first game. Remember him? Rookie quarterback Quinton Porter has his work cut out for him in his first CFL start. Shivers made a wily and calculated move by stating that Keith is "...an insecure young man...who always needs assurance." And Shivers is considered a friend by Keith. With friends like that, Keith should punt Shivers and tell the man to head back to Vegas. I knew there was a reason I liked Shivers. If Keith can stay out of the nightclubs, he might succeed in Hamilton.
Prediction: B.C by 7.
Final: B.C 40 Hamilton 10
Saskatchewan (8-4) at Montreal (8-4)
Oh man, it does my black little heart no good to write this. The Roughriders, losers of two in a row and four of six, are suddenly in the thick of a dog-fight in the West Division. And while reaching the playoffs isn't a question, hosting a home playoff game is. Michael Bishop gets his fourth consecutive start against a Montreal team that iscake walking to the host's chair for the Eastern final. For Montreal, the worm has turned and they are coming to life like sunning rock lizards. Montreal will be a nasty golden snake with many arms and legs. My beloved Riders' injuries are finally catching up to them and the horseshoe that has been up their asses has finally fallen out.
Prediction: Montreal by 12.
Final: Montreal 37 Saskatchewan 12
Well, that's it in a nutshell. I have a feeling that the B.C/Hamilton game will be the most fun to watch. Happy gambling.

Conclusion: My predictions were correct, but point-spread was off. And the most entertaining game was the Bombers and Eskimos. The rest? Dismal, boring blow-outs. I'll do better next time...honest.

Friday, September 26, 2008

From My Ivory Tower.

Here I sit, looking down upon all of you...an artist in my ivory tower surrounded by elites. I'll just pour myself a martini, then we can get on with our little talk. One last time, I'll go over this, then it's off to another gala. And all this political trash-talk is putting my head in a foul space. And when I get a foul-head, my servants get nervous.

"You know, I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the tvand see a gala of a bunch of people, you know, at a rich gala, all subsidized by the taxpayers, claiming their subsidies aren’t high enough when they know the subsidies have actually gone up, I’m not sure that’s something that resonates with ordinary people. Ordinary people understand we have to live within a budget. We have increased culture. We haven’t increased anybody’s budget without limit, so we’re not going to do this. I think this is a niche issue for some, but that’s my view..."

Which, moments later, produced the following question, asked (and answered) in French:

Good afternoon, Mr. Harper. I was listening to you speak English earlier, and you said that artists do not attract much pity, when they wear long gowns at gala evenings. Could you perhaps repeat what you said in French, and do you believe that artists are spoiled, Mr. Harper?
HARPER: It’s always a mistake, I think, to generalize about any group...
Well, no shit my fine friend, but that didn't stop you from doing it. Especially when counting on Francophone voters, some of whom may take great pride in seeing Quebec artists celebrated by their peers - provincial, national and international - even when it happens at a “rich gala”. Bad move in Quebec, where there are seats on the cusp of victory or defeat. There goes a majority, God-Damn it!
Shit, I spilled my drink in all the excitement! Next, Harper, my friend, call me before you speak about the arts.
The rest of Harper’s response, during which he fails to answer the question about whether he believes artists are “spoiled”. He never repeated what he said in French. I think he realized quickly that he said something that would set-off a shit storm. And it did. For the next two days anyway, by Saturday it will be forgotten. no harm, no foul. Canadians quickly forget and a new 'niche' issue will rear it's head.
After the October 14th Election and $240,000,000 of taxpayers money has been flushed down the toilet on anunnecessary exercise, Canadians will settle in for the winter and the coming Christmas season...which I think starts Nov 1 in the fleecing and retail markets? Correct me if I'm wrong. People will be happy again, arms full ofiPodsiPhones, TVs, new computers and shouting like Tiny Tim, " God Bless Us, Every One!" All of it destined for future garage sales. All will be forgiven, because that's what Christmas is about.
Okay, okay. That's enough about Christmas, it's too early for that. Let's get to the Stock Market and the coming 'Crash'. There will be a definite shrinkage of the money supply, and that is always bad news for the 'disposable income' crowd. Lifestyles will be greatly diminished and half the people you know will declare bankruptcy or turn to prostitution for rent money and mortgages. This is what they mean by 'crash'.
Life will get meaner, especially with Harper leading the charge. The crime rate will skyrocket, especially by 14 year olds. Your home will be burglarized and you will suspect your neighbors, or worse, gangs of roving artists. Sales of canned dog food will go through the roof!
Whoops! I've got to get a grip on myself. This is supposed to be a harmless little blog?! And what am I thinking? Oil and gas will save us from that fate...right?
Okay, I told you I was in a foul head space - so I'll save that riff on off-duty cops working as armed debt collectors for later. The weekend's coming, and that means football. I'll make my predictions tomorrow. Hey! I should invite Harper over to watch a Rider game. Might smooth some things over...have a guy-talk, that sort of thing. I can remind him that sports is part of culture and all that. I just hope he doesn't think CFL players are over-paid and spoiled. Come to think of it, I better not invite him. He might say something he'll regret.
God Bless Us, Every One!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'm an Elitist Who Loves Glitzy Affairs and Whores.

Hi there. Grab a stool, open your beer. I have something to get off my chest. Ya...I'm talking to you buddy. Let's start....

Hate politics? Yeah...me too. But, it should be pointed out that Stephen Harper is a disliked Prime Minister, much in the same way Brain Mulroney was, but that won't stop him from being re-elected. And it's not just a Canadian practice...look south and Google...Nixon. Harper's leadership capabilities still register around 20% and the country will elect a party that has less than a 40% vote. Much like Nixon in the height of his powers. But that's Canada. Monkey-see, monkey-do...a term I've heard from the media elite about the ALL the politicians. But that's another story and frankly, I hate the media.

Hey! You know the old joke:

A Canadian comes to a fork in the road. One sign points right and reads: Panel Discussion on Heaven. The other sign points left and reads: Heaven. The Canadian stands there and scratches his/her chin, then chooses the sign on the right: Panel Discussion on Heaven.

Today I did a spit-take with my French-Dark Roast coffee, ruining a good pair of pajama pants and a muscle shirt. I couldn't believe my ears. Harper had this to say about the Arts community:

“I think when ordinary working people come home, turn on the TV and see a gala of a bunch of people, you know, at a rich gala all subsidized by taxpayers claiming their subsidies aren't high enough when they know those subsidies have actually gone up, I'm not sure that's something that resonates with ordinary people, he said during a campaign stop in Saskatoon.

Before I explore this, let me just state: I'm finding the other candidates a bad alternative that excite no one. I don't know which way I'll vote. I'm watching and listening...and get this...thinking. What terrifies me? He has a point. The only thing I was offended by, was classifying me in a group that is elitist. I've worked on a farm for several summers, I was a paperboy, an usher, a bartender, a waiter etc...toiling all the time to make a living. And I still am. How does that make me an elitist? Yeah....I write screenplays and work 14 hour days as a First AD, eight months of the year. But is that elitist? You tell me. But don't call me elitist because I love what I do.

My hours actually add-up to something higher than an oil-rigger. Trust me, I asked a few when I was shooting a show on an oil rig this summer. Interesting, no? Is my job as physically back-breaking? No...but I'm not stupid. I guess that makes me elitist. Apparently, according to Harper, I'm part of the cocktail-sucking whores who hang around at galas. Then again, Harper's wife is off to a swank party:

"Mr. Harper's barbed shot at whining elites attending glitzy affairs was curious, given that his wife Laureen is the honorary chair of the National Arts Centre's gala next month in Ottawa." - Globe and Mail.

Maybe he's just pissed the misses is going to a 'do' and he can't make it? What if she meets one of those dirty-womanizing artists? Who knows what will happen?!

Anyway, I'm getting carried away. I do that. Back on point: Politicians love it when we talk about how special we culture-workers are and how important we are. They want more of that. It makes us easy to exploit. We become a wedge issue instead of an actual discussion. A 'niche' topic, just like Aboriginal issues, which by the way, have yet to show up on ANY politicians platform.

This election reflects a tide turning on the perceived wisdom of the elites be they in Government, on Wall Street or from Show Business. The fact that some "Famous Canadians" like Wendy CrewsonColm Feore and Paul Gross stand up in public and whine, does not do my heart any good. Where are the First Nation artists and the middle to lower-income 'art-workers' in all of this? Like me...

That's right...we're working our ass off. And I can't afford the flight to Toronto to have a press conference.

What really needs to happen? We, the artists, have a PR problem. All of us in the 'cultural industries' have failed to educate and connect with the public. Harper and his government know this, and will use the eternal culture and arts debate to their advantage. The Conservatives, and the public, need to see that we're hard working people with most of the same life goals they have.

Culture affects every-walk of life. It's economic and it's about the national soul.

For too long, we've insisted we deserved special treatment without delivering anything "they" could feel proud of. "They" being the Canadian public and mean-spirited, divisive politicians of EVERY BRAND.

Case-in-point: The loathing directed at our athletes during the first two weeks of the recent Olympics is what we get every day because "they" helped us and we didn't bring home anything they could be proud of -- or maybe even feel connected to.

Unfair? Yep. But that's what the Canadian public does...including standing at the crossroads and scratching their chins.

Most artists of all walks, know that we are up against a broken broadcast and film and council funding systems. But the public, doesn't know that.

I firmly believe the real artists in this country will survive what's coming. But the fake ones and their enablers are going to take a serious hit. -Jim Henshaw

The old models don't work and we're dead if we keep defending them. You may not like it, but as I stated before...The Hog is in the Tunnel.

Anyway, vote as you see fit, just vote for the love of Pete.

And, oh yeah, well I worked on a farm I learned how to use a gun. Glad the Conservatives feel that's of use.

I love all of you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Blood-Soaked Goodness.

This book has been out for a while, but I always go back to it for inspiration. It's written by Winnipegger Caelum Vatnesdal. Here's an excerpt from the first chapter:

' It's no exaggeration to say that the history of Canadian fiction filmmaking is, in the main, one of catastrophe, neglect and wasted potential. Cursed projects like The Viking (1931), in which the producer and many crew were killed in a boat explosion; the costly box office failure of Canada's flagship big-budget effort Carry On, Sergant!in 1928; a cinema fire in Quebec the previous year which killed a number of children; a string of ill-considered decisions regarding trade and cultural relations with a certain entertainment juggernaut to the south; and much incidental misfortune and poor judgement helped create an industry that has grown into something crippled, wary, and dumbly resentful, like a puppy repeatedly kicked as it was learning to walk. The American film industry was often wearing the boots, but it was Canadians who allowed the booting.'

If you want to explore some Canadian horror history that actually has a great sense of humour and fun, find this book. Vatsdal covers Canada's balladeers of blood, chock-full of sordid pleasures and ladled in blood.

I love it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Notes on a Drive-In.

This is an article I wrote for Splice Magazine in June, 2007 for their 30thAnniversary Issue:

Thirty years ago, in the summer of 1977, I saw Star Wars at Regina’s Starlight Drive-In. Unlike other kids, who stood in line at traditional movie theaters. To me, it was an ideal way to see a science fiction film that was to influence far too many filmmakers. The Starlight Drive-In is long since gone…buried under condos and apartment buildings. I also saw an appalling little horror movie called Grizzly. And I loved it. Grizzly was a cheap rip-off of Jaws with a killer bear as a substitute for the shark. Jaws had traumatized me months before, and now I was hooked on being scared silly by killer animals of all sorts. Piranhas, crocodiles and even sewer dwelling mutants called CHUD. I am still, to this day, a fan of everything science fiction and horror. Better to blurt this out right away, so I’m less tempted to retreat from a long hidden shame. The drive-in, to me, was occult as porn. And I was its customer over the years. For the most part, these places gave us all the rejects I dearly loved. The shoddy and exploitative movies that high-brow theatres couldn’t be bothered with. It was a place that invited small crimes. You could sneak friends in via the trunk of a car. Beer could be hidden under seats and windows steamed up if you got lucky. Not anymore.

The beloved drive-in is a dying animal, and has been for some time. Cinema 6 has closed…again. Two years ago I made my last trip to see a movie there. That night’s showing consisted of: Wedding Crashers(full of smart-asses) and Monster-In-Law(horrible). But the movies felt irrelevant. It was the atmosphere on a warm summer evening. The place was packed with cars and the young and old. The smell of greasy food. Questionable hamburgers, fries and hot dogs cooked in ancient oil. The nightmare-inducing popcorn, probably popped in the same oil. Seeing children play on rusty swings and life-threatening merry-go-rounds below the big screen. Trucks parked backwards so you could set up your lawn chair and plop your feet on the tailgate. It was THE PLACE I loved. It all inspired me to write a screenplay. And that’s where my troubles start. Oh yes. I almost forgot to introduce myself. I’m Trevor Cunningham, and I’m a local filmmaker.

Here’s some back story. I’ve been an Assistant Director for the past nine years. I’ve written some short films(Apple Jack, Blueberry) and even directed a few(The Pedestrian, Carpe Noctem). But all of it left me feeling kind of empty. Like I wasn’t making the films I loved to watch, or writing the stories that sparked my sense of fun. In other words, the stuff I saw at the drive-in. That’s when I came up with something called ‘Bride of the Grave Robber’. It’s a simple story about a mad doctor’s lowly assistant, his escape from a mental institute and he hides out at…you guessed it… a drive-in. It was the result of a popcorn dream, and the fact I was watching old horror movies a friend had lent me.

About the popcorn dreams. The nuttiness of many of my stories is the result of popcorn. Another hold-over from the drive-in days. I avoid the stuff most of the time, but when the urge hits, or when the bank account looks low, I make a huge batch and wash it down with Dr. Pepper. I go to bed. I have weird thoughts and dreams. I get up and write them down and sell them. Or at least try. So far, every popcorn thought or dream I’ve written down has been given development money. So there you go. I owe my writing ‘career’ to popcorn. Anyway. Monster shows. Drive-In. Popcorn. It all came together. I wrote a treatment, sent it off to Telefilm and received funding. Later, I even got funding from Saskfilm and Movie Central. All was good in the world and with a few re-writes and a slight title change, production would not be far off. That was in 2004.

It is a common mistake to believe, once you receive development money, that putting your opus before a camera will only take a year or two. You couldn’t be more wrong. Now, granted, screenplays can be developed over years before even seeing the light of day. If at all. I know this. We all know this. But what is more frightening than any drive-in horror movie…are the notes. Notes from ‘Readers’. Notes from Funders. Notes from Broadcasters. Notes. Notes. Notes. Feedback like: Is this a horror movie? It’s too campy. I don’t get it. Is it funny or is it a horror movie? Is this an art house movie? Too ‘culty’ to market. Our problem is with the ‘creative’. Is this supposed to be ironic? Too gory. Too serious…etc…etc. One starts to listen to them all too. The problem is, they all contradict each other. No one really knows what they want, or how to articulate it. After all, you want to please and it’s their money. This can be a mistake for any screenwriter starting out. Before you know it, you don’t recognize a damn thing about your story. As a matter of fact, you hate it and it does not feel like yours anymore. Which leads to even more self-doubt and the inevitable inner debate. Does English Canada even WANT to see or make movies anymore?

When I had finished a fourth draft last year, I thought about ‘Bride of the Grave Robber’. I thought it was, to put it mildly, dumb. The more I thought about the story, the dumber I felt. I filed it away. I had given up the ghost and was tired of pounding my head against the wall. It was time to move on to something else. Maybe even get a ‘real’ job. Then, on a trip to Winnipeg, I saw an old abandoned drive-in near Indian Head. And the answer came to me in a rush. I took all those well-intentioned notes, filed them in the garbage, and started over.

As you read this I’m probably eating popcorn, washing it down with a Dr. Pepper and scouting drive-ins. The new title is ‘The Grave Robber’s Apprentice'…and the story feels like mine again. It has risen from the dead. And with a little luck, coming soon to a drive-in near you.

Final Girl.

Work, work, work. Hit the mid-point of the screenplay. More later.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Roughrider Fans are Ugly.

So much for my predicted win by the Riders. The autumn months are never calm in Saskatchewan. Back to work, back to school and football starts to mean something. Autumn is a very traditional time here, a time of strong rituals and the celebrating of odd holidays like Halloween, the Harvest Moon and Satanism, which can have ominous implications for some people.

Autumn is always a time of hoarding for the coming winter. Politicians are active on old people and fleece the public, hoping you feel helpless enough to put them in office. There is always a rash of kidnapping, abductions and drinking and driving in the football months. Most of these things are wrong and ugly, but at least they are traditional.

The mouth-breathing assholes who threw beer at the B.C. Lions being case-in-point. A tradition of bad behaviour by Roughrider fans. It's sure to happen when fans have a hole in their soul and a misplaced sense of self-worth that only a football team can fill. It's a tradition sure to happen in the fall, as sure as your driveway will ice over, your furnace will blow up, and you will be rammed in traffic by an uninsured driver in a stolen car. But what the hell? That's why you have insurance, eh?

On a night when the province was honouring Ron Lancaster, a man with class, the fans behaved like hyenas. Since we are now considered a 'have' province, I hope these delusions of persecution die. And I hope we start defining ourselves a province who has something more to culturally 'hang our hats on' than football. Don't get me wrong. I love the Rider games, but having it define it's people is getting old.

It was a weird game full of bad play and dumb decisions. I'll blame it on the Harvest Moon.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Grave Robbing the Culture.

Finished my proposals and sent all of them off. The latest for production money from the Canada Council. It was a complete revisit and rewrite of Bride of the Grave Robber, now called ‘The Grave Robber’s Apprentice’. I have NEVER received a Canada Council Grant. Ever. I’ve applied two previous times. Maybe the third time will be the charm. I’ve never received an Arts Grant of any sort, not even from my home province of Saskatchewan. But it is interesting putting these things in front of faceless juries to be judged by who-knows-who. Money from Telefilm, Saskfilm and a couple of Broadcasters? Yes. That I’ve had, and the total over 5 years since I last made a project would make a Taco Time employee weep.

Meanwhile, a lot of artists who were making profound contributions fell by the wayside or left the country because no matter their talent or abilities they simply weren't able to crack the cultural funding vault that could have sustained them here. Not only nationally, but on a provincial level as well. I’ve lost count of how many folks in the film industry, and other disciplines, have left for Vancouver, Montreal or Toronto. Saskatchewan’s export is...people. Some say that’s changing with all the money choking the oil and gas pipes. Well...how many ‘riggers’ are culturally expressing the society they live in?

We've always been a place that's traded away our natural resources through systems where a powerful, interconnected few unfairly benefit from the labor of the many because they've been born to or bought membership in the ruling cabal. - Jim Henshaw, Legion of Decency

Again, I’m seeing this ugly head pop-up on a provincial level. Yes, we’ve had some success, but I’m not seeing new voices get support. Yeah, sure, as a crew members to feed the monster, but none of the writers, directors and creative personnel. You know, folks who actually create shows and work their asses off trying to finance them. Now that service deals have dried up for various reasons and one successful show is calling it a day....there is close to NOTHING coming out the pipe. A large imbalance has occurred. And every time a down-turn like this happens(I’ve seen it twice) I’ve heard some of the gate-keepers stare blankly, surprised even, and exclaim...”Where is our new producers, directors, writers, actors etc?!!!”

And that's just as true of how we manage our greatest renewable resource, the imaginations of our artists. - Jim Henshaw

Bread-crumbs for documentaries, a smattering of development and production money is not a balanced or viable industry. I’ve seen talented filmmakers and writers get over-looked in favour of the latest asshole to blow through town, use the tax credit, never to return. How is that a renewable resource in terms of culture? And no, it’s not just Americans. And so-called ‘training money’ is used as a financial tool, where not a lick of training happens and is used to ‘deem’ someone. Nobody believes it for a second. How do you ‘train’ a director?

Our redistributed public largess goes first to established corporate entities through CTF, Telefilm, the Canada Council, etc. then to the "favorites", the players who keep being funded no matter their lack of success and then to the rest in demographics that are endlessly parsed by race, region, sex, sexual orientation or debutante status so that we seldom see any new or challenging voices nurtured to maturity. - Jim Henshaw

This is why, for the past four years, I could give a flying fuck about TIFF. Same people doing the same things and getting the same non-result. Atom Egoyan anyone?

There's a middle-management elitism in our system that is hurting all of us, artists and audience alike. Maybe it's also time to let them know that we don't like a lot of the films and TV we're making either, but we don't have any control over that -- and won't as long as the real money keeps going to non-artists with a record of failure. - Jim Henshaw

That...my friends, sums it up. A hard-boiled shakedown is in order. Do I think I’ll get any dough for these proposals? I might. Do I deserve any of it? Maybe. But some of the ‘gate-keepers’ have to go.

Thick Skulls and Ghosts.

Too many in this gutless world have come under the impression that Canadian filmmakers are a race of finks, queers and candy asses to be bilked and bullied. It should be noted, therefore, in the public interest, that some of us possess guns. Especially out West. Other artists, it is said, tend to enjoy violence for its on sake, and feel that a good fight, with the inevitable destruction of nearby equipment and furniture, is nearly as fine for the nerves as a quart of Bushmills Irish Whiskey. Here are two things that have crawled through my thick skull as I head into the weekend:

1 - The Roughriders will win on Sunday. Ron Lancaster's ghost will haunt the field and the Lions will feel dumber than Bush for having opened their cake-holes before the game.

2 - The only good thing that can come out of this election is the demise of Dion. Why this party chose such a bizarre and incomprehensible bobble-doll is beyond me.

Have fun, eat hotdogs and drink beer. It's the last offical weekend of Summer.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Hog is in the Tunnel.

As a I struggle through a draft of Final Girl, elections choke the North American airwaves. In Canada, the third one in four years...at a cost of $240,000,000 each time to the taxpayer. Canada claims to hate elections, but always chooses a minority government, thus guarantees it. That's the Great White North for ya. Here, be ready to run at all times. It is like living in the heart of Friday night with no music and cheap friends.

Shit happens, as they say, and you don't always need music to play musical chairs. There is also a sense of doom in the air. Canadian artists, filmmakers, musicians, actors, sculptors etc, have had a year of a thousand cuts. This has been a year I've written letters to so many politicians, I've lost count. It all started in February with Bill c-10. Some have responded, most have not. This has also been a year in which I've sent out more proposals for funding then any other. The cultural industry is full of smart fools who won't learn, and on some days I am one of them. I try to remain optimistic. I have gone down with more ships than Captain Ahab and usually for honourable reasons, but I'm getting tired of it. I am especially getting tired of going out to sea with dumb bastards who punch holes in the bottom of the boat and call it smart.

The names change and the details vary from one election to the next, but the bottom line is consistent: There is no pulse.

That is the nut of it, and on some nights it is a very spooky thing to contemplate. There is no sense of urgency. There is a blizzard of news, lies, gaffes, and other thick information coming back, but there is no wild music that comes with the feeling of risk in the air. The fat is in the fire and the deal is going down and the only thing for sure is that a lot of folks in the 'Arts' and 'Film and TV business' are going to wish that wolves had stolen us from our cradles when the votes get counted on election day.

Me? I'll keep plugging away, but I'm going to sit near the exit. The hog is in the tunnel and coming forward fast.