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. 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 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.

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