Thursday, October 9, 2008

Blood Clots in the Revenue Stream

I have just finished moving to Winnipeg, hemorrhaging money along the Trans-Canada in the forms of a mortgage, moving and other costs associated with lawyers, banks and insurance folks(my three favourite kind of people). I have left a city I have called my home for most of my life. I've had most of my childhood and career in Regina, Saskatchewan. Now that the heavy-lifting and unpacking is finished, it is interesting how the media and politicians are stirring-up a shit-storm of panic. Canadians are sweating bullets over their financial and work futures. I say 'interesting' because thisuncertainty is how I have lived my life for the past 41 years. It most certainly is how I have lived my life in the film and television industry.

So Canada, welcome to my world. Should you panic over something that may or may not happen? That's up to you. Jim Henshaw states it well on his blog, Legion of Decency:

This was a tough week for a lot of people. The financial meltdown on Wall Street turned many Billionaires into mere Millionaires and scores more who thought they had a future (or maybe a house) into folks wondering if they'll ever work again or how much of their stuff can fit in a grocery cart. If you read the papers -- or more correctly, if you BELIEVE what you read in the papers, we'll shortly be unable to afford retirement, shelter, transportation or food. In other words, the entire world will become a Canadian Artist. From a media perspective, it's fortunate the collapse of Capitalism-as-we-know-it came along when it did. After a couple of years of Global Warming scenarios in which we were all drowned by melting ice caps, wiped out by unleashed tropical diseases or felled by methane released from the thawing tundra, we still hadn't panicked en mass. So now they get to cook up a whole new series of Post-Apocalyptic scenarios people wouldn't buy in a Roger Corman movie, but which apparently sell newspapers.

Yep, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are coming. I suggest you all read the Book of Revelations, if you are end-of-the world inclined. The language is poetic and the imagery is inspiring enough to produce heart attacks.

Me? I love my new home, new city and have a sense of hope. Could it all fall apart tomorrow? Sure. But when was life certain? Ever? My life in the 'arts' has been the polar opposite of safe, but I am proud of it. I would do it all over again without changing a beat, although I have never recommended it to others. That would be irresponsible and wrong, I think, and I am none of those things.

And here is another small ray of hope...

Harper scraps controversial clause in Bill C-10

Tory Leader says government is considering the 'serious concerns that have been expressed by film creators and investors'


With a report from James Bradshaw

October 8, 2008

Canadian artists scored a victory yesterday after Stephen Harper abruptly pulled the plug on a controversial clause in Bill C-10 that would have allowed Ottawa to block tax credits for film and television projects it found morally offensive.

The Conservative Leader's about-face comes as Tory hopes of a majority fade, and support for the party is sagging in the crucial battlegrounds of Quebec and Ontario.

The move appears to be aimed at appeasing voters incensed at the provision in C-10, and at the nearly $45-million in recent cuts to a swath of other arts and culture programs. Reaction yesterday from some of the most influential voices in Canada's cultural sector was swift.

"It's the first arts cut that he's made that's actually good," said director David Cronenberg. "It's obvious he thought he was playing to a major constituency when he was talking about the cultural elites and the rich galas, and all that nonsense. He realized there are a lot of people of every so-called 'class' - working or middle class - who depend on their arts for their livelihood and for their intellectual well-being.
The Globe and Mail

"He tried to play the dumb-it-down game and it didn't work because Canadians are not dumb."

Mr. Cronenberg was referencing comments made by Mr. Harper at a recent campaign stop in Saskatoon, where he said he did not believe that "ordinary working people" were sympathetic to "a bunch of people, you know, at a rich gala all subsidized by taxpayers claiming their subsidies aren't high enough."

Reached at the Vancouver International Film Festival, director Atom Egoyan said he felt "relief."

"Now we're waiting for other reversals of decisions," he said. "I think our message might be getting across. And that's great news."

The incendiary clause in C-10, as well as the $45-million in other cuts, has galvanized the arts community, sparking rallies and news conferences across the country. Many critics have charged the cuts were ideologically motivated by the Conservative government.

But Mr. Harper and his officials have repeatedly maintained they were simply implementing necessary reviews designed to identify inefficient or ineffective initiatives.

Actor, writer and director Sarah Polley said yesterday: "It's good news that this ridiculous clause has been thrown out, but it's only a start and doesn't negate the harm this government has caused to culture in this country."

The C-10 hoopla first reared its head in February after The Globe and Mail reported there was a little-known provision - at third reading before the Senate banking committee - that could cut off tax benefits for film and TV productions that contain graphic sex, violence or other content that the government finds offensive. It applied only to Canadian TV and film projects, while Hollywood and other foreign productions applying for tax credits would get a free pass.

Yesterday in his platform - called The True North Strong and Free: Stephen Harper's Plan for Canadians - the Tory Leader said that while "these proposals were approved unanimously by the House of Commons, we will take into account the serious concerns that have been expressed by film creators and investors.

"A re-elected Conservative government ... will maintain financial support for arts and culture at or above existing levels, while continuing to improve the effectiveness of allocations wherever possible."

All four opposition parties have pledged to reinstate the $45-million in axed programs.

Now, back to work on my screenplay.

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