Why have we played Host & Mistress to so many Hollywood big boys? Why Don’t Canadians Watch Their Own Films?

            Imagine if Canada had created a Hollywood North. Indeed, Canada’s first response to the primacy of Hollywood was the concept of creating a Hollywood North, it’s just that Hollywood in the States got a head start. Many of us are quick to assume that Canadian films are amateur, but in reality many of them are really well done. D.W. Griffith, an American director best known for the film Birth of a Nation, once said, “You in Canada should not be dependent on either the United States or Great Britain. You should have your own films and exchange them with those of other countries. You can make them just as well in Toronto as in New York.” Then why are we so quick to assume that Canadian films are amateur? Why don’t Canadians watch Canadian films?

            Being aware of how Hollywood got a head start would probably help us understand why Canada fell behind in the production of films and, more importantly, will help us realize why American films are so dominant and popular. Canada was slow in entering the film industry because of three reasons. First, at the time when Hollywood was rising, there were no large cities in Canada (that’s not including Montreal but even then they did not have a huge population). This meant that there was no audience for their films. Secondly, there was no one willing to invest money into Canadian films. Canadians have been known to be more careful with their money, it’s the Americans who are the risk-takers. Lastly, there existed no national live theatre yet, like Stratford.

If one thinks about the average budget for an American film, roughly 120 to 200 million dollars, and compares it to the amount Telefilm Canada distributes amongst numerous Canadians directors annually, 110 million dollars, one can see why it’s a much harder task to create a Canadian film. On top of this, the American film studios have several millions of dollars to spend on advertising their films, which is a huge advantage because it gets a large amount of people to actually watch their films. Unfortunately, since Canadian movies do not have that advantage, most Canadians are simply unaware of the Canadian films that do exist so they will not go and see it.

The American film industry also had a huge head start and advantage because of the world wars – European film studios were being bombed during the wars, so American films filled the gap. American film studios have access to a lot more money, and especially in these days since they have these huge corporations such as Time Warner, Sony, and others controlling much of the media, they have the extra money needed to spend on advertising. The U.S. has had a huge cultural influence market and has a large population – so mass amounts of people paid to go see the American movies and that meant that the studios had money again to make bigger movies. Their diverse culture has also always been a big advantage to them, seeing as they had to make more accessible movies with simple plots and universal themes, and this attracted a wide variety of people, especially immigrants (the magic of American films is simply that they make films that everyone can relate to). Last and more importantly is that the Hollywood studios have been organized into the Major Motion Picture Association and that means they work together to promote their films, set up American movie chains in other countries and distribute their films globally.

So it’s not so much that Canadian films aren’t well done, or that Canadians are simply uninterested in their own films – it’s more than that. There is a much larger institution backing this up, making sure the American movies are globally dominating the film industry.  When it comes down to the actual films that Canada is making, they are incredibly well done. Every year, Canadian films find a spot in Oscar nominations. Not amateur at all.

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Going Public – Writing Goals 2013

As writers, it’s important to set ourselves some realistic, reasonable, and achievable goals and deadlines. It’s also really important for us to go public with our goals. To find out why I’m doing this, check out Scott Myer’s blog here: http://gointothestory.blcklst.com/2012/12/writing-goals-2013-part-5-going-public.html

“Why go public?

Because if we just think about our goals, they are nothing more than illusions, hazy, half-baked phantasms in our heads, here and potentially gone like all the other zillion thoughts that spurt through our consciousness each day.

Because if you don’t formalize your writing goals, you may forget them.

Because having some sort of tangible, physical list gives you a touchstone to remind you what you need be focusing on throughout the year.

Because by proclaiming your goals to the Universe, they become real.

And the biggest reason of all: That simple act of courage — declaring your goals publicly — engenders positive energy, recalling the line by the Rev. Basil King who said, “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.”” – Scott Myers

So, what are my writing goals for 2013?

I have plenty.

I want to continue writing short stories, insights, thoughts, opinion pieces, poems, and picture prompts on my Insights and Thoughts writing blog. It’s the best way I have of expressing myself, and through this blog I am able to better myself as a writer and better my world view.

I will continue writing film reviews on my film blog (kimberlyviv.wordpress.com). I always seem to have something to say on a whole bunch of different films, and I just simply find complete enjoyment writing about movies. And someone once told me, “You’re doing it right by being on twitter and with your movie review blog thing. Shows you have a passion and expertise. Some tangible evidence you know your stuff… You’re pretty mature in terms of your social media approach to all this. That’s impressive.”

I plan on continuing what I’m doing with this whole social networking thing… Twitter has helped me a WHOLE lot this year. I don’t think anyone can really understand just how much except for me. Finding other aspiring and successful screenwriters in the world has really boosted my confidence in being able to make it. I’ve created a great writing support system on twitter. Strangers have been messaging, emailing, and tweeting screenwriting advice, tips, and have honestly been a great help in finding a practical approach to following my dreams and getting shit DONE. This little blurb just does NOT do justice to the amazing group of people I’ve found online who have helped me through a lot (For instance, some people literally send me paragraphs upon paragraphs of screenwriting advice sometimes, and it just makes me so happy to be part of such a strong writing support system). Plus, networking is key for writers in terms of getting their stuff out there.

Last but DEFINITELY not least…

I plan on completing at least one script, with revisions and all. In other words, have my first FINAL draft manuscript printed out and binded by the end of this year. (I even have a set date to finish my first draft – May 10, the day before my birthday. Kind of like a birthday gift to myself I guess). I really have to push myself to get some scripts written down if I’m going to apply to Vancouver Film School for their Screenwriting program in a couple of years.

To make sure I actually achieve my goals this year, I’ve already started writing down on a calendar my weekly writing deadlines. For example, for the month of January, I plan on writing at least 10 pages of my script each week. For next month, seeing as things might get busier with school and midterms and all, I will probably only aim for 5 pages a week.

I’m also printing out the pages of my first draft as I go along, and I’m posting it up on my “movie board” so whenever I see it, it will not only remind me to keep going, but also it will get me excited to get it finished and keep on writing.

Photo on 13-01-10 at 2.13 PM

I also have future plans on submitting my scripts to http://blcklst.com/, and maybe even to some film festivals such as Sundance Film Festival. It’s a long shot, but eh, at least I can say I tried and am putting myself out there. How else am I supposed to get my work noticed?

“The Black List is where moviemakers find great scripts to make and scripts find moviemakers to make them.”