Written by Brandie Peters

When was the last time you paid to see a Canadian made film? Unfortunately, one of the biggest problems with the current film and television industry in this country is that nobody is buying it- not even Canadians. In fact last year the independent film and television industry in Canada suffered a dramatic 8% loss. What this means is that the vast majority of projects produced last year lost more money than they cost to make. I know what your thinking, so what? Independent TV shows and movies very rarely make any money. However, if you are a short filmmaker with a project in the works that is located in Canada it is naïve to think that this reportable loss will not impact you.

In our last post we looked at some of the current problems with the entertainment industry here in our country. Although, it is extremely difficult to get an innovative or creative script green-lit by a major network or production company, creative individuals are still binding together in order to get “passion projects” made at all costs. We are lucky because there are so many grant and funding opportunities available for independent filmmakers here. In fact every year thousands of dollars in grants are out by various arts and culture funds in order to support Canadian film and television endeavors on an independent level. The problem with this is we currently have a very dry market for these finished projects. Both short length and feature films are being produced, but the public is seeing few of these Canadian made productions.

So how do we bridge this gap and create a greater demand for Canadian made material?

Changing The Direction of The Canadian Film Industry

1. Promote and Support Canadian Film Projects

As a former film student one thing that I have noticed about people in the industry is that they are often so wrapped up in there own projects they do not take the to promote and support the work being done by their peers. If you are a short filmmaker working on your own project and have not seen a single other Short Film this year then you are guilty of this.

The best way to nurture the Canadian film industry is by supporting and promoting it amongst other like-minded individuals who want to see real change. Taking a minute to appreciate someone else’s film and help further their career also indirectly helps you!

2. Spread The Word Not All Canadian Made Productions Are “Bad”

I’d have to say that I too am personally guilty of this. Many young filmmakers in this country have bought into the stigmata that all filmish things made in this country are inconvertibly “bad”. Yes, many Canadian projects that have been funded by dollars that are set aside for arts and culture financing are distinguishably Canadian; But come on people, that is the whole point!

We are actually extremely lucky to be able to promote our culture and heritage through film. Sure it does put a few roadblocks in the way of making the Canadian-made Summer Blockbuster a real thing but it is a gift that we are able to express ourselves creatively using taxpayer money set aside for that purpose.

Also I can’t help but mention the fact that there АRE many very cool projects currently being independently financed in Canada that are only limited by the fact that they do not have a budget large enough to be compared to a major American production. This doesn’t make them “bad” just slightly financially handicapped.

3. Pay To Watch Canadian Made Productions

This isn’t rocket science! If you would really like to see things turn around ahem “8% loss” then you need to start paying to see Canadian made productions. Many people download the films and television shows that they watch and this impacts the industry even more. Think of it this way, even if you download the latest episode of “Orphan Black” so that you don’t have to watch commercials you are still stealing from your own people. All independent projects deserve to be supported fiscally otherwise they will not survive.

If you are going to be choked up when your favorite Canadian Television show is cancelled then you need to start watching it in real time or at least get a PVR. As for Canadian films, make a point of paying to see one at your local theatre when they come through or make the choice to rent a Canadian movie online instead of torrenting it illegally. I know this is a lot to ask of the starving film artists out there but trust me, if we all did our part it would slowly make a difference.

Brandie Peters is a work at home mom, freelance writer and film enthusiast from Medicine Hat Alberta. In 2012 she graduated from the Red Deer College Motion Picture Arts Production Program.