The Genies, Awards for Canadian Movies We're Not Allowed to See

The Genies are on tonight, and if you're like me, you probably don't care, don't even know if they're for movies or TV shows. (They're for movies.) Not like you would've seen any of them. With Americans having a lock on the distribution system in Canada, with the rule being that thou shalt not screen a Canadian movie in its own country, except when they somehow squeeze in, it's not friggin likely any Canadian will see an English Canadian film. (In Quebec, it's a different story. There, language works to their cultural industry's favour.) To make matters worse, Canadians will usually recognize the actors only when they've starred in television shows, and getting and keeping (hello CTV) shows on our networks is like pulling hen's teeth too. Stars matter because stars sell shows.

Toronto CBC News at 5 pm reported that the top movie going into the Genies was made for $500,000. It grossed $30,000. That's less than 10% of what it cost. That's nuts. It's probably not because it sucks either. It's because there is no way for most people to see it or even hear about it. Still, many will say, as they do about Canadian TV shows, that Canadian movies aren't good, are hokey, cheesy, depressing, weird. But how the heck would we even know when it's impossible to see one.

It's time for radical thinking given that Canadian movie screens aren't about to open up to Canadian movies, that the government or private industry couldn't care less about fostering the Canadian movie industry when it comes to actually getting eyeballs to film, that the public doesn't care (as they didn't until the CanCon rules came into effect for the Canadian music industry). It's time Canadian producers stopped banging their heads against that old wall -- because it's not getting them anywhere -- and start building an effective way to get Canadians to watch their work. And they now have the key to building an audience.

The Internet is that key.

The feeling is that a movie should be seen on a big screen, like a really big screen. But the grand movie houses have almost disappeared and many are watching movies more and more at home. So let's ditch that idea. Televisions now come with the ability to hook up to your computer and more people are buying big screen TVs and super duper sound systems. A person can appreciate the lushness of a movie in their own home. And though a DVD may provide better visual quality, the Internet is a better medium than DVD for first release.

DVD is static; Internet is dynamic. DVD works better as a reward kind of purchase after someone has already seen the movie and wants to see more; the Internet provides the introduction between movie and eyeballs. A DVD may be passed around one person at a time; an Internet URL is dead easy to pass on to others near and far to generate buzz quickly. A DVD doesn't do much for building fan portals; the Internet provides the perfect fan portal.

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog by Joss Whedon is a success story showing how a film released on the web can not only pay the bills and the cast and crew, but also grow a fan base even years after it was released. This is the model English Canada's film industry ought to adapt for themselves, and then maybe we'll care about the Genies.

After all, when we watch our movies, we create jobs, we make it possible for actors to stay in Canada to earn a living and pay taxes to our government, we learn about ourselves, we get to see our stories, we grow our local economy, we become proud of who we are, and we want to see more.


pura said…
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