Our filmmakers are poor relatives

Whether it’s drama series or documentaries, Quebec filmmakers are the poor cousins ​​of our audiovisual industry.

It has long been known that series and programs produced in Toronto, Vancouver or any English-speaking city in Canada cost two to three times more than French-speaking ones, whether in Quebec or elsewhere in the country. However, the materials and equipment needed to make a film or series are available in Montreal and Toronto for the same price.

Also film and recording studios, sound effects and special effects studios. The sandwiches and soft drinks that the production crews eat and drink cost the same price whether the crews work in Rimouski, Pembrooke or Prince Rupert. Hotel room and restaurant prices vary little from one province to another.

So where does this huge difference in production costs come from? The main thing is work! In Quebec, the fees and salaries are lower than in Toronto or Vancouver, both for authors and for artists and craftsmen whose productivity is always challenged.

Renting a home, business, or other location for a shoot in Quebec almost always offers more modest compensation than anywhere else in the country.

We also ask that the various film and recording studios make “a special effort” when it comes to a Quebec film or series. Let’s put it more soberly: wherever you can squeeze the lemon, you squeeze it to the limit.

NEW SHARING OF OTTAWA?

Hélène Messier, CEO of AQMP (Quebec Association of Media Production), had reason to celebrate in the last federal election. Thanks to his efforts and those of his association, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party had included an amazing promise in its election manifesto: from now on, the monies that the state would spend on cinema and television would be split 60/40 in favor of Anglophones, instead of two Third a third, as has long been tradition. Because of the ongoing pandemic and the war in Ukraine, it was said in Ottawa that this promise had not been kept.

But what changes a more favorable split for French speakers if TV channels can’t offer more generous licenses and the rules of the Media Fund, the Quebec Ministry of Revenue and the Federal Revenue Agency don’t change? There will be more French language productions, yes! But rather “poor relatives” in our industry.

COMPETE WITH THE ANGLESS?

The Canada Media Fund* announced on Tuesday that it will invest $7.3 million in 28 auteur film projects.

Of this amount, 17 English language projects will benefit from a $5.6 million investment and 11 French language projects will benefit from a $1.7 million investment. This equates to an average investment of $329,411 per English language documentary and an average investment of $154,545 per French language documentary, more than half.

With such budget differences, French-language documentaries can hardly compete with English-language documentaries. If they succeed, it’s because their creators and craftsmen put a lot of sweat into it, put a lot of fat on their arms, and maybe left some of their health there.

*I am a board member of the Canada Media Fund.

Leave a Comment