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November 24, 2014

Even Movie Makers Love TV

by Stephanie Earp, posted Mar 9th 2010 11:23PM


I took a little break from this column last week because in my other life – the one not spent glued to the tube – I help run a 5-day film festival in the smallish Canadian city where I live. Running a film festival is not unlike running film – there are actors, directors and producers on hand, a general sense of panic, long hours, and really good after-parties, and with luck a critically-praised result.

This was my first year working on the film fest and I expected to be way out of my depth when it came to conversation. After all, I'm a small screen kind of girl. I even slipped up while introducing a panel of filmmakers, talking about how their films had "aired" the night before. Apparently, films screen, only TV shows air.

I took a little break from this column last week because in my other life – the one not spent glued to the tube – I help run a 5-day film festival in the smallish Canadian city where I live. Running a film festival is not unlike running film – there are actors, directors and producers on hand, a general sense of panic, long hours, and really good after-parties, and with luck a critically-praised result.

This was my first year working on the film fest and I expected to be way out of my depth when it came to conversation. After all, I'm a small screen kind of girl. I even slipped up while introducing a panel of filmmakers, talking about how their films had "aired" the night before. Apparently, films screen, only TV shows air.

But much to my delight it turns out that even filmmakers talk about TV. Even at a festival like ours, most people haven't seen the bulk of the movies we play. The movies are Canadian for one thing, and independent for another, which makes their audience about as rare and tiny as leprechauns. So when a bunch of filmmakers who know each other only by reputation stand around drinking free beer, they talk about television.

Make no mistake, the language they use is slightly different. I wandered into a conversation about the flaws in the long-form narrative structure of series-based storytelling. After a few minutes I realized this was a fancy way of saying that '24' has jumped the shark.

The leader of that particular conversation was one Joel McConvey, an old friend of mine from university who is actually developing a TV show right now. It's called 'The National Parks Project', and it will bring musicians and cameras to a national park in each of the provinces and territories of Canada to make a sort of hip indie nature documentary about each one. Which is one way of avoiding the perils of narrative structure: don't use it. The show will eventually air on the Discovery Channel.

Joel wasn't the only attendee who has experimented with the dark side – namely TV. Mark Krupa, an actor in the film 'The Wild Hunt', is also the host of his own extreme fishing show, 'Hooked', on OLN. Yes, you read that right - extreme fishing.

When we weren't grilling Mark on his fishing expertise or trying to get the National Parks crew to tell us what musicians they've booked for their show, we all ended up talking about our favourite shows. 'The Wire' - to absolutely no one's surprise - is the hands-down favourite among the artsy types, but 'Six Feet Under' got its fair share of mentions.

I love both those shows, but it's a little worrying to note that they are both long over. Clearly there's a hole in the market right now for a big, meaty show with complicated characters. (Paging HBO!)

While the rest of you were likely curling up on the couch to watch the Oscars on Sunday night, I was watching the opening moments of a Quebecois film called 'Les Doigts Croches', which was the final film of our event. I'm happy to report that at least 80 other people were there too, choosing a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a Canadian movie in a plush theatre over the red carpet hullaballoo happening on CTV.

I did get home – exhausted, exhilarated – in time to catch the last hour of the Academy Awards, but I felt strangely detached from it all. Not only was I unfamiliar with most of the nominated films, I had just spent a weekend seeing films most Canadians will never even hear about and certainly won't get to see in the theatres, since theatres rarely play home-grown product. (Despite the fact that Canadians pay for these movies in the form of taxes) And they were amazing films – funny, scary, beautiful and true. I'm happy for Kathryn Bigelow and the producers of 'The Hurt Locker' but today I'm more excited for Jacob Tierney, whose film 'The Trotsky' won the People's Choice Award at the Kingston Canadian Film Festival.

It may not come with a golden statue, but it was just as well-deserved.
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