Wednesday, October 7, 2020

I'm Anarkyvist: CBC "Venture" - Canadian Television Production - 1990

In early 2011 I felt it was time to start digitizing my VHS collection of over 200 tapes. To YouTube I went and signed up under the improbable and somewhat mysterious name of "Anarkyvist". The project got off to a good start, but after the initial volley, I seemed to lose interest while gaining other convenient distractions. It.'s time to go back to those VHS boxes and the conversion process, but for now I will take a look back here on this blog....

"Story from the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) television program "Venture", on the state of Canadian television production and export. Produced and aired in 1990, this segment was somewhat hopeful. Now, of course, the state of affairs is pretty rough; with the exception of children's, and reality, or "lifestyle", programming."

The above video is now an important historical document, certainly for those who work in the biz. How successful were we? The film and television business here in Canada grew and exploded a palette of colours after the time in which this journalistic bit was broadcast. I remember very well the "all-nighters". My thing for years was dropping 35mm (and 16mm) film off at the lab during the wee hours of the morning. Next day: all over again. Shoot and deliver.

The reporter's voice-over offers at one point: "There's never enough money in Canada (to finance independently television productions)." That's not entirely true as there are billions of dollars just a ten minute subway ride from where I live in Toronto. But our banks do safe real estate. (How much of Manhattan, for instance, is owned by Canadian banks?)

Wayne Sterloff, then CEO of B.C. Film, makes a vital point, one prescient: The U.S. television broadcast market at the time was becoming more and more fractured, where financial returns were smaller. Co-productions became the way. Shooting overseas, where production costs are a small fraction of what they are over here, especially in so-called former Eastern Bloc countries, allows smaller television players to make dramatic television series' on much lower budgets.

I'm hardly a television business analyst, so it would be interesting talking to one to learn how successful this game has been for Canadian television producers, given that many other regions have dressed to play.

By the way, Venture was a good programme.

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