Sunday, March 08, 2009


It's been a week of showbiz doom and gloom in Canada. Media job losses. TV stations closing. Development slates have been frozen, downsized or outright canceled. To make matters worse, the only Canadian film being released this week has to fly right into the mass-marketing sharpened teeth of "The Watchmen".

Good luck "Pontypool" and hang onto the address of that church basement you shot in. Pretty soon we might all need a warm place to sleep.

Please understand, given what's happening to other parts of the economy, I'm not looking for any sympathy here. I just want all you folks who used to have steady jobs or predictable incomes and are finding the current situation a little precarious to know this is kinda how we movie and TV folk live all the time.

That makes some of us feel scared and lost and share all the misgivings you're feeling right now. But we mostly shrug off as much as we can and sit back down at our sketch pads, work benches and keyboards in the hope of finding a way to make things right again.

You see, we're used to the media telling us we're powerless and helpless. And we also know that if we keep breathing on that creative spark and maintain the flame, we'll find our way through the darkness.

Nobody listened when we railed against the corporate convergence that has mediocritized most film and television and turned journalists from being our social, moral and cultural consciences into shills for whatever might shore up the newsroom bottom line.

That rigid corporate-think is the real reason nobody's buying newspapers or watching the noon news anymore. We all know the stories are being spun to sell us something, be it a new car, a different lifestyle or how to vote.

Likewise, "More of the Same" has never been a slogan that had people lining up to buy tickets -- or cable subscriptions.

Nobody paid any attention when we insisted Canadian TV networks weren't giving people what they wanted, what was best for the country or what might finally break the endless chain of dependence on public handouts.

That kind of intransigence sent people even further afield to find something that would entertain them. And putting the same tired shows on multiple channels and a myriad of platforms will not bring them back any more than helping GM churn out more cars will make people want to buy them.

The world needs to come up with something new.

And that's what fanning that creative flame is all about.

10 years ago, a little 3 minute film called "405" hit the Internet. It was probably the first video to ever go "viral" and its makers, Bruce Branit and Jeremy Hunt, a couple of FX guys working on "Star Trek: Voyager" and "The 'X' Files", ignited a revolution in Internet video and made graphic novels such as "The Watchmen" suddenly viable as filmed entertainment.

At the time, Branit said, "What 405 means to me, is that it is now possible to create almost anything you can imagine. It's no longer just big studio films that can create blockbuster images. Today anyone can."

And there's your answer to our immediate dilemma. Stop hoping the big guys will stabilize and have a job for you. Make one for yourself. Don't hope the world you want to live in might eventually come around -- start building it now.

Bruce Branit just had another video go viral and it might give you some ideas.

The future is in your own hands. Enjoy your Sunday.


Dave said...

Jim, is there an email address to reach you at?

jimhenshaw said...


Write anytime --