Sunday, December 02, 2012

Lazy Sunday # 249: Letter One

How long does it take for passion to burn itself out?

When does an artist’s insight no longer resonate with its time?

At what point do you decide nobody wants what you’re selling, give up and move on?

Every creative person has a project they’re desperate to realize. And Showbiz is rife with stories about those repeatedly rejected or marginalized who refused to stop believing in their work.

But the Gatekeepers and Powers That Be are the Deciders.

And yet…

Books have become classics despite rejection by countless publishers. Award winning Movies have survived decades in development. Hit TV series overcame debut numbers that made them sure bets for cancellation.

In the end, they all achieved success because somebody believed. Somebody kept them alive. Somebody refused to accept that the message was not worth hearing.

In January of 2006, Tony Nardi asked me to attend a reading of a “letter” he’d written. After exhausting every excuse I had, I relented and went along. That letter changed my life.

Not changed it in an “OmiGod!I can see again!” way –- but close.

Shocked and angered by a script for which he’d been asked to audition, Tony explored where that shock and anger came from and in the process pulled back the veil on what really goes on in the creation of Canadian television.

It was a raw, passionate and scathingly unblinking look at the industry in which most of those reading this blog work or aspire to work.

Listening to that letter, I realized how much damage had been done to countless Canadian artists by what we’ve allowed to happen to the theatre, television and movies that we make in this country.

And it was something we could fix.

But would we?

Who among us had the courage?

And what might become of those who challenged the Deciders?

Much of what has been written at “The Legion of Decency” was inspired by Tony’s letter and some fellow Canadian bloggers who shared his passion for change.

Five years ago, I encouraged those reading this space to attend the first staging of what by then had become “Two Letters”, a theatrical event that earned glowing reviews.

Today, I’m encouraging you to do whatever you can to attend the first screening of the filmed version.

Friday, December 7th at 9 p.m. “Letter One” debuts at Toronto’s Hot Docs Cinema, 506 Bloor Street West.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Thom Ernst, host of TVO’s “Saturday Night at the Movies”.

The panel will include Nardi, Donato Santeramo (Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Queen’s University), Nick Mancuso (actor and producer) and others.

Tickets are $11 ($8 for Hot Docs Members).

I don’t think I exaggerate in saying that if you are a working professional artist in Canada, this is the most important film you will see this year.

It’s passionate, inspiring and revelatory of what’s wrong with our creative industries –- and how we can repair them. And making it took more courage and commitment than most of us have ever been willing to bring to bear.

Start with one phrase from the trailer. “Filmed in front of a live audience in one take.” Imagine having the guts to do that with something you’ve spent almost a decade trying to get onscreen.

Go. Please Go. This is Important.

And –- Enjoy your Sunday. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The smartest observation I've heard about the Canadian industry is that Americans make film and TV to make money; Canadians make it to win awards.

It explains everything.