movies, music and everything else

This blog is about pretty much what the title implies... movies, music and everything else.

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Blame Canada???

RUNAWAY PRODUCTION is described as movies that could (or should) be shot in the United States moving to other countries. Working in the industry and living in Los Angeles, I hear lots of talk about runaway production and how terrible it is. I understand the concern, but I am writing today to simply say… ENOUGH. It is time to pull your head out of your ass and have perspective about life, business and the creative process.

Over the last couple years movies that were supposed to film in the US ended up shooting in Canada or in Europe due to financial concerns. For all of the people that say that the studios are taking jobs away from people I ask that they at least try and understand. This is a business first and foremost, and I think that some forget that. If you can make movie for 30% less money by simply shooting in Vancouver… wouldn’t you do that? It is not the responsibility of the production companies to feel loyalty to local crew members. It is their responsibility to make movies that will make a profit. (If these movies are good, it is an added bonus)

One film in particular that is tossed around as of late is the 2003 film COLD MOUNTAIN. This movie is set in North Carolina, but was filmed primarily in Romania. The director of the movie (Anthony Minghella) wanted to shoot in North Carolina and even scouted locations there. When the movie was budgeted for shooting in N.C., it was going to cost 135 million dollars. Because of the cost, they were forced to look else where for locations. Where they ended up was Romania. Now this might sound like a silly replacement for the southern United States, but really… who noticed? As it turned out, the area that they shoot in looked more like Civil War era North Carolina than Present day North Carolina does. And what was the budget now that they were shooting in Europe? 85 million… Think about that. By moving the production to Europe, Minghella was able to make the film that he wanted to make for 50 million dollars less. What would you have done?

I am a filmmaker. If I was given the opportunity to shoot my movie in the US or in Canada, what would I do? The answer is simple… I would do what was best for the movie. If shooting in the US meant that I had to make more compromises because of budget, I would go to Canada. Using Canada as an example, here are some reasons why it can be more desirable:
1) With the exchange rate, the US dollar goes further in Canada than it does here.
2) The Canadian government gives tax breaks to films shooting in their country. This means that a studio will get a check from the Canadian government for as much as 30% of the budget of the film.
3) Due to the amount of production in Canada, there are great crews there. I am not saying that Canadian crews are better, just that they are good. Toronto and Vancouver are behind only Los Angeles as far as the amount of production work.
4) The union crew members in Canada work for considerably less than the US crews.
Creatively, I would go to where I could make the best film that I could. Money, unfortunately, is a part of creative freedom. The movie that I am raising financing for would cost 3 million in Canada and 5 million in the US. What would you do?

My biggest problem is not that people are upset, but who they are upset with. It is not the fault of the producer or the studios. If the crews in LA want to point the finger at someone, they should point to themselves. Any business thrives on competition and we (the United States) need to start being competitive. Our unions are strong and they protect their members. That is a good thing, but the amount that people make effects the cost of shooting locally. The main difference between local production and foreign is the tax incentives. If we really wanted movies to be shot here, the government should be matching incentives that are given elsewhere. These crew members that are busy bitching about runaway production and wearing anti-Canada T-shirts, should focus their energies on more productive solutions. Campaign for California to implement tax breaks for local film shoots. If this is an issue that really bothers you, stop complaining and do something about it.

3 Comments:

Blogger Cutshaw said...

FIRST!!!

10:58 AM  
Blogger ChapFu said...

there wasn't a thing in there that i don't completely agree with! i was even surprised about that entitlement idea at the end. i talk about that all the time! same brain.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Mz0range said...

As someone who lives in Toronto - I just wanted to say thanks. Many of us here who work in the industry in one way or another, think it is hilarious that certain Hollywood types are still complaining.
Production here has gone down SO much in the last five years. Even then, the majority of stuff shot up in Canada are MOWs, Pilots, and cheesy sci-fi shows. A lot of these things probably wouldn't get the green light if they were to shoot in the US, for budget reasons alone. For every Chicago, X-Men or Cinderella Man that is shot here in Toronto... We have many many more useless duds. The Perfect Man (Hilary Duff/Heather Locklear flop), GLITTER (Mariah Carey disaster), New york Minute (That Mary Kate and Ashley nightmare) I'm surprised Gigli wasn't shot here.... A lot of low-budget American TV shows are shot here too. Monk was shot here until it gained popularity, then it went down to the US (that's how it usually goes!). I think Vancouver has the better US shows shooting there, than Toronto does though.


Hollywood has nothing to worry about. How many productions shoot a year in Hollywood (including TV)?? Check out Toronto's prodution list. Last winter only 1 film was shooting, and like four shows. Big deal.

If anything you guys should be happy - We take all the crap that no one would want down there anyway! ;)

PS: Sean Astin's pathetic speech at the SAG awards (was it last year? Whenever it was the cast of Lord of the Rings won) about stopping runaway productions, was the funniest and most ignorant thing I've seen in a while by an actor. I just loved how he whined on about how horrible runaway productions are while he was accepting an award for a film he shot in NEW ZEALAND. Sorry, in the whole war on runaway productions, I think that was the lamest thing I've seen yet!

But yes.. Tax breaks on flops=good Expensive flops shot in US=bad

12:59 AM  

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