Patrick Roy – Remarks from CMPA’s Primetime in Ottawa 2014
Good morning, Bonjour.
I’m speaking to you today as the Vice President of The Canadian Association of Film Distributors and Exporters. In my spare time I’m also the President of Les Films Seville, eOne’s Quebec-based business.
On behalf of CAFDE President Hussain Amarshi and all of our members, which include d Films, Kinosmith, Métropole Films, eOne, Les Films Séville, Mongrel Media, Pacific Northwest Pictures, and Elevation Films, I would like to take a few moments to highlight some collective insights and share CAFDE’s priorities for the coming year.
While I’m confident that you all know at least one of our members, you may not be aware that we recently relaunched the organization and have moved our offices to Ottawa. It is a defining time in our business. Important regulatory conversations that impact our sector are taking place here, and it is important for us to have a voice.
The association was created in 1991 to represent the Canadian film distribution industry and its members on matters of national interest.
While our mandate is the same today, our reality is very different. Technology offers us new avenues to exploit Canadian films – and believe me, we’re taking advantage of them. Distributors are the first to hold conversations with emerging platforms. But does that mean that the traditional routes of conventional broadcast are no longer essential?
As we prepare for the future, we must still survive and thrive in the present.
The CRTC, the CMPA, Mme Brabant and many others have highlighted accessibility as a key consumer issue. We are also focused on accessibility. But we note that in a recent Telefilm Canada survey, the majority of Canadians see most movies on television, so we are thinking about the Canadian consumers who invest in Canadian films but don’t get to see them on television.
The health – and existence – of our sector depends on support from the broadcasters and exhibitors, audiences and government. Consolidation in broadcast and exhibition have limited our options for delivering Canadian films to Canadian audiences.
For audiences, accessibility is only possible if we have a healthy production sector in Canada – and distributors can invest in quality films for distribution across the country and around the world. The model is at risk without public support. And public support is only possible if Canadians can see the variety of our quality films.
Some might suggest that new OTT, SVOD and VOD platforms will reduce – and eventually eliminate – our need for broadcasters to show Canadian films. But this is certainly not the case today or for the foreseeable future.
Canadian films, as long-form storytelling, may not add zeros like simulcasting US television programming, or be as cheap as reality shows, but they are part of our cultural fabric – and even more, they are an important part of the economic model. Importing content has no employment benefit and does nothing to tell the Canadian story at home or around the world. However, every film made in Canada further defines our identity and employs hundreds of highly skilled Canadians.
In Quebec, our broadcasters often invest in our films. As a result of their support, films are getting made, marketed and shown on television to hundreds of thousands of people at a time. The model in Quebec has enabled us to entertain audiences with great films and in turn they are excited by local productions and ask for more.
Over the last few years, I’ve been invited to speak on many panels and have found myself explaining how the same success can be achieved in English Canada. The film industry in Quebec is doing well partially due to the fact we get full support from broadcasters – they are living up to their obligations to the CRTC and the public and profiting from this. It’s working – because along with the world-class talent and government support, which English Canada certainly has as well – we have broadcaster support.
In English Canada, the increasing investment and popularity in television content has made film even less of a priority for broadcasters. The percentage of the pay TV services’ schedule devoted to Canadian feature films continues to decline and the film-oriented specialty services don’t have a good track record either. Until the CRTC takes steps to enshrine ‘feature film’ in its own category, distinct from all other dramatic programming and with resources of its own, distributors are on their own to illustrate to broadcasters something that should be obvious to them and absolutely required of them.
The broadcasters who pledged to buy every suitable Canadian film must now live up to that promise.
Let’s face it, Canadian feature films have never been better and they are being celebrated all around the world.
The quality of French and English language Canadian cinema today is better than ever before. Recent examples from Quebec include Louis Cyr, Gabrielle, Starbuck, Incendies, and from English Canada: Stories We Tell, Midnight's Children, Goon, The Grand Seduction, Watermark and The F Word.
To the broadcasters we say, no more excuses. Canada has an amazing talent pool which is now getting attention around the world. Denis Villeneuve, Xavier Dolan, Jean-Marc Vallée, Atom Egoyan and David Cronenberg to name just a few. Look at this as an opportunity and not a liability. Get ahead of the curve – support our filmmakers early and on a continued basis. Step up and tell Canadian audiences that our filmmakers are Primetime material.
To everyone in the room, delivering Canadian films to Canadian audiences is our shared opportunity. It’s the decisions we all make today that will impact the health of our sector tomorrow. If public support wanes because Canadian audiences cannot see the result of their investments, we are all to blame.
In the coming year, CAFDE will be involved in the conversations to bring meaningful broadcaster support to Canadian films. We will also work with government bodies to ensure that our filmmakers are getting enough support to continue the wonderful work they are doing. CAFDE will also lend the expertise of its members to conversations that will prepare us all for a future where Canadians can see the Canadian story on screen.
Contact / Renseignements
Canadian Association of Film Distributors & Exporters / Association canadienne des distributeurs et exportateurs de films
85 Albert Street, Suite 1605 / 85, rue Albert, Bureau 1605
Email / Courriel: info@CAFDE.ca
President, CAFDE (President, Mongrel Media) / Président de l’ACDEF (président, Mongrel Media)
Vice-President, CAFDE (President, Les Films Seville) / Vice-président de l’ACDEF (président, Les Films Séville)
Secretary/Treasurer, CAFDE (Senior Vice President, Acquisitions, Entertainment One Films Canada) / Secrétaire/Trésorier de l’ACDEF (premier vice-président, acquisitions, Entertainment One Films Canada)