Richards Rant

November 19, 2014

Richard’s Rant NOV 2014

“You say GRACEPOINT…I say BROADCHURCH”

So at the big staff meeting last week I was told it was long overdue for a fresh rant and I have the perfect topic to unleash!!!  Watch out…the beast has been unleashed…

Have you seen the latest “winners”, ”losers” and “on the bubble” reports about the new season of TV shows? I was plum tickled to see GRACEPOINT in the loser column.  Now, I like David Tennant.  I actually loved him as Doctor Who and I do have a friend on the show, but this series pisses me off!  It is almost 2015 people and can’t we be past the point where we get all grateful and sucky when some American TV network rips off a brilliant British product and then shoots it in beautiful BC while we masquerade as being Northern California ? !!!

Tennant starred in the UK limited series BROADCHURCH.  It is simply some of the most arresting & compelling television I have ever seen… period.  So why does FOX not just buy and broadcast this awesome programming?  Well, by getting the rights and making their own damn version I guess they are hoping it has an afterlife that will make THEM money; not future sales going back to the original UK producer.  Guess what? Looks like your poor copycat of a show is about to get cancelled, and I say…”karma is a bitch”.   Now, I am not going to get pissed at star David Tennant.  The actors on Brit-TV make crap money compared to US actors in US shows, so more power to him for wanting to make some real money and to break into the US market. But here’s what really makes me crazy:  lots of people and the press in Victoria (where it is shot) are star struck and happy that their beautiful city is masquerading as the USA with a bunch of actors that are not from Victoria in a series ripped off from the Brits.  Me, I am just pissed, but even more grateful to shows like MOTIVE (yes the disclaimer is our wonderful client Louis Ferreira is one of the leads).  Even though it airs on a US network, it proudly features Vancouver, BC, Canada, and wait for it… evens CALLS the city Vancouver.  One more thing…  don’t cry “hypocrite” when the new series OLYMPUS starts to air and you call me out cause I am not bitching about Mission masquerading as ancient Greece!  It’s completely another matter and of course has NOTHING to do with the fact that we have TWO stars on that show !

March 8, 2011

Richard’s Rant MAR 2011

In the past few years there has been a difficult decision to make when writing these newsletters, as I try to walk the line between being positive and “keeping it real”.  But WATCH OUT… because it’s 2011, spring has sprung, and I am ready to have a BIG fricking RANT!

Vancouver Sun headlines say “Movies making region rock” and “Film industry ready to roll in 2011” and an industry reporter at the Province incorrectly reports that BC has matched the tax credits in Ontario and Quebec. So I call and yell but all I get is a not-too-interested “oops”, and am informed that his editor has instructed him they just want to print industry “good news” stories. Meanwhile, most BC based actors, directors and writers are going, “gee if the industry is going so well why am I missing out?”

Well here are the quick-and-dirty reasons in my humble and pissed-off opinion:
-The vast majority of recent production has been big-budget feature films that come to BC because we have the studios, experienced crews, and effects folks to rival anyone and anywhere…BUT…these productions (examples include RISE OF THE (PLANET OF THE) APES…the TWILIGHT SAGAS…MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 4) tie up facilities and crews for months and provide very little employment opportunities for us.

-Reports scream, “BC builds on last years momentum” but look closer… Production of Canadian content productions has decreased from 400 million in 2007 to 100 million for 2010…that is down 75% on the kind of projects that have previously been your bread-and-butter!

The dollar…the dollar…the dollar…same old story I am afraid but the fact is the Canadian dollar has been worth MORE that the US dollar on most days so far in 2011 and as I write this it has closed at a 3 year high of $1.03…you know the rest of the story. Most analysts do not expect significant change anytime soon, but the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch’s educated guess is that it should fall back to about 95 cents this summer.

The tax credits…again, same old story but the fact remains that BC tax credits continue to NOT put us a level playing field with Ontario’s more favourable incentives.

-Despite the best efforts of our casting directors, the fact remains that American productions are bringing in many more actors for roles that would NOT have been “permitted” a few years ago. Your union used to work closely with Immigration to monitor/control this and we are informed that this Immigration position simply does not exist anymore…the result being that, for example, I get a lovely call from a casting director telling me that a client is up for a fricking actor role in a US feature and the one other choice is an American from LA…would NOT have happened a few years ago. And with respect to the union, I must point out that when this happens, the union still receives your dues for the year PLUS they get to charge the US resident big fat weekly non-resident fees, so their revenues are NOT affected like yours are!

Why aren’t casting directors seeing me?
Don’t want to mention specific names, because I know casting folks read these blogs…BUT know that some top casting folks have left the business and other “players” did not even have one project last year. There has also been a fair amount of “agency-roulette” and downsizing, including a top BC agent who has been in business for 25 years who recently closed up shop, put the staff of three out of work and is presently working remotely from an out-of-town home with a few top clients.

Vancouver shot series report:
Cancelled are STARGATE UNIVERSE…SHATTERED…LIFE UNEXPECTED …Renewed…we hear EUREKA and HAUNTING HOUR have new orders …still shooting at present are… MR.YOUNG(with a probable pick-up)…HELLCATS…CHAOS…FRINGE… SMALLVILLE… SUPERNATURAL…THE KILLING…

Ontario:
Film and TV was $964.3 million in 2010, a level they have not seen since 2002… the catch-22 here is that even though we are aggressively submitting you for Toronto projects, producers often demand to see ONLY actors that will tax-qualify legally as an Ontario resident. Lucky Toronto…they have seen a huge growth in foreign TV series which were $118.9 million in 2010, compared to only 58 million in ’09. That’s a 105.1% increase.

What is being done?
-I have been told on good authority that the UBCP has hired a lobbyist to try and work with Canadian Immigration to stop the flood of American actors coming in for smaller roles that never would have been permitted in past years.

-The CMPA states that we must continue to ensure that tax credits are competitive, crews and actors are highly trained and production facilities are state of the art. Even with the high dollar it is hoped that attention to those three facts will help stabilize and grow foreign location and service production in BC. The HST is helpful to keep attracting the big budget US films. Estimates are that on a $100 million dollar movie, a producer saves approx $3 million.

What can I do?
Some clients did have a good year last year, but I can’t think of anyone who would not say there is tons of room for improvement in 2011!

Go to your union meetings and participate. And be there to support THEM when the staff and executive are in difficult situations; for example the 2011 battle with a big bully studio that is trying to erode your rates on the US web-series MORTAL COMBAT.

Keep healthy, keep busy, don’t isolate…everything goes up and goes down…including the damn film and television industry…go to the gym, get together with friends and read scripts, volunteer to be on a LEO jury, maybe get a part time flexible job if you have cash-flow challenges…we have clients who clean houses…clients who have gone back to school. If things are slow for you, it means things are slow at the office, so with Eric and Rebecca there full time I am taking the opportunity to listen to my own advice on this topic. I am thrilled to be writing a major paper on Moliere’s The Misanthrope for the Department of Theatre and Film at UBC, to finish off my MFA Directing degree. Rest assured, if Spielberg calls with that three-picture deal for you I shall DROP everything and return to the twentieth century.

September 13, 2010

RICHARD’S RANT SEPT 2010

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I am telling you right now…I am NOT going to rant…I could, but it would kind of be like kicking a puppy because the state of our industry in BC still stinks. Our domestic industry remains decimated, but thank you Jesus for our American friends who continue to shoot here!

So…instead of a rant I want to talk about the theatre because that is where many of us, including me, come from. Here’s some good news! We have some amazing clients doing some amazing things coming up this season.

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Andrew McNeeAmber Lewis and Charlie Gallant have been trodding the outdoor boards at BARD ON THE BEACH this summer. Amber was described by reviewers this year as “strikingly saucy” and “brilliantly vulnerable” and Charlie, while admittedly not as pretty, is simply one of the most popular young actors around…soon he will be back in rehearsal for BRIEF ENCOUNTER for the Playhouse Theatre and the Manitoba Theatre Centre.

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The exciting news for Kayvon Khoshkam is that following his Blue Bridge Rep summer in Victoria at the Macpherson Playhouse he will be co-starring in THE GRADUATE next season for the Arts Club Theatre. Plus…our very own Camille Mitchell has been invited to play the immortal Mrs Robinson in that same production!

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David Adams opens soon in Electric Company’s exciting multi media production of TEAR THE CURTAIN at the Stanley Theatre

This fall Valsy Bergeron is playing Michelle in the Arts Club Revue production of THE PATRON SAINT OF STANLEY PARK.

Lorne Cardinal will be performing his two man “tour de farce” THUNDERSTRUCK throughout the western provinces this fall.
William B. Davis will be directing a production of the very challenging WASTE for the United Players

Ari Cohen is happily in Toronto performing in DEATH OF A SALESMAN for the prestigious Soulpepper Theatre until late November.

Beverley Elliott was at JUST FOR LAUGHS in Montreal this summer performing in MOM’S THE WORD REMIXED and is preparing to go to Winnipeg for a remount of her title role in BACK TO YOU, THE LUCILLE STARR STORY

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April 13, 2010

RICHARD’S RANT APRIL 2010

Peter Mitchell at Vancouver Film Studios assesses the current climate of British Columbia very bluntly… he states “The Canadian film industry has all but disappeared and the Canadian domestic business is our No. 1 priority as a film industry community”.

I had a great debate with myself of whether it was a good idea, or not, to write another post that was discouraging. At the end of the day, I decided that it was better for our many clients who are not working to know that they are not alone, and that this current malaise goes all through the BC industry. The “state of the nation” is that things are stagnant, for example there are no up and coming agencies, casting directors, production houses and it is as challenging for talented young actor’s trying to break in to the business as it is for established actors to try and hang on to past levels of success.

The reasons are not new…Our provincial government has not matched the much more favourable tax credits in Ontario and Quebec, a Canadian dollar near par is anything but helpful, and the industry in general is still not in a healthy place. The biggest issue we have in BC is that our local industry was down more than 40% last year. It is lovely for us to have 100 million Hollywood feature productions coming here but they are only good for the few clients that will be cast and offer no employment opportunities to our Literary clients. Big-ticket projects mostly just tie up the studios and crew for months on something that most clients did not get a “hit” on. Reality is the 100 million plus projects are much more able to weather the strong dollar/less favourable tax credits than a 10 million dollar one. Reality is also that the domestic side of our community is what creates the most employment opportunities for us! Some clients have been asking how things are in Toronto and the answer is “better”, but certainly “no picnic”. While Ontario does have significantly more Canadian/domestic production happening, they also face their own challenges.

Domestic companies like Brightlight, No Sugar (Larry Sugar), Reunion and Omni all need a healthy climate to grow and to grow their own product. All the “BC Players” are working hard to identify new business models and new investment and co-production partners to find long-term solutions for our industry. On the bright side, more than a few US series have been renewed to shoot here, and it does look like studios will be booked up for the summer with big-budget product.

At the agency our battle cry remains…We’re here…we’re sober…Give us a call if you have any questions or just want to have a good YAK.

January 19, 2010

RICHARDS RANT: A LITTLE GOOD NEWS FOR 2010

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OKOKOK…I need to accept that I may have to park my fat ass in front of the TV and watch the Olympics because we may be dead until March…there I have said it…now…no RANT this month and HOW ABOUT A LITTLE GOOD NEWS FOR 2010

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USA Director’s Guild honours three Canadians-The DGA have nominated James Cameron (AVATAR) and Jason Reitman (UP IN THE AIR) for 2009 Outstanding Directional Achievement in a Feature Film. Fellow Canuck Norman Jewison will be awarded their highest honour, a Lifetime Acheivement Award.

Leno Moving Back to Late Night-Leno’s move to 10PM had sucked up five hours of primetime network television that was scripted drama. This cost cutting NBC experiment did not work, Jay was still in 4th place (of the networks) and his 10PM ratings were weaker even that their shows in the same slots last season…now NBC is not going to turn out and make five “LAW AND ORDERS” but it does leave a five hour prime time crater, ripe to be filled with scripted dramas. (Even their bad ones last year rated 30% higher than Leno; albeit his show had a much lesser budget)

Series Renewals – STARGATE UNIVERSE has been renewed with a full order for Season 2…SANCTUARY has been picked up for another season. We hear through the grapevine that the pilot PREPPED has been picked up to go to series here. Don’t be surprised if the Vancouver shot CW shows get picked up – they make a lotta dough for that network!

Meg Liberman who does LA casting for CBS/CW Network told me that she expects ALL their series work will be coming to Canada this year…GREAT news, but let’s hope we get a little tax credit help from the BC Liberals so Ontario does not get it ALL.

Vancouver shot ALICE had the second highest ratings ever for SyFy (next to Nick Willing’s other Vancouver shot mini series TIN MAN). Watch for more projects coming from Reunion and Willing this spring!

Homegirl/Homeboy success – Our Madga Apanowicz, represented by Debbie Mahood, is one of the stars of CAPRICA (the new BATTLESTAR GALACTICA prequel) that has its Canadian premiere on SPACE January 22nd. Although the shows boasts veteran stars like Esai Morales and Eric Stoltz, creator David Eick says that the series “hinges on the performers playing the teenagers, Magda and Alessandra Toresani”…and how great to see Vancouver actors, Cory Monteith and Patrick Gallagher chewing it up on the hit series GLEE!

Stuart Aikins is feeling pretty warm and fuzzy about 2010 and says that he expects March to be a very busy month…He has been approached about many projects that look like they are coming our way plus he will be casting a new series TOWER, and EUREKA has been renewed for another season.

Coreen Mayrs reports that she also feels it will be very quiet until the end of the first week of March. That said, in recent conversations with various LA studio execs she believes it will heat up considerably afte

June 17, 2009

SUMMER ’09 VANCOUVER TELEVISION REPORT

Greetings oh dear clients…
How about a little good news for a change?

Thought you would be interested in seeing updates about what this summer is going to look like in Vancouver.

Feature films are lovely, and they bring a very high visibility to the Vancouver market…but as Crawford Hawkins the DGC president says, “The features are the glamour, and the television is the lifeblood of our BC business”….and Ken Anderson the president of IATSE Local 891 states “Series work is the bread and butter for Vancouver.”

So here is the latest on ‘whazzup’ in Vancouver TV-Land

SERIES ALREADY SHOOTING

SANCTUARY – Sci-Fi network in season 2.  Dr Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping) and her
team continue to track and find the monsters that move secretly among us. Casting: Stuart Aikins
STARGATE UNIVERSE – new series with a full season order on the Sci-Fi Channel.  The third show in the live action Stargate franchise and will start airing summer 2009. Casting: Clark & Page
PSYCH – Season 4, a novice sleuth tricks the police into thinking he has psychic powers, and now they’ve hired him to solve complicated crime cases. Casting: Clark & Page
THE TROOP – Nickelodeon series about a covert society group of kids who protect the world from supernatural creatures will begin filming season 1.  Casting: Maureen Webb
EUREKA – Sci-fi Network has green-lit Season 4 but it may start shooting as late as January!  A small town kept secret and guarded from the world is inhabited by only brilliant scientists who work on scientific government advances that usually go awry. Casting: Aikins & Cossey
DEFYING GRAVITY –just finishing first season and the series is looking for a US network home once filming has been completed.  It is to be aired in Canada and on BBC 2 in the UK. Series had VERY little guest cast requirements and may or may not get renewed for a second season… Eight astronauts living aboard an international spacecraft on a mission through the Solar System, as the world watches from thirteen billion kilometres away.  Staring Ron Livingston. Casting Mayrs & Brandstatter

COMING BACK SOON

click ‘more’ tab below to continue this report

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April 23, 2009

RICHARD’S RANT – WHY AM I NOT WORKING?

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“Why am I not working…what’s going on? I read in the paper that all the BC studios are busy and that it is going to be a terrific year.”

We are hearing this from a lot of clients lately. I know that everyone wants to “get out” more and that many of you are feeling the financial pinch, so I wanted to give you a comprehensive report on the current climate in our business.

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SAG STALEMATE: Since the SAG contract expired on June 30, 2008; there have been few to no STUDIO feature films (this does not include companies such as Lionsgate and the Weinstein Company who are not in AMPTP and as such have completion agreements).  Some analysts say there are up to 200 feature films on hold.   Around September, we started to see a mass movement of film actors to TV projects.  Due to the lack of studio feature film production, BOTH film and TV actors are now competing for a limited number of jobs in the episodic and pilot environments. The good news is that a tentative deal in this nine-month dispute has been announced (which still needs to be put to the membership for ratification).

PILOT SEASON: During the Writer’s Strike of 2007-2008, Studios adapted and used the void to eliminate pilot season as we know it.  Gone are the days of hundreds of pilots.  In fact, this year, there were only 67 pilots to have registered for production – of which only about 35 have been green lit for production. (click ‘more’ tab to continue reading) more

November 19, 2008

RICHARD’S RANT

After many of you have worked hard for years to establish your rates and quotes we are now playing the game of “how low can you go”. Budgets and time are getting so compressed these days that a few of the recent 2 hour MOW products are being shot in as little as 9 or 10 days. Projects that qualify with less than 2 million dollar budgets are getting discounts on union rates and don’t think just the actors are getting this treatment. An experienced and talented director may be working on the same project and getting discounted up to 75% of their union minimum! Like you, many directors, producers, writers and editors are working on projects that are…how can I put this politely…are perhaps not projects that would have held the same interest a few years back. And if you have an off-the-record conversation with a casting director you might find that top houses have rolled back their rates to what they made 15 years ago in order to be competitive and land a job. In addition, many of them are also now expected to provide the cost of the audition space as part of that lower fee. (click ‘more’ tab to continue reading Richards Rant) more

October 1, 2008

Coming Next Month – Richard’s Rant

Eric tells me I am not allowed to “rant” in my opening blog so you will have to wait until next month for me to go postal on the plethora of scale-minus projects we have “enjoyed” in the past few years. So for now I shall be all sunshine and kitties, and welcome you to our new web site, to celebrate our new location. It was time for a new do and we hope that our clients and those who hire them will enjoy the new “bloggy” features we have. We look forward to hearing from you, what you like, what you don’t, and from whom and about what you want covered in the future!