Magazine article Variety

Canada Cuts Could Leave Biz More Reliant on U.S

Magazine article Variety

Canada Cuts Could Leave Biz More Reliant on U.S

Article excerpt

MONTREAL

Thanks to provincial tax incentives, Hollywood producers have flocked to Canada. Now, ironically, reductions in funding from the federal government may make the nation a less hospitable place for its own makers of TV shows and films - and may result in pubcaster CBC needing to buy more programming from the U.S.

The Canadian government's 10% cuts to federal film and TV funder Telefilm Canada, the CBC and the National Film Board of Canada - ordered March 29 to be implemented over a three-year period - have caused much fear in the local production industry.

More details of the CBC cuts surfaced in recent days, with the pubcaster announcing it would be airing 175 fewer hours of local programming, resulting in the loss of six original series.

TV producers are reeling from the news - and worst of all, they still don't know which shows are being cancelled and which will be returning for the fall season on CBC.

But while there is no question there will be less coin for all projects - whether theatrical features, docs or TV series - some Canadian producers believe the cuts might be an opportunity to make some radical changes to the way films are funded in Canada.

"If I was Telefilm, I'd make less movies," says David Gross, who produced "Goon," a comedy about a minor-league hockey enforcer that's become a huge hit in the Great White North, scoring more than $4 million at the box office in its home country, huge business considering that Canadian English-language productions continue to struggle at the box office. "I hope they fund less of the dicey, borderline movies."

Gross added that if Telefilm wants to export movies, it should target more commercial pics.

Other producers see shared risk or scaled-back projects as ways to deal with the cutbacks.

"We'll have to think of films that are more suited to co-productions," says Pierre Even, producer of "Cafe de Flore" and "War Witch." "We did that with 'Cafe de Flore,' but it doesn't work with every film. Also, maybe we have to reduce our budgets. Or we'll have to make fewer films."

But Toronto-based producer Niv Fichman says a $10 million cut to Telefilm's $100 million budget will have very little impact, in part because he believes Telefilm will be savvy about where it trims.

Telefilm announced that it will have to cut only $2.7 million the first year - trimming programs by $1. …

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