Catapult CanCon

Around this time last spring I began sending out many messages and emails to my contacts in the film and television industry, about a the project I was attempting to launch called #CatapultCanCon. My intention was to create a workshop and mentorship program, aimed at leveling-up and increasing visibility for English language scripted Canadian Content. 

I thought it was a pretty good idea, and many people I brought it to were very excited about it. However, the timing was not great. Coming to people in the spring of 2019, just as productions were gearing up, and everyone preparing to get back to work for the summer, wasn’t such a good idea. It’s not hard to imagine that people were just too busy to get involved, and it didn’t work. 

Now that Covid19 has halted production on both sides of the border, perhaps this is the right time to re-table this concept with my contacts in the production community. People certainly have a lot more time on their hands and are looking for things to do. And, the government recently announced an exciting arts funding initiative, for creators during this time. 

Everyone will want to keep their skills sharp for when production finally does come back, whenever that will be. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all come out of this period of lockdown with a fully developed project, ready for production, as soon as we get a green light to get back on set.

There will obviously have to be some very big changes made to the way we produce film given the Covid19 world. Now that pandemics such as this will be excluded from production insurance agreements, studios and executives will be trying to come up with inventive ways to produce content asap, while avoiding risk as much as possible.

American Productions may decide not to come to Canada for production this summer, in favour of shooting at home. With Georgia already opening up it’s economy, they are already looking at putting production back to work. And, if the border doesn’t reopen, they may be prevented from coming here for production, even if they wanted to. 

Or, perhaps they will attempt to continue shooting their series here in Canada, but will be forced to bring fewer Americans in with them. This could perhaps give more Canadians opportunities to step up in their careers as artists and professionals. 

This situation may also create an opportunity for more home grown projects to be produced here. As the streaming services and broadcasters run out of new content to put out, they may be willing to take chances on new ideas and new creators, here in Canada. Perhaps they will be happy to have any content they can get, just to have something new to put out there. 

All of this makes me feel like the time is now for looking at the best ways to restructure and level-up the Canadian production industry, so we can come back from this even stronger. Creating a plan that may allow us to get ahead of the game in a way that has never been possible before. 

We have proven that we’re doing a much better job of managing this situation than the Americans are. This is due in large part, to our more progressive and socialist policies on healthcare and social assistance. Perhaps this will give us a leg up, getting back into production safely, before the Americans can, without risking a 2nd wave of infection that shuts us back down again. 

Perhaps this opportunity could allow us to establish ourselves as more than just Hollywood North, but as our own strong and sustainable market for creation and development. Perhaps there could be new opportunities for dreamers like me to have a chance. If there is any hope at all of that, I’ve got a lot to learn to do, in a very unknowable period of time. 

The purpose of my workshop idea that I came up with last year, was to create opportunity, prosperity and visibility for Canadian creators. To encourage, support and educate the next generation of up and coming creative talent, including myself. Taking us all through a step by step development process, led by some of Canada’s most successful and brilliant, writers, producers, showrunners and directors. 

The opportunities for the participants in the program would include gaining a long term mentorship relationship with an established creator. Learning to develop their own unique and original content, while remaining here in Canada. They would gain training, supervision, and guidance beyond what is happening in any film school setting at the moment. Giving new creators access to instructors who would normally not be available to teach this kind of program, while working long hours in the industry. 

The opportunity for the established mentors of the program would be to share their vision and road map for success, with the next generation of Canadian creators. Establishing a stronger and more sustainable home grown star system here at home. And, most importantly, making it possible for creators to remain here, instead of having to head south in order to pursue success in their careers. Capping off the brain drain to the United States. 

It would also have the potential to create lasting relationships and creative partnerships between the mentors and mentees. Relationships that could benefit both sides. With the established creators bringing their invaluable understanding of the business over time, and the emerging artists bringing their fresh take on what’s connecting with audiences today. 

The amalgamation of the two could allow for something quite unique in this country. Creating projects that have the potential to bring about unprecedented financial success, increased visibility, and critical acclaim for Canadian stories, on a global stage. 

As a new member of IATSE 411, I’ve had the incredible privilege of benefiting from a really spectacular curriculum that they are offering their members, over zoom, during this challenging time. Their training sessions are a wealth of valuable information that I will be able to use when we get back to work. But, they are also giving me a great reason to get myself out of bed, and doing something productive each day. Without them I’m sure I would just let the days all fly by, blending into one long Fraternesday.

While this is all great! And my focus on this production coordinator related training will continue. I would also really like to organize a program like this, that would gradually take participants through the whole development and pre-production process for a project, while in the comfort and safety of home. 

I want a mentor or instructor who will give me assignments each week, deadlines to submit for and emulate a professional film or tv development scenario. I need to be held accountable and given consequences for getting lazy, and falling off the wagon with my projects. I also need someone to ask about things that stop me along the way. If I had someone I could just quickly email, I wouldn’t have an excuse to let another week go by before I get that thing accomplished. 

I imagine that I am not alone in belief that this kind of a structure could really help me become more productive at a time like this. I bet I have plenty of creative friends and contacts, who are sitting at home right now, letting the days fly by, and worrying about what the future will hold for us in our industry. I bet that even the instructors of this program might have projects of their own that they have been putting off working on. 

The structure and routine of teaching a course and leading their participants through this process, may also help the instructors to recommit to their own projects. Dragging themselves through the same process they are taking their participants through. The partnership that comes from this could have everyone from participants to instructions coming out of this quarantine with something to show for it. 

I would love to hear from you all, does this sound like something you would love to be a part of? As a participant? As a mentor? Maybe both? Please reach out to me and let me know. Do you have ideas on applying for funding to make this happen? Perhaps you already offer workshops in your particular field, so you have a really strong curriculum already in place that we could use as a place to start from. 

If this speaks to you, I invite you all to reach out to me, so we can work together and start turning this dream into a reality.