The CRTC may have to define what a Canadian film is

“Deapool,” a Marvel Studios production starring Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds, which was filmed in Vancouver and co-written by Canadian Paul Wenick, is not recognized as a local film. (Photo: Canadian Press)

Ottawa — Quick riddle: which of these two films is Canadian? “Red Alert,” a Pixar studio production that chronicles the misadventures of a Chinese-Toronto teenager, or “Dune,” the epic sci-fi film by Oscar-winning Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve?

According to Canadian regulations: none.

Decision makers have the formidable task of giving the most exact definition possible of what a movie or series here represents.

This definition is in the course of the bill to require streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime or Disney+ to feature Canadian content, like traditional media.

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodríguez says he plans to ask the CRTC to define what will count as a Canadian work after Parliament passes Bill C-11. According to him, the legislation will help increase investment in the creative sectors in Canada. It will allow Canadians to tell their own stories even more fully.

The CRTC has indicated that public consultations will take place after Mr. Rodríguez presents the direction he expects to follow.

“[Le projet de loi C-11] it will create a more level playing field for Canadian creators and businesses while allowing listeners greater access to Canadian content,” said Telefilm Canada CEO and CEO Christa Dickenson.

Experts want the current definition of Canadian content to be expanded and modernized to reflect the reality of today’s film and television production. Not changing anything could encourage studios not to invest in talent here, because their work would not be considered Canadian.

Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet Law and Electronic Commerce at the University of Ottawa, this could lead to less investment in co-productions and favor smaller Canadian productions.

He expects more flexibility in defining a Canadian film.

“It is the most restrictive definition, the narrowest that exists in the world. It even excludes Canadian authors,” says Professor Geist of the popular “The Scarlet Maid” series, adapted from a novel by Margaret Atwood, which does not count as a Canadian production.

“Government policy is already successful in attracting productions to Canada,” he adds. This is where we have to start, from an economic perspective.”

He notes that major streaming broadcasters are already investing heavily in creation in Canada. Its algorithms encourage Canadians and others to watch Canadian productions. These jobs may not meet all the official requirements, but they still end up in the Netflix search engine.

“The survival of independent production companies depends on their ability to operate in a fairer regulatory environment that involves all the main players in the broadcasting ecosystem,” said the director general of the Association québécoise de la production maladie, Hélène Messier, when the bill was introduced. in February.

According to the Canadian Media Production Association, it is important for Canadian producers to obtain the rights to their own stories. “When they own the intellectual property, those stories belong to them. They can reinvest this income in our sector,” the organization said.

Some major productions with Canadian actors or creators do not count as Canadian works, at least not officially.

For example: “Deapool”, a Marvel Studios production. It stars a Canadian actor, Ryan Reynolds. It is an adaptation of a comic book character who is Canadian. Filming took place in Vancouver. Canadian Paul Wenick co-wrote the script. Despite everything, this feature film is not recognized as a local film, according to the criteria of the Audiovisual Products Certification Office of Canada.

To be recognized, a Canadian production must have a Canadian director, a Canadian screenwriter, and one of the two highest-paid Canadian “artists.” Points are also awarded if Canadians hold other top positions, such as cinematographer, art director, composer or editor.

Some question the need to update the points system. For example, should points be awarded for recognizing the increased importance of sound or special effects animators?

Peter Grant, a former member of the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Group, believes that Canadian operators should remain the essential element of a definition.

According to him, the current definition makes it possible to support Canadian creators while giving them the opportunity to explore topics that are not typically Canadian.

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And that’s not stopping Canadians from becoming major players in Hollywood, adds Mr. Grant.

“Current rules are based on the premise that the owner of a production business must be Canadian or money is spent here on talent. In defining Canadian content, the intellectual property rights must be owned by a Canadian, but this does not require that the work be a Canadian story or appear Canadian.”

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