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THE DOGMA

A couple of weeks ago, the L.A. Weekly ran an article [“Heir of the Dogma,” August 9–15] about one of these groovy new film collectives where bohemian-looking digital filmmakers shoot their bowel movements and foist it on the public in their hip little screenings. This really got my Irish up. (Actually, it got my Jewish up.) I know this is the unpopular view in our digital age, and I’m probably showing my age (I’m a grizzled 36), but a movie shot on video is not a movie! It’s just video footage.

Does this digital moviemaking thing bother anybody except me? Look at some of these studio-backed digital pictures like Full Frontal and Tadpole. What do they cost — $1 million, $2 million each? Well, as long as they are going to put up $2 million, why can’t they raise an extra few thousand dollars and buy some fucking film? I don’t want to pay nine bucks to go to a movie theater and watch something that looks like my uncle’s shaky, grainy home videos of his fishing trip. Doesn’t anybody else miss the lush look that only properly projected 35mm film can provide?

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My sincere wish is that DV — just like VD before it — will go away before it gets worse.

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STOP ACHIN’ FOR IT AND DO SOMETHING

Re: Bobbi Murray’s “Canadian Bacon” [August 9–15]. What if they considered themselves economic actors first and Americans second? After all, when none of the apparent alternatives are acceptable, you have to start looking at the assumptions about what is off the table for a place to find your solution. This idea is actually more common around the world than we may think. People from every country come to the United States every day looking for a life, work and a chance for their families. Why should an American who loses his livelihood not do the same? Is there some inherent advantage to living in the U.S. that trumps food on the table? We are not talking about Timbuktu here; it’s Canada for God’s sake. Go there; be Canadian; be employed.

—David Stead
Seattle, Washington

 

Regarding Bobbi Murray’s article on runaway production remedies for the U.S. film and television industry, as a crew technician who works on various films, series and commercials, I’ve experienced the loss of entertainment-industry jobs in the U.S. as a result of "runaway" productions shooting in Canada — and, to a lesser degree, in places such as Australia, New Zealand and Mexico.

The Canadian government has misused a provision of NAFTA regarding protecting their "culture" in order to justify many of its subsidies. What kind of Canadian culture is Chicago, Texas Rangers, Pasadena, American Psycho or Detroit Rock City? (As for Dudley Do-Right — another one shot in Canada — even though it was made by and starred Americans, I suppose one might call it an expression of Canadian culture. And since The Shipping News takes place in Nova Scotia, it gets a pass, too.)

I can think of very few household-name actors (or directors) who are willing to speak out on this matter. Ironically, many of them are more than willing to publicly decry the myriad injustices they see and hear in the largely cruel world in which we all share space, yet virtually none of them will do something to help the very people who make them look and sound like the stars they are. If Robin Williams had demanded it, Insomnia might have been completely shot in the U.S. — not in Canada (except for some aerial shots in Alaska); if Robert De Niro had demanded it, The Score might have been shot in the U.S., not in Montreal; if Arnold Schwarzenegger had demanded it, The Sixth Day might have been shot in the U.S., not in Vancouver. (This also applies to the upcoming Terminator III — for which Arnie is getting a record salary, and which was scheduled to shoot partially in Canada. It is now shooting entirely in the U.S., although this is apparently due to Arnie’s political aspirations, and to his fear of losing votes in retaliation for causing his fellow American film workers to lose jobs.)

On the other hand, I know of some actors who said "no" to Canada. Thanks to them, I got to work on some of their shows in the U.S. — and they’re not even big names. If they can do it, what excuses do the members of the multimillionaire club have?

Many of the jobs which do remain here often do so as a result of wage and benefit concessions, resulting in a lower standard of living for those of us trying to maintain a moderate lifestyle in the relatively expensive region in which we live. If you don’t already know it, most of the behind-the-scenes crew and office personnel working on these productions — and most of the supporting and bit actors you see and hear onscreen — are far from wealthy. When our income drops, so does our cash output, thereby negatively impacting the local economy. On top of that, with fewer productions shooting here, there are fewer permit and other fees going into the public coffers, along with fewer food, gas, laundry, hardware, etc., purchases made by said productions, thus further reducing the revenues circulating in the region.

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