Each year, Playback puts out a call for the industry to recommend its best and brightest up-and-coming talent for our 10 to Watch list. And the search keeps getting tougher, as the professionals who make up the screen entertainment industry keep getting better. The selection represented here were carefully chosen with input from a variety of industry sources and organizations. This year’s 10 to Watch were revealed in Playback‘s Fall issue; the stories here are longer versions of the Q&As that appear in the print publication.
DAVID CORMICAN, PRODUCER
The buzz: At just 30, the Saskatchewan native and former actor has been turning heads in the feature film world: he produced Faces in the Crowd starring Milla Jovovich, The Tall Man starring Jessica Biel and Stephen McHattie, and one of his upcoming projects includes the Captain Canuck remake.
What prompted your jump from acting into producing?
It started from being frustrated, being the underemployed, ‘always the bridesmaid’ actor. I decided what I needed to do was start writing my own material. So I got together with a few other actors who were in similar positions. We wrote a bunch of stuff and started pitching it around. Then we realized that in order to get stuff done you have to go one step beyond writing it. You have to actually produce it yourself.
We did a pitch video for this TV series, and from there I caught the eye of a local producer in Toronto, who brought me out on a few commercials. I started going to a bunch of the markets and festivals and… I ended up with an option between a couple different companies [Muse and Just for Laughs].
How did you manage this jump so quickly?
I live my life with the mantra ‘to be great, surround yourself with greatness.’ So I continue to try to live by that and surround myself with great people. I’ve had an incredible ‘mentorship’ with Kevin DeWalt [the CEO of Mind's Eye, where David works], just getting to learn from someone who’s been in the industry for 20 to 25 years.
What are your development strategies for properties built from scratch?
It’s great if it’s got source material behind it. Lately… we’re sort of treating the film industry a little bit more like a business community where you put things out for tender. We’ll go to a group of agents and ask for writers’ takes on things. Then really, the best idea wins. I like to use a collaborative approach. You’re not creating everything inside a vacuum, and thinking it’s perfect, then taking it out to an audience only to find out that you’ve missed some big holes.
How do you think the Saskatchewan industry will survive, in light of the change to the tax credit system?
If you look at any jurisdiction across the world, the film industry is for the most part government-supported in some way. We need a program in place. Whether it’s a tax credit, another incentive or some sort of equity-matched funding program remains to be determined. There just needs to be willingness on all sides.
We [at Mind's Eye] haven’t really been relying on government subsidies. They’re great and form a huge chunk of your financing when they’re available, but we’ve been taking more of an investor-based approach to our financing.
What’s up next for you personally?
We’re working right now on this project called Seeing Red. It’s with director, Kari Skogland, and we’ve got Kate Hudson attached to it. That should be shooting over January, February and March of 2013. We’ll be shooting in Singapore, Australia and Canada.
As a board member of the CMPA where do you see the Canadian industry headed?
There’s an appetite out there to get involved earlier in the process and feel more of a sense of ownership over projects – whether that’s from an equity standpoint, or with the Kickstarter model. That’s probably where we’re going to have to move over the next little while. And I think it’s also where governments want it to move.
What does the industry need to do to thrive?
We don’t really support our own as talent until they’ve gone somewhere else and been dubbed as talent. I’d like to see better investments, not just from politicians and Telefilm, but from the Canadian audience as a whole. In turn, that will drive everything else, in terms of the box office, VOD sales and viewership, and a sense of our own self-worth.