Producer of the Year: Bon Cop’s Kevin Tierney

Kevin Tierney has certainly received some stellar publicity this year. Bon Cop, Bad Cop, which he cowrote and produced, has taken the crown as the most successful Canadian film ever at the domestic box office. As of Nov. 23, it had grossed $12.2 million, surpassing the long-standing record of 1982′s Porky’s ($11.2 million).

All that good press seems like an apt reward considering Tierney used to work at drumming it up for others, in his previous role as a publicist with a firm led by veteran PR man David Novek. One of the company’s clients, producer Rock Demers, offered Tierney a job – which he accepted on the condition he could produce as well as do publicity.

Today Tierney says that all of his projects ‘have been great experiences, though not necessarily a barrel of laughs. Each one is different.’

One standout the head of Montreal’s Park Ex Pictures points to is The Making of a Leader (1919-1968), the five-hour-plus 1994 documentary series about Pierre Trudeau that he and Demers coproduced.

‘Getting to know Trudeau, travelling with a brilliant crew and interviewing the likes of Fidel Castro, Jimmy Carter and Sheikh Yamani – it doesn’t get much better than that,’ Tierney says.

Another highlight is Twist (2003), the Oliver Twist modernization Tierney’s son Jacob wrote and directed. The proud papa describes the production as ‘pure pleasure – a combination of pure pride and humbling respect at just how good he was at making the movie he wanted to make.’

And now there’s Bon Cop. The bilingual buddy action flick, directed by Érik Canuel and starring Patrick Huard and Colm Feore, took off with Canadian audiences – though more so with French-speaking ones ($9.7 million on French screens) than English ($2.6 million). Which prompts the question Tierney hears all the time: what can English Canada do to catch up with the good fortunes enjoyed by Quebec cinema? His answer is it can’t.

‘The Canadian film scene cannot get to where Quebec is already,’ he says. ‘It is not physically, spiritually, culturally, historically, or geographically possible. If Quebec shared a border with France, we could compare Canada and Quebec. We don’t. What we have here in Quebec is fantastic, but it is utterly unique – for once a pleasant aberration in cultural terms.’

That is not to say English Canada can’t learn from the marketing initiatives and talent development that have succeeded so well in Quebec, Tierney adds.

‘Canada needs to keep making Canadian movies that Canadians want to see – movies of different genres, and more movies that are perhaps less personal statements and more… the result of passion and the desire to reach an audience, and not cultural or regional committee decisions,’ he argues. ‘And we need to spend more money selling the good ones to Canadian audiences.’

This means aggressively promoting these films on TV, radio and newspapers across the country.

‘But in order to be successful at that, we have to have movies that will pay off for the audience,’ he stresses.