Macerola looks to curb SODEC spending

New head of Quebec funder and self-described cheapskate distances self from predecessor. Looks to back more commercial films

MONTREAL — In a nod to his predecessor’s allegedly expensive tastes, the new head of SODEC, self-described cheapskate François Macerola, says he’s booked a camper for the Cannes film festival.

‘And if anyone wants to see my digs, I’m charging $5 a pop,’ the veteran culturecrat told a group of 300 industry players gathered at a luncheon to hear his plans for the film and TV financing agency.

Last spring, Quebec’s auditor general Renaud Lachance sparked a scandal after he accused SODEC director Jean-Guy Chaput of having sumptuous tastes because, among other things, he had booked a $1,300-a-night hotel room with a waterfront view at Cannes. Chaput, who was well respected in the Quebec film community, ultimately stepped down from the Quebec funding agency.

Francois Macerola

In addition to trimming fat and reining in spending, Macerola wants to make SODEC more open to the producers of commercial films. ‘I want SODEC to respond to the needs of all Quebec creators. An Avatar 2 would be welcome and so would a follow-up to a film such as J’ai tué ma mère,’ he told Playback Daily later.

Amid worries by Quebec’s film community that the industry here is becoming too commercial, Macerola wants to eliminate the line on its promotional material that says it funds ‘cinema d’auteur.’

‘I really want to eliminate this notion that we just invest in artistic films,’ he says. SODEC already funds popular films, such as the horror flick 5150, rue des Ormes from Cirrus Productions and Cinémaginaire’s hit comedy De père en flic.

Macerola also wants to work with the private sector. ‘Other jurisdictions around the world have found ways to finance films by involving the private sector. I know this is a sensitive subject, but we can find solutions… we need to find more money to fund Quebec film and television.’

Macerola has commissioned a group of well-known Quebec producers, among them Denise Robert and Roger Frappier, to study ways of financing Quebec films through international coproductions. The SODEC head believes that many of the current copro agreements between Canada and other countries are out of date. He would like Quebec to work out separate agreements where possible, noting, ‘SODEC could negotiate with countries within the European Union or the NAFTA countries.’