WGC calls for more majority co-productions

The Writers Guild of Canada wants Canadian broadcasters to get off their European period-drama kick. It's costing their membership work, the association contended at the co-production consultation currently being held by the federal government.
WGC

The Writers Guild of Canada wants Canadian broadcasters to get off their European period-drama kick. It’s costing their membership work, the association contended at the co-production consultation currently being held by the federal government.

“European costume dramas are not Canadian stories, nor do they reflect a Canadian perspective,” the guild stated Wednesday as part of its submission to this round of consultation.

The WGC told the feds that cash-strapped broadcasters looking to fill their primetime schedules with minority co-productions like The Tudors, The Borgias, Camelot, Pillars of the Earth, and more recently Titanic, means fewer Canadian-led big-budget event programs are being made.

“Minority co-productions would be acceptable, if for every Pillars of the Earth there was a majority co-production that engaged substantial numbers of Canadian talent. That is not currently the case,” the guild argued.

According to WGC numbers, Canadian producers during the last two years made one or two majority co-productions for every four or five minority co-productions.

The minority co-productions are often Canada-U.K. co-productions, with U.S. cable channels driving the creative.

The WGC called for Telefilm Canada and other federal agencies to take steps to redress the “severe imbalance between majority and minority co-productions of TV drama.”

That would include putting majority co-productions at the front of the queue for new Telefilm-administered investment before minority co-productions could be approved for subsidies.

“We understand it is difficult to raise financing, but to truly build something for everyone in the industry we need an equal number of majority co-productions in key areas like TV drama,” WGC head Maureen Parker argued. “Majority co-productions will employ more Canadians in higher-paying positions, and may also give Canadian audiences some stories they can relate to – not just European costume dramas,” she added.

Ottawa recently lifted a moratorium on making official co-production treaties with international partners, and called on industry players to advise on how and where to strike new treaties.