There’s been a surge in American productions filmed in Canada as of late but, the productions, particularly those of the US cable networks, are flying in talent rather than hiring local actors for even guest appearances. What do you make of this phenomenon?
Well obviously it is not fair if you look at it that way. I used to get so upset starting out as an unknown actor in Canada because every role that I had a chance at usually ended up going to some kid from America. Usually the actors aren’t that much different and they cost the production more to use; I never understood it. That’s free enterprise though isn’t it? I know it’s tough to have American productions using mainly American actors but how many Canadian actors, producers, and writers live and work in LA? (The answer is a lot.) The real question shouldn’t be about US productions vs. Canadian productions. It should be: since when does Canada and America involve egos in business decisions? It’s about the art, it’s about creating something for everyone, and involving everyone, not decided groups of wanna be totalitarians.
Do you believe, as some people in the industry do, that Canadian audiences are prejudice against Canadian TV, judging it for having a lower production value than America’s big budget productions?
No way. I think audiences just watch what’s good. I think that we don’t invest enough into our stories as Canadians, however. Do you know how fucking cool this country is, and how exciting some of the creative talent is here? We’ve got stories to tell, and we’ve got good story-tellers. I think the confidence in Canadian TV and cinema is growing thanks to production companies like New Real Films and Thump. In addition, people like Paul Gross, Ilana Frank, Don Mckellar, Niv Fichman, The Wellington Brothers and Reginald Harkema add to this growth. Have you seen Hobo with a Shotgun yet? Or Manson My Name is Evil? You want see some films that break the stereotype of Canadian cinema. Try those two for starters.
How do you think the government of Canada can work to promote its national arts sector?
I think the government needs to start believing more in Canadian stories and invest more time and money into our film and TV. I also feel that we as artists need to make them more fun to watch. It should stop being about where it’s made as well, and more about who we’re making it for: the people.
When you first began acting, did you make a conscious decision to work in Canadian film and television, for example with indie productions like Manson, My Name is Evil?
It was never a preconceived notion that I would work on either independent films or on a mainstream TV production. My main concern was working. I loved being a part of Mason My Name is Evil, and I’m damn proud of it. Just as proud as I am of the work I do on Rookie Blue. Working on the show has been a dream come true.
How would you sum up the current state of the Canadian Film and television scene?
It’s booming for three reasons. First off, people are starting to realize Canada is where it’s at. Second, Toronto and Vancouver have always been popular production spots for American TV shows. This number is rising due to tax incentives, and the array of locations and appealing landscapes that Canada has to offer. Lastly, and this is my favorite, Canada is starting to shoot more Canadian TV productions that air in America too, and other countries.