François Macerola, Part 1: SODEC and its Relationship to Other Provincial Agencies

Interviewed by Evelyn Ellerman at Montreal on March, 2012

My name Francois Macerola. I am the President and Executive Director of la SODEC.

Ellerman. You've had a long and varied career in the media in Canada. Could you give us some idea about what the original idea was for la SODEC and whether or not there's been a change in how it's organized and what it's meant to do.

Macerola. Not that many changes, frankly speaking. The Québec government wanted to establish a one-stop window for all cultural activities. There were already some organizations working with film, television, and others working with books; so they decided to centralize everything, under la SODEC. Our mandate is to develop cultural industries in Québec in film, television, publishing, music, shows, and arts and crafts. That's our mandate. There are 107 of us and we administer a parliamentary appropriation of $56 million for which we have the bank, and we do have a bank, a financial bank with a capital of $50 million. We also look after the tax credit for the government which in Québec amounts to something like $260 million. We are partners with the union in Montréal, La Fonds de Solidarité. We have created two funds: FICC (Fonds d’investissement de la culture et de communications) and FIDEC (Financières des entreprises culturelles), the provincial, cultural and commercial fund. The second one has the capital of $100 million and the other one, the FICC, has something like $42-$45 million. This is the kind of money that we administer on behalf of the Québec government.

E. Those are funds that anyone else in Canada would be jealous to have. This is an extreme commitment on the part of this province towards cultural industries.

M. I guess so. I've been in this position for two years, but I've noticed that whether it's a PQ or a Liberal government, everybody has believed that culture is very important. Last year, even though the economy has not been working very well, the Premier in his budget has decided not to touch the cultural field, but to add to our budget for some digital operations. This year I hope that the budget will remain the same even if they're looking for money to reduce their deficit.

E. We were talking to Kevin Shay from OMDC (Ontario Media Development Fund) in Banff last June. He was saying that for many years there was really no dialogue between English Canada and Québec but that recently OMDC and SODEC had been talking. Was that just because of the times or because of particular projects that you are interested in?

M. I believe that we should be working more outside Québec and more outside France, Italy, and Germany. We have I don't know how many millions of Canadians just beside us, and I think that we should be working with them. For example, we have been elected for a period of two years as responsible for the provincial agencies involved in the financing of film: Manitoba, British Columbia, Ontario... we've been elected as the Chair of that group and also we have been elected to work with Ottawa on the development of policies to do with tax credits. So, we’re not only Québec. We are not only France. We are also Canadian.

E. What direction would you like to see the text credit going?

M. I think that we should reinvent something because it's important for us to be able to co-produce together. For example, with Manitoba, last year or the year before, we did co-produce the three films. That's a lot! Three feature films. Goon, which is a big success in English Canada and Québec is a co-production with Manitoba. And I think we should be able to establish an office for all the provincial agencies and have a new, imaginative tax credit in order to permit these agencies to really answer the needs of the film community. For me, that's very important.

E. What role does Telefilm Canada have in all of this?

M. They do administer the Media Fund. They are not involved in the selection of the projects; they are just involved in the administration part, but they are a fantastic partner for us. When we say yes to a film, and they say yes, no, or maybe in the near future, we have a very good relationship with Telefilm Canada. They are deeply involved in these files. But as far as the provincial agencies are concerned, they were not around the table with the federal agencies, because they were provincial agencies.

François Macerola, Part 2: The Film Industry, Technology, Regulation, and Foreign Investment