Richard Paradis - Part 1: Comparative Policies
I'm Richard Paradis; I'm the Business Affairs person for Super Channel, which is the only national pay television service in Canada. I’ve been Chief of Staff, for the Minister of Canadian Heritage, President of the Canadian Association of Film Distributors, and I teach courses in communication policy and cultural industries at a University.
Fraser. Can you talk about the evolution of federal and provincial policy in Canada and Québec and the funding programs that go with them? What is your assessment about how successful we've been with Canadian film policy in creating an industry?
Paradis. There's always been a systemic problem in English Canada for Canadian films. In French Canada, it's a completely different story. It's extremely successful; every year Québec film garners 18-20% of the market share. It often beats out American films in the marketplace. So, we are really talking about two different markets and realities. In terms of policy, we tried over the last 40 years to develop policies that would help the Canadian film industry. We’re at the point where everything is pretty well stalled; everyone has been asking the federal government to invest more money in the production of feature film for the last three or four years and getting absolutely nothing. Budgets increase, competition increases.
So, from the perspective of Canada, we need to look at the policies again with the objective of getting more funds to help the industry: not only to produce better films or more commercial films, but also to get some marketing money, so that we can let Canadians know that these films exist. In Québec, there have been ongoing changes and improvements in all areas that help Québec films get developed. Budget, which means that we have people who can attract audiences to the theatres.
F. What is La SODEC and how important is it to the situation you just described?
P. There have always been policies and certain cultural instruments developed in Québec that have been taken up by the federal government because Québec felt that it had to defend its cultural heritage, the French language, and everything else. So it's given itself tools that no other province has. La SODEC is a good example. Over the last 25 years, it has supported the development of cultural industries, be it books, sound recordings, or film. Its main function is a bit like Telefilm Canada. But it has many more aspects to it in terms of cultural sectors. La SODEC is unique; it plays an extremely important role because it’s complementary to all the funding that is available at the federal level. This means that a number of industry sectors can be developed: again in the book industry, the music industry, feature film, or even television. All of these have benefited from the creation of La SODEC.
F. How much money does it have?
P. About $60 million a year.
F. It's the richest fund in the country. Ontario has much less than that.
P. Considering the proportion of population, it certainly is. And we always have to remember that people who work in Québec, are working in French, which limits the market reach that they can have. But they are still in a good position, because they can benefit from funding from two levels; whereas, if you're a producer in Ontario, essentially your only source of financing is going to the federal government, apart from tax credits.