How to get into TV & Film in Canada

Jwithpuppetback

  • My advice is twofold:

1.  Look for a day job in film.

Anyone interested in film and TV should work in it even for a short time – in any capacity!  Look for ways to get onto a film union list, starting as a PA maybe even? There are many jobs, too, not all of them on shoots.  This  includes the behind-the-scenes stuff or animation, distribution, etcetera.  That way you really get a feel for your field & make contacts.  I’m not a hugely successful TV writer, but I’ve sold over 15 scripts and all of them due to personal contacts – not the 2 agents (!).

2.  Sell what scripts you have in the best way possible.  I often use a real estate metaphor, because it is the same, believe it or not.  As I learned the hard way, a local agent here like Integral or Characters won’t ‘sell’ your big script or new TV series idea.  They’ll offer the ‘houses’ they have at their level – think Surrey.  If you have a Shaughnessy mansion of a script, go to an LA agent.  Many of them will look at new stuff from young writers. I will say that even a Vancouver agent would be good to start your talks with any producer though.

In this light, check out the Writers Guild of Canada. You can’t join until you have a credit, but they sometimes have open events and checking the website for good materials and references is good. WGC is the Canadian version of the WGA, in fact we have sharing $$ agreements with them.

So, for example, if you are ready to look for an agent, look at the public list on the WGC site: http://www.wgc.ca/resources/agents.html

It’s usually possible to meet with Canadian agents if you have a project.  I’m currently not agented, due to the fact that I had to turn down the last 3 offers in a row (for bad reality shows that pay poorly).

All my work’s sold solely due to industry contacts but having an agent may have gotten me ‘in the door’.  I have had 2 agents, both Canadian and neither earned me a cent I didn’t find myself.  However, if you have a fantastic script, ready to go, for a movie, for example, you should try to get an agent to help you sell it.

I usually write TV episodes, so my work’s differently focused. If it’s a huge script – the Hollywood style ones have to be agented in the USA – our agents just don’t have the contacts to sell huge scripts.  Check out the Hollywood Screenwriting Directory for ‘who to send it to’. https://www.writersstore.com/hollywood-screenwriting-directory  It costs $29 US but is worth it.

Links:

TO film list – good for applying to current films. These are often updated: https://www1.toronto.ca/static_files/economic_development_and_culture/docs/currently_filming.pdf

BC file list – from the DGC site

https://www.dgc.ca/bc/production_list/Production%20List.pdf

Unions to check out:

Vancouver: ACFC is the easiest to get into. They don’t have ‘all’ the productions but they usually have something and are more willing to train.  See http://www.acfcwest.com/become.html

ACFC also has a list of great links for beginners in film: http://www.acfcwest.com/industry.html  They have a Production Office area and it’s good if he wants to get some local experience.  Pay rates are lower than IATSE and hours sometimes longer but it’s a way in. Most ACFC members eventually join IATSE.

IATSE:  This I’d recommend only if he’s going the ‘office’ route first.  https://www.iatse.com/ Local 891 is Vancouver.  It’s more or less a route to get into an office and see production and work from there.

DGC: This is where locations starts, also directors.  But I never have seen Locations lead to writing gigs, they’re too far from the office and the writers.  If directing is your interest, though, it’s good.  They have offices in Vancouver and TO.

http://www.dgc.ca/en/index.cfm

The TV and film world can look like a jungle, but I’ve had some great experiences and earned a lot out there at times!

Cat

p.s. Below is from http://thecollectortv.com/36.html  and is the listing for 1 of my Collector tv series episodes.  Producers: Larry Sugar, Showrunners: Jon Cooksey and Ali Marie Matheson. The Collector is a wonderful show – a dark fantasy & I thoroughly enjoyed writing two episodes for it!

Collector website Ufologist

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Why I’m not rich = 2893 – West 41 Avenue

I have, for several years, avoided writing on the subject of how I lost my money. I did okay in tv and film.  It wasn’t that.  Frankly, I was a single widowed mum who could afford good child care, lessons for the child and buy a condo / townhouse worth $432,000 in 2007. DSC00015

Then the truth came out about that townhouse, none of which was in the Minutes I reviewed or were flagged by the ‘Inspector’ I hired.

But recently, there’s a great article on the Vancouver Sun site which explains how it happens that a strata has way more upcoming maintenance than it can afford.  Ours had a strata council that, at best, was getting senile and, at worst may have been outright lying about the condition and whitewashing minutes.

This article also predicts that I & the 3 other families caught by 2893’s problems won’t be the last ones!

In a nutshell, the lack of available funds to fix my townhome caused great financial damage as this article predicts will become more common here in Vancouver.

Although 2893 West 41 Avenue (my townhome) had to have multiple floods before a building engineering report was done. Oh, and the old strata council’s minutes included praise for the management and president so that at least 4 of us bought in in 2007 when they should have been fixing it. Instead, we bought in, letting some of the old guard out. So we took the financial hit. But when a 19 unit place needs close to $4 million of fixes, it causes forced sales (mine and others).

So financial troubles came to me, not from writing – it wasn’t a big film on my credit card as it has been with some of my film friends – it was a Vancouver real estate buy! Shocking in a town where they say you can’t go wrong.  Admittedly, due to the uprising market, it was mitigated a little by the time I sold, but I’ll carry debt due to this until I die.

There was no legal recourse.  Legal fees for just being able to hang onto the condo until I sold it were $12,000 from my lawyer.  It was close to criminal, but not – as in, the strata’s lying would have to be proved in court –  but I and the other ‘new’ owners didn’t have another 50k$ to go there.  One of my co-victims tried to get lawyers on pro bono, but they refused.  All the case law is apparently in favour of the building and it did need to be fixed.  New roof, exteriors, windows, doors, garbage area, front entrance, and it is now rainscreened (but it’s not perfect yet – the garage awaits).

It’s a terrible situation all around for those who experienced it and it looks like there will be lots more of this heartache to come!

So why is this on my writing blog?  To warn you that the pundits are often wrong.  You can go wrong with platinum level real estate in a city where the prices do nothing but go up! (And admittedly, I lost less due to this factor). But you can lose the forever home you thought you were raising your child in! And, I probably could have made a movie of the week for the money I lost (okay, very low budget)…. but it’s a thought….

 

 

 

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Beautiful day in Vancouver 

My friend lets me walk her dog on Saturday afternoons. It’s such a privilege for me and it clears my head from all of the week’s activities. I often get great ideas on walks. 

    
 

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open door submissions for novels

So this week, I found two places that are accepting unpublished novels (slush basically) for a short period of time.  Both of them want about 50 pages of a novel from any author who wants their novel read by a big-time publisher.  I think these are great opportunities for those of us in SF/F.  So here they are:

Gollancz UK publisher

Angry Robot USA publisher

I’m not certain I will go for it, though. I don’t want to send my novel off until I’m ready. I don’t have the 80k finished level and it’s not polished as yet.  But it is tempting!

Like my old friend the tomcat KittyCat or Quonsi as his owners call him, I have to assess our chances of getting good things from each hunting expedition.  Not entirely certain that being in a veritable mountain of slush novel submissions is the best presentation for me…

cat from larch

 

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Submissions

Source: Submissions

One of the most venerable markets in Cdn science fiction and fantasy is open to submissions again! On Spec 2016 here we come!

Today in Kerrisdale, Vancouver ~ the first snowdrops

ssnowdrop

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December 18, 2015

Enjoying my WOTF badges! It helps me to feel like a creative writer when Corporate Job makes me feel like a technical person.

Plans for the Christmas break include trying to get back into my novel and also writing a pitch up for the Women In Film Horror script contest More on that at: Women in Film (Canada) genre writing contest.

HONORABLE MENTION

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December 2015

My beautiful picture

Bill Pochylko, Stettler, AB 1950s.

Recently received another SF award! The story Steamer Plane, is a Writers of the Future, Honourable Mention 4th Quarter, 2015.

It’s always great to get this in an email:

Your story has been judged and is an Honorable Mention for the 4th quarter. (entry between 1 July through 30 September 2015).

OTOH: Strange Horizons had one of my stories for nearly 6 months and sent me an ‘oops, it must have gotten lost in the email’ response complete with copy of email, carefully undated.

Sometimes you’re winning, with a hot car in a daring color, driving down Main Street – thanks WOTF – and sometimes you’re not…(the other guys).

This is my 2nd WOTF win this year: Absinthe Kind won

Honorable Mention for the 3rd quarter of the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. (entry between 1 April and 30 June 2015).

I always wonder if I qualify, but then I decide that I do because all of my short story sales have been to non-pro markets.  And that pesky novel isn’t even done yet, let alone sold!

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The 1950s picture is from Dad’s collection Bill Pochylko, Stettler, Alberta. He’s  driving past Thirsk’s 5 to Dollar Store.

 

 

 

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