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The Orchestra Said No

Last Build Date: Sun, 05 Oct 2014 07:20:05 +0000


'The People of Earth' Enters Production on Super 8mm

Sun, 08 Jul 2007 20:20:00 +0000

It's working title is The People of Earth. The new super 8mm project under the EVMP banner has gotten under way with the first cartridge off to Toronto for processing. It is a short of course, shot on Kodak 64t Ektachrome Super 8mm film. Written and directed by myself - Nikalas Kryzanowski

The story revolves around the three forest dwelling survivors of a catastrophic event. Through Voice of God narration it explores their characters and traces their history to the point leading up to the catastrophy. It will touch on themes of human conflict and cooperation and will hopefully illustrate how we are ultimately at the mercy of our environment. It is being shot amongst the decimated forests of Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC. Click here for more context.

There should be more details and photographs available in the coming weeks.

East Van Moving Picture Collective Launched

Sat, 27 Jan 2007 22:42:00 +0000

The new website for the East Vancouver Moving Picture Collective has now been launched.

The EVMP, as it's known, is as a grassroots, community based filmmaking resource created by myself and Benn Neufeld for anyone with an interest in networking with like-minded individuals, and for those who want to see their own artistically motivated films come to light.

One of the EVMP's main goals is to provide both practical and moral support for everyone wishing to collaborate on a film shoot. We feel our approach will provide a wonderful platform for those who wish to participate in the process of filmmaking but who may lack the network. We're looking for all types of crew to join us, with no talent too small.

It features a members forum for communication, as well as news from around the Vancouver film scene and more.

I'd like to extend and invitation to join our forum to contribute to our project.

Cavia Erectus

Mon, 11 Dec 2006 19:09:00 +0000


On a personal note, I've wrapped and finished my own art film called Cavia Erectus. It's distributed online by the East Van Moving Picture Collective, which is a group founded by myself and Benn Neufeld. As of now, we're sans a proper website, but working hard to get one.

You can currently find it on google video here: Cavia Erectus It's five minutes long - please have a watch.

Directed by Nikalas Kryzanowski
Featuring J. Mercer
2006 (5:24)

Brand Upon the Brain and a New Model of Production

Wed, 01 Nov 2006 19:42:00 +0000

The Film Company, is an interesting Seattle based film company with a business model unique to the current climate in the industry. The model is based on trust. While sounding risky, it gives the the Company the opportunity to scout and nurture talent, as well as the power to take artistic chances to produce films that are more cutting edge and entertaining than the Old Guard of Hollywood movie making.

In producing Winnipeg-based, surrealist director Guy Maddin's feature "Brand Upon the Brain", they offered him a full professional crew, 11 hours of film footage and a month to prepare his film. And most importantly, they offered him full artistic and creative freedom. This before even pen hit paper for a script.

The Company also retains funds to court distribution for the films and even retains a fund for self distribution in the event that no outside distributor can be found. (Brand Upon the Brain opened at the Toronto International Film Festival, on September 8th, with a live score by members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.)

The model also allows the company to court directors who have established reputations making edgy cult films, such as Guy Maddin. On paper it makes for a win-win situation.

For a piece in Cinemascope Magazine, he writes that, "In Canada, most feature films take years to develop. By the time the money arrives, you're sick of the subject matter." He talks of the merit in doing things impulsively. Action! not talk.

If there's one thing a production company should be doing, it's producing. There is far too much talent that is wasted. And it's a fine thing that there is a company that sees the potential in harvesting raw talent over nit-picking bureaucratic indifferrence.

Trailer Park Boys: Get Thee to the International Market

Fri, 27 Oct 2006 01:44:00 +0000

Two things:

I'm not surprised. The Trailer Park Boys opened on some 200 Canadian screens with record box office receipts totally roughly $1.3 Million. The popular potty mouthed TV program that has run for five seasons on Showcase with solid ratings, has consistently been one of the top rated shows in Canada.

Yes, it pains me that this kind of subject matter does so well on our airwaves, but it's also a "cultural export" that puts Canadian programming on the radars of the viewing public in countries such as Iceland, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands and the US.

What has also not surprised me is that the Trailer Park Boys movie has not yet opened as a film in these countries. US and UK release is simply stated as TBA. I can only guess why. Perhaps the distributors are waiting to see how it does in Canada first, however, you can be assured that foul mouthed depravity on screen usually translates rather seamlessly across borders. The only difference this time is that we're exporting rather than importing.

It's not out of character for a Canadian production with box office potential to not fully realize itself. Look at Vincenzo Natali's Cube. This Hitchcockian/Dystopian thriller has enough going on to rival any Hollywood film. It opened on 16 screens and took in a mere $57,000. According to Box Office Mojo, it's widest domestic release had it on 24 screens. Thankfully it was shored up by it's eventual foreign release. Had a major studio made this movie, as it is, it would've seen $40 million or more. Comparable in quality to Trailer Park Boys, the two Jackass films have grossed over $150 Million combined, and here we're celebrating one percent of that as a record.

Canadian film should be placing more emphasis on marketing. Get Trailer Park Boys on foreign screens. Otherwise, the Americans and Brits will be downloading crappy internet rips of it in no time.

Moral Ambiguity

Fri, 15 Sep 2006 02:12:00 +0000

I would like to argue that film-going, Hollywood style, is a Godly pursuit. It's a light emitting medium that presents to us with a set of clearly defined morals. Full of angels and demons, we usually find ourselves aligning with the filmmakers conception of justice, afterwards feeling vindicated in our decision, and if the filmmaker is particulariy effective, ready to spread the feel-good-word to those around us.

On the otherhand there is a devil of a cinema out there, far less popular than your good news cinema. It operates under an entirely different set of conventions. Morality is questionable, ambiguous. It can be confusing and many times there are no definitive answers provided.

They're also at the foundation of the Canadian film tradition which is linked closely to the European auteur tradition, where the directors of the film are the largest selling point, even larger than the actors. This cultivates the expression of individual morality rather than the collective morality of Hollywood. Each auteur piece "belongs in spirit" to the director and goes to illustrate the relatively of morality itself, which is a tough swallow from the Judeo-Christian film going perspective.

The Canadian Co-operation Project

Fri, 08 Sep 2006 00:33:00 +0000

Here's a tidbit that's been buried in history. If passed today would likely (and hopefully) cause an furor across the nation. It was a motion passed by government officials in 1948 that showed an incredible lack of foresight, ambition and even sovereignty on Canada's part. The veritable *stunting* of Canadian initiative.

It goes that the Government of Canada agreed not to pass a Canadian quota system for our own industry or tariffs on U.S. films, in exchange that Hollywood studios to agree to *mention* Canada as often as possible in order to promote the tourist industry. A so called "Gentleman's Agreement".

The agreement was terminated in 1958 after the threat of quotas and tariffs had evaporated. The only trouble is - the damage had already been done. This hinderance to Canadian film production probably did more to solidify the Hollywood's strangle hold on the nation's movie houses, stifle Canadian movie producers who were fledgeling at the time and train Canadian viewers to recognize themselves in American film over their own.

This interesting documentary in the CBC archives from 1975 called Bright Lights & Political Fights: The Canadian Film Industry, illustrates just how poorly this reflects on the Liberal government of the day. It serves to underscore the troubles Canadian film has had throughout the last century.

Enjoy. That is to say, roll your eyes and throw up your arms.

Hosted By: Don McNeill.

"The Canadian Cooperation Project". The CBC Digital Archives Website. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Last updated: 25 Aug. 2004. ""> [Accessed 8 Sept. 2006.]

Legistlating Can-Con May Not Grow Us a Better Movie Industry

Sun, 03 Sep 2006 18:44:00 +0000

Many people attribute the viability of Canada's music industry to the percentage of air play at Canadian radio stations reserved for our artists. There is talk of adopting similar rules for theatres across Canada to increase viewership of Canadian movies. As tantalizing an idea as it may be to the Canadian film buff, there are a few differences at play that may work to the advantage of TV & Radio stations, but may not translate as well to the theatres.

First, many radio stations fulfill their Can-Con requirements by playing those Canadian artists that are international superstars. Avril Lavigne, Shania Twain and Bryan Adams. These are Canadians who established themselves elsewhere and would've received airplay even without the regulations. This serves to undermine the spirit of the mandate that suggests:

"Reflecting Canadians to Canadians, as much as they contribute to shaping our common values, our history, geography, our linguistic and cultural diversity also make Canadians different from one other. Differences exist within communities and from region to region across the country."

For film, unfortunately, it is a much more daunting task to produce a film about Canada physically outside of Canada. Those that are made by Canadian directors such as Deepa Mehta and certain Atom Egoyan films such as Felicia's Journey oddly come off as foreign because they are made in and about foreign countries.

The second problem with Can Con in cinemas is that radio and television is generally considered "free" to the common person. Radio is also generally a background element in the car or at work. To devote a movie screen to a Canadian movie will not guarantee "bums in seats". Canadians may not shell out $10.50 to see a movie they're not interested in and Canadian films may still go unseen even though they're readily available.

Radio and Television stations also have the luxury of broadcasting all night long. In fact some TV stations intentionally show much of their Canadian content in those non-peak hours. Theatres however, generally run a limited number of shows in afternoons and evenings. They may be inclined to show their Canadian films in non peak time slots, or they may even create new time slots - Wednesday mornings at 10 am, perhaps?

Of course, one could legislate theatres to show Canadian movies at peak times, however, this would likely be the source of friction between theatre owners and legislators, which is ultimately a knock to the dignity and reputation of Canadian filmmaking.

Bon Cop, Bad Cop Finds An Audience (predictably, it's mainly in Quebec)

Sat, 02 Sep 2006 04:37:00 +0000

The Quebec made "Bon Cop, Bad Cop" starring with Patrick Huard and Colm Feore smashed the Quebec provincial box office record raking in $1.4 Million in Quebec on it's opening weekend and has now surpassed $4 million in Quebec. It eclipsed 2001's "Les Boys" by $200,000, ranking as high as the 17th highest grossing film in North America - while released in Quebec only.

It seems however, that English Canadians didn't quite share Quebec's enthusiasm. Opening in English Canada on 114 screens it grossed $292,000 in it's opening weekend.

This is consisent with box office percentages for Canadian films on Canadian screens - up to 20% of the Quebec box office goes to French Canadian made films, while only 1% of the English Canadian box office goes to English Canadian films. A trend this film was hoping to buck with it's nationwide distribution and Ontario locales. Perhaps the box office downer in English Canada was due to a lack of Western representation within the film. Western Canadians seem quite detached and sheltered from the Franco/Anglo rivalry out east, perhaps if the finale focussed on a burning oil rig this might have attracted Albertans, or in a Grain Elevator Saskatchwaners would've felt a connection.

Of course it's unfair to blame the locations. After all, Ontario is the biggest English speaking market in Canada and it still failed to stimulate box office totals there.

Regardless, this film tied all Canadians together with our national sport of Hockey. The pacing was somewhat schizophrenic with an explosion one minute and absurd comedy and heartfelt weeping the next, however, if you're looking for a romp, it fills the role nicely.

2006 Gemini Awards To Be Held In B.C.

Thu, 31 Aug 2006 03:21:00 +0000

The Gemini Awards are going to be held for the first time in British Columbia at the River Rock Show Theatre in Richmond. The Geminis are a yearly salute to the English Canadian television industry. They are an important reminder of the contributions made by industry professionals to the discipline. They also help to foster audience awareness of Canadian TV.

The nominees for the 21st Annual Gemini Awards were released on Tuesday in 87 different categories (program, craft and performance), notably:

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Dramatic Role
Nigel Bennett
At the Hotel

Nicholas Campbell
Da Vinci's City Hall

Peter Outerbridge
ReGenesis II

Mark McKinney
Slings & Arrows Season 2

Gil Bellows
Terminal City

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Dramatic Role
Martha Henry
At the Hotel

Erin Karpluk

Andrea Menard
Moccasin Flats Season III

Martha Burns
Slings & Arrows Season 2

Cara Pifko
This Is Wonderland - Season III

Best Dramatic Series:
Moccasin Flats Season III
ReGenesis II
Slings & Arrows Season 2
Terminal City
This Is Wonderland - Season III

The full list of nominees can be obtained here.

Barring a miracle, I won't be able to make it to the November 4th Gala thanks to the $376 ticket price.

Canadian Film

Wed, 30 Aug 2006 06:31:00 +0000

It is no secret that the national cinemas of perhaps every filmmaking nation are a keen insight into the psyche of the character of that nation. So, if the kinds of films produced around the world at any given time are indicative of the social climate of each specific nation, where does that place Canada? How does that reflect on the image Canadians have of themselves and our place in the world? Thanks to the direct competition with the American production houses, English Canadians rarely get the chance to see themselves represented on screen. They have been trained to consider big budget, star and effects driven cinema as the bar to which all other films should be judged. Also, due to budgetary challenges, Canadian filmmakers are often left producing character driven dramas and quirky comedies, films that tend to skirt mass appeal. Thanks to this, many Canadians assume that their national cinema is inherently dull, laughable or incomprehensible. They don’t realize, nor do they care, that their cinema is a reflection of themselves as reality, rather than who they wish to be, which is what drives the American plot line. Consistently and pervasively, this is a dire threat to our cultural sovereignty. English Canadian cinema has had its share of troubles, but it needs to do more to capture the imagination of Canadians. Back in June, a Canadian blogger, “Relapsed Catholic” posed the question: “How can we tell "it's Canadian"?” What she refers to stems from my above paragraph. She suggests that we can tell a film or show is Canadian by a certain lack of quality embodied in a mystifying “je ne se quoi”, and predictably she compares that characteristic to an American blockbuster. “I'm begging everyone out there with a working knowledge of the Canadian film & TV industry to tell me why we can't make a movie that looks one-tenth as pretty as, just off the top of my head, Wedding Crashers.” The responses range from a lack of talented actors ands crew to poor scripts to paranoia towards commercial success. All interesting points, however, one major key point they miss is this: This is who we are. We are not Americans. We don’t make American film. The British don’t make American film, the French don’t make American films. Neither do Canadians. We make Canadian films. Our characters represent who we are culturally, and our culture however slightly, is different than American culture. It is no accident that she cannot figure out why it looks different. There are reasons, but they are subtle. They are almost subconscious. It can be likened to hearing one’s own voice on a tape recorder. “Do I really sound like that??” is a common response, followed by self criticism and a cringe. We are our own worst critics. The same goes for our cinema. Those Canadian actors that do head south even reach the top of the American industry, they have most likely taken courses and received coaching on how to sound, look and be American. I kid you not. As viewers we in Canada have been so thoroughly trained to recognize ourselves in American media that we have begun to forget our true selves. When presented with a mirror, we shun it, opting for window instead. Having our own distinct form of cinema gives Canadians an opportunity to have a unique view of the world. Just as Hollywood puts forth it’s own unique brand of hero – the individual who overcomes a (usually) corrupt status quo in order to reform a broken system, thus espousing it’s values, so does Britain which classically espouses heroism towards defeating a threat to the status quo. Canada too must find it’s own voice and it’s own heroes if it is to exert itself upon the world. It must start first right here at home.[...]