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January / 2011

In the News

John Banovich csc Goes Virtual

John Banovich csc
John Banovich csc
The last time we heard from John Banovich csc was from Naxos in the Greek Islands (see the September 2009 issue of Canadian Cinematographer). He reports that he is now teaching innovative virtual film courses for students at the Centre for Arts and Technology (CAT) in Vancouver. He held his first virtual workshop in the spring and now he is teaching 13-week-long virtual courses in advance directing and advanced digital cinematography from his studio in White Rock.

John talks into the camera, while the students at CAT see three screens – one has notes; one will be a still from something he shot; and the third is on him. He uses Panasonic AG-AF100 and AG-HPX170 digital camcorders. “The school has developed proprietary software which runs on the latest version of Windows, allowing for real time full frame HD at 30 fps to be transmitted and received simultaneously,” he says. Recently, he took his students on a viral fieldtrip to the offices of Sim Video in Vancouver. Next in the works is a fieldtrip to a television set so he can show them how the real world of television operates.

CanWest Global Rebrands as Shaw Media

CanWest Global is now under the complete control of Shaw Communications Inc., with the Western Canada cable giant closing the $2-billion in late October, just days after its regulatory approval from the CRTC. CanWest, once the country’s largest media company, is no more. All directors and officers resigned and its court-appointed monitor, FTI Consulting, wound down the former media giant’s outstanding matters.

The very profitable holdings of CanWest, which include the Global TV network and 21 specialty channels, in future will be known as Shaw Media. Paul Robertson, a former Corus Entertainment executive, is now chief of Shaw Media. It’s the final culmination of a process that started just over a year ago, when CanWest’s television assets entered restructuring under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, unable to overcome a crushing debt load.

CanWest began life in 1974 when Manitoba lawyer and former leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party, Israel “Izzy” Asper, bought a failing television station, KCND, in Pembina, N.D., just across the U.S. border and moved all the equipment to Winnipeg in 1974. A couple of years later, Asper bought out another failing enterprise, the Toronto-based Global television network, which then became the core of his expanding media empire. The company soon spread beyond Canada with holdings in New Zealand and Australia.

In 2000, Asper and his son Leonard expanded by buying a half interest in Conrad Black’s flagship newspaper the National Post, and taking over the rest of the Black empire – 13 major daily newspapers and 136 smaller ones – in a $3.5-billion deal. A year later, the Aspers bought up the remaining 50 per cent of the National Post. In 2007, CanWest purchased Alliance Atlantis, with its numerous specialty channels. However, these purchases led to its massive debt and the company filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

Hot Docs

Hot Docs is accepting submissions for the 12th annual Hot Docs Forum – the pitching event formerly known as the Toronto Documentary Forum. The deadline for submissions is January 21, 2011.The Forum, which runs May 4 and 5, is a two-day event that allows filmmakers to pitch their ideas and unfinished films to a panel of international broadcasters and financiers. Documentaries should fall into one of the following categories: broadcast or feature-length projects; series; interactive docs; or 3D documentaries. Observer accreditation for the Forum opens January 14. More details are available on the Hot Docs site. The 18th installment of the Hot Docs festival runs April 28 to May 8, 2011.

Take 2: The REEL Challenge Contest

The Canadian Film Centre has announced a new edition of The REEL Challenge Contest. It is an opportunity for artists to speak out on the importance of protecting creative works. This year’s contest is a chance to make a short film or PSA about why copyright is important for creators who make a living from their work, and how the illegal copying and mass distribution of movies on the Internet ultimately hurts the creative industries and you. Eligible submissions should be under 90 seconds in length. The contest runs until March 25, 2011.

Three prizes will be awarded: first $10,000, second $3,000 and third $2,000. All categories and genres of new short film will be accepted, including drama, comedy, animation, horror, sci-fi, documentary and experimental videos. Prizes will be awarded to the contestants whose submissions best promote creators’ rights and address the importance of content protection from a creator’s perspective, and are considered the most compelling, provocative and innovative in content and delivery. Full contest guidelines are available at The REEL Challenge Contest is an initiative of the Canadian Film Centre, supported by the Copyright Collective of Canada. Contest is open to all legal residents of Canada (excluding residents of Quebec).

Lubna Azabalin in Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies
Lubna Azabalin in Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies

Incendies and Genius Within Have a Shot at the Oscars

Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies, the winner of the best Canadian feature at the 2010 TIFF, has made it to the short list for Oscar consideration in the best foreign-language category. It has been the policy of the American Academy to shortlist this category and now also the documentary category prior to the official 2010 Oscar announcement in the New Year. And this year, for the first time since Brigitte Berman won for Artie Shaw: Time Is All You’ve Got in 1997, we have a Canadian feature documentary in the running, Michèle Hozer and Peter Raymont’s Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould. We won’t know if either film makes it to the final five until the official announcement at the end of January.

David Moxness csc works on the Fringe

Now in its third season, production continues in Vancouver until April on the hit American series Fringe, which has been described as a hybrid of The X-Files, Altered States, The Twilight Zone and Dark Angel. Produced by the same team behind Alias, the series two-hour pilot was shot in Toronto, and moved to Vancouver for its second season. With it came its veteran American DOP, Tom Yatsko (CSI: Miami, Brothers & Sisters), who alternated episodes with David Moxness csc. In-between seasons two and three, ‘Moxy’ shot the miniseries The Kennedys in Toronto for Muse Entertainment (see page 12). Fringe appears on CTV in Canada and the Fox Network in the U.S.

Kim Derko csc Wings It

Wingin' It is a Canadian tween comedy now in its second season. The series is shot by CSC veteran DOP Kim Derko and is produced by Temple Street Productions in association with the Family Channel. Recently it was sold to CBBC in the U.K., one of the most-loved channels for children. The comedy series follows teenage odd couple, Porter (Demetrius Joyette, The Latest Buzz) an angel-in-training and Carl (Dylan Everett, Booky's Crush), a disaster-prone young teen. Porter’s earthly task is to make Carl into the most popular kid in school.

The CFC/NFB Documentary Program

Applications to the CFC/NFB Documentary program were up 50 per cent in 2010, as more than 70 filmmakers apply for the four spots. The program is designed to help directors develop documentaries that will advance their artistic approach as well as the documentary genre itself, while exhibiting the potential to achieve commercial and critical success.

This immersive experience combines intensive think-tank style modules at the CFC with project-specific support and is expanded to encompass emerging forms of documentary expression, including creative mid-length documentaries and interactive works. The program is led by Jerry McIntosh, a director and executive producer for CBC Television. Oscar-nominated documentary director Larry Weinstein serves as senior creative counselor for the program and Gerry Flahive is the NFB senior producer.

The participants are Barry Greenwald with Four Funerals and a Filmmaker, a creative documentary about how individuals, families and society say goodbye when they lose those they love and care for; Charles Officer with Nehanda, which explores the remarkable story of Nehanda Isoke Abiodun, an American political activist and fugitive from justice, currently living in Cuba; Su Rynard with Songbirds SOS – over half of the world’s songbirds have disappeared; and Jody Shapiro with Mars, a 3D exploration pushing the limits of human endurance, psychological isolation and cinematic expression of life on the Red Planet.

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