The Canadian Screen Awards Go Glam

Now that all the statues have been handed out, the red carpets rolled up and Andrea Martin finally put on some pants, it’s time to reflect on this year’s Canadian Screen Awards.

I have to say, I think the Canadian Screen Awards have finally found its feet. This year’s event felt more like a classic awards show, borrowing some class from the Four Seasons Centre, which also houses the opera and ballet. They provided a brief one-line history of each of the actor nominees, which I thought was a nice touch to introduce them to an audience that may not have heard of them before. They were accessible and something worth accessing.

And Andrea Martin killed it. Her opening monologue was hilarious and edgy and topical. Basically everything you want from a host. I just wish there had been more of her on stage and not just the pre-filmed vignettes. And in this line, Eugene Levy wins for Best Presenter. That whole bit with his son was hilarious and his deadpan is unbelievable.

Adding a little bit of class and a lot of laughs.
Adding a little bit of class and a lot of laughs.

Watching the awards, I  was surprised by the lack of surprises. Xavier Dolan’s Mommy took home nine awards, including three for Dolan himself. Clone Club represented with a grand total of ten wins, including Best Leading Actress and Best Drama Series. Insert obligatory cloning joke here. I mean, I get it. They are fantastic. But when the Best Director category is filled with Dolan, Egoyan, Cronenberg, Lafleur (editor of Monsieur Lazhar), the only person who hadn’t had a film at these awards before was Albert Shin. It tells you something about our film industry. And I’m not saying the lack of surprise is a bad thing. It just feels like there’s no way to lose the CSA pool which is surely is happening at your office.

Also in the realm of no surprise, Don Carmody’s Pompeii picked up four awards, which they totally deserve for making a parking lot in Etobicoke look like Rome. And Carmody took home for the Cineplex Golden Screen for Feature Film (aka Golden Reel) because it’s what he does. Seriously. He makes money and wins awards. Not a bad system he has going on there.

One surprise to me was that 19-2 only won one of the ten awards that they were nominated for. I know it’s hard to take down a juggernaut like Orphan Black but they can’t be the only great thing on TV at the moment. I think 19-2 deserved more recognition than just the nominations. Thank you Jared Keeso for representing. And poor Mr. D ended up in the same boat. Harsh.

And he deserves another award for that beard.
And he deserves another award for that beard.

Call Me Fitz had a nice send off with four awards, including Best Comedy. Bomb Girls: Facing the Enemy also picked up a bittersweet three awards. Don McKellar won Best Director and Best Lead Actor in a Comedy for Sensitive Skin. Still Kim Cattrall should’ve won or at least gotten a nod. Just saying.

I love that, in Canada, the Best News Anchor makes it to the broadcast awards. That tells you a lot about a nation. And even better, it was presented by the cast of 22 Minutes. We take our news very seriously up here. But Lisa Laflamme rocked it out for a second year in a row. Mansbridge has to pull up his socks this year.

Also making it to the broadcast this year was Best Web Series. Now people commented on this being the first year for the award, but it was actually the third. It was previously masquerading under the laborious title of Best Original Program or Series Produced for Digital Media. I’d to thank the Academy for cleaning up the name and suggest that it do the same for some others while they’re at it.

Yes, it is prestigious that digital media awards made it into the broadcast and congratulations to Space Riders: Division Earth on their win. What would be even better was if people were actually making money on web series. You know, like everybody else in the room who makes a living from their craft.

But look, they look like just regular filmmakers too.
They look like just regular filmmakers too.

The Academy introduced two new awards (because that’s what we needed). Much like the previous Golden Reel for top grossing Canadian film, there are now Golden Screen Awards for most watched reality and drama programs. This I really like because it’s nice to reflect on what people are actually watching. But I was surprised that comedy didn’t qualify for an award. But as much as I hate to say it, the reality shows probably pull in larger numbers. The other interesting thing was that all the drama nominees were procedurals. Clones are great but cops still dominate in Canada.

There was some buzz about Julianne Moore being a presenter at the awards which was nice to see. I grumble when Americans win a screen award but I appreciate when they show up and participate in our reindeer games, especially when it’s a week after she won an Oscar. And there was a little part of me that enjoyed when she lost to the Quebec star Anne Dorval. It’s terrible, I know, since she seems like a lovely person, but it happens. I’m sure she enjoyed her stay anyway.

Some behind the scenes notes: this was probably the best organized press room that the broadcast has had before. Nobody got trapped down there like poor Tracy Dawson who spent most of the award show with the press after she won last year. The one issue during the non-broadcast gala was they cut off everyone’s acceptance speech pretty much as soon as they started, leading Xavier Dolan to question what the point of the whole thing was. Next year maybe add an extra half hour to the non-broadcast to give people time and not have to run to the stage to get their 30 seconds.

The last item I was to address is TV, Eh’s point about how the winners are always announced on Twitter prior to the actual broadcast. This is because the broadcast is live-to-tape and so the press tweets the winners an hour before everyone else finds out. I know that I am part of the problem, but I agree. It would be better if we were all able to experience it together and have a more communal experience instead of having people avoid Twitter and have it spoiled. #spoileralert doesn’t really do that much to protect the secrets.

But that’s a wrap on the Canadian Screen Awards for this year. Thanks to Academy for a great week of celebrating our industry and looking forward to seeing what you come up with next year!

Kevin Duran will always be a goa’uld to me, no matter how good he looks in a suit.
And Kevin Duran will always be a goa’uld to me, no matter how good he looks in a suit.

The TSC is Coming Up!

The Toronto Screenwriting Conference is just around the corner! I had a wonderfully educational time when I attended last year and am more than excited to go again! This year the conference will take place in the Daniels Spectrum in Regent Park. You can follow the TSC on twitter @TorScreenConf and with hashtag #TSCwrites.

So far, only five speakers have been announced.

This year’s conference features a writer’s room intensive with 19-2’s Bruce Smith. Smith is a three time WGC award winner and was the showrunner on Cracked. Six participants will work together with Smith to produce an episode of the police. These writers will present their ideas with Smith during the conference. The aim of the exercise is to apply what these writers have learned in a real world context.

If you love superheros, fantasy, science fiction and fantasy, you’ll love David S. Goyer. He has based many of his works on Marvel and DC comics, including the Blade Trilogy. He has also collaborated on projects like James Cameron’s Fantastic Voyage, Constantine, The Dark Knight Trilogy, and Man of Steel. He is currently developing Krypton, a story of Superman’s home planet. He has also been known to write for video games such as Call of Duty: Black Ops and Black Ops II. This man owns my heart.

Jeff Melvoin is known as a writer-producer in episodic television for shows such as: Army Wives, Justice, Alias, Line of Fire Hill street Blues and Remington Steel. He has also executive produced Early Edition and Picket Fences.

The first female speaker, Carole Kirschner, has been working as a senior television executive for the last 18 years. She is overflowing with knowledge concerning pitching, successfully working in the industry developing television series. She is very active in guiding writers through the industry.

Corey Mandell has an extensive list of both play and screenwriting credits. He has written for Ridley Scott, Wolfgang Petersen, Harrison Ford, John Travolta, Warner Brothers, Walt Disney Pictures… etc. The list goes on forever. Mandell also give lectures at UCLA on structure, formula, and how to become a professional writer.

Don’t forget about the Screenwriters Social! Saturday, April 11 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the The Artscape Lounge and Ada Slaight Hall in Daniels Spectrum. Free for all delegates!

It’s a great way to meet people, whether they were on stage or in the audience. Remember what I’ve said about networking?! Think of an interesting and engaging question to ask someone. Maybe one of the speakers? Maybe one of the interviews or interviewees?

Don’t: Just go up to thank them and shake their hand – they can get germs from just about anyone else there, don’t think you’re special.

Do: Ask them a specific question about what they spoke about. Show how interested and interesting you are.

Keep in mind that they will have many people coming up to them, so try to stand out without coming off as annoying or obnoxious.

The next People and Pints will be hosted March 27 when we will be raffling out a ticket to the conference ($329 for early bird and $419 for regular registration)! We will also be giving one out online the week before. Be sure to check out our Facebook page. Stay tuned for details! I can’t wait until they post the TSC schedule!

CanCon For The Win: Industry Galas for the Canadian Screen Awards

Last week we celebrated Canadian Screen Week. This included events from industry networking sessions to FanZone at the Eaton Centre. And then there are two industry galas where they hand out the majority of the 120+ awards. With over seven hours of handing out awards, the Oscars have nothing on us.

This year the industry galas were hosted by Darrin Rose from Mr. D. The industry nights are great because you can get away with more than you can on a broadcast. He called out Leslie Roberts and Amanda Lang. There were a lot of jokes about CBC and of course the obligatory Jian Ghomeshi joke. He called out CTV and Global for just cloning the American broadcast schedules. The audience didn’t seem all that responsive but maybe they didn’t want to poke fun at their own industry or they hadn’t had enough wine yet. Either way, I thought Darrin Rose did a great job.

Night one covered sports, reality, digital media, and the news. Scott Russell, one of the presenters, brought up a very interesting point: Sports is one of the last appointment viewing events. Say what you will, they draw in the viewers. I even have a better appreciation for sports analysts now too.

The big winners from the first night include Ric Esther Bienstoc. Not only did she take home the Gordon Sinclair Award for Broadcast Journalism, she then won  three more for Tales From the Organ Trade. Drew Taylor and Larry Weinstein also found quite a home up on the stage with the five awards they won for Our Man in TehranThe Fifth Estate picked up some hardware as well. This just proves that the documentary game is alive and well in Canada.

On the second night, to the surprise of no one, Orphan Black led the way with eight awards. My suggestion for next year is that they just hand out all the Orphan Black awards at once. It would just save time. Rick Mercer had the honour of winning the first and last award of the night, along with another in the middle. I can only imagine what the trophy shelves must be like for Graeme Manson and Rick Mercer by now.

"Just toss it in the pile."
“Just toss it in the pile.”

Also not surprisingly, Degrassi took home four awards. It is impressive that a show that has been running as long as Degrassi has is still representing. It’s clearly stayed more relevant than I have.

Happily, Sensitive Skin took home three, including Best Director for Don McKellar. They had six nominations to start and with more awards still to go, they are batting a pretty good average here. What else would you expect from Bob Martin, Don McKellar and Kim Cattrall?

Just look at that magnificent man. Magnificent.
Just look at that magnificent man. Magnificent.

Checking in with reality,  Amazing Race Canada took home three and  Big Brother Canada won two, including one for its digital extension. This must have something to do with Insight Productions winning its first ever Academy Icon. Not a terrible way to celebrate your 35th anniversary.

In a fun turn of events, Yannick Bisson won for his performance, not as Detective William Murdoch, but for his role in Adventures of Napkin Man. To make it even better, Napkin Man and Murdoch Mysteries are both tied with two wins. Welcome to Canadian television.

Now I like to rag on the Academy for having an outrageous amount of awards, so this year’s winner is Best Sports Opening/Teaser. The winner was 2013 Grey Cup so good for them. I look forward to seeing the winner for Best Opening Credits Sequence next year.

Some of the presenters were a little rough at times considering that most of them are in fact on TV regularly. But like Helga says, it’s a week to celebrate our industry so let’s just have a good time and enjoy the television and films that we have made. Here’s to another great night tonight.

Tune into the CBC at 8 p.m. tonight to see the exciting conclusion to this year’s Canadian Screen Awards.