Friday, March 23, 2012

My Letter to Premier Brad Wall in support of the Film Employment Tax Credit

Recently, the Government of Saskatchewan announced its intention to axe the Film Employment Tax Credit. Here's how I feel about it. A copy has been sent to Brad Wall. If you agree, if you have worked in the business, if you have felt the positive effect of Saskatchewan's film industry, or even if you enjoyed watching Corner Gas, you really ought to contact the Premier yourself and ask him to continue the incentive.

Dear Premier Wall,

My name is J. Adrian Cook, writer and musician from Harris, Saskatchewan.

I dread the end of the Film Employment Tax Credit. This is not because I am planning to film in Saskatchewan. My dread is also not for my writing career, though it may limit my options as a screenwriter. My dread is also not for my future on set, though I have been sustained in the past by roles as an extra and production assistant. My finances will not be directly stung.

The reason for my dread is that I will say goodbye to so many friends. These are people who work in the film industry and whose livelihoods will be devastated. For years, they have made their living from foreign production companies enriching in our province. Now, these companies have little reason to film here. Their money will evaporate. If my friends wish to follow their dreams or even sustain themselves, they will have to move to Vancouver or Toronto.

I am no economist. I cannot speculate on the monetary result of the cancellation of the incentive. However, I can accurately speculate what will happen to my friends.

I am friends with screenwriters. For them, the end of the program will affect them slowly. Writers can write anywhere, but it helps to be near filming. Making film connections is important for them and if they cannot make them in Saskatchewan they will have to leave.

I am friends with actors and grips. These people can find work in local professional theatre if they are lucky. However, this is a limited job market and it will not provide for them. They will leave sooner.
My unluckiest friends are the directors, cameramen, and production assistants. For them, there is no substitute: they need film or they starve. They will leave soonest.

I seem to recall the Saskatchewan Party criticizing previous NDP governments because of a brain drain. Ending the Film Employment Tax Credit will send hundreds of our brightest citizens packing. Me and my province will be poorer, lonelier and sadder.

Please reconsider cutting this program.

-J. Adrian Cook

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Wonderful Band is Making me Crazy

The St. Patrick's Day season has ended. Traditionally, this is the busiest season for The Residuals. In fact, it's the reason The Residuals were originally formed: to satisfy the glut of demand for Irish music around March 17. After it's over, the band always enters a state of hibernation, emerging a month or two later to prepare for some isolated summer gig.

Always? Apparently not this time. This year we have a one-week hiatus and then we're back to work. We're hitting the studio again soon to continue recording our CD and we already have several gigs lined up for the rest of the year.

I love it. I am so proud of my band right now. While the Residuals have been around for over ten years, our current lineup of players - myself, Ted Leighton, Rick Kroener, Rob McInnis and Meaghan Haughian - has only been together for three. Those three years have been a series of incredible leaps in musicianship for we five. As their skills improved, I've listened and smiled. I've seen layers of stage fright shed from them like onion skin. I've watched as each of them gained the confidence and talent to experiment and "play" when they're playing.

Since December, we've been recording our as-yet unnamed CD and been busy with many gigs. As happy as I am to play with the Residuals, there is a pretty massive downside. As I discussed in this post, music inspires feelings in me that prayer inspires in others. Between the few hours I spend playing, I'm waiting to play.

The CD especially has me excited and I just can't wait to get into the studio. Yet I must wait. And I can't do anything about it. When I should be concentrating on the present, I'm instead anticipating the future. It sometimes makes me depressed.

I just can't get enough of playing with my band. I want more gigs, more CDs, more victories! Touring would be awesome! And yet there lies the other problem. Everybody but me has jobs. There's no way they could ever go pro without quitting them. Or I could frame them and get them fired for misconduct, but that's a series of devious plots for later.

For now, it seems the only answer is to just be less enthusiastic. I'm not sure that's possible. Many high-fives, fist-smashes, and hugs (where applicable) to my excellent Residuals for a best-ever St. Paddy's Day season!

ps. during band introductions, Ted called me "The Always-Distracting Jeremy Cook". I've never thought about it, but I guess I am kind of distracting. Is that good or bad?

pps. If you haven't already done so, Like our fanpage on Facebook.