|Hindle (right) says I remind him so much of director Bob Clark it’s spooky|
OTTAWA–A few observations about the second and final day of Prime Time in Ottawa.
First, it was fun catching up with Canadian acting dean Art Hindle. He is full of great stories, including one about how he was all set to do a CBS drama in the early ’80s about a modern day witch. Ted Danson played a bad guy in the pilot.
CBS liked Hindle but wanted his co-star from the pilot, Kim Catrall, recast. Hindle refused to pair up with anyone else. He got replaced by Tim Matheson and Catrall by Catherine Hicks. The show was called Tucker’s Witch–and without Hindle and Catrall, it lasted a dozen episodes.
But I digress. Day Two of PTiO was mostly focused on the Canadian film scene. We learned that 93% of all Canadian films are consumed not in theatres, but on television.
The English Canadian TV industry was scolded to “step up” and program more homegrown films by Canadian Association of Film Distributors & Exporters VP Patrick Roy. Canadian Media production Association head Michael Hennessy–busy throughout PTiO handing out iPads–suggested CBC could fill the looming void of Hockey Night in Canada with a Canadian movie night.
A panel on Understanding Canadian Film Consumers was a downer. They could have used somebody like Jay Barushel with a hockey stick on the panel. Newfoundland producer Paul Pope added a little zip when he chimed in with nuggets like, “If you’re leading with, ‘It’s really well shot,’ it’s probably not theatrical.”
There was no one phrase to trigger a drinking game on Day Two, but if you were in the Canadian theatrical film business, you couldn’t be blamed for just drinking, period.
Lifting the day considerably was David Chilton, the most recent entrepreneur on Dragon’s Den and author of The Wealthy Barber.
A tremendous speaker, Chilton’s closing address was a tour de force. He held the room despite speaking opposite the Canada-USA hockey nail biter up on monitors out on the lobby.
Chilton’s main message was that story was everything, whether you are writing a book, giving a speech or making a TV show. He illustrated this point with a remarkable true story about one of the Dragon’s Den hopefuls. Seems this woman Mary McQueen from Victoria arrived with Luigi the Lovebird. Chilton said the judges nearly laughed McQueen and Luigi out of the room after her crazy pitch. Seems her bird shreds paper in such a way that it makes unique greeting cards.
Now, right away, the judges tune out. The greeting card game is sewn up, with Hallmark and Carlton owning 97% of the market.
Pepper-y Dragon Kevin O’Leary blasted McQueen, asking what happens if her bird gets hit by a bus. McQueen suggested the bird was training an intern. She told O’Leary to get on board–the birds were non union employees!
At one point, Luigi took off for the ceiling of the CBC studio and folks thought that was that. McQueen got her bird back, however, and Chilton shocked the other judges by meeting McQueen’s $10,000 request–despite the fact she had no business plan, receipts or really any proof this venture would work.
It helped that Chilton was buddies with an uppity-up at Hallmark. he showed him some sample cards, and to Chilton’s surprise, the exec took all they had.
In stores before Christmas, they sold out in an hour. Another line was hustled together. Same result.
Chilton’s point: a good story tops all. It worked with him with The Wealthy Barber, a book he wrote over 25 years ago when he was 25. It sold over two million copies in Canada, a record only recently topped by–wait for it–Fifty Shades of Grey.
Chilton joked he was going to fight back by releasing The Kinky Barber.
And that was PTiO 2014. Kudos to Hennessy and all the organizers for running a smooth show.
One note to those thinking of attending future shows. I stayed just a few blocks away at the downtown Ottawa Day’s Inn, but, have to be honest, while the price is right, it should really be called the Seen Better Days Inn.