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The Difference Between Service Production and True CanCon

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By Maureen Parker, WGC Executive Director

Last week, The Globe and Mail published a piece that touted: "Netflix says it has exceeded spending on TV & film production in Canada in just two years". The reporting in several other publications like Playback and The Hollywood Reporter was similar to that of the Globe's. It may be the case that Netflix has spent its promised $500 million on productions in Canada, but we need to underscore the fact that a significant portion of that content spend has been on “foreign location and service” productions creatively driven from Hollywood that don’t tell Canadian stories and rarely, if ever, put Canadian screenwriters and directors in the top jobs.

Shows that dress up the streets of Toronto to look like Anytown U.S.A. just don’t qualify as true Canadian content—as much as the Globe piece implies that they do.

Service production is thriving, thanks to healthy Canadian tax credits and a low dollar. What we’re missing are opportunities for our world-class talent to tell our stories.

Are we going to accept that service production is the most we can hope for in our own country? Foreign streaming services are displacing our broadcasters and playing by entirely different rules. It’s time for Canadian cultural policy to start levelling the playing field. Amplifying our own voice is essential to our existence as a distinct country.

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