Monday, September 28, 2009

Regional producers ready to fight back

by: Cheryl Binning, Playback.comSep 25, 2009

Former Super Channel exec Nick Wry is rallying disgruntled regional producers behind a new national producers association.

Wry has launched SHERPA -- the Small Regional Producers Association -- to ensure that small producers get their voice heard at the national level.

"National organizations aren't looking after their smaller regional members and they are starting to revolt," says Wry, who has been based in Edmonton since 1974 and has been independent producing since leaving Super Channel.

Wry's beef is that Canada-wide associations like the CFTPA are forced to cater to Toronto producers because they dominate the membership in terms of sheer numbers. SHERPA will allow the voice and concerns of smaller prodcos to be heard.

"We are here to fight for small regional producers," says Wry, who is CEO of the new association. "We need an organization to represent producers outside of the 514 and 416 area code."
SHERPA will be overseen by an advisory board made up of small producers from every province. It will serve only as a lobbying organization and doesn't preclude producers from joining other national and regional associations.

"We will take positions forward to the government, the CRTC and appropriate parties on industry issues," explains Wry.

Membership in SHERPA is limited to film, TV and new media companies with up to five full-time or contract employees, and with a head office more than 150 kilometers from Toronto or Montreal.

"This is the original description of a region defined by Telefilm many years ago," explains Wry, stressing that small companies in Vancouver are eligible to join.

Wry says that the CFTPA's submission to the Canada Media Fund consultations triggered him to launch the new association.

The CFTPA filing states that the current Canadian Television Fund system provides a significant incentive for broadcasters to support projects in the regions and there is no need to make any changes in the new fund to address regional production.

"That was the last straw," says Wry. "Toronto producers don't think companies outside Toronto should be given a leg up. There are more CFTPA members in Toronto than the rest of the country, so the national association's position is we don't need a regional bonus.

Edmonton-based SHERPA's first order of business will be to lobby for the inclusion of regional production incentives in the CMF.

"We are looking for additional money from the fund for regional production and additional credit to broadcasters working in the regions," says Wry.

An additional incentive is necessary because regional producers don't have the same access to broadcasters, he explains.

"If you live in Toronto or Montreal you can go down the street to a broadcaster and if they tell you to come back next week, you say sure," he explains. "When you live in Edmonton, flying to Toronto every two weeks ends up costing you a fortune, so you don't have the same advantage. And broadcasters don't come to the regions of their own volition to talk to producers."

Wry is attending the cross-country CMF consultations and hosting SHERPA info sessions after each meeting. The cost of membership is $149 or discounted to $99 for producers who belong to a provincial association.

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