Friday, February 20, 2009

Canadian Movies and Rights

Movies Made In Canada leads to Rights in other Countries.
by Pat Gulley

Cable television has brought us a slew of stations showing movies that will never be seen in theaters. They are made for TV, and they all seem to be made in Canada. I can’t remember when I first noticed this, but when I did I started paying closer attention to the credits to see where the movie was made. (And believe me, this isn’t an easy thing to do! Have you noticed how much faster TV credits roll, and inevitably they are shrunk down so the station can do previews or advertising.)

Anyway, it made me wonder. I already knew that film makers from Hollywood moved production to Canada to take advantage of the better buy the US dollar had against the Canadian dollar, and because of this there are many big productions studios in British Columbia and Quebec producing for Hollywood. When the dollar weakened, there was one big article about moving a lot of that production back to California, however I never found anymore scuttle on that idea. Do you remember when David Duchovny demanded that X-Files production move back to California when his wife became pregnant?

But it wasn’t production that got me cogitating, rather why all these movies had to be about things that go on in the USA. What’s wrong with things that go on in Canada? Canadians have love lives, love triangles, deceases, mayhem and murder, right? I mean, that TV show, Da Vinci Files was very good, and the police and forensic procedures in Canada were as interesting as those in the US. And when something happened that required comparisons between our procedures and laws and theirs, then the show became even more interesting.

So, why don’t we get more stories that take place in Canada? Is there an assumption that we have no interest in the lives of our near neighbor or other countries? Then why are foreign crime stories from France, Italy, British Isles and Australia, oh yeah and Russia, so popular? Maybe it’s because all the shows are ordered by Hollywood, and I’m sure we all know what they think of the herd out here. Oh well.

All this different country stuff then brought my thinking around to the only times I ever give writing a nonfiction book any consideration. It’s usually when I’m watching a police show that takes place in foreign lands. It would be a comparison of the laws and rights we American take for granted. As an agent for a world travel company, I was always surprised to hear how many Americans believed that these rights were theirs no matter where they traveled on the planet. The book, or pamphlet, would compare such things as ‘reading you your rights before being arrested’ ‘search and seizure’ ‘right to a lawyer’ and a few others with those of countries Americans travel to frequently: Mexico, Canada, Great Britain, France, Italy, The Bahamas and China or Japan.

If you get BBC America you may have watched the original, British version of Life on Mars? The cop that finds himself back in 1972 keeps getting his Caution to criminals mixed up? He always wanted to give them the 2006 version, which was changed sometime in the 90s. Our Miranda is more like their 1972 version, and most Americans would be surprised by the difference.

My biggest fear would be not getting all the details correct, but some brief comparisons would raise a lot of American eyebrows. How many people who went off to the Chinese Olympics would have been shocked to find out how many rights they’d given up just by stepping off the airplane and on to Chinese soil?

Do you think it would sell?


Annette said...

I think it's a fascinating topic, Pat. I've never been outside the US, but I love watching The Amazing Race and wonder why some of these people haven't been arrested...for stupidity if nothing the foreign countries through which the race takes them.

The case of the college girl who is on trial in Italy for the murder of her roommate is a good case in point. I can't recall her name and have no clue if she's guilty or not, but I think I heard the court only hears her case one day a week. So it's one very long dragged out trial. And that's the norm there.

Joyce said...

I think it's a great idea. If I was going to travel to another country, I'd want to know everything there was to know about it.

Gina said...

I think it's a great idea, too. Some people don't even realize that you're supposed to get a proof of insurance card recognized by Canada from your car insurance company before you drive into Canada.

Anonymous said...

Mexico would be an interesting place to write about, and a number of gritty stories have been turned into movies, like "Traffic" or "Man on Fire", the later twice. The Denzel Washington version was superior.

Anyway their version of a suspect's rights and ours is vastly different. It's not a nice place to be jailed. Neither are any of the Middle-East countries.

A good one would sell.


Dana King said...

Sounds like an excellent idea. People of a certain age will remember MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, but even then, many of them will say, "Well, that was just Turkey," not realizing how different arrest and trial procedures are from country to country.

I enjoy reading British crime fiction, in part because there's a level of suspense always at the back of my mind because the cop isn't armed, and can easily find himself in a situation that can do him in before the Weapons Squad can show up.

For a look at Canadian law enforcement, THE BRIDGE has been picked up by CBS here in the States, scheduled to start in the fall. The main character is the head of the police union in Toronto (I think) and I've heard good things about it. The creator has won several of the Canadian version of the Emmy, and an excellent writer I know has recently been hired on.

Patg said...

So far sounds great. Definitely Canada and Mexico, and I think a comparison with England is mandatory. Maybe for the middle east compare Isreal with the US, and then Egypt because Americans do a lot of traveling to those two countries. Other ME countries aren't much traveled unless you consider the airport shopping stops in Riyahd, or the ship stops in the Emerites. I think Turkey can be a good 'and a few others' at the end, where movies mentioned can be discussed.
I was only half serious, now I wonder if I'd be able to get this hundred pound gorilla off the ground.

lisa curry said...

Dana, I, too, thought of MIDNIGHT EXPRESS while reading this! I also thought of that college kid who got caned awhile back -- can't remember where or for what, of course. Very interesting concept, though, Pat. You could do a whole series of "Foreign Country Laws for Dummies"!

Justine said...

Very thought-provoking. Thanks for another interesting post! Great non-fiction idea.

jp said...


I agree with Lisa Curry---a whole series of "Foreign Country Laws for Dummies"! I wouldn't leave home without reading each edition. Who woulda' thunk about the different laws and situations one could get into and not get out without difficulty. Not me!
Thanks for the eye opener.