Who Took The 'Film' Out Of 'Film Industry'?
Opinion by Gerald Saul

When I was a film student, oh those many years ago, I remember that when someone, be they student or otherwise, made a good film, they would be admired by the students for it. I believe/hope that things are still that way. Personal opinions aside, good film was something to be proud of, it was what all the work and pain and effort were all about. I had the idea, a dream I suppose, that film school was a miniature version of the film industry. I thought that the same sharing of ideas and inspiration and passion would continue forever.

I was at the first Sask Showcase in 1986 and felt very excited for the fine filmmakers such as Don List and Larry Bauman who received awards. I admired them and made an effort to see the work they did; I hoped that someday I could be up there in the limelight and gain the respect of not only the students but the professionals in the industry as well. I suppose I was a bit naive. Three years ago I was in that spotlight and it really didn't mean anything; no more people saw the films we made than if we hadn't entered at all. The films made by people here are regarded at best as little more than curiosities by most industry people.

If you ask nearly anyone in the industry about a local film they were involved in, you will be barraged by horror stories about the terrible catering or the shabby hotel rooms everyone had to stay in. I've eventually discovered that many people who earn their livelihood working in the film industry don't even watch the products of their labour. Now I don't mean to attack them personally, I question the basis of the entire film industry. Logically, I shouldn't rock the boat as I am in a position to gain by these new trends, but I find it difficult to keep my opinions to myself. The Saskatchewan film industry, thanks to the efforts of SMPIA, SaskFILM and such is growing rapidly. I've heard the arguments to support this growth and they are generally headed by estimates of how many jobs will be created. Again I may be naive but isn't that putting the cart before the horse? Does the film industry exist to supply jobs to its technicians or does it exist first and foremost TO MAKE FILMS?

I may be a blind idealist but I think films are better made by people who love film, rather than by opportunists who want to tap into some of the generous government dollars which have been flowing into this blossoming field. I only know that for me, this work, this filmmaking, is a labour of passion. If more people cared and had pride in what the final picture will be, then perhaps better movies would get made, or at least people would enjoy working on them more. Then perhaps if you were to ask someone about a film they might be able to tell you what it's about rather than petty gripes and gossip about who slept with whom or how much over budget it went.

Gerald Saul 2005