Summary of Notes: Film and Television Industry Roundtable
The purpose of the summary of notes is to document key takeaways from the film and television industry roundtable held on September 18, 2020. The sector-specific roundtable was comprised of approximately 15 representatives of major associations and groups with representation from across different disciplines, regions and intersectional identity communities. The goals of the roundtables are to:
- Ensure various stakeholders representing different sectors and industries are heard, having an opportunity to express their thoughts/ideas.
- Understand on-the-ground impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic for sectors and organizations.
- Have constructive discussions to help identify potential avenues that could help accelerate recovery.
- Build a common understanding of the kinds of support needed, and the role of government(s) therein.
At the start of the roundtable, the representatives shared their general experience on how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their sectors and organizations. The introduction was then followed by three segments around the recovery framework:
- Resilience and Sustainability;
- Diversity and Inclusion; and
- Environmental Sustainability.
Resilience and Sustainability
To stimulate the discussion in the first segment, the following question was asked: What would organizations need to move towards a more sustainable/adaptable business model to prevail through similar situations in the future? Some of the key ideas and takeaways included:
- Reform of the Broadcasting Act.
- Funding for, and implementation of, additional health and safety protocols.
- Implementation of a compensation program to mitigate the lack of pandemic insurance available for the sector
- Increased and stable funding for Telefilm Canada and the Canada Media Fund.
- Return to one of the original objectives of the federal domestic tax credit – to capitalize production companies so that they can invest in more development. Broadcasters and other funders require that tax credits be included in the financing of productions, thereby eliminating this source of stability and development funding.
- Implementation of a robust sick day policy for workers in the audiovisual industry.
- Investments or creation of funding strategy that will help to better prepare and develop production projects to enter the market.
- Sustainable initiatives that will support those that are historically underrepresented in the traditional funding systems (e.g. small or marginalized communities, minority-language communities, independent producers and creators, etc.).
- Review and modernize the Employment Insurance program to include measures for precarious workers (e.g. basic income).
- Incentivize the industry to ensure that the stories being told are inclusive, as a means to drive work to Canada, and help to diversify the Canadian economy.
- Funding for the development of infrastructure (e.g. studios), as an immediate means to support safe and healthy work environments in the context of COVID-19 recovery, with long-term view for permanent funding.
- Support for broadband access so content can reach more Canadians regardless of their location.
Diversity and Inclusion
To stimulate the discussion in the second segment, the following question was asked: What diversity and inclusion opportunities can be leveraged from the present circumstances for positive change? Some of the key ideas and takeaways proposed by stakeholders included:
- Initiatives to address barriers to entry for underrepresented groups (e.g. Black, Indigenous, people of colour, etc.), including specialized streams within current funding mechanisms, and additional funding outside traditional institutions.
- Implementation of measures to ensure communities are able to maintain ownership of their own stories.
- Legislative measures that mandate equitable representation in staffing within federal organizations (eg. Telefilm, CMF, CBC, NFB) at all levels of those institutions (eg. boards, senior management, middle management, gatekeepers, workforce etc).
- Increase access to funding from current institutions (e.g. Telefilm and CMF), and establishment of new and stable funding for organisations (e.g. Indigenous Screen Office, Black Screen Office to be administered by and for marginalized or underrepresented communities. Specifically, it was stated that marginalized communities are not represented within the traditional funding bodies. There is a lack of trust that earmarking money through these organisations will ensure that funds are directed toward the communities for which they are intended. While dedicated streams of funding was one option proposed in the discussion, it was also stressed that diversity should not be a sidebar and new programs should be created to better serve these communities.
- The proposal of reinstituting the defunct Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund as a new Canadian Independent Screen Fund was raised, with the intent that this would be an organisation that would specifically address the needs of the Black community (including the Black Screen Office) and people of colour.
- In addition, the importance of a dedicated Indigenous Screen Office was stressed in order to allow the Indigenous community to determine how their content is created, and who is able to tell their stories.
- Need for coordinated data collection across the industry, to gain a better understanding of current demographics. It was recommended that this initiative be led by the federal government.
- Ensuring that the reform of the Broadcasting Act addresses diversity and inclusion, and mandates inclusivity for all players.
- Ongoing discussions (e.g. roundtables) on how to address underserved and underrepresented groups.
- Need to ensure that diversity includes a wide spectrum, including Black, Indigenous, people of colour, gender diversity, etc.
To stimulate the discussion in the third segment, the following question was asked: What environmental sustainability opportunities can be leveraged from the present circumstances for positive change? Some of the key ideas and takeaways included:
- COVID-19 has caused a reversal in many environmental sustainability initiatives
- Resources are required (funding and/or tax incentives) to help ensure the environmental sustainability of the industry.
- Need for a coordinated effort at the national level on environmental stewardship and sustainable production, including additional research and collaboration on developing best practices.
- Encouraging productions to implement environmental measures, even given the current pandemic situation (e.g. recycling of PPE, biodegradable masks, etc.).
- Sharing information and resources with producers across the country on environmental sustainability initiatives.
- Initiatives to minimize travel (e.g. for festivals) as a means to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint
- Incentives for workers and organizations to work from home (e.g. tax credits, rebates, stipends, etc.).
- Funding for infrastructure (studios) as a means to reduce travel, catering, etc.
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