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Author: Kim Leonard

How TV Shows Filmed in Canada Became Canadian

Oh, Canada! Our shows we film in you. We love your land and shows you produce too! Over the last couple of decades, our friends in the great white north have become host to some of our favorite television series, especially in the Sci-Fi arena. In the 1990s, there were only a relative handful of US shows filmed in Canada. But since then, Canada has developed a competitive entertainment stream of its own, offering some strong contenders to US audiences against more well-known US-produced series. How did “Hollywood North” become so central to our insatiable appetite for TV entertainment? Canadian locations are actually nothing new to US productions. The Canadian Plains have stood in many times for the wheat- and cornfields of many US states, the Canadian Rockies have doubled for plenty of remote locales (i.e Brokeback Mountain) and Toronto has long been the go to stand-in for New York City. When it comes to US television series, the trend to shoot above the 49th parallel began primarily as a cost saving measure. In those last couple of decades before the turn of the century, the value of the Canadian dollar dipped to sometimes as low as 70 percent of the value of the US dollar. This gave a significant and immediate discount to the budgets of those productions choosing to make that move, and when you’re putting on...

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Julie Delpy and Richard Linklater Talk With Us About Before Midnight

Richard Linklater’s Before series has dropped into the lives of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) three times—Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and, now, Before Midnight—with each film realistically examining different aspects of the couple’s relationship. In 1995, the pair met on a train to Vienna. He is a young, romantic American full of hope and ideals about love. She is a French university student, more cynical and cautious with her heart. The pair spends the night wandering the streets of Vienna, learning about the city and each other. In the end, Jesse leaves for home, but Celine has left her mark on him. Nine years later, Jesse is married with a child, but he hasn’t shaken that encounter. In fact, he wrote a novel about it and is off to Paris for a book tour. There, as he’d hoped, he finds Celine. Despite the distance of geography and time, their feelings are still strong, and they decide to make up for lost time. In the end, with Jesse again scheduled to leave, the film fades out without revealing whether Jesse goes home or not. Before Midnight catches up with Jesse and Celine now nearing middle age. The movie has its surprises, and is an honest look at the sometimes damaging repercussions of decisions, even if they are made for love. It stands on its own as the story...

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Harrison Ford’s Inspiring Interview At The 56th San Francisco Film Festival

They don’t come much bigger in Hollywood than Harrison Ford. With a career spanning almost 50 years (his first role was in 1966!), the Academy Award nominee (Best Actor for Witness in 1985) continues to expand his resume with diverse new roles and returns to old favorites. At this year’s 56th San Francisco International Film Festival, the San Francisco Film Society conducted a Harrison Ford interview as they honored the star with the Peter J. Owens Award for a body of work that “exemplifies brilliance, independence, and integrity.” Along with a select audience, the softly spoken actor watched a...

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Steven Soderbergh and the State of Cinema

At the San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF) this past weekend, Steven Soderbergh, who recently announced his “extended sabbatical” from the film industry, outlined what likely has a lot to do with the reason behind that sabbatical in his keynote address on the State of Cinema. If you’re not familiar with Steven Soderbergh himself, you likely are familiar with at least some of his work. Oceans 11–13, Erin Brockovich, Contagion, or the recently released Side Effects, are all among the films he has directed. However, unlike a lot of other filmmakers, Soderbergh is distinct in that he is equally adept at handling big-budget blockbusters as he is low-budget, deeply human stories (King of the Hill, Bubble) and is frequently credited with having started the modern independent film renaissance with his successful 1989 breakout Sex, Lies, and Videotape. In addition to being an Oscar-winning director and screenwriter, he is often his own cinematographer and editor. I had the great fortune of being invited to this exclusive event. Soderbergh began his speech on Saturday by wondering “when it was decided we all need a soundtrack everywhere we go” in reference to the ubiquitous “noise” of music blaring through speakers in almost every public space. As someone who is supremely sound sensitive, I agree but marvel more at the proliferation of televisions (at the grocery checkout? Really?) than anything else. He then...

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Reality TV Is The Simple Reality of Modern Programming

Reality TV has long ceased to be a way of producing low-budget content to fill out the programming schedule. These days, it’s not only a programming staple but, in the case of several networks, constitutes the bulk of the programming lineup. Despite all the ridicule and criticism that accompanies the many subgenres of this type of television, audiences indulge and new shows are constantly being developed. But what is it about these shows that viewers find so captivating? Though people tend to think of reality programming as having started with MTV’s The Real World back in the early 1990s, and the modern “reality boom” with Big Brother and Survivor at the turn of the 21st century, there have actually always been documentaries giving audiences insight into worlds they would normally never see. “Prank” shows filming unsuspecting participants through hidden cameras have been a popular format since at least the 1950s, not to mention “stunt” competition shows, where contestants have to perform silly or difficult challenges in order to advance or earn prizes, and talent competitions, where contestants hope to be “discovered” by singing, dancing or whatever hidden skill they might possess. There have also always been programs documenting the various aspects of our legal system. In fact, the real birth of modern reality programming probably can be traced to the documentary show COPS. The show, which follows officers on...

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