‘IT’S ALSO KIND OF A SCARY TIME’: CANADIAN CREATORS ON THE STREAMING ERA

Brent Butt is trepidatious about the streaming era. While the Canadian comedy star says he’s excited about the “palpable opportunities” that exist as more streamers enter the market here, he also finds it “a little frightening.”

“None of us knows how any of this is going to work or shake down,” says Brent Butt, whose Saskatchewan-set “Corner Gas” franchise recently expanded from Bell Media platforms in Canada to the IMDb TV streaming service in the United States. MICHAEL BELL / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Brent Butt is trepidatious about the streaming era.

While the Canadian comedy star says he’s excited about the “palpable opportunities” that exist as more streamers enter the market here, he also finds it “a little frightening.”

“It’s also kind of a scary time, because none of us knows how any of this is going to work or shake down,” says Butt, whose Saskatchewan-set “Corner Gas” franchise recently expanded from Bell Media platforms in Canada to the IMDb TV streaming service in the United States.

“When I got into producing television, the business model had been the same for about 70 years and, suddenly, in the last five years it’s completely different. And it looks like over the next five years it’s going to be completely different again. And nobody really knows.”

With Netflix, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and several other major American streamers now competing in Canada alongside homegrown counterparts including CBC Gem and Crave, many film and TV creators here are expressing a cautious optimism.

While many point to the chance for more eyeballs and work, they’re also facing increasing competition from American productions that could potentially drown out homegrown projects.

“I don’t know that I’ve had a chance to wrap my head around what the streaming services mean (for Canadian creators) and I don’t know that anyone really knows,” says Toronto-based filmmaker Danis Goulet, writer-director of the upcoming Indigenous sci-fi feature “Night Raiders,” which is being produced in association with Crave and CBC Films.

“My hope is that it opens up more opportunities. The streaming services desperately need content,” Goulet said.

Indeed, it does seem more gigs are becoming available for Canadian actors and creators.

“It’s creating so many jobs in Canada that it’s hard to speak negatively of any of it,” says Vancouver actor/filmmaker Annette Reilly, a cast member on the locally shot Netflix series “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.”

“It’s changing the industry at such a fast rate that nobody can keep up.”

Thunderbird Entertainment Group in Vancouver, which has created projects for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Apple TV Plus and HBO Max, says business has never been better.

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