There’s a saying among actors that “there are no small parts,” but the maxim extends to the action behind the scenes, too: When it comes to financing a Canadian independent film, every little bit helps. So, producers were alarmed last month when a small but vital not-for-profit agency announced that it was ending decades of funding film production.
The Harold Greenberg Fund (HGF) has made equity investments in some of the highest-profile Canadian films on the horizon, including Kim Nguyen’s Eye on Julietand Kathleen Hepburn’s Never Steady, Never Still, both of which will be at the Toronto International Film Festival, as well as Xavier Dolan’s English-language debut The Death and Life of John F. Donovan.
And money from the HGF was key to getting last year’s breakout Canadian hit, Maudie, on the screen, as well as Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World, which won the Cannes Grand Prix.
But in late August, the fund sent a note to producers explaining that “In response to our internal financing outlook,” its equity-investment program would cease activities this month. Although the amount in question may seem small – in its 2015-16 annual report, the fund said its equity program had invested a little over $1.1-million, spread among 10 features – producers say it can make a big difference.
The change comes as other major players in the industry have fallen by the wayside or been severely crippled in their activities, including the pay-TV service Super Channel, which entered bankruptcy proceedings last year.