In the film and television industry, Canadians have spent decades helping make American content great. Since the 1920’s, Canadian actors have been moving south of the border to make their name in American productions. The pioneering began with Mary Pickford, who helped establish the Hollywood dream. She became “America’s sweetheart” of the silent screen in the 1920s, despite having been born and raised in Ontario.
Over the decades, a whole slate of talent from Canada followed her. But the twenty-first century has given rise to a new generation of players in film, television, video gaming and digital entertainment. And they are not moving to Hollywood to make it big. From every corner of the country, they are proving that in the entertainment sector, Canada has come into its own.
The only issue left is brand awareness, as many Canadians are still unaware of the world-class entertainment created in their own back yards.
An awareness campaign called MADE | NOUS was launched in 2019 to help viewers shake off the old image of Canadian stories, and to celebrate the growing influence of Canadian players in the global entertainment industry.
“MADE | NOUS is a call to Canadians,” says Mathieu Chantelois, an executive from the Canada Media Fund, one of the organizations leading the MADE | NOUS initiative. “We make some of the finest content in the world. It’s time we take credit for it.”
Since the launch last year, the campaign has called on ambassadors like comedian Jay Baruchel and celebrities from Quebec like Karine Vanasse and Marc-Andre Grondin, to share their love for Canadian content.
These ambassadors are helping to spread the message that Canadian entertainment punches above its weight in a country with a population of only 38 million. In 2017, the film and television industry generated 171,700 full-time-equivalent jobs and contributed $12 billion in gross domestic product, according to the Canadian Media Producers Association.
“There have been lots of initiatives over the years, trying to get people to take note, to invest, trying to get people to spend their money here,” says Canadian entertainment journalist Ben Mulroney. “All sorts of initiatives. Not all of them take root. This one seems to be taking root. I’ve seen the commercials for this one. There’s a boldness, a brashness to this one, a confidence behind this one, that I don’t think I’ve seen in initiatives past.”
Perhaps it’s because the country has reached a critical mass of great projects that people are finally taking notice. Television shows like Cardinal, Bad Blood, and Schitt’s Creek have become mainstream hits on both sides of the border. Canadian directors, including Jean-Marc Vallée (Big Little Lies, Sharp Objects), and Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049) are at the helm of some of the most talked about films and TV series. Canadian visual effects compositors and artists gave lightsabers their luminous glow in Star Wars: The Force Awaken and Canadian production, VFX and sound studios are growing in number to meet global standards.
The entertainment offering has spread to video games as well. FIFA 19, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, We Happy Few and Mass Effect, are some of the most popular made-in-Canada video games in the world.
So far, the consumer reaction to the campaign has been positive, but Chantelois knows there is much more work to be done. “The mystique of Hollywood wasn’t built in a day. Canada helped build it, after all. That means our story isn’t complete yet, either.”
For more information on Canada’s storytellers, visit made-nous.ca.