Wayne Clarkson can't get a break. Clarkson is the executive director of Telefilm Canada, the Canadian Heritage agency that finances feature film production in our country. Since his appointment in January of 2005, he has had the unenviable job of sewing a silk purse from a sow's ear. After all, “Canadian film industry” has always been something of an oxymoron; a small population alongside the Hollywood behemoth does not a strong market make.
But, as of May 15, Clarkson is also in charge of porcine avionics: that is, making pigs fly. He's now responsible for green-lighting production of all English-language films; like a studio boss, he alone will be responsible for deciding which films Canadians are most likely to go see at the cinema. Since most Canadians are unlikely to see any Canadian films at the cinema–English-language films had approximately 1% of the box office in 2005–you can already hear the thud of bacon hitting the runway.
It was Clarkson's idea in April to narrow the decision-making process to one button, but he wasn't supposed to be the button-pusher–Michael Jenkinson was. Jenkinson, a former executive with 20th Century Fox, was supposed to start on May 15. At last, here was a real-life player, lending Hollywood legitimacy to the benighted north. Better still, Jenkinson, raised in Toronto, is an alumnus of the Canadian Film Centre during Clarkson's tenure as its executive director. But less than a month after Clarkson's laudatory introduction, Telefilm issued a “dog-ate-my-homework” press release, explaining that Jenkinson had encountered “unexpected complications” exiting his L.A. production company. In other words, he didn't take the job. Perhaps Jenkinson remembered a line from Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction: “I just don't dig on swine.”