THOUGHT LEADERS: Kyle Irving, partner at Winnipeg-based independent film and television production company Eagle Vision, reveals how the company fared during lockdown and how the industry will be different in the future.
How has the pandemic most significantly impacted your business?
There has been so much suffering and death, it’s hard to spend a lot of time dwelling on the negative impacts the pandemic have had on our business. From a business perspective we’ve survived worse, we’ll survive this. So we’re focused on the positive outcomes from the pandemic. It’s given us a chance to really focus on our priorities as a company, including our staff and how we can best achieve what they want out of their careers.
We’ve also been able to give development more focus and attention than ever before, and we’ve been fortunate enough to have a couple of new shows ordered. We also see a lot of positive impact coming from the changes we are all going to need to make to get our industry back on track: shorter working hours; a greater focus on the well-being of our cast and crew; more recognition of our most vulnerable citizens; and, of course, the wave of awareness and will to finally reckon with the injustice and inequality faced by members of our BIPOC [black, indigenous and people of colour] community.
Which projects have been affected and in what way?
We were lucky to not be in production on anything at the time of the shutdown. We had one feature in post that we will be able to complete on time. We had another feature that was in pre-prep before the shutdown and was fortunately insured before the pandemic. That project will go to camera on August 17. We were able to write on a scripted series during the shutdown and subject to solving the insurance issue, we are going to hopefully make it in the fall. The new shows that were ordered will go into production this summer and fall.
What new programming initiatives have you introduced to make up for the deficit caused by these projects being put on hold?
Thanks to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy we were able to keep all of our staff on during the shutdown. We were also able to access some support from the Canada Media Fund. This support has allowed us to maintain our operations and focus on preparing to get back to work.
What have you learned through these initiatives as a result?
I have been active on the CMPA [Canadian Media Producers Association] Covid-19 Production Impact Working Group, am the vice-chair of industrial relations for the CMPA, am a board member of On Screen Manitoba, a member of the OSM Manitoba Producers Caucus and during the pandemic joined the Manitoba Industry Working Group.
This work has given me an opportunity to help contribute to all the efforts the industry has pushed forward with government and our other partners. I’d like to think that the combined work of these committees, organizations and the hard-working staff and volunteers who contribute to them have been instrumental in ensuring we have the right programs, support and stimulus to keep our country together and in a position to recover. The level of cooperation from all parties in this work and advocacy have been inspiring. I hope we’ve all learned about just how effective we can be when we put our differences aside and work together.
How will your business be different after the pandemic?
There will be challenges in navigating the new waters of the pandemic world, but overall our business will be better thanks to the time we’ve had to focus on its future.
How do you think the business as a whole will be different?
It will be especially hard for the feature film industry; what was left of an already depleted market is now gone. With no festivals or markets, let alone theaters, it’s going to be really hard to sell and make features. That being said, because there has been a long period without production, there is soon to be a serious content supply shortfall, especially in TV and films for streamers. Besides the incredible demand for content, it will be better thanks to shorter working hours; a greater focus on the well-being of our cast and crew; and hopefully more opportunity for members of our BIPOC community.
What will be your biggest challenge?
Insurance and budget increases related to Covid-19.
What will be the biggest opportunities?
The greatest demand for content ever and the willingness to support new and different content from unique voices.
What ‘good’ has come of the pandemic?
This has been a healing time in many ways. We needed this time to reflex on how we've done things, how we can do things better moving forward, and how we can all work together to better take care of each other and make sure more underrepresented people have a voice and an opportunity to tell their story.