Joshua Jackson wants to build a Canadian film empire

Joshua Jackson attends the Liquid Media Group Party at the Windsor Arms Hotel on September 13, 2021 in Toronto.

Sonia Recchia / Getty Images

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Sitting in the ballroom of the Windsor Arms Hotel in Toronto, actor-turned-media mogul Joshua Jackson takes a piece of chewing gum and slips it under his mask, emblazoned with the logo of his Canadian company, Liquid Media Group. The Vancouver-born star of The case, Dawson Creek, and the new Dr Mort, streaming on Amazon Prime, sits next to CEO and director of his company, Ron Thomson. Jackson jokingly calls the Toronto International Film Festival “their debutants’ ball.” Tonight, the (doubly vaccinated) members of his company who have traveled from Los Angeles, New York and Tofino will meet at their first partnership dinner to exchange ideas on black cod and champagne. The multi-storey hotel serves as a clubhouse for this festival, as it will host parties and panel discussions on the future of new media. The whole thing has Big Startup Energy, as I’m invited to take a free mask and a bottle of branded water. “Liquid liquid,” explains Thomson.

The company was co-founded by the actor in 2018 to address structural issues in the film industry. He experimented with new media, games and visual effects, unclear about his true destiny. It wasn’t, for example, Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment, making award-winning films while working as a shingle in the traditional studio system, or Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine, designed to harness the power of the stars to achieve dream projects. Instead, he craved something more radical, a complete dismantling of the industry itself.

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“I want to recreate Warner Brothers, but in 2021,” says Jackson. “Streaming has removed so many barriers to entry and what I thought was going to take five, 10 years, instead took one COVID. This demand for content, the proliferation of platforms is great for filmmakers in theory. But in practice, unless you learn a whole bunch of other new jobs, you won’t be able to recreate all the tools that the traditional system has for itself.

Jackson previously worked in the production of independent films. In 2008 he was executive producer on the film Blatant Canada One week, in which a prophetic message wraps the rim message “Go west young man” on the character’s Tim Hortons coffee mug acts as the catalyst for a scenic motorcycle trip across Canada. (Gord Downie appears as a weed-smoking sensei.)

But producing and starring in independent films exhausted him. “I know so many talented people who are constantly on this hamster wheel of ‘I’m not finishing this thing and not giving it out in the next six months, they’re going to take my house,’ Jackson says. ‘I want to walk you through. every step of the way, where the price is not ‘We own it all now, thank you for your hard work.’ Although cinema is always difficult, it doesn’t have to be punitive. ”

When asked exactly what Liquid Media will do and who they will be doing it with, Jackson and Thomson outline a strategy to help filmmakers through the stages of script development, packaging, financing and distribution of production, aided by “research of psychoanalytic data”, a Thomson method compares to what we saw in the plot of the film Silver ball, to help them tap emerging markets. As an example, they cite IndieFlix, the recently acquired “edutainment company” by Liquid, which sells social justice documentaries and workplace harassment videos to a list of customers including schools, military organizations and military organizations. American banks.

Although Jackson does not say whether they will keep an eye out for booming Canadian writers during TIFF (the actor has not been to a movie theater for two years for fear of spreading COVID to his daughter d ‘one year), it is clear that her heart remains with the fate of her home and her native land.

“Americans don’t even have a clue what Cancon is,” says Jackson. “If they do, they think our films are bad, or slow, and if to some extent that is true, no one has cultural hegemony over the bad, and what we do is also very good. !

“We certainly don’t want to end the Telefilm system any more than we want to end the traditional studio system. But one of the things that I recognized growing up in the industry is that the need to get your money back is very motivating.

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Thomson says Liquid Media was founded in Canada for a reason.

“I have had my own business for 22 years, helping businesses and production companies break the boundaries of what they call ‘the make-believe world of Canadian film and television,’ explains Thomson. “It’s the thing that kills us, but it also holds us back. The Canada Media Fund, Telefilm, the Canada Council for the Arts and Canadian Heritage are failing to help Canadians get out and tell these stories outside of Canada, as they should be. . ”

“The last Star Trek movie is a Canadian movie as far as I’m concerned: we produced it here, it’s our teams, we built it, we did a lot of digital effects,” adds Jackson. “I really think it’s time for us to step into the reality that we’re at their level, we just have to take the risk of getting the reward, and that has to be backed up with imagination beyond, “Oh that’s gonna make a great Telefilm”, or “that’ll make a great Saturday night CBC movie”.

“We’re pretty good,” the actor concludes. “We’re good enough at telling amazing stories for the rest of the planet. ”

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