Corner Gas has returned from the dead in a blaze of angelic glory to give us a feature film. And like most productions in this country, it’s happening on the public dime.
The popular series will receive a theatrical release around November, followed by TV and DVD releases just in time for the holidays. As a fan of the series, I’m thrilled. But since the film will be a product of Bell Media and Telefilm Canada, I was a little concerned to see they’d included Kickstarter in their fundraising. If *this* show couldn’t marshal a reunion piece on its own merits, what hope can there be for any series in Canada? My thrills had turned to bitter, bitter chills.
Perhaps the most successful Canadian program of the new millennium (to date), Corner Gas commands an wide and devoted fan base. Yes, Canadian TV has boomed with quality work lately. This is especially true in sci-fi programming, where critical darlings Continuum and Orphan Black continue to deliver. But Corner Gas still has the monopoly on half-hour comedy, an area subsequent series such as Hiccups or Dan for Mayor have failed to crack. The closest contender would be the long-running and interminable Little Mosque on the Prairie, the success of which is well-known to be the result of a demonic pact.
So why crowd source? This is the Canadian equivalent of a mega-hit. The basic truth of the matter is that if you can get the fans to put up the cash, why wouldn’t you?
Some will take umbrage. There are people convinced that Kickstarter is for independent productions only, projects that could never get off the ground without crowd-sourced support. But Corner Gas set their Kickstarter bar low, seeking only $100,000 of the projected 8.5 million dollar budget. It’s barely a drop in the bucket.
And besides that, the Kickstarter funds aren’t directed towards production. It’s explicitly stated in their page copy. And from the look of newly added stretch goals, which they are breezing past, these funds are all really aimed at building the Corner Gas mythos. Additional target’s will create documentary’s, live cast appearances, and establishing the Corner Gas station as a tourist attraction.
I never thought I would say I really want to visit a gas station, or Saskatchewan (joking, roughriders), but I’m legitimately excited by the prospect.
Their campaign is clearly geared towards this fan involvement, providing unique experiences for the hardcore devotee who has spent the last few years wishing for just a little more of the show. The prizes are a tad on the pricey side, but serious fans will delight at the opportunity to purchase a speaking role in the movie, take home a piece of the Ruby Diner, or have a personalized “Jackass!” video from Oscar.
On the downside, Bell Media is reportedly putting forward only 1.5 million of the budget. This means the remaining funding will be coming from government subsidies and tax-breaks, as is tradition in Canada. So fans or not, we’re all paying. Production companies are more likely to invest the bulk of their resources in American entertainment than to take risks with Canadian material. Disappointing, but not unexpected. This is Canada.
But really, if you’re a big enough fan that you’re willing to shell out money for the chance just to name a character, who can say you’re wrong? If you’re the kind of person who wants a $75 dollar collectors edition DVD, here’s your chance. It’s your money, you big weirdo.
Check out their Kickstarter here.