April 21, 2009 Jill

The WGC Awards last night were a fabulous fun event.  I had the pure joy of handing the Writers Block to the incredible Karen Walton.

Sometimes at these guild events, the elders of the tribe force all the rest of you into the wayback machine and make you sit through the stories of how we separated from ACTRA and first forged a guild of our own.

Our guild is very young and we have little in the way of myth to trot out on occasions of state.  The big one is our birth story.  Then we have a few minor tales like how we won story editing, how we won animation and the time we held the Awards at the Opera House and they put the shrimp on the tables at three o’clock in the afternoon… You see what I mean.

But there is a new story unfolding at this very moment and it may be as seder-worthy as the whole breaking away from ACTRA thing.  It is the story of the unification of writers.

There is a new sense of community among writers in this country — one that has never existed before.  As WGC Executive Director Maureen Parker said in her opening remarks at this year’s National Forum “writers are energized, motivated and unified.”

Karen Walton has down a tremendous amount to bring about this remarkable change, to bring writers together and to set a tone of generousity among us.  Last night, in presenting the Writers Block, I quoted from Karen’s description of Ink Canada and I will here too:

Canadian screenwriters often work alone, in isolation from one another & the creative community at large, and are generally ignorant on the subject of each other’s work. It is my belief that there will never be a truly astonishing creative movement in Canadian cinema & television until its artists kick down the cultural, geographical, and systemic walls between us… and feel free to shamelessly excite one another.

KW has kicked a whole lot of walls down and the results are astonishing. Writers know each other.  We know each other’s names (not me, because in my youth I subscribed to the David Cole school of life, but everybody else seems to do quite well).  We know each other’s faces.  We know each other work.

Writers are gathering often — for coffee or drinks, to lawn bowl or just to hang out.  We’re learning from each other, sharing info about jobs and producers and how to apply for stuff and who has the best book keeper (me, Becky, Rob, Karen, Vera, Miles, Alex, if you must know).

In the last few years, we’ve become a community.

Karen’s work to make this happen has been incredible… unbelievable, really.  Her generousity, enthusiasm, energy and wardrobe are breathtaking.

But she is not alone.  There are others whose work is also significant.  Our scribosphere has done an amazing job of bringing us together and building the community of writers.  Like Karen’s Ink Canada, they give us a virtual gathering place, a discussion forum and each of them reach out personally to the writers who contact them and help them find their place inside our community.  They include Denis McGrath, Alex Epstein, Will Dixon, Jim Henshaw, Diane Kristine, Elize Morgan, Brandon Laraby, Rob Mills to name but a few.

This is a new chapter in the history of screenwriting in the country.  And ten years from now, when someone stands at the mic at the WGC Awards to tell the story of how a bunch of geeky awkward loners became the most powerful creative force in this country, the young ‘uns and no0bs will yawn and shuffle their feet.  But we know that we are living through something exciting and important and thanks to Karen Walton and her sketchy friends, we are doing it together.

I think that astonishing creative movement is within our grasp.

Comments (7)

  1. (blush). Ms. Golick slyly omits herself as defacto Digi-Generation Head, that we even have awards because of her tireless devotion to community since way before I ever got it, that she shares in the Block with the Titans of Cool, that she runs ever-expanding collective brain kitchen that is Writer Watching TV for us all, & that she inspires daily every keystroke I or any of our shared tribe of Geeky Godlies ever muster. Because if any of us are here, it’s coz Jill told us we really ought to be. And Jill? Never wrong. I love her, and she’s *my* hero. Not just because her wardobe? kills mine. – waltzx

  2. admin

    blushing back at you. But here’s the thing to pass onto inkies and the rest of the community. It is important to stop thinking of the WGC as other than us. It is us, built with our money, brains and sweat and the best staff we can buy (which turns out to be a pretty awesome group) to do our collective will. It fights for our rights and speaks our truth because we collectively tell it to do so. Time for the digi-gen to involve itself the organization for tho it was built by your elders, it belongs to all of us to do with what we will and it is one more, pretty powerful arm of the collective that is the Ink-Nation-Scribosphere-Tweetarama-Band-Practice-Writer-Mafia. Jump in, participate, vote, read the mail, run for an office, sit on a jury, negotiate an agreement. The WGC is us as much as Ink is. When you wear red, you stand for all writers.

  3. Brandon

    Great article and a great speech last night, Jill!

    We were hootin’ and hollerin’ from the back benches to the front row – a fantastic intro if I’ve ever heard one 😉

    And while Karen is amazing for getting the ball rolling and keeping it on track – you (and a whole list of talented pro writers Denis, Jim, Alex, etc.) should be recognized too for being so generous with your time, helping us newbie writers with our questions and sharing your insight.

    It’s one of the truly brilliant things about this community – a chance for the pros and their sketchy friends to stay in touch and chat while also allowing us newbies to learn the ropes proper (while gaining a necessary, and needed, respect for the realities of the business).

    A positively-charged community that lives and breathes thanks to the goodwill of all involved… heck, who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?


  4. Kellie Ann Benz

    Oh Jill, you are so right! We are on the precipice of a revolution. I feel it in my bones.

    You and Karen and everyone else who have stuck their necks out there to shout out loud have made this happen.

    I was in an inspiring WGC meeting in Vancouver a few weeks back. We writers are standing up.

    Karen is most deserving of this recognition. Most deserving.


    You made a beautiful speech and I think getting the award was all the more special for Karen because it was you who presented it to her in such a meaningful tribute. It was a great great night and I just love being a sketchy friend of y’all. Inkies rocked the house.

  6. Elize Morgan

    Hear, hear! Not only here, but the speech as well.

    The increased presence may have its own unique issues to it, but it gives a quick venue for question/answer period as well.

  7. I wished I could have been there. Congrats to Karen – and to you Jill — well spoken here in your post. There is indeed a seachange afoot and it’s fun to dance amidst that rising tide of passionate community.

    well done.

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