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Interview: David Cormican speaks about the Canadian entertainment scene


Someday, soon perhaps, we won’t have to preface a love or promotion of a piece of entertainment by catching ourselves and saying it happens to be Canadian. As if a film or television show is judged by a different standard because it’s made in the Great White North.

The definition of Canadian entertainment is certainly changing, but many look to a time when it’s judged and defined by quality and innovation, rather than content, budgetary restrictions, or preconceived, outdated notions.

“We’ve been in a Golden Age of television and now are starting a Golden Age of film, and audiences are being surprised they are into something Canadian,” says Canadian producer David Cormican. “They are being cleverly surprised; they don’t realize they are watching Canadian films. The bar has been raised, that’s a good thing.”

“We used to need to have the stamp of American approval first, especially with stars, but now films and people are rising more naturally.”

David Cormican has lived and worked around the country, training in film both in front of and behind the camera. A dual citizen of Ireland and Canada, Cormican studied theatre in Dublin and Edmonton, and has made his way back to Toronto with stops in Saskatchewan and New York City along the way. His time as an actor was educational, but limiting of his entrepreneurial creativity and desires.

“I felt satisfied creatively, but I had these great, grandiose ideas, and I felt like I wasn’t flexing my business muscles,” says Cormican during a phone interview from Toronto. He was lucky enough to gain opportunities to prove himself, showing up at the right place at the right time and outperforming those admittedly more qualified though less dedicated. “I learned a lot on the go, I had great mentors and people around and those who took a shot on me.”

Cormican has quickly proven himself. Among others, he was the executive producer on the thriller Faces in the Crowd starring Milla Jovovich, as well as 2012’s The Tall Man staring Jessica Biel.

A new partnership with Oscar-winning producer Don Carmody sees exciting opportunity for Cormican as his profile continues to rise. The pair looks to make a major impact on Canadian television at a time when the quality of content is exceptional, accessibility is high, and the country has started to rebrand itself on a national and international stage (see the inaugural Canadian Screen Awards, for example).

“I’m interested in long-form based series with wide appeal and international audiences,” says Cormican of his television foray with Carmody. “We want serialized television shows with fantastic characters you like and want to live with.”

“It’s binge entertainment,” he adds, referencing shows like The Walking Dead, House of Cards, and Game of Thrones. “We want to deliver a feature film every week.”

It’s a Canadian endeavor, yes, but may not necessarily be distinctly Canadian. Cormican explains what he looks for is a good story, and that his approach to television and film, like Canada in general, isn’t relegating to a specific genre or style. While he has done thrillers and horrors – he and Carmody worked together on the zombie-horror film 13 Eerie, set to be released this later in 2013 – Cormican is interested in just about everything.

One of his next projects will be to bring to the big screen author Kim Izzo’s first novel, The Jane Austen Marriage Manual. As the title may suggest, it is not a horror-thriller. “It’s a bit of a departure,” he says, admitting it was his first entry into the world of chick lit. “It’s high concept, but at the same time has broad commercial appeal and is the perfect romantic comedy. It has a feel of Love, Actually, or Bridget Jones’s Diary.

“I’ve so many different stories I want to tell.”

He has his place in the world of film, an exciting partnership on television, and plenty of guidance in an industry buoyed by mentorship, Cormican will have plenty of opportunities to become a famed storyteller.

Anthony Marcusa

A pop-culture consumer, Anthony seeks out what is important in entertainment and mocks what is not. Inspired by history, Anthony writes with the hope that someone, somewhere, might be affected.