Anita Adams is passionate about Canadian movies. In 2003, she founded the First Weekend Club, a grassroots organization dedicated to building audiences for Canadian films and supporting a film’s critical first weekend in theatres. With less than four per cent of the national box office going to Canadian films, she is determined to get more bums in seats for made-in-Canada movies. Celebrating a decade of promoting some 200 Canadian films, the Vancouver-based initiative has grown into a national movement with First Weekend Clubs in major cities across the country. The 44-year-old Can-con booster ushers in 2013 with a new venue, a partnership with the Vancouver International Film Festival and a soon-to-be-launched, video-on-demand platform exclusive to Canadian films.
Why is the “first weekend” so important for movies?
If the film does well at the box office on the first three days, theatre owners/distributors will run it longer and, more likely, will get screened in other theatres across the country.
What does this partnership with the Vancouver International Film Festival Society mean?
The Vancouver International Film Festival Society is interested in profiling more Canadian films. We will be co-hosting opening night events at the Vancity Theatre for select Canadian films. It’s a great venue to showcase them. To have a real impact though, more theatres across Canada need to take a bigger interest in Canadian films. This is only a drop in the bucket, but I’m hopeful there will be a ripple effect and more theatres will follow.
How can moviegoers help get the word out on great Canadian films?
First, you need to know about the film and when and where it is opening. The best way to do that, of course, is to become a member of First Weekend Club (membership is free). Members receive emails about new Canadian film releases, which include links to the movie trailers, a description of the film and links to buying tickets online.
We also have a very active and engaged online community on Facebook and Twitter. Just sharing information about Canadian films with friends through social media platforms is an excellent way to help spread the word about Canadian films.
Hmmm. That’s really a tough one to answer. We were very active in helping to promote Sarah Polley’s documentary Stories We Tell, but I can’t say that film was successful because of First Weekend Club. We played an important role, but we were only one cog in a busy wheel. To be successful, a film needs many things. First, it’s got to be a good story (I know I’m stating the obvious), then you need a good release date. Some dates are definitely better than others. For instance, you wouldn’t want to open just after all the Oscar nominations have been announced as those films typically dominate the screens, the press and audience’s attention. Then you need a team of people to help promote the film — the filmmakers, distributor, publicists and First Weekend Club.
How else is FWC promoting Canadian films?
Very shortly, we will be launching CanadaScreens.ca a new video-on-demand platform exclusively for Canadian film — it’s kind of a cross between Netflix and iTunes. Like Netflix, the films will be streamed so you can watch our films anywhere, anytime. I’m very excited about this new initiative that will help us bring more Canadian films to more people across the country, many who simply didn’t have access to Canadian films before.
Greatest Canadian film?
I’ve got a few. C.R.A.Z.Y. by Jean-Marc Vallée, Saint Ralph by Michael McGowan, Cairo Time by Ruba Nadda and The Red Violin by Francois Girard.
Best life lesson you’ve learned?
I’ve learned not to take no for an answer. My mom use to always say, “Persistence prevails when all else fails.” I live by that motto.
The next First Weekend Club film screening is Hit ’n Strum, which opens March 8. For more information, go to firstweekendclub.ca.