Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Canadian Noir

From: Willow Arune (
Date: 13 Apr 2007

The Vancouver film industry started out back in the sixties. While cost was a consideration then, it was more driven by taxes...

Lord Folkstone, later the Earl of Raglan I think, had a tax problem. So he built Panorama Studios in West Vancouver in the 60sand shortly after we had "Cold Day in the Park". The tax problem solved, the studio was dormant and empty until the 70s when "Bob & Carol, Ted & Alice" came along. "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" opened the door a bit further. Still, most of that following years revolved around tax gimmicks. It was not until the 80s that the advantages of the lower Canadian dollar lured film companies north and what follows is now history.

Lower production costs - certainly. But also locations, new and unused, with well trained crews. Within a few hours of Vancouver you have just about every type of scenery you can imagine. It is only recently that people started charging big bucks to use a house, for example. Before that, it was simply the joy of seeing your home on the screen. Vancouver doubles on screen for just about anywhere, including at least once for NYC. A few exteriors in the real place and the rest is done in Vancouver.

Now, to the next matter...

I have to admit that the location of a novel does indeed make a difference to me. "Why" is a difficult question.

Having lived in Bangkok, I try out any mystery writer who uses it as a location. In fact, still up on the shelf is a small collection of novels first written in Thai and translated into English. Not many, as the first Thai novel did not emerge until the 1920s ("Jan Darma"). Bombay is another location I favour. My senses dull with Hong Kong or Singapore. I have yet to try one set in Japan.

When browsing amongst the latest mysteries, I tend to pass over those from California, look closer at those from Oregon or Washington state, and my ears perk up when the blurbs mention Maine, Vermont, or Boston. I don't have any real reason for this. It simply is what happens. Southern states are a more selective process, the Southwest tends to loose my interest, and I have yet to find any heartland state save Minnesota that catches my fancy. A small exception might be Salt Lake City, where I also lived for a few years.

In my own case, I think that location is one factor in picking the book up from the shelf from a group of unknowns. There is a visceral reaction to the location, followed by a sample read of a few chapters. Why would I relish a book sited in Saint John's and react poorly to one set in Three Pines, Quebec? No idea, but I know it to be true. I had to almost force myself to start Penny's first book, but jumped right in to Inspector Slade in Newfoundland.

Does Connelly sell better in CA than in NYC. My own thought is "probably".



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