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'I'm not a specialist, I'm a manager,' says Telefilm chair
by: Oct 18, 2007 Print

The new chairman of Telefilm Canada, the relatively unknown Michel Roy, wants to help the agency adapt to the digital age and to boost funding for Canadian, and particularly Quebecois, feature films.

As chair, Roy acts as the link between Telefilm and Canadian Heritage. Although he has spent much of the last decade concentrating on personal writing and music projects -- he recorded two jazz albums and wrote a biography of his son, hockey goalie Patrick Roy -- the 65-year-old career bureaucrat believes he's ready to help manage the cultural agency over the next five years as it adapts to the challenges of new media.

"I don't feel like I'm out of the loop. I will be working with very knowledgeable personnel. I'm not a specialist, I'm a manager," Roy tells Playback Daily in a telephone interview from his home in Quebec's Eastern Townships.

"New technologies seem to be emerging each week. If we are to support the industry, we must adapt to these changes. We have a five-year plan that addresses these issues. But it's one thing to talk about it and it's another thing to make it happen," he says. Roy is referring to Telefilm's plan to deal with the challenges of digital platforms, From Cinemas to Cellphones, which it released last year.

Roy started his career in 1964 with Quebec Liberal premier Jean Lesage's government and retired from the public service in 1996. He was Quebec's deputy minister of tourism from 1989 to 1991 and delegate of the Quebec government in Chicago from 1994 to 1996.

Telefilm chairs normally have more of a track record in the broadcasting and audiovisual sector than Roy, whose industry experience is confined to his role as deputy minister of communications for the Quebec government (1991-1994) and a stint as a film editor for Radio-Canada in the early 1960s.

Former chairs include Laurier LaPierre (1998-2001), a well-known broadcaster, author and now-retired senator; François Macerola (2001-2002), a lawyer and former director of Telefilm; and Charles Belanger (2002-2007), who worked with CFCF Broadcasting in Montreal and was a vice-chair of the CRTC. Roy replaces interim chair Felix "Fil" Fraser, who was president and CEO of VisionTV and founding chair of the Banff Television Festival.

Roy says he is committed to finding new private-sector sources of funding for feature films. "The existing funds are insufficient to supply the demand, especially for francophone films. We have to develop new partnerships to meet the needs," he says.

A spokesperson for Heritage was not available to comment on Roy's appointment.

Roy has yet to meet or speak directly with Heritage Minister Josée Verner, who named him to the post last week, but had a long telephone conversation with her predecessor Beverly Oda before Prime Minister Stephen Harper's recent cabinet shuffle.

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