MONTREAL — Less than a month after announcing with much fanfare the appointment of a new English-Canadian film czar, Telefilm Canada announced Wednesday that Michael Jenkinson would be unable to join the Canuck film funder.
He was to have started work at Telefilm on Monday as the feature film exec for the English-language market.
Telefilm executive director Wayne Clarkson said Jenkinson was not going to be able to take the position at Telefilm because of unexpected complications in leaving his job as CEO of Los Angeles-based producer Urban Entertainment.
Last month, Telefilm said it was revamping the way it funds English-Canadian film by creating the new position of feature film exec for English-Canada. Jenkinson and Clarkson met many in the film industry in Toronto at the time, although the appointment was met with skepticism.
Telefilm topper Clarkson will take over the position Jenkinson was to have filled, in addition to his other duties as executive director; he said the Montreal-based agency will not be seeking another candidate for the post right now. The agency’s senior management will review the situation at the end of this year.
Clarkson admitted he was disappointed by the turn of events.
“He could not extricate himself from the company,” Clarkson told Daily Variety. “It was much more complicated than he imagined.”
Clarkson said Jenkinson’s decision had nothing to do with the mixed reaction in Canada to his appointment.
“I don’t think there’s a subtext,” he said.
But Clarkson insisted Telefilm was pushing ahead with its reforms of the funding system for English-Canadian film and said he’s taking the position because the funder does not have time to look for another candidate.
The English-Canadian film exec is supposed to have sweeping powers to greenlight films — a radical change from the former system whereby juries decided which films received funding.
The position was created because English-Canadian film remains in bad shape, accounting for only 1% of ticket sales in Canada. French-Canadian films, in contrast, take 18% of movie ticket sales in Quebec.