Q&A with Mike Kasprow Telefilm Canada announced yet more funding for gaming projects on December 18, including support for a new, yet-untitled console game being developed by Trapeze Media in conjunction with well-known filmmaker David Cronenberg and his son Brandon. Canadian NEW MEDIA had the opportunity to pepper Trapeze founder and creative director Michael Kasprow about the project by email. His answers are below. Canadian NEW MEDIA: How did a project with Cronenberg come about? Mike Kasprow: David has been involved with Trapeze as an advisory board member since 2000. CNM: Who approached who? MK: Wayne Clarkson at the Canadian Film Centre introduced us. CNM: What are the terms of the deal? MK: David is an executive producer of the game along with Trapeze, and we share in the long-term rights of the project. CNM: Who’s contributing what? MK: David and Brandon are doing the initial writing of the game scenarios. Trapeze is taking the lead on the technology and the game design and we will each contribute equally to the visual aspects of the game and its overall environment. CNM: Which console do you plan to work with? MK: We are interested in both X-Box2 and (Playstation) 2/3. CNM: Who will own the IP? MK: Shared equally. CNM: Cronenberg is quoted in a media release saying, “Trapeze and I are very much interested in producing a project that can push the idea of gaming to an entirely different place, a place where great cinema and great game play fuse together.” Can you be more specific? Great games already have a cinematic feel and narrative structure? How can Trapeze and Cronenberg push that envelope? MK: I would disagree and tell you that I think great games out there attempt to imbue that in the game, but in the end are 12 parts interactivity and three parts story. What we are attempting to do is find equilibrium – eight parts interactivity/eight parts story. It has always been one of our mantras as a company in all that we’ve done. And, with David, we really think we have an opportunity to do it on a much larger scale. CNM: Is console gaming new for the company, or are you building on established expertise?  MK: It is new, but we are combining skills we have been cultivating with great success at Trapeze Animation with the interactive and adver-gaming experience we have at Trapeze Media. CNM: What are the challenges of working on a console game compared to an ITV or web or other interactive product? MK: Complexity, depth, pre-production. A good process can be applied to any project. We are very, very focussed on planning. Remember, Hitchcock used to say the film was finished after storyboards. CNM: Have you got a distribution deal? MK: We’re fielding offers right now. CNM: Will you be testing yourselves, or have you arranged to outsource that? MK: Additional perspective is a good thing. We are thinking that outsourcing is a good idea. CNM: Do you have staff on hand to develop this, or will you need to hire some contractors? MK: A combination. We’re looking for a couple of very skilled folks right now. CNM: What are the synergies with other products and expertise the company has now? MK: Interactive, story, strong visual components and potential expansion into other media and some marketing synergies. Makes total sense to us. CNM: Telefilm has kicked in $100,000 toward the project’s development. We’re used to hearing about successful console game products in the multi-million dollar range. How much will you need from other investors to bring this project to fruition? MK: Interest from a publisher is enough. Game production is a model that is not too different from film production. Normally, the publisher picks up the title and underwrites the cost of production. For that, you get their marketing and distribution power. You lose a significant amount of the IP long term – but try taking a product to market without access to the channels. CNM: Peers including DECODE Entertainment’s Dan Fill have suggested that gaming should be a new priority for Telefilm, with an envelope set aside for it. Do you agree? MK: Absolutely I agree, and I would add that certain provinces – Ontario for one – have been embarrassingly slow to pick up on the industry. Quebec and Vancouver have done a great job of drawing publishers. CNM: The counter-argument is that games aren’t cultural products, and can’t be specifically Canadian stories without descending into cliché. Obviously, Cronenberg is one of Canada’s premier storytellers. Will the game be “Canadian” as a result? Should games continue to be funded under the CNMF when other interactive products with no clear commercial market are struggling? MK: This is a much larger conversation about the nature of the way we define what is, ostensibly, Canadian. Do I think a story and game designed by a Canadian company and written by one of Canada’s most successful visual storytellers is Canadian? You better believe it. Do I think projects with no commercial potential or market should continue to be funded? My gut feeling is to say no. But, I do know a lot of really good prototyping and development work goes on in those projects. I think some of the funding is, well, laughable, but I am not prepared to chuck the whole thing away. In fact, I would increase the envelope and make stronger definitions of product.