Here are some CLIPS from the movie.



MMPaintCans1   3.40mgs           MMPaintCans2   1.45mgs



Filmed in 1994, from a book written by Paul Donovan,  this was his  satire of the Canadian Film and TV industry and 

featured many actors that would become Lexx cast members and also some famous Hollywood stars.

Features: Nigel Bennett, Bruce Greenwood, Neve Campbell, Andy Jones, Lex Gigeroff, Michael McManus,

Chas Lawther, Don Francks.

Chas Lawther played a bit part in IWHS as the Border Outpost guard asking Stanley for the Exit code, Lex Gigeroff is

one of the Lexx writers and actors, Nigel Bennett becomes a permanent cast member in Seasons 3 and 4 as Prince.

Marty Simon also contributed to the soundtrack for this film, and Paul used several of the crew members that would later

become Lexx regular staff, such as Les Kriszan.

Below are several reviews and editorials on the film.







shares the screen with such Canadian actors as Bruce Greenwood, Neve Campbell, Andy Jones, Chas Lawther and Lex Gigeroff and also British actor Nigel Bennett.

This Canadian comedy spoofs the government film fund and provides valuable insight to those interested in learning the lingo of bureaucracy. Wick Burns is a government official with all the self-motivation and personality of a robot. His newest project is to find funding for a small art film, "Paint Cans." It was directed by his former film school classmate Vittorio Russo and produced by the oily tongued Neville Lewis. Everyone at the film fund hates this film, but simply saying no is not the bureaucratic way. Instead they try to get other agencies to fund the film. The story also introduces elements of Burn's personal life including his relationship with his disapproving father, and a fledgling romance with Arundel, a journalist he meets in Cannes. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide

ˇ   Chas Lawther - Wick Burns

ˇ   Robyn Stevan - Arundel Merton

ˇ   Bruce Greenwood - Vittorio Musso

ˇ   Nigel Bennett - Bryson Vautour

ˇ   Don Francks - Maitland Burns

Andy Jones - Neville Lewis; Paul Gross - Morton Ridgewell; Neve Campbell; Anne-Marie MacDonald - Inge Von Nerthus

Alan MacGillivray - Associate Producer; Paul Donovan - Director; Paul Donovan - Producer; Paul Donovan - Book Author; Les Krizsan - Cinematographer; Marty Simon - Composer (Music Score); Michael Mahoney - Producer; Shelley Nieder - Art Director; Benedict O'halloran - Associate Producer; David Ostry - Editor; Alec Salter - Musical Direction/Supervision; Allan Scarth - Musical Direction/Supervision; Cordell Wynne - Director



Paint Cans

by Nancy Hughes
page 16

Director/producer/ scriptwriter: Paul Donovan - Coproducers: Eric Jordan, Paul Stephens - Diary by: Nancy Hughes

1989: The story begins as Paul Donovan applies to Telefilm Canada for production money for George's Island. He is told, unofficially, that the script is "good," but his request for cash is "declined." Donovan is left to question the criteria for film funding.

At about this time, Donovan hears the circulated rumor of a filmmaker who decides to take on the agencies in American fashion - should his application be rejected, said filmmaker calmly vows to kill the very government official who vetoes his project. Upon hearing the anecdote, Donovan decides it would make a good twist on the hapless artist plot.

1990 to 1991: Donovan writes Paint Cans, a satirical novel a Telefilm bureaucrat who is caught in a particularly Canadian cycle of fear and loathing: for political and prurient reasons, the official finds himself backing a film project that he despises. When the project won't die despite the bureaucrat's attempts at sabotage, the only solution that becomes available to him is to kill the filmmaker.

November 1992: Paint Cans is published by New Star Books of Vancouver.

At this time, Donovan has no plans to make it into a film. In his words: "It would be a form of career suicide."

November 1992: Ivan Fecan, then vice-president of arts and entertainment at the cbc, faxes Donovan praise for the book, suggesting he would support a film version of Paint Cans. That evening, Donovan watches the Genie Awards; the hook is baitedÉ

Shortly after the book's publication, Thomas Howe, then director of independent productions, acquisitions and coproductions at the cbc, agrees to back the project. His support takes the form of a broadcast licence

A few months later, Donovan is at a lunch presided over by Pierre DesRoches, then executive director of Telefilm. DesRoches suggests to an audience of 12 that Donovan "make (the book) into a film."

When conjecture imitates art: Donovan's hopes plummet later in the summer of '93 when he claims to have heard rumor of DesRoches' more private aside: "The day (Donovan) is hit by a bus will be a good

November 1992 to March 1993: Donovan writes a script for Paint Cans. In the script version, Telefilm is given the more self-explanatory title of Film Financing Agency of Canada.

April 1993: Eric Jordan and Paul Stephens of The Film Works renew their partnership with Donovan, begun on Life With Billy, and come on as coproducers. They apply to the Ontario Film Development Corporation for production funds. The application is rejected.

Donovan continues the project from his and brother Michael's production company, Salter Street Films in Halifax.

April 1993: Donovan applies to Telefilm's Halifax branch for a production grant for Paint Cans. Betting in the Halifax film community begins - the odds are on Telefilm granting the money and Donovan stands to gain a bit of cash by being a pessimist.

May 1993: Telefilm rejects the request on the grounds the project is too expensive for its

perceived market.

June 1993: Donovan reapplies to Telefilm with a lower budget request.

July 1993: A second letter of rejection arrives from Telefilm.

Now assured that he won't be working with a big budget, Donovan goes to the Gijon Film Festival in Spain with Buried On Sunday. Donovan is weighing the improbability of making a feature for $700,000 to $800,000 until he sees inspired examples of lower budget ($300,000) films at the festival.

September 1993: Roman Bittman, president of the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation, pays up $1 to Donovan from the lost bet and agrees to give $145,000 for the production of Paint Cans.

Casting in Halifax begins. Chas Lawther and Robyn Stevan are selected to play the leads.

September to October 1993: Discussions begin with Citytv. City is enthusiastic about the project and in November agrees to prebuy it. Says City's Jay Switzer: "We were aware of the risk going in (that the project) may have been self-indulgent," however, (we) "knew the picture would be a hot one" and "the deal was closed in two minutes." City gets it after pay-tv and a two-year run on cbc.

October 1993: The Foundation to Underwrite New Development for Pay Television kicks in $250,000 from its Equity Investment Fund.

The National Film Board Atlantic Region adds $120,000 to the pot.

Principal photography begins in Halifax and runs for 21 days. Working with a small crew to keep costs down, they shoot in 35mm, scooping up leftover film stock from other productions.

Libra Films signs on as distributor.

Using licences granted by First Choice and the cbc as collateral, Donovan approaches Rogers Telefund for interim financing. Robin Mirsky, executive director of Rogers Telefund, and Phil Lind, vice-chairman Rogers Communications, become financiers and location scouts. They close the deal on the first day of principal photography in Toronto and donate Unitel's office for use as the Telefilm office set. They finance just over $300,000, to arrive at a total production budget of approximately $800,000. Total contribution from Telefilm? $0.00.

November 1993: The crew goes to Cannes. On the last day of shooting, lead actress Stevan, blinded by the azure, falls off a scooter and breaks her collarbone. Shooting is postponed until February 1994.

Spring 1994: Online post begins in Halifax at Salter Street. Stereo sound mixing is also done in-house, at Salter Street Digital.

September 1994: Paint Cans is screened as part of the Toronto International Film Festival's Perspective Canada program, and is given a launch party in association with City. Donovan continues development of The Dark Zone, a science fiction series for City.


Eye - September 22, 1994



After every public screening of a Canadian film in Toronto, at least 15 people don't leave their seats at the end of the movie. Maybe they know someone on the crew and are waiting to see a name in the credits. Or maybe they actually worked on the film themselves.

Or maybe they're dead!

There are no statistics about the number of people bored to death by Canadian films each year, and those stats probably never will be available.

Health officials and bereaved families would rather pin the blame for spontaneous cinema deaths on coronary failure due to the ingestion of buttered popcorn. But if psychologists and coroners were ever to pool their abilities and closely examine the corpses left in the audience at the end of Canadian films, it could lead to horrific news. What if the bereaved families of those bored to death by Canadian films could launch a lawsuit against the government for funding the films in the first place? (Laura, back to the reel world, please. -- ed.)

(As Gil Scott-Heron said: This ain't really reel life, ain't really reel life, ain't nothing but a movie.)

OK, I made that shit up. I've never seen a dead person at a Canadian film, but then I never checked everyone's pulse at the end, and neither have you. But never mind. Here's a real quote about boring Canadian movies and death by a real director, Paul Donovan (Paint Cans).

Donovan says there's a palpable Canadian Film Feeling: "At the end, you say, 'It's kind of a moving and important picture, kind of. I think I'll go kill myself right now.' "

Post-film suicides have not been formally examined, certainly not to the extent of post-Judas Priest listening suicides, because no one has ever tried to sue a filmmaker for the suicide of a loved one. And scientific tests, such as say, forcing a control group to watch Surfacing five times in a row to see if it kills them, are just too inhumane to consider.

(Apologies to Reel Life readers, Laura watched one too many films at the festival and now has some difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction. -- ed.)

(OK, I get the hint.)



Speaking of suicide, Donovan's career was supposed to jump off the top of the CN Tower and land in a big red splat after the festival premiere of his notorious Paint Cans. Based on his book of the same name, the film follows the adventures of Wick Burns, a weaselly bureaucrat who heads the Toronto office of the "Film Financing Agency." Although Paint Cans has received good reviews and both festival screenings sold out, the word is that Donovan is a dead duck as a director in Canada. That he'd better migrate south away from the chilly climate. That he's daffy if he expects any money from Telefilm now.

Just to check, Reel Life called Bill House, the director of Toronto operations for Telefilm (a film financing agency) to ask him how he felt about Paint Cans. Unfortunately House has not seen the film, but he read the book and thought the bureaucrat Burns character was "well drawn" and "the source of some sympathy."

(In both the book and the film, Wick Burns is a lecher who tries to use his position to seduce women, who never gives a straight yes or no to a film project and who flushes his dead father's ashes down the toilet)

Paint Cans features an exciting fight scene at the end. But House adamantly denies that no screenwriter has ever attempted to kill anyone at Telefilm.

"Oh no, no," says House, "it's a completely fictionalized version of the way things work, in my view, although there may be accidental accuracies or similarities." (So if anyone at Telefilm was bludgeoned to death with an Evian water bottle, it was probably an accident?)

"Paul doesn't know me at all really so it's fiction."

But Telefilm did turn Donovan's film down?

"We were approached for funding. The project was brought to the Halifax office of Telefilm and they passed. The idea was that Telefilm is trying to make movies that more and more people are trying to see and the interest in the film would be extremely narrow."

Although House concedes that The Player, a film about Hollywood filmmaking, did very well, he says that was on the strength of the stars, the director's reputation and the fact that people are fascinated by Hollywood. "I'm not so sure that the workings of the independent film scene are of interest to a similar large number of people," he says.

Time will tell. Paint Cans opens at the Carlton in Toronto on Oct. 14.

Will Donovan be banned from getting Telefilm funding again?

"That's ridiculous. Of course that's not true. He made a number of films before Paint Cans and we will support him as long as the Those who want to relive the memories of Rochdale may want to tune in to Ron Mann's archival rockumentary Dream Tower -- the moral of which seems to be "Hey look, it was your dad who discovered sideburns ..." -- on Saturday night (Sept. 24) at 8 p.m. on CBC.