Charlotte Day Wilson's 'Work' Wins Prism Prize for Top Canadian Music Video, As Industry Seeks Support

do not reuse
Vincent McMillen
Karena Evans, Charlotte Day Wilson and Marina Nedic. 

With last year's dissolution of long-running Canadian funding bodies for independent music videos MuchFACT and BravoFACT, The Field founder and executive director Cherie Sinclair seized the moment at the podium while accepting her special achievement award at the Prism Prize ceremony Sunday night to say she hopes somebody else will "step up and help us continue in this."

The 2018 Prism Prize, held in a theatre at Toronto's TIFF Bell Lightbox, recognized the directors behind videos by Grimes, Jessie Reyez, Leonard Cohen, Daniel Caesar, Feist, PUP, CRi, Alvvays, Alice Glass and Charlotte Day Wilson. All 10 short-listed videos by these artists were screened with the bigger awards handed out in between.

Director Fantavious Fritz, who won the grand prize of 15,000 Canadian dollars for best Canadian music video for his work on Wilson's "Work," said he and Day would like to use the money to create a one-time music video grant for a female director "to create their work and continue working in this space and perfecting their craft." (They will also donate some of the funds to a women's shelter.)

Of course, as generous as that act is, it doesn't in any way fill the hole left by Bell Media's decision to end the MuchFACT (Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent), which had awarded more than CA$100 million to 9,000 projects since its launch in 1984 -- the year Canada got its first national music video station, then called MuchMusic. 

The fund was a condition of license mandated by the Canadian Radio-Television and the public regulatory agency Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Bell Media, which bought MuchMusic in 2006, requested the deletion of the condition of license for both MuchFACT and similar fund BravoFACT, and the CRTC agreed in May of 2017.

The Prism Prize, founded in 2012 by Louis Calabro, is a one-of-a-kind awards show recognizing outstanding artistry in music videos, akin to Canada's Polaris Music Prize for albums. It is produced by the not-for-profit Association for Music and Innovative Arts.

"I'm super grateful to be part of the community here in this city and to be a part of the filmmaking community and I very much think that the Prism Prize and Louis and everybody that's involved is an extension of that," said Fritz in his acceptance speech. "The way that they run this organization and the way that they allow the artist to come and the communities to grow and the people to engage in discussion, it's really an invaluable piece of this community."

Throughout the year, a jury of more than 120 Canadian music, film and media arts professionals view hundreds of music videos and vote for their favorite five, based on originality, style, creativity, innovation and effective execution. The top 20 are then voted on again to determine the top 10, then one video is awarded the $15,000 grand prize at the screening and awards presentation. 

Executive producer Sinclair, who got her start at Revolver Films, before starting her own company The Field in 2007, received the Special Achievement Award, created to honor "a Canadian music video icon for their artistic achievements and exceptional contribution to music video art on a world stage." Her production credits include Drake, Emily Haines, Tiesto, Nelly Furtado, Bryan Adams and Carly Rae Jepsen.

"The release of Hiro Murai's video for Childish Gambino's 'This Is America' has wracked up over 100 million views in one week," Sinclair said on stage. "The impact of this video proves there's a hunger for thought-provoking art expressed through this medium and the amount of views a video can get is un-ending. And I hope we can all remember that, because I know we are all going through a little time, music video budgets have been cut but I think that is short lived."

She continued, "Being in Canada, we have had some of the best grants available to assist in the growth of this medium and we could not have come this far without the financial assistance of MuchFACT, CMT, BravoFACT, FACTOR and the Ontario Media Development Fund. All of these programs should be proud of the creativity and innovation that they have nurtured and hopefully there is somebody else willing to step up and help us continue in this."

The night's three other big awards were: The audience award, selected by public vote from the top 20 long-list, which went to directors Keaven Yazdani and Sean Brown for Daniel Caesar's "Freudian, a Visual"; The hi-fidelity award, "presented to a Canadian recording artist with a strong visual identity in music video art," that went to Grimes; and The Lipsett award for "an innovative and unique approach to music video art" that went to Karena Evans, who directed Drake's "God's Plan" and "Nice For What," as well as Belly's "The Come Down Is Real Too."

See the Prism Prize top 10 here:

Alice Glass - Without Love (Director: Floria Sigismondi)
Alvvays - Dream Tonight (Director: Matt Johnson) 
Charlotte Day Wilson - Work (Director: Fantavious Fritz)
Cri - Rush (Director: Didier Charette)
Daniel Caesar - Freudian, a Visual (Director: Keaven Yazdani and Sean Brown)
Feist - Century (Director: Scott Cudmore)
Grimes feat. Janelle Monae - Venus Fly (Director: Grimes)
Jessie Reyez - Gatekeeper (Director: Peter Huang)
Leonard Cohen - Leaving the Table (Director: Christopher Mills)
PUP - Old Wounds (Director: Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux)