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Here’s the latest update on the CFNY documentary

Back in November, we started principle photography on what will be the definitive story of CFNY-FM/Toronto during its Spirit of Radio Years from 1977-1992. Not only did we talk to staffers from the past (and we got pretty much everyone from that era who is still with us), but we’ve also spoken with some big-name artists who remember those days and the support they got from the radio station.

The crew has conducted dozens of interviews in Toronto, Hamilton, Vancouver, San Francisco, LA, Las Vegas, London (UK), Glasgow, Liverpool, and Manchester, talking with members of Simple Minds, New Order, OMD, Buzzcocks, Men Without Hats, Gang of Four, The Cure, Blue Rodeo, Parachute Club, Metric, Billy Talent, and Sum 41. We’ve also spoken to Bruce Cockburn, Julian Taylor, Daniel Richler, The Garys, Merck Mercuriadis, Howie Klein, and a ton more that I can’t remember right now.

Interviews wrapped up this week with an interview with Rush’s Geddy Lee where he told us the real story of the song “The Spirit of Radio”–which, yes, was inspired by CFNY.

We’ve reached a stage known as “picture lock.” That means we’ve got all the video we can get (unless one or both two big bands finally agree to sit down with us, in which case everything will be temporarily unlocked.) Matt, the director, has been working on editing down more than 70 hours of interviews into something manageable using chainsaws and sheers. He’s almost ready to hand things over to the editor who will apply scalpel and tweezers in order to get things down to somewhere between 100 and 120 minutes.

After that comes colour correction, music syncs (Barb is our person for that), the score (Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene is our guy), followed by final rushes and polishes. Because we want to get this absolutely right, we’re going to take our time on the final product. In a perfect universe, the doc–and we think we have a title (more on that later)–will be accepted by the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2024. That will be followed by some screenings, hopefully some parties, and a sale to a big distributor/network. (Netflix? Amazon? Apple? Crave? You wanna talk? Think about Bill C-11!)

That’s all I’ve got for this update, but I promise to keep you posted on our progress.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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6 thoughts on “Here’s the latest update on the CFNY documentary

  • Growing up in Vancouver, I had CFOX and CFMI (and 92.9 in Bellingham) to listen to, but I was aware of CFNY. To see such effort put into documenting such an incredible time in music, and the people who put it out there for us to listen to has me pretty excited!

    Pretty stoked to see this!

  • Did you finally find / interview Chris Shepherd?

  • Instead of editing all of that footage to a 1.5 hour docu-movie, why don’t you make it into eight 1 hour episodes?

    • We’d love to, but it’s all about selling it to a distributor. They want 100-120 minutes. The rest? We can put that up on a website.


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