Don't think for a second that digital's just for the young. Because 86-year-old Paul Soles proved otherwise on the night celebrating all things digital at the Canadian Screen Awards.
The veteran Canadian performer took home the trophy for best actor in a digital program or series at Thursday's ceremony. It took him a few moments to mount the stage with his cane after his name was called but he savoured the moment, thanking his mall-walking friends in his speech.
Soles, who starred in the CBC Comedy web series My 90-Year-Old Roommate, clasped onto his trophy tight after the show ended while people streamed out of the hall.
"You can't get any better than this," he said, detailing his plans to store it in his pillow. "I don't see why I should part with it at all. Do you?"
Though you might not equate an 86-year-old with the internet where his web series lives, Soles said he spends most of his time there.
"Probably far too much of my time and I have this special deal with Rogers where I don't have any limited, what's the word, access to the channel, so I can go on there all day long and I do and I love it."
'This is like Ellen'
CBC web series, including Soles's, were big winners at the gala, which recognized digital and immersive storytelling. Fellow CBC web comedy The Amazing Gayle Pyle — about a home shopping channel host —won awards for direction and best original digital program or series — fiction.
Morgan Waters, its star, called the double-win "kinda cool."
"I feel like all the time spent in the editing room and smoking pot and laughing at our own stuff now results in this," he said. "We were already having fun and now this is kind of, it's a nice bonus."
The evening was much more laid back compared to the week's earlier galas. The smaller venue and free-flowing booze helped make for an informal atmosphere, something Waters commented on while accepting his award.
"This is like Ellen. I feel like you're about to drop Earth, Wind and Fire or something," he told the on-stage DJ.
Eleven trophies were handed out, with CBC scooping up four in total for series that appeared on its digital properties. Other winners included:
- Best original program or series produced for digital media — non-fiction: VICE Canada Reports.
- Best cross-platform project — non-fiction: Canada's Smartest Person.
- Best cross-platform project — fiction: Wynonna Earp Interactive.
- Social innovator award: Yolanda Gampp.
- Best immersive experience: Felix and Paul Studios' Nomads.
Digital is 'the platform'
Though digital and the creators in the room were made fun of several times during the ceremony, the format of the gala — separate from the film and television awards — helped legitimize the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television's effort to recognize digital as its own platform.
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It's something Melissa D'Agostino brought up in her speech after winning best actress in a digital program or series for her role in Tactical Girls.
"I'm proud to be in a room where digital is not a stepping stone for another platform. It is the platform," she told the crowd, to cheers.
She expanded on the idea after the show ended, countering the critics who knock digital's credibility.
"I think we all know that there's an audience there. We're not quite sure, especially in Canada I feel, how to make content, how to monetize that, how to pay artists, how to regulate all of that," she said. "I just really would love it if we can continue to explore the platform of digital, for its own sake."
The CSAs wrap up this Sunday, with a gala hosted by Howie Mandel, where the remaining film and television awards will be handed out. The show will broadcast live on CBC-TV.