Brian Hamilton’s hobby in high school was making Super 8 movies. He went on to study engineering at university but didn’t see himself as an engineer. “I convinced my supervisor to allow me to make a film for my thesis, and that film led me to the Banff Centre for the Arts.”
Brian turned his technical computer background into a more creative outlet, gravitating toward video editing. “I would watch movies and wonder if it could have been done differently, and that inspired me to get involved earlier on in the process.”
After working as a freelance editor, he was motivated to produce so he could have more influence on how a project would turn out right from the beginning. Moving to Vancouver in the early 1990’s, he approached Michael Chechik with his first TV pitch, who gave him the opportunity to produce his first pilot under the OmniFilm brand. “I knew I had found my home at Omni.”
Under the combined leadership of Michael, Brian, and Gabriela Schonbach, Omnifilm Entertainment has become a writer-driven company, putting writers at the heart of what they do. “We celebrate where ideas come from, and we are always on the lookout to promote B.C. voices.”
In addition to producing shows like Bletchley Circle: San Francisco, Brian has a passionate desire to see local storytellers attracting viewers and fans on the world stage. He set out to start a screenwriting school that will train screenwriters at an advanced level so they don’t need to leave B.C. to follow their storytelling dreams. “I see Vancouver as offering a wealth of opportunity in terms of growing our own community of storytellers. We are very skilled at helping others from elsewhere in the world come here to tell their stories, using our crews and our backdrops, but there’s so much more room for growth in terms of telling our own stories.”
The advent of streaming and videoondemand has had a massive effect on how viewers choose what they watch. “The middle is disappearing in this business, so you can’t produce the second best version of something. You need the budget to be able to measure up against the best in the world.”
Brian knows better than most how vital the local tax credit program is. “Tax credits are key; they allow us to do our filming in our backyard. Bletchley Circle San Francisco was mostly filmed in Maple Ridge where we also qualified for regional incentives. Omnifilm shoots projects all over B.C. and we are grateful for and we are grateful for the Province’s tax credit program.” But it’s not only about gratitude for Brian; it’s about keeping up with an ever-evolving industry. “Tax credits are a job engine second to none. They are part of why top studios and talent choose Vancouver – not just for the financial reasons, but for the expertise and experience of our crews, for our locations. We are working with people here who are at the top of the game.”
Brian was delighted to see the government’s recent decision for writers to be included in the tax credit program, which came about through a community lobbying effort. “Writers are a key part of the production process and we want to find ways to incentivize producers to use local writers.