Working in the film industry isn’t a typical nine-to-five desk job; for Kathleen Gilbert, it’s a pursuit of passion. “I was going down a different path when I found film,” reflects Kathleen. She was studying communications and women’s studies, and working with the Anglican Church on projects surrounding homelessness.
Yet, it was as a spokesperson for the Calgary branch of the Voice of Women that she got her first real introduction into film. “There was a big rally and encampment at Cold Lake, Alberta and I ended up staying with the film crew, which happened to be all women. I would listen to them talking about their shots, the angles, what they saw. I was so enthralled with the whole process that I knew at some point in my life I would end up working in film.”
When her husband got a job in Victoria, B.C., Kathleen decided to pursue a formal degree in film at Camosun College. She worked on several local productions as a locations scout and then as a locations manager before taking on the role of Film Commissioner for the Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission in 2010.
The Regional Film Commission plays an important role in Greater Victoria’s film industry. “While Creative BC is the overseeing body for film production in B.C., no one knows our region better than we do. We add that extra layer of knowledge of our communities.”
Making people aware of the benefits and opportunities the film industry brings is Kathleen’s goal. “Perception is our biggest obstacle. I’ve had people ask me if there’s a grocery store on Vancouver Island! We need to continue to get the message out that we are an island the size of England!”
She’s also working to increase the crew base on the South Island, including getting into schools so that young people can see how much opportunity there is in this industry. “Last year, we had 1,800 people through our career information fair. We’re also reaching out to experienced film people in whatever ways we can, encouraging them to come here.”
Kathleen is capitalizing on that support with a campaign called We Love Film Too. “We want productions to know that we are passionate about their projects, and that local businesses are too.” The campaign introduces window decals with the branding We Love Film Too so local merchants can display their support, and hopefully be supported in return by the industry people spending time in their community.
For Kathleen, an important next step is to help local producers and filmmakers tell their stories on an international stage. “There are amazing independent filmmakers in Victoria quietly doing amazing work. We believe that telling our own stories and celebrating who we are in Canada, and in B.C., is so important.”