An Interview With Brenda Bailey Executive Director of DigiBC, The Interactive and Digital Media Industry Association of B.C.

“I want people to trust that I will work on their behalf.”-Brenda Bailey

With training in business and law, a background in social work, and a degree in Arabic, Brenda Bailey has followed a unique career path. “Everyone expected me to do typically female jobs, when really, I should have been a technologist right from the start. But we didn’t know about those opportunities.”

Brenda grew up in a small town on Vancouver Island. “In the early 80s, arcades were all the rage. I think the arcade was a really integral part of growing up in a small town at that time. It’s something we did with our friends; it was our community.”

Back then, it never felt odd to Brenda to be a girl playing video games – it wasn’t seen as a male space, but that changed with the onset of first-person shooter games. “I don’t believe video gaming is an innately male space – I think it’s been a reflection of who’s making the video games rather than an innate desire to play them.” With that in mind, she set out to change the types of games being made by going into the video game business. “I wanted to build high quality games for girls, but it was tough as there weren’t a lot of concepts being developed.”

After working with several startups in the interactive digital media space, Brenda was asked to lead DigiBC, an umbrella association that supports people working in video games, animation, visual effects, augmented and virtual reality. It’s an amazing time in the interactive digital media world right now, and there’s been incredible growth in the digital media space because there’s so much technology and so many technologists coming outof the video game industry.

“We have the largest cluster of animation studios in the world. From Parksville to Kelowna to Victoria, there’s an incredible technology sector thriving in our province.”

Video games are no longer something that you need to access at your local arcade – the technology is in your pocket.There’s more ability to make and deliver games than ever before, and that gives rise to new voices. “It’s now about discoverability. The market is saturated with so much product that we need to help those diverse stories come forward.”

Getting young people involved in technology, and helping stories be told, is what’s fueling Brenda now. She’s trying to incentivize the creation of intellectual property here in B.C., and she’s focusing on empowering and equipping the next generation. She’s exposing students to the plethora of opportunities that exist within B.C.’s interactive digital media space. “If it’s art you’re interested in, become an animator. If you’re a natural leader, become a producer.”

There are opportunities for musicians, mathematicians, even those kids who maybe don’t fit into any place yet.” What’s really exciting for Brenda though is the number of women leading this space to move forward. “If you look at the leaders in Vancouver’s technology and creative industries, it’s amazing – I’ve never seen so many women! So is it really a surprise then that the different tech industries are working together more and more, and collaborating? I don’t think so,” she says with a smile.

An Interview with Musician Nadine Tremblay

“I didn’t always trust myself, or my voice. That trust came with a lot of practice.”-Nadine Tremblay

“I really wanted to be Shirley Temple when I was four years old,” recalls Nadine Tremblay. “I started as a dancer and then moved to vocal lessons.” After getting a degree in opera and a certificate in musical theatre, she cofounded Iron Mountain Theatre in the Kootenays. Nadine wrote six musicals in 10 years, and toured Canada many times over. “It was hard though, people on the team would leave to get real jobs, but there I was, trying to keep the dream alive!”

Nadine chose the name Sexton Blake for her musical persona as a nod to the fictional British detective. “As a musician, I felt a bit like a private investigator. I would take themes and ideas and then analyze them and turn them into art. I think there was also a sense of feeling like a fake. I had this idea that I had to fake it until I made it, when really I just needed to get out there more.”

One of the challenges to making art in a small town is finding people to learn from and look up to. “The pool of talent is smaller here; there aren’t that many people pursuing music as a career. I learned by making mistakes, but I wish I had asked more questions, found more mentors.”

It can be quite isolating being an artist in rural British Columbia, especially when trying to get the word out. One of the things Nadine hopes for in the future is more face-to-face time with other musicians. “It’s really special to have the in-person get togethers. We don’t get a lot of opportunities to meet up, which is why the Kootenay Music Awards are so special.” And of course, she also hopes for more funding as it’s hard to make a proper album or music video if you can’t pay people a competitive rate.

“Creative BC helped me make an amazing video and it was really successful because of the quality of people on board. It was nice to be able to pay people what they are worth and not just offer a small honorarium.” The video “Go Outside” had 20,000 views in a matter of days and was nominated for best music video at the Kootenay Music Awards. “I wrote the song to encourage people to put themselves out there, to step outside their comfort zone and try something new.”

And that’s just what Nadine did with her music career. “Having a small community means having a small family. I really know my community, and they know me. I didn’t realize I had so much support until I was nominated. The love was overwhelming!”

According to Nadine, the key to producing a great album is trust. “You need to trust your team and you need to trust your instincts. It’s a small miracle when everything works out on a creative project, and for that reason your heart is consistently on the line.”

An Interview with Michael Cline Owner of Vinyl Envy

“We are building a music community where people trust each other.”-Michael Cline

When Michael Cline pictured his career, running an all-ages music venue was not exactly what he had in mind. Yet, it could not have turned out any better. “I’ve been a record junkie since I was 13, and I was booking bands in high school.” Running Vinyl Envy, a record store and all-ages music venue in Victoria, is what Michael was meant to do.

After working in the restaurant industry for 20 years and running a team of more than 20 people, Michael realized he was no longer enjoying himself. He wanted to have more fun in life, and so he opened Vinyl Envy to be surrounded by music. What started out as a record store has also become one of the city’s most popular music venues. “I’m having a crazy amount of fun! We do 75-100 shows a year and the store is open seven days a week.”

In the past, most all-ages venues haven’t been able to survive in Victoria. Yet, there was a gap that needed to be filled. “It’s like I’ve come full circle – I have 15-year-olds coming up to me now and thanking me for the opportunity to see a show. That was me at their age! I couldn’t get into the bars to see bands play – so for them to havethis place, that’s as good as it gets.”

Vinyl Envy attracts a wide array of people, but the one thing everyone has in common is a shared love of music. “Our shows are special – local musicians fill the room to support each other. There’s no ego, just a chill environment where people trust each other and can play music together.”

“Our shows are special – local musicians fill the room to support each other. There’s no ego, just a chill environment where people trust each other and can play music together.”

Vinyl Envy has become so much more than a record store or a music venue – it’s a place where people can be themselves. “This whole concept is best described as a soulful experience. Guys who gave up their record collections 30 years ago, are getting back into collecting records, and young kids with turn tables are just getting into it.” This is a place for everyone.

Michael’s vision is to be as supportive of musicians and music fans as possible, and to deepen the roots of Vinyl Envy along the way. He wants to continue to build up the community, and the best way to do that is by creating a trusting environment. “We give musicians a comfortable place to play. It’s a safe house for them, and I think the no- alcohol aspect is a big part. It changes the vibe – it’s like a house party.”

Vinyl Envy was able to get off the ground thanks to the support from organizations like Creative BC. “They supported me right from the minute I asked. They helped give us status as a venue, not to mention functional washrooms!”

Victoria is a city that draws an astounding calibre of musicianship, and Vinyl Envy is more than happy to host music that truly brings people together.

An Interview With Vici Johnstone Owner of Caitlin Press

“Trust for me is when people take the time to understand the value of our industry.”-Vici Johnstone

Vici Johnstone has worked in the arts her whole life, but it hasn’t always been a straight line. She went from high school drama classes, to working in theatre production, to being a rock’ n’ roll roadie for a sound equipment company. From there, she worked at the Banff Centre and then at CBC Radio.

Along the way, she met Howard White and started working at Harbour Publishing. “I worked my way up and learned the nuts and bolts of publishing.” Vici was given a crash course in the business of publishing, which proved serendipitous a few years later. While she was working at Harbour, Howard’s sister, the owner of Caitlin Press, sadly passed away. There was an opportunity for Vici to buy the publishing house, and she jumped at the chance to build upon its longstanding history.

Caitlin Press was originally named for Caitlin Thomas, the wife of Dylan Thomas, yet its feminist roots don’t end there. While Vici doesn’t solely publish books written by women, there is definitely a focus on women. “We have a stronger focus on women’s stories then the politics of feminism. The problem has always been that women’s stories haven’t been well documented. So much has been written about men, but I’m more interested in what lies in the trunks of our grandmothers’ attics.”

Over the years, Vici’s brought her own personality to Caitlin Press. She’s especially proud of her latest initiative, Dagger Editions, which focuses on queer women’s stories. “We’re trying to create a national voice for queer women. We want it to be a voice for the community.”She also hasn’t lost sight of one of Caitlin Press’s original mandates – to give voice to people in rural parts of B.C. “I’m especially interested in stories taking place in rural areas with connections back to larger cities.” Located in the coastal community of Halfmoon Bay, Vici understands the challenges of being both connected and disconnected from the big city. She also understands the importance of bringing the stories being told in rural settings to light. “The community is really supportive here on the Sunshine Coast, but export remains our biggest issue.”

Creative BC has been instrumental in helping Vici promote her books overseas. “Export is on everyone’s mandate because we’ll be the guest host at the Frankfurt 2020 Book Fair. Livres Canada Books and Creative BC sponsored my trip to Germany because they see the value in getting our stories out into the international market.”

Publishing is an art form, and there are so many nuances to consider. “I think publishing as an industry is really reaching outside itself – there are so many books now that are breaking the boundaries, pushing the edges. It’s not just love stories – our narrative here in Canada is different. There’s something like 10,000 books being published in Canada each year. What people read, what people write, it’s all changing. What doesn’t change is our desire to know people.” That’s what Caitlin Press continues to explore.

Publishing is an art form, and there are so many nuances to consider. “I think publishing as an industry is really reaching outside itself – there are so many books now that are breaking the boundaries, pushing the edges. It’s not just love stories – our narrative here in Canada is different. There’s something like 10,000 books being published in Canada each year.

What people read, what people write, it’s all changing. What doesn’t change is our desire to know people.”

That’s what Caitlin Press continues to explore.

An Interview With Robyn Haddow Freelance FUI Motion Graphics Artist.

“People trust me because I show up 110%. I’ve been in the trenches and I’ve done the work to get to where I am now.”-Robyn Haddow

As a Fantasy User Interface (FUI) motion graphics artist, Robyn Haddow is often the only female artist in the room. “I think I’ve worked with one other female in my field here in Vancouver,” reflects Robyn.

Recently, Robyn was invited to speak on the Women in Motion Graphics panel at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference in Las Vegas. “I didn’t have any female role models when I was starting out, so I know how important it is for women to be visible in this industry. I want young girls interested in this field to know there’s a real career path open to them.”

Motion graphics is growing out of its infancy, and the learning curve is steep, especially for women who might not see themselves represented. It’s not an easy industry to break into it, mostly because it’s so new and changing at a rapid rate. “In order to sustain yourself as a freelancer, you need to be a jack of all trades.”

Robyn’s specialty is FUI screen graphics, so whenever you see an actor interacting with technology on screen – whether it’s a computer, a smart phone or a hologram – she creates those graphics. The demand for her type of work has gone through the roof as the amount of technology on screen continues to increase.

“Five years ago, there might have been five builds needed in a scene – now with things like wearables, the content factor has gone way up. We often see 20 builds in one scene now.”

As a freelancer, she gets to work on all types of projects including the recent Ant Man and the Wasp with West Media. “I’m currently drawn to creating things that don’t yet exist. My favourite way to build is to draw influence from both the organic and mechanic worlds – if you can bridge that successfully, you can breathe life into something inanimate and make it so much more than just a machine.”

Robyn was attracted to the world of motion graphics because she wanted to push the boundaries. She studied graphic design at Vancouver Film School and then opened up her own design studio. After the recession hit, she started freelancing and creating motion graphics for video game trailers. Yet, it wasn’t until she worked on shows like The Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow that she started to define her niche. “I was really excited by the people who were pushing the envelope. There’s a huge arena for creativity and exploration in this field right now.”

Robyn hopes her work can help people access information in beautiful and interesting ways. Yet, more importantly, she hopes her work can inspire new people to enter the field. “I want to help create a warm, welcoming and easily accessible community.”

An Interview With Kathleen Gilbert Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commissioner

“Connection is at the core of the trust we build.”-Kathleen Gilbert

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.”

“Part of what makes the film industry on the South Island so special is the support from the local community.”

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.”

An Interview With Marie Clements President of MCM (Marie Clements Media)

“It takes trust and a leap of faith to tell a story like this.”-Marie Clements

Marie Clements started out as an actor, writer, director and producer in theatre before transitioning into film and television. “It’s been a long creative journey to be able to see and tell stories across disciplines and genres.”

“I wrote a lot of bad poetry as a kid,” she confesses, “but it wasn’t until I was touring as an actor with a children’s show in Northern Ontario that it occurred to me I could use this time, these long winter nights in small Canadian towns, to focus on the word.” Marie wrote her first play during that time, and she was hooked. “It’s liberating to be a writer, to not have to wait to tell a story. To look to yourself to tell a story and have the control and the ability to do it anywhere or anytime.”

Writing is anything but easy though, as Marie can attest, and it takes a very disciplined focus to hone one’s craft. “I was creating my own discipline, my own practice. Some days you think you’re brilliant for a moment, and other days you earn every letter, every word. But you have to write like there is no alternative, you have to be curious, be hungry to get to the story you’re meant to tell.”

Story is what drives Marie; it’s the focus of everything she does. “I’ve always been affected by the stories that have never been allowed to be told. I’m also motivated by stories that are affecting our realities right now, stories we are bearing witness to.” It was with that in mind that she set out to write Red Snow.

The inspiration for Red Snow happened eight years ago, and the story came to Marie like a bomb. “I was looking at a photo journalism spread on the war in Afghanistan and the Canadian government’s involvement. It occurred to me in certain angles that the people there didn’t look that much different than Indigenous people here. I was curious about what was similar and what was different and sometimes the only way of finding that out is to sit across from someone and look them in the eye. Red Snow was about that engagement, that conversation.”

With Red Snow, Marie set out to investigate the idea of modern tribalism by telling the story of a First Nations Gwich’in soldier from the Canadian Arctic caught in an ambush and taken hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan. “Each story has its own bones, its own way of being told. Red Snow took a considerable amount of time to get to the screen, but it brought together serious creative and cultural collaborations that could only have happened because we have an extraordinary diverse talent pool in B.C.

Marie wants to engage people in stories they might not normally be engaged with, and that starts with getting out into different markets. “Creative BC has allowed me to travel to markets where I can network and expand my circle. They have supported my work and invested in stories I am working to bring to the screen that are fighting for integrity, both culturally and artistically.”

It wasn’t easy to tell the story in Red Snow, but the collaboration and collective energy from her team made the journey worth it. “We understood that we had a unique chance to tell a story and that it was going to be demanding – the weather, the landscapes, the languages, the tight shooting schedule, it was all extreme. We had to trust that we were the right people to be doing this, we had to believe in each other and commit to the choices we were making and that they were the right ones.”

Marie continues to write and explore new stories from her home on Galiano Island. “Living on an island is not for everyone, but it’s great for artists. It’s nice to be quiet so I can write, think, and breathe before I start ramping up for the next project.”

An Interview With Brian Hamilton Principal and Executive Producer at Omnifilm Entertainment

“We are nothing if not for the people who entrust us with their creative ideas.”-Brain Hamilton

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.

“I want to see more local content getting made here in B.C.”

Behind the Scenes of the TV Series Project Blue Book

Production designer, Ross Dempster provided us with an exclusive interview on the TV series: Project Blue Book. Ross has worked on other local productions such as, Lost in Space, Motive, and Wayward Pines, and shares his insight about working in film production throughout BC.

Where in BC did the filming take place? Are there any local landmarks we should lookout for when watching the series?

Filming took place in and around the lower mainland with locations ranging from farmhouses to the downtown core including the exterior Marine Building and The Vancouver Club. Outside areas included small towns like Matsqui or Langley and Delta.

Was it difficult to recreate the time era of the show?

Shooting a series set in 1950 is always challenging no matter where you are but Vancouver and the surrounding area has its own challenges in that it’s a very young city with a modern aesthetic that doesn’t always preserve the past. However it does have its gems and with creativity and a little help from VFX you can do a lot.

Were there any unexpected challenges during production?

Other than continuing to find cinematically interesting locations for each episode, one of the hardest challenges , though not necessarily unexpected, was finding airbases or aircraft hangars that were period appropriate. Thankfully, I suppose, Canada is a very peaceful nation with limited military presence so we had to adapt other spaces to look like aircraft hangars, such as buildings in the PNE and also utilizing one period hangar we do have in Boundary Bay airport to play as different locations.

ᴾʰᵒᵗᵒᵍʳᵃᵖʰ ᵇʸ ᴱᵈ ᴬʳᵃᵠᵘᵉˡ / ᴴᶦˢᵗᵒʳʸ / ᴬ⁺ᴱ ᴺᵉᵗʷᵒʳᵏˢ

What were some of the highlights of filming in BC?

It’s such a beautiful area and we were lucky to watch the city come to life through Winter into Spring and see the light change from moody and atmospheric to bright and hopeful.

Was there a noticeable difference in experience filming in Canada vs previous productions you have worked on in the USA? 

Filming in Canada is a pleasure – from crew interaction and team work to a level of professionalism, talent and enthusiasm that’s hard to beat.

Was much of the workforce was from BC?

Lots of local talent both in casting and crew.

Do you have anything to add?

This was an absolute pleasure to design and work on with the rest of the crew. The series centers around such interesting ideas and topics that we all have questions about. Mystery, Intrigue, Aliens, Government cover-ups and Conspiracies, UFOs – It’s awesome! And topical too!

40 Productions Over 40 Years: Celebrating Motion Picture in British Columbia

Recognizing 40 years of industry and government collaboration to grow a thriving motion picture industry in British Columbia.

2018 marks the 40th year of film commission services in British Columbia! Over the last 40 years the motion picture industry in B.C. has grown to become North America’s 3rd largest motion picture hub. We are proud to celebrate this momentous occasion by looking back at 40 memorable film and television series shot in British Columbia!

Featuring  motion pictures shot accross the 8 regions of the provice: Caribou Chilcotin Coast, Vancouver Island, Kootney Columbia, Northern British Columbia, Okanagan, Columbia Shuswap, Thompson Nicola, Greater Vancouver

Battlestar Galactica, The Fringe, Mission Impossible 4 Ghost Protocal, Once Upon a Time, Smallville, The Killing, Star Trek, DC: Legends of Tomorrow, Bird on Wire, Millenium, Dark Angel, MacGyver, 3 Stargates, Bird on a Wire, Chesapeake Shores, Roxanne, Twilight, Haida Gwaii, The Grey, 2012, Power Rangers, Adams Family, Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, Elysium, Okja, Lost in Space, Juno, The Revenant, Meditation Park, The Exorcist, Dirk Gently, Blade Runner, Light of my Life, Planet of The Apes, Silent Barriers, Catwoman, Lemony Snickets Series of Unfortunate Events, Deadpool, Relic.