An Interview with Crystal Braunwarth, Unit Publicist and Assistant Business Representative at IATSE 891

“Never wait to be asked, and never be afraid to ask”– Crystal Braunwarth

From appearing as an extra alongside her Grandfather at the age of 4, Crystal Braunwarth always knew that film and television would be the right path for her. As an Assistant Business Representative for IATSE Local 891, Crystal has explored a lot of different avenues in her publicity role, from working on Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before 2 to running her production company Last Train Pictures. Crystal Braunwarth is an also award-winning short filmmaker and has been involved in union and non-union film and television in British Columbia for the last eighteen years.

We spoke to Crystal about her twelve years of experience as a unit publicist in a rapidly evolving motion picture industry in B.C.

How did you get started in the industry?

I was exposed to the entertainment industry quite young.  My Grandfather was involved on the acting side and so I was on my first set as an extra at the age of 4 in a movie that filmed in Alberta, called Betrayed.  I went to Capilano University Professional Film Studies program, graduated and began assisting producers and directors and making my own films. Included in those roles was script coordinating and clearances/product placement, which are a couple of non-union roles that people interested in film can explore to break-in.  From there, I joined the production office via IATSE 891, then mentored under one our wonderful ICG 669 Senior publicists, Lee Anne Muldoon.  I joined ICG 669 and became a Jr. Publicist and moved up to Senior.  That’s a short summary of a 22-year span!

What was it about publicity that sparked your interest?

What immediately appealed to me was the creative aspect of the job.  On some productions, the unit publicist is the first one to do a pass of loglines, synopsis and summaries, along with production notes.  That, and going through the reams of photography and choosing selects based on what best represents the show.  They are the images that will potentially accompany articles, magazines, social media…the list goes on. You get to really contribute in a meaningful way because you know the show intimately. Interviewing producers, directors and actors was a bonus, they have invaluable insight and knowledge of the industry that you don’t get in film school.

What is a semi-typical day like for you working as a Unit Publicist?

Every show is quite different.  Television is a very fast paced environment with changing schedules, block shooting and revisions, so you have to be on your toes.  You have to schedule stills days per episode based on what’s most important to cover, look for good days to have press on set, anticipate where your gallery shoot might fit in, constantly look for opportunities to interview cast and key crew members for production notes,behind the scenes shooting and special marketing requests.  For feature films, it is similar, but normally higher profile actors and producers, a little slower paced but just as intense in its own way.  You really have to experience it to fully grasp the nuanced differences, but those are the basics.

What are some of the differences between working on a domestic vs. foreign production as a publicist?

I find domestically, I have built up firm relationships with producers and content creators, so they often involve me more in a creative way when it comes to coming up with engaging special features/digital/web content and gallery shoot concepts.  I work with a solid team of photographers and shooters so they know whatever we deliver will be top notch.  On Foreign shows, there is a much bigger marketing machine behind the scenes that normally has predetermined the promotion path and it’s a matter of managing and gathering content on the ground during filming.

Could you describe a moment in your career where you felt like you’d reached that happy medium of balancing work with your passion?

I think that’s a constant balancing act as someone changes along with their career.  In 2015 I was able to attend San Diego Comic Con with the wonderful publicity team from AMC, promoting Fear the Walking Dead and The Walking Dead.  As a publicist, it was a wild and crazy few days of interviews and panels with both shows, crossing paths with Quentin Tarantino and the cast of Hateful 8, Jamie Lee Curtis and others.  As a filmmaker, listening to Tarantino give an interview two feet away was an interesting moment of my passion for making films and the career that led me to that moment, running head-on into each other!  Interviewing Ellen Burstyn and Harrison Ford were also two ‘pinch me’ kind-of moments.  A girl from small town Alberta sitting across from iconic, movie legends and having a conversation no less.  As I’ve worked very hard to get to those seats, I also recognize there is a certain amount of privilege that has been afforded me to get there.  I am grateful for the experiences and try to pass along as much knowledge as I can to anyone looking to break in.  As part of that giving back, I also developed the first of it’s kind unit publicity course offered earlier this year via ICG 669, and loved the experience of seeing people eager to get into the field, excited and prepared to go apply their new skills.

What’s a common misconception about your field?

That ‘unit publicists’ handle the actual promoting of the show.  We really handle all the publicity garnered and gathered during ‘unit photography’, which is during the shooting process.  Some of us venture outside of it and join launch teams, and some have their own marketing companies, but it’s really the studio/network marketing engines that handle the splash of campaign pushes, in all aspects.

What advice would you give to people entering this field of publicity?

Be prepared to work hard.  It’s a constant outreach for contacts locally and Internationally and you must be proactive about finding them and keeping connected.  You have to apply that to your work ethic as well.  In most cases, you are a department of one on the ground and so you must be the one asking questions, setting up phone calls and making things happen.  Never wait to be asked, and never be afraid to ask.

Publicity and comms/PR can be notoriously busy industry, what do you do for self-care in such a hectic field?

I make time for my family.  I have a two-year-old now and so it is important not to get caught up in the grind of film hours.  I commit to 8-hour days on shows, and I’ve never had push back.  I think it’s easy to get stuck in film thinking you have to conform to certain structures and in some departments you do.  But in publicity, you have a little bit of flexibility and so I was able to make it fit in with my transition to motherhood. I’ve been fortunate as well to work as the assistant business representative this year at IATSE 891, a union over 9,000 members strong and it’s a role that relies heavily on my past experience and communications skills. It’s also a bit more stability at this time in my life, as production cycles can be a bit up and down when it comes to the demand of who is hiring a local unit publicist and who is using their own, in-house publicists.  Unit publicists are not a ‘mandatory hire’ as other positions are, so we’re not as protected in that sense.  That’s a draw back for sure, for local unit publicists here.

What’s a fun and unexpected bonus of your role?

What’s been truly fulfilling to me is the lasting work and personal relationships I’ve built over the years.  When you work in such a demanding industry, you go through the fire with colleagues from the moment you step on the ladder and move up.  Specific to my role, having the opportunity to work with the incredible talent that comes into this city and talent that resides in this city, in front of and behind the lens has been a tremendous influence on me.  From small art house shows, to big Hollywood films, every production has presented an opportunity for me to grow in all areas of my craft.  Passing that knowledge on to future publicists has been an honour and a privilege.

VIFF 2019 is Here at Last!

VIFF is back again exposing B.C. to the filmmakers of the world and proving that the motion picture industry here is thriving. With over 320 films spanning across the globe, exclusive masterclasses and creator talks, the integration of music, comedy and theatre this festival is one of the largest industry events in Vancouver.

Kicking this year off with the Opening Gala film “Guest of Honor” a Canadian psychological drama starring David Thewlis, Laysla De Oliveira, Luke Wilson, Rossif Sutherland, Alexandre Bourgeois and Arsinee Khanjian. Start planning your festival schedule now and take a look at the Creative BC sponsored events as well as the five Creative BC supported films we are proud to announce will be screening at this years festival. We look forward to seeing you there!

We’re celebrating B.C. at VIFF! Check out the some of the incredible work our B.C. filmmakers have to offer with over 25 films in this years B.C. Spotlight.

A special shout out to these Creative BC supported films:

The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open

Discovering Rosie (Violet Nelson), a pregnant teenager, sobbing and barefoot on a rainy East Vancouver street, Áila (Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers) swiftly intercedes, initially offering shelter in her own apartment before working feverishly to get the girl access to proper support networks so that she needn’t return to her abusive home. As these two Indigenous women embark on a revelatory odyssey to a safe house, they must confront society’s assumptions about them, overcome their preconceptions about one another, and reflect on their own respective self-images.

My Dads, My Moms and Me

In the 2007 documentary Fatherhood Dreams, Julia Ivanova chronicled the touching and challenging journeys of four gay men who each made the decision to become parents after Canada legalized same-sex marriage. Married couple Randy and Drew adopted baby Jack. Scott connected with a surrogate to have twins Ella and Mac. Stephen decided to co-parent his daughters Jazz and Zea with lesbian couple Coreen and Wendy. In My Dads, My Moms and Me, the filmmaker revisits the lives of these men and their children, now teenagers, with a decade’s worth of insight.

Red Snow

When captured by the Taliban, a Gwich’in soldier (Asivak Koostachin) must confront tormenting memories he believed he’d left behind in the Canadian north. In turn, when he strikes up an alliance with a Pashtun family, he discovers an affinity with these ethnic Afghans beyond their shared bid for survival. Shifting between striking arctic and arid landscapes, and tapping into a universal need for belonging, Marie Clements delivers an enthralling thriller that’s as poignant as it is pulse-quickening.

This Ink Runs Deep

All across Canada, Indigenous artists are reawakening traditional tattoo practices – and sometimes lending them a contemporary twist – as a way to reclaim their cultures and identities.

The Whale and the Raven

Journeying into BC’s Great Bear Rainforest, German documentarian and cultural anthropologist Mirjam Leuze investigates the potential impact of a liquefied natural gas exporting plant and increased tanker traffic on this stunning ecosystem. Not only are we introduced to the remarkable people who call this place home and oppose the plant’s construction, including whale researchers Hermann Meuter and Janie Wray and elders of the Gitga’at First Nation, but also the humpbacks, orcas, and porpoises who use the Kitimat fjord system as a feeding- and playground.

Creative BC sponsored events:

VIFF Immersed

A two-day conference (September 28–29), Immersed features case-studies, roundtable discussions and hands-on workshops with some of the world’s leading immersive content creators.

September 28-29

Pyatt Hall and The Annex

VIFF Immersed Exhibition

VIFF Immersed Exhibition is a public marketplace exhibition featuring the finalists of this year’s International VIFF Immersed Competition and special features from the creative nexus that is British Columbia.

Sunday, September 29

Pyatt Hall

VIFF Immersed – BC 

A day of valuable workshops for producers, directors, technologists and content commissioners wishing to understand multiple aspects of immersive production.

September 28-29

VIFF AMP

Over a three day summit, October 3-5, world-class experts will weigh in on subjects such as diversity in the music marketplace, the art of music supervision and how music rights management victories around the world are benefiting songwriters and composers.

October 3-5

Visit the VIFF website to get your tickets now!

B.C.’s Motion Picture Industry Remains Steady with $3.2B Contribution to Economy

Creative BC is pleased to report that 384 productions which qualified for labour-based tax credit certifications during the 2018/19 fiscal year have contributed $3.2 billion to B.C.’s economy.

 

British Columbia is world-renowned as a versatile and dependable hub for motion picture production. As a global competitor in visual effects (VFX) and animation, the motion picture industry is estimated to support full time equivalent positions totalling over 71,000 in B.C. [1]

These figures show that production activity levels are holding steady as indicated by the annual total budgeted production spend, which is slightly lower by 6% year-over-year. While the total number of productions certified by Creative BC this year is down by 68 productions year-over-year, the number of productions certified is dependent on certification submissions and timing.

With these production expenditures, direct industry jobs and labour income accounted for approximately $1.67 billion spent in British Columbia. B.C.-based creators accounted for 154 productions, with non-B.C. and foreign companies bringing 230 productions to the province.

A breakdown by program of the 384 tax credit certifications approved by Creative BC during fiscal year 2018/19 includes:

  • 154 tax credit certifications were issued under the Film Incentive BC Tax Credit Program (FIBC) for Canadian owned and controlled productions, with estimated budgeted expenditures in B.C. of $391M;
  • 230 tax credit certifications were issued under the Production Services Tax Credit (PSTC) program for international productions, with estimated budgeted expenditures in B.C. of $2.8B;
  • The Digital Animation, Visual Effects and Post-Production Tax Credit (DAVE), was leveraged by 152 of the total 154 FIBC claims and 218 of 230 of the PSTC claims respectively;
  • 139 productions of the 384 total tax credit certifications, or 36%, leveraged regional tax credits (outside the designated Vancouver area);
  • 61 of the 384 total tax credit certifications, or 16%, leveraged distant location regional tax credits (beyond the regional tax credit zone);
  • 7 FIBC projects accessed the newly established Scriptwriting Tax Credit.

A breakdown by format of the 384 tax credit certifications is below:

  • Feature Films: 95
  • Mini-series: 4
  • Movies of the Week: 84
  • TV Programs: 20
  • TV Series: 148
  • Web-based/other: 13
  • TV pilots: 20

For more information and detailed expenditures by production type, please visit: https://www.creativebc.com/motion-picture-industry-statistics


Highlights from B.C.’s motion picture industry during fiscal year 2018/19 include:

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – Over 80% of the Academy Award-winning animated film was created by animation artists and visual effects teams in the Sony Pictures Imageworks’ Vancouver studios.
  • Ironwood & Fraserwood Studios – In April 2018, Whites Studios announced renovations and expansion for two distinct studios: Ironwood and Fraserwood Studios. Ironwood has 177,000 total square footage, including seven sound stages and office facilities and Fraserwood contains 119,000 total square footage, with four sound stages and a mill shop and paint shop.
  • A Million Little Things – ABC Studios’ A Million Little Things spent over $27M in B.C. in its first season and engaged more than 779 local businesses from 32 communities across the province. The show also used the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) to stand in for the Boston Garden.[2]
  • Last Kids On Earth – This year, Vancouver-based animation studio Atomic Cartoons signed a worldwide licensing deal for their upcoming Netflix series ‘The Last Kids on Earth”, currently in production.  The studio has also worked on Hilda, the British-Canadian co-production with Netflix, based on Luke Pearson’s graphic novel.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe – Much of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe has a Vancouver stamp on it with visual effects and post-production companies Industrial Light and Magic, Double Negative (DNEG), Method Studios and Cinesite working on Captain Marvel and Avengers: Infinity War.
  • Game of Thrones – Many British Columbians may have caught the Province’s screen credits at the end of episodes of the final season of Game of Thrones. That is due to the creation of the dragons that were visualized by B.C. studio Image Engine. This high-end creative work is supported by the Canadian Film and Video Production Services Tax Credit and the Province of British Columbia Production Services Tax Credit.
  • Unspeakable – The CBC drama examines the tragic circumstances in which contaminated blood and blood products infected thousands of Canadian patients with HIV. Unspeakable was created and written by BC-producer Robert Cooper and filmed on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.
  • Riverdale – Over three seasons, the Warner Bros. Television show Riverdale spent over $103M in BC, creating 1,785 jobs in the province. In season three alone, the show has spent $43M in B.C.[3]

 

[1] CMPA Profile 2018 estimates of direct and spin-off FTES, Exhibit 2-3

[3] MPA Canada: Economic Impacts of Riverdale, 2019

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.”

An Interview With Anoushka Ratnarajah Co-artistic Director at Out On Screen – Vancouver Queer Film Festival.

“I think that trust and respect are so important when it comes to artistic integrity.”-Anoushka Ratnarajah

Anoushka Ratnarajah has always been a creative person, even as a little girl. “My parents encouraged me and my brother to be creative – they really uplifted our creative expression.”

As a kid growing up in Ladner, B.C., Anoushka was exposed to books like Anne of Green Gables and authors such as Jane Austen. “I think the thing that drove me into becoming a storyteller was that as a young, mixed-race, queer person I didn’t see a lot of stories about people like me, or families like mine. I didn’t have a lot of stories I could relate to, so I would write stories about characters I could identify with.”

After a degree in Creative Writing at UBC, Anoushka found herself in New York pursuing a Masters in Arts Politics. This degree allowed her to explore what it meant to be an artist with a social justice lens, and it encouraged her to work in various forms of art making. She met a friend in a performing arts training program and found her way into filmmaking. “I’ve always had a cinematic imagination – I see things in pictures, and there’s always a musical score in my mind throughout the day!”

When Anoushka was asked to be the coartistic director at Out on Screen, which produces the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, she was very excited. “I feel so fortunate to work for an organization that has queer people of colour on staff. There have been a lot of folks who have broken down doors for us in so many ways, yet there’s still more work to be done.”

This year’s festival will showcase many films by young trans or gender non-conforming filmmakers, perhaps a sign of what’s happening more globally when it comesto authentic representation of queer stories. There are also lots of local filmmakers telling their stories as part of The Coast is Queer series. “We are so grateful for the support from Creative BC because it encourages us to spotlight local artists and local content.”The Out on Screen society was founded 30 years ago when the Gay Games came to Vancouver. “Queer folks were hungry for visual representation of their stories,” Anoushka says.

The festival started off with films being projected in people’s basements and it has grown to become the second largest film festival in Vancouver and the largest queer film event in Western Canada.

Anoushka believes they’ve been able to do all of that because there’s been a continuing effort to build a reciprocal sense of trust with artists. “Film has a long history of untrustworthy narrators who tell stories that don’t necessarily reflect their own lives or experiences. Often times, especially with documentary films, there can be a feeling of exploitation. Trust building is essential to the work we do here, especially because we are working with communities who have had trust broken so many times. We need to realize that trust doesn’t just get built and then exist permanently – it’s a relationship, and we need to keep working at it.”

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.”

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!

Profile on LaSalle College Vancouver

We had the opportunity to interview LaSalle College Vancouver, learning more about how they originated and how they currently contribute to British Columbia’s creative industries.

What kind of work do you do in the creative industries?

LaSalle College Vancouver (LCV) is a boutique creative career school offering an array of exciting applied arts programs in the fields of Fashion, Game Design & VFX, Audio & Film, Culinary Arts, Interior Design, and Graphic Design. With over 35 different programs to offer and with credentials ranging from bachelor’s degrees to certificates, LCV is the perfect place to let creativity run wild. LCV, accredited by Private Training Institutions Branch (PTIB) of the Ministry of Advanced Education of British Columbia, has been crowned one of the top 10 undergraduate schools for video game design by the Princeton Review for the past 7 years, and one of the top 50 fashion schools by Fashionista.com. LCV takes pride in its direct links with the workplace and educational network in Canada and around the world and offers diverse opportunities and support for students to be exposed to industry and build their skills necessary for success.

How did you or your company get started? 

LaSalle College Vancouver (LCV) opened its doors in 1998 as an English as second language school (ESL). In 2002, the school began to focus and expand on design-based programs such in Fashion Design, Fashion Merchandising, Artistic Make-up, Interior Design, Jewellery Design, Graphic Design, and 2D/3D Animation as well as on-line training programs in Interior Design, Fashion Marketing, Video Game 3D Modelling, and Administrative Assistant.

On February 1, 2017, LCI Education Network, of which LaSalle College Vancouver (LCV) is a member, acquired The Art Institute of Vancouver an award-winning higher education provider offering an array of exciting applied arts programs in diverse fields such as VFX for Film and Television, Video Game Programming, Digital Film & Video, Game Art & Design, Graphic Design, Interior Design, Fashion, Culinary Arts and just to name a few.

Located in 80,000 square feet building in beautiful Vancouver, LCV delivers programs with credentials ranging from Bachelor Degrees, Diploma’s and Certificates and has been consistently named one of the top 10 undergraduate schools for video game design by the Princeton Review.

What milestones have you achieved or are you focusing on now?

For the last nine years, we have been named the #1 Game Design school in Canada which also takes into account all of our Media Arts programs when creating the ranking.  We work very hard to continue to maintain this ranking.

 

Learn more: 

https://www.princetonreview.com/press/game-design-press-release

https://www.princetonreview.com/college-rankings/game-design/methodology

http://www.lasallecollegevancouver.com/news/princeton-review-2018-ranking