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Creative Industries Year in Review

From a year leading with nothing short of breaking headlines, we look to the year’s story highlights from the creative industries sector. From new initiatives to heart-warming good news, here are some of the highlights from book and magazine publishing, interactive and digital media, motion picture and music industries:

 

Book + Magazine Publishing

1. Local publishers entering new chapter

B.C.’s book publishers have shown resilience, adapting quickly to the new reality. They have optimized their websites for online orders and offered discounts, partnered with local booksellers to replace in-store author events—critical to building word of mouth about new releases—with online readings, and offered more flexible usage terms to educators and librarians for the use of BC books in remote learning environments.

 


Photo by Grant Harder for Nuvo Magazine

2. Ian Williams Is Changing the Rules of the Canadian Novel

For Ian Williams, winning the Giller marks a movement forward in Canadian literature, where “some voice or some attention is given to the unruly, difficult child.”

3. B.C. colouring book: Orca image to keep you creative during COVID-19 isolation

If your eyes are needing a break from all the online scrolling to read the latest updates about COVID-19, you’re in luck.

4. Get on island time with Gabriola’s new magazine: FOLKLIFE

As the only semi-annual lifestyle print magazine solely featuring content from the Gulf Islands, FOLKLIFE celebrates and connects those living simply, and as an art form, through engaging interviews, stories, photographs, recipes, and art.

 

Interactive + Digital Media

5. This free summer program will teach B.C. teens to make music for video games and animation

DigiMusic’s free summer program facilitated an online format for B.C. high school students from grade 7 to 12 to create music for video games and animation.

6. Bringing Indigenous Voices to the Tech Sector

Indigenous peoples are the youngest and fastest growing demographic in Canada, yet in 2018 only 1.2 per cent of Canada’s tech workers identified as Indigenous. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada called for the adoption of the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a pathway to ensure equitable access to jobs, training and educational opportunities for Indigenous people.

 

7. B.C. First Nation adopts ‘digital-twinning’ software to better manage territory

TimberOps functions as the “digital twin” of more than 350,000 hectares of unceded Mowachaht-Muchalaht territory near the west coast of Vancouver Island, mapping rivers, lakes, mountains, roads, trails and buildings as well as the locations of old villages and archaeological sites.

8. The Last Kids on Earth Video Game Confirmed for 2021

A video game adaptation of the Netflix series The Last Kids on Earth will bring a more kid-friendly zombie apocalypse to PC and consoles next year.

8. Gaming studio Phoenix Labs spreads wings with expansion to Montreal, L.A.

Expansion plans follow Burnaby-based game developer’s acquisition earlier this year

Arthroscopy

9. Precision OS Makes ‘Breakthrough’ in Arthroscopy Education

Vancouver, British Columbia-based Precision OS Technology said it has created a first-of-its-kind arthroscopy simulator available on a mobile, wireless device (Oculus Quest) which will also be used by Conmed International for surgeon education.

 

Motion Picture

10. Join VAFF’s campaign to #Elimin8hate

Vancouver Asian Film Festival provides an anonymous and safe reporting environment and resources for Canadians of Asian ancestry experiencing anti-Asian attacks.

11. Ryan Reynolds to use part of his own salary to hire BIPOC crew members on upcoming film

Vancouver-born movie star Ryan Reynolds said it was time to see more Black, Indigenous and people of colour on film sets and launched a new initiative, the Group Effort Initiative, to help make it happen.

12. Pioneering Remote Studio VFX Legion Launches Full-Scale BC Division

VFX Legion, a remote boutique-style global company, has announced the opening of a full-scale division in British Columbia. An early proponent of the virtualization of visual effects, industry veteran James David Hattin launched the company in 2013, introducing a groundbreaking collaborative work-from-home business model almost a decade before COVID-19 made social distancing essential.

13. How Vancouver’s DOXA Documentary Film Festival found opportunity in a pandemic year

For film festivals, 2020 has presented two choices: cancel – and hope that any costs saved by furloughing staff and securing possible venue refunds will help offset inevitable 2021 losses – or take a big chance and go online only. Neither are ideal. But Vancouver’s DOXA Documentary Film Festival, the country’s second-largest doc fest after Toronto’s Hot Docs, found an opportunity in the dilemma.

13. Made-in-Vancouver animated series Molly of Denali wins a Peabody Award

The made-in-Vancouver animated series Molly of Denali has been awarded a George Foster Peabody Award. Co-produced by Vancouver’s Atomic Cartoons and WGBH Boston for PBS KIDS and CBC Kids, the show is the first nationally distributed children’s series in the United States to feature an Indigenous lead character.

14. B.C. animation school offers free help to schools scrambling to get online amid COVID-19

A Burnaby-based animation school that has operated 100% online since its inception in 2013 is offering free use of some of its online resources to schools scrambling to find ways to keep learning going during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Music + Sound Recording

15. Singer’s live performance in computer-generated nightclub could be a model for concerts in a COVID world
Using animation technology usually associated with video games and motion pictures, Jill Barber was transported from a sterile suburban studio into a once-legendary Vancouver supper club, The Palomar, torn down more than 60 years ago.

16. TikTok trend launches Vancouver band Mother Mother up the charts

Ryan Guldemond says he believes luck, good timing and “a little pixie dust” led to his band Mother Mother catching fire on TikTok in recent weeks. The lead singer and guitarist for the Vancouver rock act says he was surprised when, seemingly out of nowhere, three tracks from their 2008 album O My Heart spiked in popularity on the music-fuelled social app.

17. Vancouver Island theatre reinvents live performances with hybrid model

Small audience and live streaming are how Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre will get through pandemic

Mint Records Is Almost Its Own Character in the Trailer for the New Hulu Show 'Woke'

18. Mint Records Is Almost Its Own Character in the Trailer for the New Hulu Show ‘Woke’

From Mission: Impossible to Riverdale, set designers have absolutely loved the output of Mint Records over the years. Today, however, the decorated Vancouver label may have had its strongest showing yet in the new trailer for the Hulu series Woke.

19. Vancouver’s NuZi Collective launches Black Therapy & Advocacy Fund
The new initiative from the DJ collective and promoter group aims to connect black residents of Vancouver with therapy and mental health resources. The goal is to provide ten to 15 hours of therapy for ten disabled and LGBTQIA+ black residents free of charge, hiring advocates to act as a liaison between recipients and mental health providers.

20. B.C. musicians to play free hour-long livestream concert Thursday

As a first step to support the music industry, the B.C. government is partnering with Creative BC to launch Showcase BC. This new online hub brings a variety of live performances, entertainment and content to British Columbians, so they can stay connected while staying home.

Missed your story? Submit your creative industry story to info@creativebc.com.

Binge #WatchBC

Watch the best from made-in-British Columbia films and TV series this winter. Here is a list of 21 titles made here in B.C. available to watch on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, CBC Gem and more.

 

FILMS

To All the Boys I've Loved Before review: Netflix's latest charms - Vox

 

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Netflix

Lara Jean Covey is a teenage girl who writes love letters when she gets a crush too big to handle but she never actually sends them. One day her deepest secrets are revealed and she creates an elaborate plan to save herself from being too embarrassed but it all goes pear-shaped when it turns into more than fake. Watch To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before 1 and 2 on Netflix.

 

Indian Horse, CBC Gem

The film follows Saul Indian Horse as he survives residential school and the racism of the 1970s. A talented hockey player, Saul must find his own path as he battles stereotypes and alcoholism.

 

The Body Remembers When The World Broke Open Interview: Kathleen Hepburn and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers | by Seana Stevenson | MUFF Blog | Medium

 

The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, CBC Gem

After a chance encounter on a busy street, a woman decides to bring a pregnant domestic abuse victim home and encourages her to seek help to navigate the aftermath of the traumatic event.

 

Red Snow, CBC Gem 

Dylan, a Gwich’in soldier from the Canadian Arctic, is caught in an ambush in Kandahar, Afghanistan. His capture and interrogation by a Taliban Commander releases a cache of memories connected to the love and death of his Inuit cousin, Asana, and binds him closer to a Pashtun family as they escape across treacherous landscapes and through a blizzard that becomes their key to survival.

 

Beyond Human Power, CBC Gem 

Edzi’u and Dut Zi Zi Sus Loverin are separated by two decades in age, but they’re close. Edzi’u was in the room when her younger sister was born and smiles at the memory. Dut Zi Zi Sus often looks on her elder sister for guidance when she isn’t sure what to do next, burying her face in their hugs for comfort.

 

Film: Mixed↑ debuting on OUTtv and OUTtvGo on November 11th | EILE Magazine

Mixed↑ (or MixedUp), OutTV & OutTVGo

Mixed↑ (MixedUp) follows Howard J Davis aka Haui in his feature film directing debut, as he navigates what it means to be BIPOC and LGTBQ+. Haui’s mixed-up manifesto demands that we celebrate the exist.

 

Christmas in Evergreen, Hallmark Channel and W Network

About Christmas in Evergreen But when a storm shuts down the airport, she crosses path with a doctor and his daughter. What transpires will give them all a Christmas more magical than they could’ve imagined. Starring

 

Last Stand to Nowhere, Amazon Prime (US), Vimeo On Demand (Canada)

The Earp sisters and Doc Holliday resolve to eliminate the Clanton Gang problem in the only way they know how, at the end of a gun barrel, in this all-female re-imagining of the Gunfight at the OK Corral.

 

Daughter, Amazon Prime Video

In the aftermath of his daughter’s death, Jim is living a life of isolation and self-destruction until he can no longer hide and must face his tragic past.

 

Volition': Meet Adrian Glynn McMorran, Magda Apanowicz and rest of the cast of the supernatural thriller | MEAWW

Volition, Amazon Prime Video

A man afflicted with clairvoyance tries to change his fate when a series of events leads to a vision of his own imminent murder.

 

The Butterfly Affect, VIFF Connect, from December 18 until January 14

The Butterfly Affect follows a worm trying to make its way in a world built for butterflies.

 

B.C. Indigenous supernatural mystery Monkey Beach gets theatrical release in Vancouver | Georgia Straight Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly

Monkey Beach, Releasing on Crave on Jan 6th

A young woman with supernatural abilities reflects on profound events in her life as she awaits news of her brother, who has gone missing at sea under questionable circumstances.

 


 

TV SERIES

Van Helsing, SYFY

 

Travellers, Netflix

 

Chesapeake Shores Siblings - Photos - 13 | Chesapeake Shores

Chesapeake Shores, Hallmark

 

DC Legends of Tomorrow, The CW

 

Supergirl, The CW

 

Riverdale season 5: Filming could start in August or September

Riverdale, The CW/Netflix

 

 

The new Twilight Zone is riddled with references and easter eggs to the original series

Twilight Zone, CBS

 

Supernatural, The CW/Netflix

 

Save the Planet Already! - The Green Channel

Save the Planet Already!, The Green Channel

Eight B.C. feature films to watch at Whistler Film Festival 2020

Whistler Film Festival 2020 will be presented as an online experience from December 1-20, 2020, featuring film premieres, filmmaker and talent talks, and industry initiatives all scheduled for streaming convenience. The lineup will include up to 30 new feature films and five short film programs. Available across Canada for the first time, here are eight #WatchBC titles you can stream from the comfort of your home this December.

SUGAR DADDY (Dir. Wendy Morgan)


SUGAR DADDY follows the story of Darren – a wickedly talented and unconventional young musician who dreams of making music like nobody has ever heard before. But she’s broke, juggling multiple part-time jobs, and has no time to create. Desperate for cash, she signs up to a sugar daddy paid-dating website and throws herself down a dark rabbit hole that forces her to grow up fast, shaping her music, and how she sees the world.

 


ALL IN MADONNA (Dir. Arnold Lim)

Maddie is a seventeen year-old teenager who has been homeschooled since childhood. Maddie has been raised with her younger sister by a rather hard-edged father Paul in a remote rural area in a rainforest. When she insists that the time has come to attend public school and make friends, she finds that her father’s warnings that it will not be so easy start to make sense. The community seems to have a rather negative view of Maddie’s family, and seems to believe that Paul has been involved in a murder. Maddie is forced to look at her father in a whole new way, and must reconcile the man she thought she knew with the man that he might well be.

 



AN INTROVERTS GUIDE TO HIGHSCHOOL
(Dir. Sophie Harvey)


A very funny fast-paced first feature from Sophie Harvey, WFF almuna producer Rachel Talalay’s daughter. The film takes a very funny look at a six week course offered in American high schools to help students prepare for their SAT tests.

 



THE DECLINE (Dir. Kayvon Saremi & Sean Patrick Shaul)


An insider’s guide to life in the streets of drug-ravaged East Vancouver, THE DECLINE actually points to something that is surprising for people who don’t live in Vancouver but have visited or heard of the opioid crisis ravaging the city. The fact is that there are activists and residents who are actively working to get the government to pay better attention to the area’s problems. Users are interviewed, some of them quite lucid when it comes to the possible outcomes of the choices they are making. As the film points out, surprisingly, there is a sense of community in the neighbourhood.

 


IN HER CITY (Dir. Carl Bessai)

Regular WFF contributor BC filmmaker Carl Bessai has been experimenting with storytelling form and structure ever since his first film JOHNNY (1999), about squeegee kids in Toronto. In film after film like MOTHERS & DAUGHTERS, FATHERS & SONS, and SISTERS & BROTHERS, Bessai has been approaching a short story perspective where improvisation and pointed character unveiling have made working on his films an actor’s dream. But here,­ he has outdone himself.

 


INDIAN ROAD TRIP (Dir. A.W. Hopkins)


This is a comic tall-tale about two Indigenous con artists, forced to drive a cranky elder across the reserve so she can make peace with her dying sister. Along the way, they encounter what might be supernatural forces and a stash of stolen loot in a car seat from a wreck they come across.

 


MERCY (Dir. Sam Flamont)

Shot in Regina, and financed by the Telefilm Talent Fund, this is an astute first feature from Sam Flamont about a young man named Finn who is sent to a medium-security prison for six months for killing a wounded deer. Finn is a quiet boy who likes to keep to himself, but there are some very scary fellows in the prison., including big hairy men who threaten the lives and the sexuality of their fellow inmates.

 



THE WHISPER OF SILENCE  
(Dir. Alfonso Quijada)


Josefina Moreno has been working in the coffee fields of Central America since the age of ten. Over the years, she has developed an old factory expertise that allows her to evaluate and appreciate coffee beans with precision. This has come in handy as she has grown up within the industry. Now that she is 18, she is coveted, acting as a coffee taster in coffee bean competitions and sought out by coffee companies to work on their behalf identifying the best beans for cultivation and export.

Attend Whistler Film Festival

Access Reelworld, the new national database strengthening diversity and inclusion in Canada’s motion picture industry

Tonya Williams is leading the mission to diversify Canada’s screen-based industries with the new database, Access Reelworld. Launched summer 2020, the database is creating access and inclusion for Black, Indigenous, Asian, South Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American creatives and communities in the Canadian entertainment industry.

With the intention to correct the lack of representation of people of colour in the film and television industry, Tonya wants to open up these spaces to create and strengthen opportunities for racially diverse creatives both in front and behind the camera.

 

Courtesy of Access Reelworld

 

“Since founding Reelworld in 2000 it has been my desire to have a national database. You have to know where the talent is to be able to hire them. I created Access Reelworld as the platform for Black, Indigenous, People of Colour creatives to be in one place where not only can the Canadian industry find them, but the USA and International productions can find and hire our great diverse talent. We have many co-production treaties and many of those countries are struggling with their own diversity issues.  Canada and Access Reelworld can be the shining example of how other countries can improve their diversity hires.  I say to all our Canadian racially diverse talent, it’s up to you now.  The ball is in your court.  You have to sign up so that the industry can find you!”

Tonya Williams

 

 

In a matter of a few weeks, the database has already been populated with over 500 names of people of colour working in departments like costume design, cinematography, and animation, where current and upcoming productions can reach out to fill roles on their teams.

Tonya is no stranger to driving social change in the industry. This year marks the 20th year of Reelworld Film Festival and Reelscreen Institute, incubators and champions of diverse filmmakers. Access Reelworld is rather an antidote to the lack of diversity and representation Tonya found in the industry. With optimism, Tonya believes the changing narrative for Canadian Black, Indigenous and people of colour can catalyze change in how the Canadian motion picture industry operates.

Access Reelworld is owned by Reelworld Film Festival and Reelworld Foundation also known as Reelworld Screen Institute. To find out more visit www.reelworld.ca

BC Creators nominated for 2020 Prism Prize Awards

The 2020 edition of the annual show celebrating the best of Canadian music videos and their creators will take place on Thursday, July 23 at 5:00 PM PST on PrismPrize.com and the @PrismPrize FacebookTwitter and YouTube channels.

Following the cancellation of the 2020 Prism Prize Grand Prize screening and awards presentation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Prism Prize decided to keep all previously announced Top 20 artists in the running for the Grand Prize. A jury of over 120 Canadian creative arts professionals voted to determine the winner who will be awarded $20,000, increased from $15,000 thanks to a contribution from Stingray. Each of the runners-up listed in the Top 20 will receive a $500 cash prize courtesy of Slaight Music and RBCxMusic. The Audience Award will also be announced, a fan-voted prize awarded to a video from the Top 20.

Along with the Grand Prize and Audience Award winners, the Prism Prize will recognize several Special Award recipients in the upcoming virtual show including a new honour, the Willie Dunn Award. This is named after the groundbreaking Canadian singer-songwriter, film director and politician William “Willie” Dunn, whose 10-minute film for The Ballad of Crowfoot is often cited as “the first Canadian music video.” The award is presented to a Canadian trailblazer who has demonstrated excellence within the music video production community. The recipient is asked to select an emerging Canadian music video creative to receive a $5,000 cash grant. The Willie Dunn Award’s mandate is to encourage the professional development of diverse creators within the Canadian music video industry.

The recipient of the Willie Dunn Award will be announced alongside honourees for the Special Achievement Award (Presented by Slaight Music, established to recognize an exceptional contribution to music video art on the world stage), the Hi-Fidelity Award (Supported by FACTOR, established to recognize recording artists who utilize music video in innovative ways), and the Lipsett Award (Sponsored by iHeart Radio, established to celebrate a unique approach to music video art) in the lead-up to the July 23rd show.

Below is a list of the British Columbia artists who are among the Top 20.


Debby Friday, Fatal

Directors: Debby Friday & Ryan Ermacora


Said the Whale, Record Shop

Director: Johnny Jansen

 

Sam Tudor, Joseph in the Bathroom
Director: Lucas Hrubizna

 

Jordan Klassen, Virtuous Circle
Director: Farhad Ghaderi

Feel in colour with Daniel Code and Graham Kew

Colour Study is a meditative and evocative experimental short film that will entrance you. Writers Charles Demers, Chelene Knight and Shazia Hafiz Ramji take us on a dreamy journey through ROYGBIV, while organizing objects and locations by their exact colour. Eager to share this visual narrative, we touched base with Graham Kew and Daniel Code, the filmmakers behind Colour Study.

 

Watch Colour Study on CBC Gem here

 

Tell us about Colour Study, the inspiration, the people involved, the narrative

Graham Kew: The three narratives in Colour Study were written and narrated by Chelene Knight, Charles Demers, and Shazia Hafiz Ramji. At the outset, we gave the writers basic parameters and shared information about colour theory and colour science, but then we just tried our best to stay out of their way. Reading each of their first drafts was both exciting and daunting. I do love that in film you can hand over control to a writer or a composer or a production designer and then they come back with something so creative that it just blows your mind and elevates the entire project to a whole new level. We got very lucky with the whole team on this project.

Daniel Code: The concept started to take shape after I found a video about scientist Neil Harbisson and his sonochromatic scale, and how he created a camera to transpose light frequencies into sound frequencies to help with his colour blindness. After that I dove deep, listening to pure sound frequencies while looking at different colours. Once I got off my laptop, I noticed that the colours in the room had really popped for me as if my eyes had been through a colour workout or something. I started thinking about the order of colour and creating an art piece based on this experience.

 

C/O Anthem Jackson Productions

 

Tell us a bit about yourselves, your careers and what inspires you

GK: Anthem Jackson is the name of our production company. Dan and I have both worked in the industry for years across a variety of departments, but AJ is our creative outlet. We want to produce innovative and authentic projects that matter to us.

DC: I’ve always been inspired to work on projects that provide a certain level of creative and social fulfilment. I’ve stayed pretty clear of the Hollywood movie machine to focus on smaller projects with friends and people I enjoy collaborating with. Sometimes you have to treat it as a creative lifestyle rather than a job.

C/O Anthem Jackson Productions

What advice do you have for emerging BIPOC filmmakers?

DC: Building a community is important and finding allies in that community can go a long way.  Work with your friends and/or develop relationships with the people you connect with on sets. Network at bars, art galleries, clubs, or places outside of film work environments. I’ve always found the best networking relationships are with people I’ve shared a meal, coffee or drink with randomly in a place people were out just having fun.  Volunteer in the area you want to learn something from and don’t waste your time on areas you don’t need. Learn as much as you can for your goals.  Put some sweat into those areas until you feel comfortable and then let people know with conviction exactly what you do in film.

It’s an uphill battle in the film industry as a BIPOC. Quite often I’ve been surrounded by primarily white creatives and it’s been a challenge to make your voice heard.  Having a more diverse video production can really create a beautiful and comfortable creative atmosphere. It allows room in the project for different cultural perspectives that otherwise wouldn’t be noticed without this diversity.  You would be surprised at how many BIPOC creatives are out there and a lot of them like myself would be willing to help foster their talent or point them in the right direction.

GK: I wouldn’t presume to give advice, but if any emerging BIPOC filmmakers reading this are struggling to break into documentary editing, they can hit me up at graham@anthemjackson.com and I’ll try my best to connect with them.

However, I will give advice to well-established non-BIPOC filmmakers… Reach out and see who you can help get a leg up! The mentors in my career have been incredibly important to me and it’s a relationship you will most likely enjoy and get a lot out of.

 

C/O Anthem Jackson Productions

Do you have any upcoming projects you can share with us?

GK: We are developing a scripted series with Shazia – one of the writers from Colour Study – and we have two documentary projects in the works, one of which is about a legendary 1970s Nigerian Afrobeat music group.

C/O Anthem Jackson Productions

 

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‘Who Am I’, directed by Adhel Arop

‘Who Am I’ tells the story of Adhel Arop’s quest for identity as she reconciles with her mother’s past as a child soldier in South Sudan.

 

Adhel Arop is a two-time award-winning documentary filmmaker residing in Vancouver, BC. Her career began in 2018 when she was awarded the TELUS Storyhive documentary film grant, with additional funding from Creative BC and mentorship from the National Screen Institute, which led her to complete her first 20-minute documentary, ‘Who Am I.”

 

Who Am I (2019) Directed by Adhel Arop

 

The film premiered and sold out in July 2019 in Vancouver, BC, going on to win two awards at festivals for outstanding achievements in the short documentary category. This film provided a platform to showcase the Canadian immigrant experience, something she authentically achieved by embracing her narrative of being a child born in the Kakuma refugee camp and drawing from her own stories of immigrating to Canada at the age of four. Her work aims to explore a social justice narrative, focusing on the untold stories of refugees and immigrants that are a part of Canada’s diverse identity. Through the medium of documentary filmmaking, she captures stories, many close to her heart and home, which would otherwise go untold.

Adhel now aims to pursue a career in filmmaking and advocating for renewable energy options in developing countries.

Please read, share and engage in this content. 

Luke Campbell Knows How to Rally a Network to Help Others

In early April we saw ICG 669’s former treasurer, Luke Campbell, take swift leadership in a DTES meal delivery initiative at the peak of COVID-19. His actions were quickly aided with support from Teamsters Local Union 155, IATSE and DGC members, and every corner of B.C’s motion picture industry.

In concert with the non-profit, Potluck Café Society, Campbell, Teamsters and IATSE members work to supply Downtown Eastside single residential buildings. Luke and his team’s unbelievable determinism and steadfast commitment prove that it takes a village, and the motion picture ecosystem can work together to help when needed.

We spoke to Luke Campbell about the work he’s done to take this initiative off the ground, and his calls for the community to help as funding for the meals on the street have run out effectively today, and the community needs your help. You can donate directly to Potluck Café Society’s Charitable DTES COVID-19 relief fund here to help this initiative successfully distribute 102,000 meals by the end of the month.

 

We love seeing the unbelievable initiatives you are taking recently to deliver meals to the Downtown Eastside. Could you tell us a little bit about getting the initiative started?
I have few friends in Europe that were sharing how bad things were getting so I felt I was a little more prepared mentally that we needed to get into action fast, when our industry closed down on the Friday. I had noticed many of my favourite restaurants were struggling and closing and wondered if we could collaborate to have meals paid for via donation that would help the local restaurants and in turn help feed those in need. On a Monday morning I started by reaching out to the community and my contact at the GRVD Food Bank, Nicole Campbell, and heard back on March 24th. She put me in contact with six other groups in the community, I quickly realized that the need would be greater than what I could easily organize through aggregating meals from restaurants and with 3000 of the 5000 quickly closing, I also worried about the supply chain failing. So I shifted gears, I contacted Lorrie Ward from Teamsters and said there may be a demand for their members in the catering department and their trucks to provide meals, I just put a bug in his ear to get the wheels moving. He informed that membership in all the unions were tasking the offices pretty heavy as all were trying to get on EI, but ultimately the following Monday things should be at hand.

In talking with former board member Crystal Braunwarth Publicity Member at Large who is now the assistant business agent at Local 891, she suggested that we maybe should reach out to Meals on Wheels for logistic advice. I spoke with their executive director to gain some insight, soon after we realized the permanent catering kitchens that were idle just made more sense to use, but she shared that as more than half of her 600 clients had meals delivered by drivers that happened to be seniors and no longer felt comfortable doing the deliveries they had to cut their program down in half. I reached out to my social network and sent volunteers their way including two cinematographers Phil Lanyon and Ian Kerr.

I then reached out to other labour organizations inquiring who was in charge of COVID relief requests with 891, 669, the CLC (Canadian Labour Congress), the BC Fed, and a new group that I was not aware of the Vancouver and District Labour Council. The VDLC and other food bank networking brought me to join a COVID-19 meals program that was being chaired by Steve Johnston, the Executive Director of Community Impact Real Estate Society a social enterprise whom the City of Vancouver sits on their board. They were partnering with Naved Noorani, Executive Director of Potluck Catering Society who wanted to provide meals to those in need too.

Initially from this Friday meeting the request was for a one-tonne truck to pick up 1000 meals on Saturday and Sundays with Mondays to Fridays being delivered by Union Gospel Missions. Goodly, the largest catering partner happened to be close to my office so I jumped on driving those meals myself.

I then attended a logistic meeting while a doctor tended to my “annual” physical and quickly out of this meeting it was asked if we could set up a logistics distribution centre and staff it with six people per day, to which I said absolutely. Shortly after an additional request to provide four delivery vans with drivers 7 days a week was put in. I quickly reached back out to Lorrie at Teamsters 155 and asked for help with an industry special on one truck and four vans, he partnered us up with Miranda Luyten at Discount Cars, and then he proceeded to find a crew of four drivers including a captain.

I reached out to Rhonda Taylor 2nd AD / UPN DGC who we had talked on set months earlier about our skills being transferable for disaster recovery and asked if she could come on board and help run the operation with scheduling the volunteers I was rostering. I was having a hard time getting an onsite production coordinator to come on board, so I turned to my friend Abigale Flint from the commercial world with the “just get it done” attitude.

I then reached out over the weekend and the following Monday morning to three different locations providers for table, chairs, tents, trash bins, cones, and fans to stock the distribution centre. All were supportive but Jason Cox with Whites LES was able to accommodate us and provided everything we need. I had my sole employee who was in travel quarantine reach out to Panavision to borrow a pallet jack and ramp for my weekend deliveries, and they were happy to accommodate.

On Tuesday, March 31st I started moving vans, and then the Teamsters business agent Shawn and another volunteer came to help, I picked up the location supplies and we got the distribution centre ready with the help of Darcy from Potluck. Then we waited for the city to issue the purchase order for the food. Two days came and went and then finally on Thursday morning in early April, the meals started flowing.

Who are your partners, volunteers and supporters that help you carry this out?
Darcy Green, Potluck Café Society Operations Manager
Rhonda Taylor, Directors Guild of Canada BC Team Leader
Abigale Flint, Abigale Flint Commercials, Scheduling and Team Leader
Darla Chibi, Milita Ouellette, Mike Farley, Brandon Tutt Lorrie Ward, Shawn Henter, Teamsters 155
ICG 669 members
DGC and members
IATSE 891 members
Actors Guild
ACFS
Rey Torres, Union Gospel Mission
Navid, Ian, Prashant, Cornelious, Potluck Catering Society
Aart Shuurman Hess and team, Goodly Food
Adriane King and team, HAVE Cafe
Whites LES
Panavision
Discount Cars
and B.C’s commercial film community

 

How many volunteers were able to help you with this?
We have a total of 29 Volunteers, we usually crew 5-6 for the lunch service and a team of 2-3 for the street dinner service. As people’s commitments have changed, or they have moved to be with family, we’ve been training one team member a week to replace outgoing volunteers.

How many meals have you delivered so far?
Approximately 85,575 meals as of May 20th.

What have been some memorable moments working on this initiative?
My weekend pickups from Aart and his team at Goodly, hand-passing the meals at our centre thinking that more than 55,000 meals have personally gone through my hands (I’ve taken four days off). I used to provide a few meals directly on Main Street, it was very heartfelt, I came to know a few members of the community by name. Now that I’ve hired more industry friends to help get my business ready to come back, and we’ve merged our “family units” it’s too high a risk. I’m very thankful for the month that I was able to do this, it was extremely humbling to call strangers sir, or ma’am, offering them a warm meal, and see the joy and true gratitude in their eyes. I’ve gotten so much more from this effort than I could have possibly known, and honestly, it’s going to be very difficult for me to go back to our industry. This has been an awakening for me, I had planned to do more community service and disaster relief in five or so more years when I felt I would slow down in our industry and look for a change, but now I’m going to need to find a way to balance this most important and rewarding work with work within our industry.

Finally, the most important for our film community has been offering the opportunity for others to be of service, to help out, and try to do something meaningful during such strange times, as well as letting them connect with other film members between the rush of the meals.

What would you like everyone to know about this initiative? Are there ways anyone can help?
There are some really caring people in the DTES community, members living on the street, members who were on the street, and those helping to support them, even some of the first responders. You get back so much more than you put in when you help people in your community. Help us deliver meals to the end of the month by donating directly to Potluck Café Society’s Charitable DTES COVID-19 relief fund here.

An Interview with Kim Thé, Booking Representative & Artist Manager at Pebble Star Artists

Kim Thé gives us some incite into Pebble Star Artists, a full-service art management and booking agency for family friendly entertainment and young audiences. With a little help from Creative BC Kim talks about what the future looks like for this family built company and what exciting things we can expect to see from them in the future! Check it out.

How did you or your company get started?

My husband is children’s performer Will Stroet from Will’s Jams on CBC Kids, and I’ve been working as his manager and booking agent since he started performing in 2005. We formally incorporated our company, Pebble Star Productions, in 2012 when we landed a deal with CBC television and got into TV production. Over the years while managing Will, I was also working in marketing and communications in the private and public sectors. In 2013, juggling motherhood, our company work and a communications job became too much, so I started working full-time for our company to handle all the grant writing, event production, bookings, branding, merchandise coordination and marketing. After booking Will for more than 1,500 shows over the years and receiving more requests than I could fulfill, I decided to launch my own booking agency Pebble Star Artists in March 2017.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Thanks to the support of Creative BC, I was able to launch a new website and attend a few performing arts showcases for the first time across the country last year to promote my roster. It was great to meet people face-to-face since I’ve only ever communicated by email and phone. I’ve had a successful first year booking shows for my artists.

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

One of my artists,  beatboxer and livelooper RupLoops had a great showcase at Arts NorthWest in Oregon and I’m working on booking his first US tours for 2019/2020. Another one of my artists, Bollywood dancer Karima Essa, had a great showcase at ArtStarts, which resulted in a 50-plus show tour in schools this year.  I also worked with Will to build his new Will’s Jams Live multimedia show which has toured in China three times since July 2017. We’ll be working on building Will’s brand in China and Hong Kong to move beyond Canada. Will and I also raised $9,000 through Kickstarter to support  the recording of his new album, which will be launched at the Children’s Festivals in Vancouver, Surrey and Kootenays in May 2019

Are there any projects we should know about that we can promote for you?

Thanks to the support of Creative BC, we’ve been able to produce lots of new video content for Will. We recently  launched a new web series called Will’s World to build Will’s profile online. It’s a fun show for kids and their parents that can be described as “Wayne’s World” meets “Mr. Rogers” with a dad’s sensibility! ” We’ve also just started releasing French lyric videos for French teachers and students as well. I’m also really really excited to be working with local soul singer Krystle Dos Santos. We’ve developed a young audience show called  “A History of Motown,” which she’ll perform at the ArtStarts showcase in March, and will hopefully result in a significant amount of school bookings in the 2019/2020 school year.

If there is a particular individual currently working at your company or with whom your company has worked with in the past who has had notable impact, please tell us more about them…

With Creative BC’s help, we’ve been able to hire Mital Gorman as our marketing coordinator. She is the main producer and videographer for Will’s World who is full of great ideas and has helped me produce two successful Family Day concerts in February 2018 to showcase some of my artists. She also helps us with our social media planning and newsletters. It’s been great to have another person working with us on a regular basis to grow both of our companies.