This month, I got a newsletter sent by From the Heart Productions that had the subject line Bragging: Good for the Soul and Your Career!.
I have to say, it definitely made me sit back and think about the past year and a bit since jumping into film. So I thought, for the last post of the year, it’d be appropriate to do a quick review!
April 2019 - The Launch
Just over a year and a half ago, my full-time contract with the Communities First: Impacts of Community Engagement research project ended. At that point, I began to work “full-time” in film and video production (I put full-time in quotes because I still kept one foot in academia via a new part-time contract…because fear of no money, yo!).
At this point, I was leaning heavily towards ‘corporate’ video production with a focus on promoting community-academic partnerships. However, my documentary work was starting to expand in ways that would lead me to question this focus:
- I’d just had my first film screening at the Toronto Indie Night Film Festival
- I was a few months into my first documentary feature, the smallest steps
- With the help of my team, I launched my first Indiegogo campaign.
- I won a spot in the DOC Institute’s Short Film Lab and had film mentorship for the first time
2019 - High Gear
Between April and December 2019, I felt like I was in high gear in terms of my filmmaking. In that short period of time, I:
- Directed, filmed, and edited three short documentaries (The Curated Self; to love, again!; and ROAR)
- Supported the filming of a fourth short documentary, Mattman (working title)
- Production Managed the narrative short Goodbye, Papi directed by Jedidah Nabwangu
- Applied to and won a spot in the National Film Board’s New Identities – An Israel/Canada International Coproduction Partnership in Digital Creation
- Pitched a film project for the first time in front of a crowd.
- Experienced virtual reality for the first time (which started stretching my creative thinking towards media art).
- Met and interviewed human rights activist Sally Armstrong.
- Mentored a pair of budding filmmakers (my first time mentoring!).
- Completed production for my feature documentary.
- Screened films at 3 more festivals: Eve Film Festival, Digi60, and One World Film Festival.
- Was paid my first ever artist fee.
- Held my first wrap party!
- Fundraised over $24,000 (cash and in-kind) for my feature documentary
2020 - New Experiences
By the time January 2020 rolled around, I knew I wanted to focus my energy on filmmaking as opposed to video production. I still wanted to take on client contracts, but I wanted the majority of my time to be spent on my own films. I also wanted to start branching out into media arts creation thanks to my experience with the National Film Board program.
Luckily, I started the year with another film screening — SAW Video’s Resolutions 2019. I also won a spot in the Arts Network Ottawa Mentorship Program, where I was paired with Amen Jafri, an Ottawa filmmaker who, at the time, was focused on branding for artists. With Amen’s help, I embarked on a process of discovering my values within filmmaking. From there, I worked with Amen to rebrand based on my filmmaking goals. Having a one-on-one mentor really made a difference for me — I realized that being accountable to someone helps me stay accountable to myself!
As a result of my work with Amen, I completed a full rebrand of my website and I started the uncomfortable process of pitching myself for podcasts, interviews, workshops, and more. I was also contacted independently by Kris Roley of the Roley Show (now named The Bluejacket Creative) and got the chance to be a guest for Episode 354. That was a fun experience!
While the pandemic meant I was out of work (and really down) for a solid 5 months, I still ended up with an amazing year overall. Some of the highlights included:
- Screening to love, again! with a live audience at The Art House Cafe. It was a wonderful experience hearing the laughter and “awes” in person and knowing that my film brought people joy!
- Maintaining my commitment to post once a month on my blog (even if some posts only appeared on the last day of the month!)
- Growing my knowledge of anti-racism, having complex conversations about race, and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement (and others) to expand my understanding of the challenges we must overcome before we can ever have a fully equal and equitable society.
- Winning my very first grant for my film work — and a Canada Council for the Arts grant at that!
- Being a finalist for the From the Heart Productions Roy W. Dean grant.
- Meeting with Kelly Payne of Ontario Creates to learn about her work, and get some pointers on documentary pitching.
- Attending some fabulous webinars hosted by Film Fatales and by Sundance Collab.
- Recording interviews with strangers from around the world during the first month of the COVID pandemic.
- Winning my largest contract to date in partnership with Mailyne Briggs of Kilam Media (to be released in January 2021!).
- In general, just getting paid to produce podcasts (2 this year! Super cool).
- Having to turn down a contract for the first time since starting my film work — you know you’re doing well when you’re too slammed to take on another project!
- Having to apply for my HST number!!!! (yes, I am a nerd)
- Continuing to work closely with my amazing volunteer social media team for the smallest steps.
- Having the flexibility to move in with my grandmother for a month while she recovered from being in the hospital (and learning, again, that I need to better balance my work and life!).
- Staying connected with my Quest Friends Forever improv troupe through the power of Zoom!
I’m sure I am missing additional highlights, but this list is already pretty spectacular. And, of course, separate from this list, I have also been incredibly fortunate to have the support, love, and encouragement of my boyfriend, my friends and family, and also individuals within the film community. As everyone knows, no one can be successful on their own, and I am very grateful for everyone with whom I get to work, live, and play!
Well, From the Heart Productions, I’m not sure if this bragging post will end up being good for my career, but I do agree that it was good for my soul to spend some time recognizing the successes I’ve had in the past year and a bit!
Here’s to a new, and even brighter 2021! Happy holidays y’all!