Film, Television and Animation Career Fair Tips & Participating Companies

On May 4th, hundreds of job seekers, students, and industry professionals will converge at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park to meet with some of Ottawa’s top production companies, animation studios, and educational institutions.

To make the most out of your time at the Film, Television and Animation Career Fair, we’ve listed below the participating companies and included the positions for which they’ll be recruiting. Be sure to visit the companies’ websites to learn more about the content they produce, and don’t forget to bring your résumés, portfolios, and/or flash drives with your reel to hand out. For students, recent graduates and others with limited experience, this is a good opportunity to introduce yourselves to the companies in attendance, and ask questions about what they look for when hiring. You’re also encouraged to speak with the colleges and media centres for information on post-secondary programs, courses, and workshops.

*Pre-registration is now closed as we have reached full capacity for the venue. If you did not pre-register, you may be able to register onsite, however, priority will be given to those who pre-registered*

PARTICIPATING COMPANIES (listed alphabetically)

ANIMATION STUDIOS

Atomic Cartoons
Award-winning Atomic Cartoons, a Thunderbird Entertainment company, is a full-service animation studio located in Vancouver and Ottawa. Atomic creates, produces and finances animation for distribution across multiple channels. Atomic Cartoons is an artist-driven studio that includes some of Canada’s most creative animators, directors, producers and writers.

Atomic Cartoons (Ottawa) is currently hiring hiring senior animators. Learn more about the positions here.

Big Jump Entertainment
Big Jump is a privately owned, independent, 2D hybrid animation production facility that specializes in top notch animation. As a producer, Big Jump creates engaging stories for all mediums from long-form entertainment to mobile games. Its development team is made up of industry veterans boasting over 200 hours of proprietary content currently airing worldwide.

Big Jump is mostly seeking Harmony animators and rigging artists. Lear more about the positions here.

Mercury Filmworks
Mercury Filmworks is an independent entertainment company. They are digital 2D and 3D animation specialists offering a complete range of film and television production services from concept and creative development, to design, animation, post & delivery.

Mercury Filmworks is always on the lookout for animators, especially layout and background artists. Representatives from the studio will be onsite providing information about Ottawa’s vibrant animation industry.

LIVE-ACTION PRODUCTION COMPANIES

1 Department Entertainment Services
Created by production designer turned producer Shane Boucher, 1 Department Entertainment Services is a multi-service film and practical entertainment production house dedicated to creating and servicing exceptional content for various client needs.

The company will be at the career fair recruiting for art department crew, production assistants, and assistant directors.

Balestra
Balestra is an independent interactive audiovisual production company. Its mission is to create content that captivates the mind and inspires the imagination. Its productions target youth between 7 and 18 years old. Balestra’s productions offer a new multidimensional approach to youth education that takes into account all aspects of their lives.

Balestra is looking for bilingual or Francophone crew to fill a variety of upcoming positions.

Dan Rascal Inc.
You need branded video, and your audience knows that how you do anything is how you do everything. That’s why Dan Rascal only strives for the highest possible production value – working with world-class artists and technicians to ensure every single frame of your production is worthy of your brand.

Dan Rascal is recruiting a motion animator, a graphic designer, and a production manager.

GAPC Entertainment Inc.
GAPC Entertainment is a vibrant independent Canadian production company with over 20 years’ experience in the industry. Always exploring new ventures, its goal is to continue to produce smart, creative and compelling television programming for national and international audiences. The company’s slate spans many genres from television specials, series, documentaries, to award-winning docu-dramas, children’s programs, performing arts, and biopics.

GAPC Entertainment is currently seeking experienced bilingual production coordinators, production managers, and production assistants with college diplomas and 1-2 years’ experience or equivalency, or just 3-4 years’ experience.

Hot Shoe Productions
Hot Shoe Productions is a local social enterprise that trains and hires youth in video production. Its youth staff are graduates from Youth Active Media, a video training program delivered in priority communities by Youth Ottawa and the Social Planning Council of Ottawa. It combines the talent of young people with professional technology to bring your message to life.

Hot Shoe Productions is currently looking for videographers and editors.

Mercury Redline
A representative from Mercury Redline, Mercury Filmworks’ new live-action division, will be onsite to meet people who may be interested in producer/production manager/production coordinator types of roles in the near future.

no hands
no hands is a content production studio that helps brands discover the stories they should be telling. It delivers full-service production solutions for scaleable content. With its multidisciplinary team it creates, produces, shoots, designs, photographs, animates, edits, builds & runs through the finish line.

no hands is currently seeking an editor, camera operators, production assistants, and animators.

Those Canadians
Those Canadians Media Group is a full service, bilingual production company with offices in Ottawa and Toronto. Its clients span the sports, entertainment and information worlds. It considers itself to be a ‘creative collective’​ of both experienced and emerging talent. They are filmmakers and musicians; animators and writers; journalists and entrepreneurs.

Those Canadians is currently on the lookout for freelancers, a junior editor, and an administrative assistant.

SUPPORT SERVICES

Edwards PC Creative Law
Edwards PC, Creative Law is Ottawa’s entertainment law firm. The law firm works with producers of live action and animated projects, from shorts to series to films, and everything in between. Blogs about filmmaking legal considerations will be shared. They’re interested in discussing attendees’ projects.

Lightning DI
Lightning DI is currently expanding and is seeking a Digital Imaging Technician (DIT). It will also have one of its DITs vehicles onsite to show attendees.

Smyth Casting
Ottawa’s most experienced casting company run by Casting Director Ilona Smyth, CSA. Casting for feature films, TV series, national commercials, national print campaigns, corporate videos, and events.

Smyth Casting will be onsite looking for actors and background performers (extras). It will also share information on its database, new website, and acting courses.

TriBro Studios
With its continuous efforts to bring production to Ontario, Toronto’s TriBro Studios is expanding to Ottawa with the development of four soundstages plus offices spaces for film production, animation and training. Learn more about the project here and here.

Representatives from TriBro Studios will be at the career fair to talk with attendees about the Ottawa project.

EDUCATION

Algonquin College
Dedication to student success is Algonquin College’s guiding principle and is demonstrated through the quality of its programs, staff, the continual expansion of its facilities, and by forging strategic partnerships. Every action since the College was established has been to ensure students have access to the education and skills training demanded by the marketplace to launch a rewarding career.

We’re pleased to be joined by representatives from Algonquin College who will share information on Algonquin’s post-secondary programming related to the screen-based industries.

Herzing College
Herzing College began as Herzing Institute in February of 1965. Initially the institution was dedicated to computer technology training, but over the years, the college has expanded its breadth of career-focused education and has expanded geographically to include campus locations across the country. Its reputation is built on a foundation of high ethical standards, and a commitment to the success of our students and the communities and industries we support.

Representatives from Herzing College will be onsite providing information about its animation programs, including its partnership with Big Jump.

La Cité
Solidement implantée dans la région de la capitale nationale et de l’Est ontarien depuis un quart de siècle, La Cité est le plus grand collège d’arts appliqués et de technologie de langue française en Ontario. Offrant un total de 140 programmes postsecondaires, La Cité place la réussite étudiante au haut de sa liste de priorités.

Nous sommes ravis d’accueillir des représentants de la Cité qui parleront de ses programmes de formation.

SAW Video
SAW Video is a not-for-profit, artist-run media art centre that fosters the growth and development of artists through access to equipment, training, mentorship, and programming. Its mission is to support a diverse community of media artists empowered by technology, programming and the exchange of ideas.

SAW Video will be at the career fair promoting its workshops and training courses, including its new Scrip to Screen workshop starting in May.

UNIONS AND GUILDS

ACTRA Ottawa
ACTRA Ottawa is a local branch of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) representing 22,000 professional performers across Canada with more than 400 talented performers here in the National Capital Region. Its talented members work in all areas of recorded media and are the backbone of Ottawa’s thriving professional film and television industry.

Stop by the ACTRA booth to learn how to become a professional performer and about working with ACTRA.

Directors Guild of Canada – Ontario
The Directors Guild of Canada Ontario (DGC Ontario) is a provincial labour organization representing more than 2,200 key creative and logistical personnel working in the screen-based industries in the areas of direction, assistant direction, design, production management, locations, accounting and editing.

A DGC Ontario representative will be onsite providing information about the guild and how to become a member.

IATSE
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employee (IATSE) is the largest union representing workers in the entertainment industry, representing over 120,000 members continentally and nearly 2,300 members in Toronto. Its members work in all forms of live theatre, motion picture production, television production, television broadcasting, trade shows, exhibitions, and concerts, as well as the equipment and construction shops that support all these areas of the entertainment industry.

An IATSE 873 representative will be onsite providing information about the union and how to become a member.

Lights, Camera, Ottawa!

Barely a month into 2019 and Ottawa’s film, television and animation industry is already on pace to experience one of its busiest years yet. Two made-for-TV movies, The Plan for Christmas and Real Gone Girl, have been filming around the city, with two more Christmas films scheduled to start later this month. Thanks to the Ottawa region’s four distinct seasons, productions can benefit from real snow during our cold, winter months and avoid the financial and environmental impacts of artificial snow. Win-win!

On the 2018 set of “The Truth About Christmas” © Albert Camicioli

Also filming in Ottawa is the fourth season of the French language children’s series Mehdi et Val, produced by Ottawa’s own Slalom Productions. The series follows the adventures of two youths as they travel back in time to the Middle Ages. Capitalizing on old warehouses, the crew expertly recreated interior and exterior period sets, as you can see in the photo below from our set visit last year.

In other television news, Gusto Worldwide Media continues to take over the world, expanding to different markets and constantly growing its slate of original content, like Bonacini’s Italy, Flour Power, Fresh Market Dinners, Spencer’s BIG 30, and Watts On The Grill (all of which were nominated for prestigious Taste Awards). And GAPC Entertainment is gearing up for another big year as it develops two projects, O c’est pour Ontario and Dre Annie (based on the popular Dutch series The Doctor Corrie Show); begins production on the TFO web series and TV special Je suis prêt; and goes in post-production on ScienceXplosion, a STEM series launching this summer.

The local animation sector continues to thrive, showing no signs of slowing down. At the recent Annie Awards in Los Angeles, Mercury Filmworks’ popular Netflix series Hilda received three awards, making it the most-awarded series of the night. Two other shows animated by Mercury Filmworks, Mickey Mouse and Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure, also won awards. This year will see Mercury Filmworks continuing work on the Mickey Mouse shorts, the third seasons of Rapunzel and The Lion Guard, the second seasons of Amazon’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Hilda, and a couple of other really exciting projects that have yet to be announced.

After recently expanding to Ottawa, Atomic Cartoons’ first project in its Hintonburg studio is the Netflix series The Last Kids on Earth, based on the best-selling book series by Max Brallier. Meanwhile, Jam Filled, a subsidiary of entertainment giant Boat Rocker Media, is busy working on the DC Super Hero Girls shorts and on the fourth season of Nickelodeon’s Loud House, one of the highest-rated children’s series in the U.S. And last but not least, Big Jump Entertainment is in production on Dorothy and The Wizard of OZ (with Warner Brothers Animation), a prime time animated series with Netflix, and a preschool series with a major Canadian broadcaster; the animation studio is also in development with a Canadian broadcaster on two other shows.

Hilda © Mercury Filmworks

In addition to all these productions, approximately 15 feature-length live-action films (TV movies and features) are slated to shoot in Ottawa this year. If you’ve ever wanted to be involved in Ottawa’s film, television and animation sector, now’s the time to get started!

Top 5 Places in Ottawa to Shoot a Horror Film

Did you know that horror and thriller films are the most popular genres shot in Ottawa? Perhaps it’s our diverse and cost-effective locations, experienced crew and talent, or attractive regional tax incentives that attract them to the National Capital Region. Or maybe it’s our city’s haunted past that inspires local and foreign filmmakers to use Ottawa as a backdrop for their creepy creations.

Whether they’re allegedly haunted or look like they *could* be, the following locations all share one thing in common: they make the perfect setting for any horror film.


Watson’s Mill
Built in 1860, Watson’s Mill is an operational gristmill located in the charming community of Manotick. It has everything you could want in a 19th century building: stone walls, a serene view of the river, and a ghost that haunts the premises. The Mill’s co-founder Joseph Currier and his second wife Ann Crosby Currier were visiting the site in 1861 when a most unfortunate event occurred; while walking down the stairs from the attic to the second floor, the bottom of Ann’s dress got caught in a revolving drive shaft. Thrown against a nearby pillar, Ann died instantly; however, some believe that her spirit never left. According to Watson Mill’s website:

It is said that on dreary days she can still be seen staring out of the second floor windows, several people have claimed to hear lady like footsteps coming from the second floor even though there is no one upstairs, others swear they have been grabbed by unseen hands on the stairs. Perhaps it is Ann ensuring no one else shares her fate.

For filmmakers brave enough to shoot at Watson’s Mill, the building and beauty of the surrounding area offer looks unmatched in the National Capital Region…but maybe you’ll want to avoid the attic, just in case. Visit our Flickr page for more photos or contact us today to see how Watson’s Mill can play a part in your next film.

Watson’s Mill

HI Ottawa Jail Hostel
Another location that is reportedly haunted is the HI Ottawa Jail Hostel, located in downtown Ottawa. Built in 1862, the stone building originally housed the Carleton County Gaol and some of the country’s accused and most notorious criminals, including men, women and children. The Gaol was notably the site of the last public execution in Canada; in 1869, a crowd of 5,000 spectators watched as Patrick Whelan, accused of assassinating Irish-Canadian politician Thomas d’Arcy McGee, was hanged. The evidence against Patrick was circumstantial and he always maintained his innocence, which may explain why many visitors claim to see his spirit walking towards the gallows, which are to this day still intact. Other guests claimed to have heard screaming and crying.

The Ottawa Jail Hostel periodically hosts film and television productions, especially reality TV series that explore haunted places. The hostel is also an ideal spot for filmmakers looking for authentic jail cells or old, eerie stairwells. Contact HI Hostels for more information about filming in this notable building or visit our Flickr page for photos.

Ottawa Jail Hostel

Saunders Farm
Over the past 40 years, Saunders Farm, located just southwest of Ottawa in Munster, has been delighting visitors as a working farm and more recently as a Halloween attraction. Since 1992, the owners operate Haunting Season, a series of daytime family-friendly activities occurring during the months of September and October. Come nightfall, FrightFest takes over for those souls courageous enough to attempt the Haunting Hayride, Barn of Terror, and other frightening sites. A pumpkin patch, several mazes, and a cemetery are just a few of the spots that scream “film me”.

Several films have shot at Saunders Farm, including the Blumhouse feature film Hurt. The horror film, which is also set on Halloween night, was shot in Ottawa and had its world premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival.

Saunders Farm
© Ottawa Tourism / Tourisme Ottawa

Bytown Museum
Situated on the banks of the historic Rideau Canal and the Ottawa River, the Bytown Museum is housed in the Commissariat Building, Ottawa’s oldest stone building. During the construction of the Rideau Canal in the 1820s, the structure was used as a storehouse as well as for offices and residential accommodations. Today, it houses the Bytown Museum, a beloved museum that explores the origins of Canada’s Capital, from the construction of the canal (when the city was called Bytown) to present day.

Staff and visitors have reported some supernatural behaviour in the building, like the museum’s dolls moving on their own, otherworldly voices of men arguing, the sounds of boots on stairs, and a spectre that follows groups. Some say it’s the ghost of Duncan McNab, the supply manager during the construction of the Rideau Canal; others say it’s Lieutenant-Colonel John By, the engineer who supervised the construction of the canal.

From travelogues to dramatic series, productions flock to the Bytown Museum. Earlier this year, the Netflix historical drama Frontier shot some scenes for its upcoming third season, marking the second time it has shot there.

Bytown Museum
© Ottawa Tourism / Tourisme Ottawa

Village Green Park
Village Green Park, nestled in the prestigious Rockcliffe Park neighbourhood, was created in 1967 to celebrate Canada’s Centennial. To commemorate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, landscape architect Humphrey Carver designed a public garden in the park on what was once a lawn bowling green. If you visit this picturesque garden, you might notice old columns; these are the original Corinthian columns that were once part of the portico of the former Carnegie Public Library (now home to the main branch of the Ottawa Public Library).

This park is begging to be turned into a horror movie set, especially something with Burtonesque tones; we can almost picture a supernatural being (à la Headless Horseman) wandering around the black locust trees and sugar maples!

To our knowledge, no one has yet shot in this unusual park, making it a desirable yet much underused filming location. Want to be one of the first filmmakers to yell ACTION in this setting? Take a look at our Flickr album for more photos or submit a filming request today.

Village Green Park

Honourable mention
Kemptville College

We’d be remiss if we didn’t include the former Kemptville College, located in the Municipality of North Grenville about 40 minutes south of Ottawa. The College, which most recently was the campus of the University of Guelph’s Ontario Agricultural College, now serves as an education and community hub, an arms-length organization of the Municipality. Back in the winter of 2015, the campus doubled for an upstate New York boarding school in Osgood Perkins’ The Blackcoat’s Daughter, a horror film starring Emma Roberts and Kiernan Shipka. While the campus buildings may not be haunted in real life (that we know of), the film did an excellent job of conveying an eerie presence.

Kemptville College

Did we miss your favourite scary spot? Let us know about it on social media – you can find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

So, you want to be an Animator?

Since 1939 when the National Film Board was originally headquartered here, Ottawa has maintained a well-earned reputation as one of the world’s leading animation centres. Today, entertainment giants like Disney, Netflix, Amazon Studios and Nickelodeon call on local animation studios to produce their world-class and much beloved content. Graduates from our local colleges go on to become some of the top animators in the world, and the annual Ottawa International Animation Festival is one of the largest events of its kind, contributing to the region’s success as an animation stronghold.

To learn more about pursuing a career in animation, we asked Emmanuelle Gignac, an Emmy-nominated Animation Director at Mercury Filmworks, for some advice. Emmanuelle has worked on successful animated series such as Tangled: The Series (Disney), If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (Amazon Studios), Jake and the Never Land Pirates (Disney), Star vs. the Forces of Evil (Disney) and more.

First off, can you tell us what an animator does?
An animator is first and foremost an actor for the character. Whether it’s by drawing or using computer technology, it’s the animator’s responsibility to sell the character’s emotions and actions in every scene. We study body motion and facial expressions. We listen carefully to every intonation in the dialogue, then we create the motion from our imagination and how we would like to see the character move or talk. Every week we get a certain amount of scenes and frames to do. We have to make sure the animation fits the style of the show and the personality of the characters. We must keep the action clear.

Did you always want to be an animator? How did you get started?
I always wanted to be in the film industry. I went to film school, then realized animation was a better fit for me. I’ve been drawing since I was very small. I applied to the Algonquin College animation program in 1996 and got in. I graduated in 1998, then got my first job right away at Cinar in Montreal. I worked there for a while, as well as a few other studios. In 2000 I moved back to Ottawa where I again worked for different studios. I started at Mercury Filmworks 15 years ago and fell in love with it.

What skills or training does an animator need to be successful?
Mostly being artistically talented. It’s a job that you never have to worry about what you wear to work, but you get criticized on your art daily. You need to love drawing and wanting to improve. Working hard is a must. Long shifts and flexibility are also important. Being open minded to critiques and changes. You also need to be organized to be able to get the work done in a short time. You usually get a list of scenes to do and it’s up to you to get it done in the required time.

Is there anything you wish you knew before becoming an animator?
When I started, everyone was telling me it wasn’t a career. But with hard work it’s actually an amazing career. I love my job. I wish I knew how to take critiques better. When I started I thought it was because I wasn’t good enough. Now I know I can learn from every critique even if I don’t agree.

What has been your proudest achievement as an animator?
I would say that getting the chance to direct must be my biggest achievement. It wasn’t something I really considered trying when I started. But I worked really hard in every position I held: animating, supervising, storyboards, designs… I was always willing to try new things. Now I’m working on amazing shows that I never thought I would get the opportunity to. And I love directing. I get to be hands-on in every department, but I also get to have a vision and a voice in the project.

What advice would you give aspiring animators in Ottawa?
Not to give up. It takes time to get where you want to be. Give yourself small goals and go one at a time. Also say what you want to be, even if you start at a studio in a position that is not what you wanted, if they know you want to move up, they’ll keep it in mind. It will never happen if you say nothing. Don’t get comfortable in your job, challenge yourself. Pick a scene every week that you know will be hard and try and break it down and get it done. It’s the best feeling to animate a scene you didn’t think you could do. Study the other animators’ work, you can learn so much from each other.

Ottawa Film Office Announces Initial Proposal To Build Ottawa’s First Soundstage Campus

OTTAWA FILM OFFICE ANNOUNCES INITIAL PROPOSAL TO BUILD OTTAWA’S FIRST  SOUNDSTAGE CAMPUS
The project would create over 500 new jobs and invest an additional $40 million in the local economy over the next few years

OTTAWA — The Ottawa Film Office is pleased to invite the public to come learn about its proposal to build Ottawa’s first soundstage campus and creative hub. On September 5, the Ottawa Film Office and its industry partner, TriBro Studios, will present the $40-million project at the National Capital Commission’s public consultation session, which will take place at the former Greenbelt Research Farm, the proposed site for the project.

WHAT: National Capital Commission (NCC) public consultation on the suggested amendment to its Greenbelt Master Plan
WHEN: September 5, 2018, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
WHERE: Greenbelt Research Farm, 1740 Woodroffe Avenue, Building 401
DETAILS: https://ottawa.film/soundstage

A 2017 report by Film Ontario suggests that Ontario studio owners turned away $260 million worth of productions last year due to a lack of available soundstages. “With the significant growth of dramatic series and the constant demand for new, original content, there has never been a better time to develop this key piece of infrastructure for our industry,” said Bruce Harvey, Ottawa’s Film Commissioner. “Based on similar projects across the country, we estimate that the proposed soundstage and creative hub will create at least 500 new jobs and generate an additional $40 million worth of productions in its first few years of operation. We look forward to sharing more information about this much-anticipated project at the NCC’s upcoming public consultation.”

“As the fourth largest metropolitan centre in Canada, the National Capital Region has a rich film and television production history. When we decided to expand, it was a no-brainer to build this soundstage campus and creative hub here in Ottawa,” said Peter Apostolopoulos, President of TriBro Studios. “These new purpose-built soundstages are part of our significant expansion plans, and we are very excited about this new chapter in TriBro’s history. Our personal commitment to this industry is an important one and will help with the continued growth and success of film and television production in Ontario.”

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About the Ottawa Film Office
The Ottawa Film Office is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to help stimulate Ottawa’s economy by attracting film and television production to the region, fostering the growth and development of the local film, television and animation industry, and promoting the region as a preferred industry destination. Its services include location support and film permitting, production attraction and development, and industry and government liaison and advocacy.

About TriBro Studios
TriBro Studios is a production facilities company which owns and operates over 200,000 square feet of film and television production studios in Toronto. TriBro Studios is an affiliate company of Triple Group of Companies, a real estate asset management company primarily focused on retail, industrial, commercial, entertainment, and hospitality properties. TriBro Studiosupcoming development of an additional 450,000 sq. ft. of purpose-built soundstages in Southern Ontario will add a significant footprint to Ontario’s soundstage infrastructure.

Media contact:
Stephanie Davy
Marketing and Communications Officer
Ottawa Film Office
613.695.1955 (office)
613.240.4338 (mobile)
[email protected]

Hurt Q&A with director Sonny Mallhi and producer Robert Menzies

Shot in Ottawa last summer, the horror feature film Hurt will have its world premiere July 26th, 2018, at the Fantasia International Film Festival. In anticipation of the screening, we chatted with writer-director Sonny Mallhi (The StrangersThe Roommate) and local producer Robert Menzies (House at the End of the StreetPenthouse NorthBlackcoat’s Daughter). Other local producers on this film were Ilona Smyth, Steve Boisvert, and Shane Boucher.

How did you get involved with Hurt?
SM: I wrote it with a co-writer and loved the script, so I decided to direct it to make sure it came out the way I wanted it, for better or for worse. We’ll see!

RM: Sonny Mallhi and I had been talking about him directing a movie in Ottawa for about six years. We first met on the Jennifer Lawrence movie House At The End of the Street and became good friends. After years of looking at various scripts and reading and reading many versions of Hurt, we finally pushed it into production last summer.

What is the film about?
SM: It’s about the way people look at horror and relate to it, pointing out that, as collective fans, our entrainment and our love for this genre is in a way, a result of us intrigued by watching humans suffer. 

‘Hurt’ on location in Ottawa South.
Left to right: Jesse Clark, 1st AC; Greg Drizhachenko, 2nd AC; Jorel O’Dell, DOP; and writer-director Sonny Mallhi. Photo courtesy of Albert Camicioli.

The movie take places in New Edinburgh, Illinois. Why did you choose to film it in Ottawa?
SM: Ottawa is a wonderful city for this type of movie. I especially love the rural settings, but most importantly, I love the people; they are like friends and family to me. And when I decided to make this tiny movie, I wanted to come to Ottawa because I knew that they would care.

RM: Ottawa is an amazing place for production and has a fantastic crew and cast base. Over the years I’ve doubled Ottawa for Afghanistan, New York, Toronto, anywhere small-town America, and even LA. It’s a great city with many different location possibilities.

What locations in the National Capital Region did you film at?
RM: This film takes place in rural America, so we mainly shot houses and farms in the south of Ottawa. We also filmed at the Mayfair Theatre, Saunders Farm and Cannamore Orchard, as well as the Ottawa New Edinburgh Club, NCC land, and the Ottawa River.

Lead actors Emily van Raay and Andrew Creer.

What was it like filming with the local cast and crew?
SM: The people are incredible, the crew and the people in Ottawa in general. This is my third movie here, first as a director, and everyone is just so wonderful. And not only are they nice people – they’re also really great at their jobs.

RM: Simply amazing. What else is there to say? The Ottawa crew is first-rate and hard-working. We can litterally do anything in this city. Cast options are also great in Ottawa – we have some very talented people here!

Can you talk a bit about any other projects you’re working on?
SM: I’m currently writing something else, but otherwise, just trying to make Hurt as good as it can be. I hope people like it!  

RM: Lots of stuff going on this summer. Next up for me is an amazing 1800s genre film. More details later this summer!

Visit Fantasia’s website for ticket information and read this Indiewire article for more information about the film, including an exclusive trailer and the film’s first poster.

So, you want to be a Location Manager?

Location. Location. Location. Ever watched a film or TV series and marvelled at how the locations were used? Or maybe the location fit so seamlessly into the story that you barely noticed it? Whether a location is integral to the script or relegated to the background, a lot of work goes into finding, securing, and managing filming locations. To learn more about the process of finding locations for films, TV series, commercials and other screen-based productions, we chatted with local Location Scout and Manager Cierra Campeau.

Location Scout and Manager Cierra Campeau. Photo by Alan Dean.

Can you tell us, in your own words, what a Location Manager does? How does this differ from a Location Scout?
The roles of a Location Manager and Scout have an undeniable influence on the creative direction of a production. With a background and experience in film and television, I’ve been fortunate enough to wear both hats in our nation’s capital and surrounding areas.

As soon as I get a phone call to work on a movie, I read through the script and break it down. There are so many types of properties often scripted: houses, parks, bridges, offices, bars and restaurants, hotels, churches, museums — you name it! As a scout, your car becomes your office. It involves hitting the road to find and photograph the best location options that suit the script requirement and vision. You need to comb the city in order to find that extra special look that audiences can appreciate, that add visual interest or grandeur, while remaining within budget and make sense logistically. Hint hint: the film commission is a good first stop in most scouting situations. After several years of being in the industry, I have a healthy repertoire of film-friendly locations although I still love seeking new options so that they don’t repeat themselves on screen.

A location manager essentially is an extension of the eyes of the Director, Art Director and Director of Photography. It’s important to have good communication and understanding of their visions in order to bring them to fruition. Good taste and good design sense also helps, although a filming location is more than meets the eye. It’s a place for the production to go in order to have the proper setting to tell the story. Then it’s a selection process based on logistics and budget. No matter how perfect a site appears to be, it could possibly have a large set of problems. Think “accommodating a whole crew and fleet of trucks and trailers”. It’s event planning in a nutshell, for what we jokingly call a circus or pop up shop…we set up and tear down up to a few locations in a day. Sometimes the place is too small, or there are too many sound issues, then we face the rare proprietor who is private and would prefer not to deal with the activity and interruptions of a shoot. On the other hand, to the more curious and adventurous types, the appeal can be glamourous and a lot of fun! The financial compensation is a nice incentive as well and even the wealthiest are happy to accommodate to enjoy the overall experience. Production pays a fee, we have an agreement and insurance, and we take care of your hotel accommodations if need be, and even make sure your dog is happy!

Once the locations have been selected, it’s an easy transition at this point into the managerial role. The connections have been made and the initial work has been done. The role of a Location Manager is very much like a sales job, only “intangible” sales. It’s not a product we sell – it’s a concept: Explaining how a crew of approximately 40 people would be taking over your home for X amount of days. It involves maintaining a location as the production company prepares to use it, and during a shoot, so that everything goes as smoothly as possible. Transparency is key.

Expect to schedule a few in-person location visits and a tech scout to iron out any questions and lay out the plan prior to filming. In order to do this, it’s important to be committed to the entirety of the project. One must negotiate the contract and details with proprietors, research the situation in the neighbourhood and notify residents and business owners, obtain permits (government requirements and restrictions), and balance the needs of the company with needs of the production while respecting the budget. A contract isn’t a good one unless both parties are happy. What happens if it falls through? Always have a backup plan. The show must go on rain or shine. Be prepared in order to avoid expensive production delays.

How did you get started as a Location Manager?
I earned a BA in Journalism Print and then thought it would be interesting to study the other side of media which lead to graduating from the TV Broadcasting program at Algonquin College. Opportunity literally came knocking. A scout was seeking to film in my home. It was low on the radar in Ottawa at the time…so being a little sceptical, I did some research only to end up as part of the crew. I ended up on board as a driver in the Unit department on House at the End of the Street with Jennifer Lawrence and Elizabeth Shue. That was my first movie. I then did some work at the Genie Awards in-office, to Assistant Location Manager on a CBC series, to then full-time Location Manager mostly on TV Movies that air on The Lifetime Network, feature films, commercials, and currently on a French TV series [La malédiction de Jonathan Plourde].

Are there any skills or training that would help a Location Manager be successful?
You need a mix of real-world savvy and knowledge of particular requirements of media production. It’s important for a Location Manager to naturally be a people person. You deal with the public and many different personalities, and basically act as the face of the production you represent. You can read up on it all you want, but you really don’t know until you get thrown into it. Showing up on set as a driver to begin with was the best way to learn because I observed a lot during the day as the first one on set and last to leave, and not afraid to get my hands dirty. You need to be organized, confident, proud of the crew and company you represent, and ultimately have a passion for the industry. One must be committed to the length of the shoot and thrive in this ‘hurry up and wait’ type of environment.

Is there anything you wish you knew before becoming a Location Manager?
This type of work is freelance and no contract is guaranteed. That is the nature of the beast and a gamble you would need to be willing to take. I am however confident about our city being attractive in many lights, which brings consistent work here. Ottawa has been known to be the “underdog” of filming in Canada next to Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, although, it can act as so many different cities and the filming fees are competitive. Producers are at a great advantage here.

What location are you most proud of securing?
I’m most proud of securing the Old Ottawa City Hall building located at 111 Sussex Dr., now The John G. Diefenbaker Building only because we required it on such short notice as there was a change in the production schedule based on actor availability. This is a government building which typically requires time, many loopholes, and paperwork to go through. “You can put a man on the moon…” I like to say, so we make it happen with our network, good communication, a sense of urgency, and thankfully the cooperation of our contacts.

What advice would you give someone interested in a career as a Location Scout or Manager?
Learn to discover the discomfort of change. Like anything, it has its difficult moments, but for people-oriented and organizational-minded souls who possess a definite creative flair, the job can be very rewarding.

This is not a 9-5. You can’t just clock out for the day. Be prepared to sleep with your cell phone on and by your side. You are expected to be at the beck and call of the production. Going MIA is not an option and…what are sick days?

This industry is feast or famine. If you like to travel, then you know there is a light at the end of the contract and you definitely have the luxury of some off-time in between contracts.

Every project is different. It involves different people, different scenes, different stories. It’s tough to describe all the situations that this department will face. That’s what keeps it exciting and interesting — it’s something new each time. Each show worked on acts as a guide post for the next…to help us navigate the never-before-charted demands of each unique production.

So, you want to be a Director?

For our latest industry blog, we caught up with in-demand local director Alexandre Carrière. A graduate of the Vancouver Film School, Alexandre is based in the National Capital Region where the film and television industry keeps him busy; he recently finished directing two TV movies and is prepping to direct two more before the end of the year. Alexandre has also written and directed several short films including Jacob’s Wrath, a film that screened at the Not Short on Talent showcase during the Festival de Cannes in 2016.

First off, can you tell us in your words what a director does? 
It’s like conducting the orchestra. The director decides what he or she is going to be putting emphasis on. It can be a single reaction, it can be a single object, and if need be it can also be a wide combination of things. Sometimes you want subtlety and thus focus on nothing but an actor’s reaction, sometimes you want the audience to feel exactly like one of the characters – so you focus on their environment, beautiful and magical (by painting the environment with sexy lights and using sexy lenses and mood-setting set design) or if the character is confused or stressed out, you want the audience to feel the same – by using a wider lens, filming handheld or a great number of other effective weapons). I think directing is about telling a story and deciding – imposing – how you want your audience to feel and what you want them to focus on.

Did you always want to be a director? How did you get started?
I always wanted to be a director. I started filming my own little movies when I was 7 years old and never stopped. Well… I stopped for one winter when I thought I was good enough to become a pro golfer, but 6 months in Florida was enough to realize it was a really bad idea, so I came back and went to film school and then I fell in love with making movies again.

What skills or training does a director need to be successful?
No skill, just a passion for movies and turning ideas into reality. Training however is important. And you can never stop. Film. Everything. All the time. With a camera. Without a camera. With your iphone. With your imagination. With your words. Tell stories. To your friends, your family and yourself. All the time.

Is there anything you wish you knew before becoming a director?
That you can never be too prepared but that even if you have spent weeks planning your shoot, sometimes adjusting to a new reality and improvising and listening to other people’s ideas (even if they come up with them in seconds whereas you spent hours and even days thinking about them) is more effective and what the scene actually needs. Be prepared. Be humble. Adjust. Just shoot the best film you possibly can. Oh and know all the rules… this way you can break them once in a while.

Which directors have influenced you and your work?
There’s so many but if I had to choose five I would go with: Tarantino, Jeunet, Kubrick, Nolan and Altman. Special mention to Spielberg who was my first inspiration when I was young.

What advice would you give aspiring directors in the National Capital Region?
Shoot, shoot, shoot. Don’t wait for the right camera, the right moment, the right people. The right
moment is now. Just be wise. Tell a story with what you have.

So, you want to be a Casting Director?

Have you ever read a book and pictured in your head the actors who could play the characters in the film or TV version? Or maybe you’ve read a book after it was adapted for the screen and you can’t imagine anyone else playing the characters than the actors who were cast. This is, in short, what a casting director does – they search for and select the actors who will portray specific roles in a script.

To find out more, we asked local casting directors Ilona Smyth of Smyth Casting and Mike Migliara of Mike Migliara Casting to provide their thoughts on being a casting director and to share their experiences.

Can you tell us, in your own words, what a casting director does?

Casting Director Ilona Smyth

Ilona: The biggest misconception about a casting director, especially in a regional market like Ottawa, is that a part of my job is representing actors. As a casting director, I have numerous agencies submit to me when I post casting breakdowns for roles. From those submissions, I choose which actors to bring in to audition. Once the director chooses an actor for the role, I negotiate on behalf of production and finalize the actor’s deal memo. Smyth Casting also casts background actors and needs to make sure that each background of a scene correctly represents what time frame and society the scene represents with male/female, ethnicity, and Union ratios, all while bringing the look the director is hoping to see to life.

Mike: We are, in a nutshell, in charge of human resources for the performing arts, on behalf of producers and directors in media. We search for and find every single breathing person who will perform the roles in a screenplay or project; in fact, sometimes we go further, and find every single living creature, even pets. But there are different levels of casting: Leads, Principal Casting, and Extras Casting. I am a casting director that casts Leads and Principal actors (stars and actors for speaking roles). I used to cast Extras as well (background/non-speaking roles) for Montreal Casting and was an Extras Casting Director there for about 10 years. But today, I’m co-owner and executive director of ExtraWork.ca and the staff there casts the Extras wonderfully. Being a great casting director is more than just auditions and finding actors. It’s a morally artistic obligation to go further and find the right spirit, the utmost PERFECT human being to fill this role, this imaginative world we all dream to be in. I feel that sometimes I am not just a casting director, but a spiritual welder – welding the appropriate spirit to the appropriate white pages. And so, in saying this – and many actors can debate this, with valid winning points – it takes great effort, and exhausting work, to find the PERFECT cast. A single person can only fit that one role. For these reasons, it can be so painfully difficult to even think for a second of someone else playing Marty McFly in Back to the Future other than Michael J. Fox, or someone other than Heath Ledger as the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. There is a philosophical side to it, one that I’m afraid gets overlooked far too often by others in the film industry. You know, take the zero-risk approach, get the safe bet. One that unfortunately sometimes promotes exclusivity.

Did you always want to be a casting director? How did you get started?

Ilona: I didn’t always want to be a casting director, since as a child I didn’t realize that this was a job option. I was always drawn to this industry; I love the art of film, watching biographies of actors, avidly reading about the industry and eventually choosing Film Studies at Carleton University for my post-secondary. I always explain my job to people as this: it’s like reading a fictional book and imagining who those characters are in your head, but now, being able to bring them to life.

Casting Director Mike Migliara (left)

Mike: Truth be told, I always wanted to be an actor and foremost a film director. My passion – and it still is today – is to use this artistic realm of filmmaking to find and expose every single truthful facet of our human life and experiences. Furthermore, to defend and stand up for all these truths in the face of injustice, tyranny, and sadness. How I got started is actually a long story, and something that many of my friends and family know about, something that remains close to my heart, and will always happily stay vividly fresh in my mind’s eye. It was a fantastic time of my life, and I am eternally grateful for how lucky and blessed I was. But I took the position because it was a second opportunity that I didn’t want to miss as I did with the first one. I decided to remain in my theatre and film studies program, stayed in school on my first offer. But the second time around, and it was actually fatefully for the same position but a different company, I took the job as a casting assistant and dropped out of school. When I dropped out, I left behind two lead roles that I was cast in at Concordia University, in two Pinter One Act plays. And I don’t regret that decision. But many days, I still say to myself: I want to be a director and act in films more. Being a casting director is fantastic, and suits me perfectly. And I now make a living doing it. But I always miss playing roles. I direct thousands of actors in auditions, but hope to start directing them on set more as well. Professionally as an actor, I have played mostly anchormen, doctors, and well, “the other guy in the film”. And I really miss that. Who knows, maybe I’ll be the star one day.

What skills or training does a casting director need to be successful in his or her field?

Ilona: There is no exact school to become a casting director but I was lucky enough to have some amazing mentors from Meg Liberman (CBS), Deb Aquila (Lionsgate) and Faith Hibbs-Clark (Arizona Casting). I’m a Casting Society of America accredited casting director, so this offers me many opportunities to learn from colleagues who have been in the industry for decades, as well as workshops on the changing technology of casting. I make sure I audit as many classes as I can, ones which take place around the world, so that as a casting director I’m able to communicate to an actor on the same level they train. I’m constantly learning and reading things from the production side or in class work with actors so that I’m prepared for the next project. I love what I do, so putting the work in on my “down time” doesn’t seem like work. It’s like I tell the actors I coach personally: it’s when preparation meets opportunity!

Mike: Very organized. Time efficient. Artistically acute. No room for error. At the same time, listening and remaining openly creative to allow ideas to flesh out and grow as the work is progressing. You need to pay attention to detail. And you need to have skills in directing a staff and actors in the projects. When I look for a casting assistant, I look for those skills, and someone who is educated in the same methodologies, philosophies, and practices as actors and also, directors. We are, after all, responsible for getting the centre of the spotlight, the one always being watched and listened to, the actor. The humans. The humanness. Sometimes, and I’m not the first casting director to feel this way by any means, I feel that we are sometimes undervalued. Same with actors. I feel sometimes our job is referred to as no big deal. Same with actors. “Anyone can do it” / “You don’t need training”. Watch the documentary “Casting by”. Wonderful.

Is there anything you wish you knew before becoming a casting director? 

Ilona: I could say there are a million things I wish I knew before starting anything within my life, unfortunately that’s not an option. Each movie, TV show, commercial, etc. I do, I learn something new with each one; no experience is exactly the same. This question may be better asked as ‘What have I learnt from casting?’. The only thing I would have had at 20 years old was the strength to trust my instinct. I have no issues with this now.

Is there an actor that you were really excited to cast or one that you would love to cast in a future project?

Ilona on set with actor Peter Stormare

Ilona: I have attached many big named actors (through pre-packaging projects with CAA, WME, and UTA) as cast, however the excitement in booking a name lead, for me, is just the thrill of the back and forth negotiation and communicating the sales value to the producers and sales company. Where I get really excited is being able to cast actors who have brought me joy watching them in the past, and giving back to them (in my own way) amazing roles that I know they are more than capable of and barely get the chance at anymore. An example of this is when I cast Oz Perkin’s “Blackcoat’s Daughter”. I was looking for a stepford mom type who was to play along with James Remar, distraught over their daughter. She wasn’t in the first 5 on the call sheet but the scene was so integral to the movie and would take a real talented actress to pull off. There is only one person who popped in my head and that was Lauren Holly (Dumb and Dumber). I loved her work growing up and her face would always bring a sense of comfort/nostalgia to me – this is what I like to call layered casting. Watching Lauren Holly get slaughtered in this movie makes the viewer feel on a deeper level. Some of us know her name when we see her, but most just recognize her face when we see her and it reminds us of a happier time, so watching her get slaughtered is almost like watching one of your favourite aunts, and can affect the viewer on a deeper level. They may only remember her name on their drive home from watching the movie. Her performance was fantastic in how she was able to evoke the character’s intense fear and pain and it ended up being a highlight of the film and was written up about in many film reviews.

Although if I could cast John Goodman…

Mike teaching actors

Mike: I’ve cast Michel Perron, Tim Rozon, Michael Mando, Rachelle Levefre, Laura Jordan, Romano Ozari, Alex Ivanovici, Roc Lafortune, Graham Cuthbertson, Peter Miller, Claudia Ferri, Harry Standjofski, Shawn Baichoo, Jesse Rath, Frank Fontaine, Trevor Hayes… I mean there are so many I got excited about I want to keep going on… I would love to get to cast Jay Baruchel. Came close once, but the part went to Michael Cera.

While you sometimes work outside Ottawa, Ottawa remains your home. Can you tell us what you love about this city that makes you want to stay here?

Ilona: This is my home. This is where I grew up and where I am raising my son. I have loved seeing this industry grow here over the last 12 years. I do, however study and work outside of Ottawa monthly but being here and creating opportunities for actors within this city has been a mission of mine since opening 10+ years ago. I turn to producers and ask them to let me find them local cast, which helps save travel, lodging, and other expenses. More importantly, doing this helps build opportunity and infrastructure in Ottawa. Doing this expanded Smyth Casting, which started out in my parent’s basement in my early 20’s, to our office now has led to being able to offer self-tape services and acting for film and TV classes for all ages. The bonus of the classes taking place in our office is that actors now audition in the same space they learn, which makes for a more comfortable audition experience. Now, I’m going into my 84th production, and all of my hard work has awarded me the luxury of being able to cast worldwide, in New Mexico, Serbia, UK, Dominican Republic, NYC, LA and Montreal, Toronto and Sudbury. Although if I could cast in Bora Bora…

Mike: I love Canada. And what better city to be in than the Nation’s Capital? And I have cast everywhere, from Jacksonville, Florida and New York, New York to Los Angeles, California and Vancouver, BC, all the way to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and St. Andrews, New Brunswick. Canadian actors rock. Actors all over rock, but I’m Canadian. So that’s it. In the same patriotic vanity of Gord Downie… I’m proudly Canadian. And so Ottawa, being the Nation’s Capital, should proudly represent Canadian Actors. The actors born and raised here are truly amongst my favorite actors: Peter Dillon, Sean Tucker, Michelle Leblanc, John Koensgen, Norman Berketa, Luigi Sarancino, Robert Bockstael, Stephanie Bauder, Helena Alexis Seymore, James Raynard, Anna Kopacek… The list goes on…

Location Spotlight: Major’s Hill Park

With sweeping views of the Parliament Buildings and the Ottawa River, Major’s Hill Park is an urban oasis just steps away from the ByWard Market and downtown Ottawa. A popular site for festivals and events, the park also offers endless possibilities for filmmakers due to its pristine lawns, pathways, and stately trees, not to mention the cultural and historical buildings that are part of its landscape. Whether your project is set in Ottawa, small town America or a big European city, Major’s Hill Park has everything you need to bring your script to life.

Ottawa’s first park, Major’s Hill Park was once home to Lieutenant-Colonel John By, the Superintending Engineer who oversaw the construction of the Rideau Canal starting in 1826. When By was recalled to England in 1832, Major Daniel Bolton replaced him and the site was given its current name. The house where By and Bolton once lived was destroyed in 1849 by a fire, but the ruins of the foundation are still visible today. Also part of the 12.5 acre park is Header House, once a component of a greenhouse complex and later an art gallery. More recently, the historical building houses Tavern on the Hill – a popular outdoor canteen, patio, and ice cream shop.

Major’s Hill Park, circa 1920 
Credit: Lancefield/Library and Archives Canada/PA-051810

Even before it was officially recognized as a park in 1875, Major’s Hill Park was hosting major celebrations. In 1867, revellers celebrated the first Canada Day, or Dominion Day as it was called then, at the park with fireworks and bonfires. Except for the bonfires, not much has changed; the park still hosts Canada Day festivities every year, along with numerous other events. For example, the Festival Franco-Ontario, a celebration of Francophone culture in Ontario, happens every year at the park, as does B in the Park – a concert featuring the music of the Sons of Scotland Pipe Band and Highland dancing. With breathtaking views of Parliament Hill, the Bytown Museum, the Ottawa River and locks, and the city of Gatineau, we can’t think of a better place to host an event or a film shoot!

Surrounded by the National Gallery of Canada, Chateau Laurier and Connaught Building, Major’s Hill Park offers limitless possibilities for filmmakers. Views of the Parliament Buildings and Ottawa River will establish that your project is set in Ottawa, while the neighbouring historical and cultural buildings help to transform the park and surrounding area into almost any major Canadian, American or European city. Taking advantage of the iconic Ottawa landmarks, Murdoch Mysteries shot at Major’s Hill Park for the 5th season episode titled Murdoch Night in Canada, an episode that was set in Ottawa. Also set in Ottawa was the CBC miniseries The Best Laid Plans, based on the novel of the same name by author Terry Fallis. Other productions that have shot at the park include the reality TV series The Amazing Race CanadaLes jumelles, and Ottawa Underground (the latter two produced locally by Balestra Productions and Léa Pascal Productions, respectively) as well as countless travel shows.

Still of Murdoch Mysteries at Major’s Hill Park 
Photo: Albert Camicioli | www.f45photo.com

As Major’s Hill Park is managed by the National Capital Commission, you will need to contact them directly for filming approvals. Looking for another park to film in? Our office can help you obtain approvals to film at any City of Ottawa park or facility; check out our photos on Flickr or visit our Permits page to get started.