When I graduated high school, I listed three programs on my college application; Journalism, Small Business Management, and Computer Programming. With dreams of making console video games (yes, I’m a geek), I ended up taking Computer Programming and while the skills I learned there were and are still valuable, what I really got from that program was concrete knowledge that spending eight-hours a day poring over code, week-in week-out, would have been soul crushing work for me. Respect to those who do it but it was not what I was made for.
Always being a leader-type and idea man, I went back and took Small Business Management. I suppose not far removed from where I started, my main interest going in was starting a gaming-centric internet cafe. Well it turned out nobody really wanted to bank a $200,000 loan for start-up costs to somebody with no prior experience on what certainly wasn’t a sure thing. Just because you build/plan it, does not mean they will come. Sorry, Kevin Costner. That was fine though. I never fault myself for thinking big. Even if I do need to have my rose-coloured glasses knocked off from time to time. Regardless, what I really got out of that program was having my attention turned to specific craft of writing for the screen.
Fast forward a few years of intensely studying storytelling and the craft of scriptwriting and we get to the point where I put those business skills into more direct use, starting a production company. Yes, I’m a geek who makes movies. When I started that company, I had two lines of thinking. One, Hollywood wasn’t knocking yet and I wanted to do more than just write scripts. Two, I had this belief that what I knew about Ottawa’s production scene couldn’t be all there was. Though it was a totally unfounded belief at the time, I knew without a doubt that the talent-level in Ottawa was much greater than had been highlighted anywhere I knew of.
What I’ve learned since is that that was true, this city has an enormous – and growing – amount of talent at all levels of production. The problem is that what I’ve seen happening can almost be considered a segregation of information sources. It continues to get harder and harder to get meaningful information as the amount of information worth knowing continues to grow. Too often will you only hear about something from a friend of a friend who worked on it – after it’s happened. You have to know and keep track of so many more people to keep on top of what’s happening that half the battle is tracking down the information. Finding auditions and casting calls. Trying to find and partner or join with competent filmmakers as crew. Just knowing what’s being produced around town. It was all way harder than it should be.
I asked myself: As the industry in this city continues to grow, why is there no one place you could go for all that information?
Then I figured that if that magical one place didn’t exist – that singular source of knowledge for everything happening in movies and theatre in Ottawa – then I would have to build it. I would build a place that would take the work out of finding the information and leave you to spend your much-in-demand time learning what’s going on. I would create a single repository to eliminate the need for visiting umpteen different websites and Facebook groups to see what Company X, Y, and Z are up to.
Of course the question then became, what form was this amorphous idea to take? After talking to a number of other industry folk about their wants and needs, what developed was a group of ancillary services revolving around a central hub. Auditions Ottawa; Ottawa’s only truly open and inclusive audition board. Crew Jobs Ottawa; serving that same function for crew calls and misc jobs. See Ottawa Movies; gathering and curating content produced in Ottawa. Others. And Production Ottawa itself, acting as the central news outlet for the city and centerpiece of the network.
If it’s happening, we’re talking about it.
That was the dream.
And now I sit here, listening alternately to My Chemical Romance and Tiffany Alvord while I finish up and get ready to hit the “Publish” button. Which circles back to the beginning of our story and closes a loop wherein, after a fashion, I go into journalism.
So here it is, Ottawa. All for you.