Summit set for New Brunswick

Upswing in region's industry on the agenda as media-makers gather in Fredericton. Summit joins with local festival

A recent boost in business in Atlantic Canada is on the agenda for next week’s New Brunswick Film Industry Summit, now in its third year and set for next Thursday in Fredericton.

‘One of the key components to this is that it allows producers, crews and animators and industry support service providers to create new partners, to learn to spot industry trends and to meet national broadcasters,’ says Ryan Donaghy, spokesperson for Business New Brunswick, the provincial office that oversees Film New Brunswick.

He says that the province has seen nearly $30 million in production this year. ‘Last year we were just above $30 [million], which was a significant increase from ’06/07. It’s been a vibrant industry for the province, increasingly growing.’

A panel on the state of the region is one of the big events on the agenda, hosted by the New Brunswick Film Advisory Committee and including regional representatives from the province’s producers association, national broadcasters, unions and service providers.

The single-day conference will allow local film, television and interactive multimedia professionals to network with representatives from regional and national companies. The previous two years’ delegate attendance was between 100 and 150.

Delegates expected include keynote speaker Paul Gratton, chairman of the board of the Canadian Television Fund, as well as representatives from CBC Maritimes, CTV Eastern Canada, Super Channel and Telefilm Canada.

Academy Award-winning New Brunswick hairstylist Paul LeBlanc (Amadeus) will be interviewed by journalist Bob Mersereau, and there will be a screening and a Q&A with Michael Sparaga, writer of the comedy Sidekick and director of Maple Flavour Films.

In previous years, the summit and the Silver Wave Film Festival, now in its eighth year run by the New Brunswick Filmmaker’s Co-operative, took place a month apart. The festival also includes an industry component along with its mandate to highlight work from local filmmakers. This year the summit will lead into the film festival.

‘We’ve worked with New Brunswick Film since the film commission has been in existence,’ says Tony Merzetti, the executive director of the New Brunswick Film Co-op. ‘We talked about it and we figured it would work out really well to have one event, a combined opportunity. Basically, we’re talking to the same people.’

The festival takes place over four days. The opening night screening will be Michael Melski’s comedy Growing Op, a film with Nova Scotia-based filmmakers and producers, but shot in New Brunswick.

‘It’s great that they’ve blended the summit with the Silver Wave festival,’ says Tim Storey, business agent for the Directors Guild of Canada in Atlantic Canada, who will be part of the summit’s Atlantic region panel. ‘They can ride off the success of each other. The events are stronger and we hope to see increased participation.’