Each year, Playback puts out a call for the industry to recommend its best and brightest up-and-coming talent for our 10 to Watch list. And the search keeps getting tougher, as the professionals who make up the screen entertainment industry keep getting better. The selection represented here were carefully chosen with input from a variety of industry sources and organizations. This year’s 10 to Watch were revealed in Playback‘s Fall issue; the stories featured here are longer versions of the Q&As that appear in the print publication.
MARK MONTEFIORE, PRODUCER
The buzz: Among other things, Toronto-based Montefiore of Montefiore Films is producing the feature Cas & Dylan with director Jason Priestley, after producing the Comedy Network original series Picnicface.
How did you get your start in film and TV?
It started out with lots of stuff – lots of short films, writing my own stuff, working with other great writers and directors. And from there the relationships I got from the shorts really expanded as people grew in the industry. They started getting bigger and more higher-profile jobs and I came along with them.
You produced the Picnicface sketch comedy series. How did that gig come about?
The first time I spoke with the members of Picnicface was probably 2010, around Christmas, and the show had just been greenlit for 13 episodes on the Comedy Network. Breakthrough [Entertainment] was looking for a producer and Comedy Network had a relationship with me after I had done sketch comedy before. Structurally and technically, the show was very similar to the way sketch mechanics works, shot on location and with very Internet-friendly scenarios, so I was in good position for that. I met with them, had a couple phone conversations with the key members of the troupe and it just went from there.
Why are you drawn to comedy?
That’s where I think my skill set is, where my passion is, finding what is at the heart of the story: Is it the comedy? What are the important comedy aspects? Is it the drama? What’s the heart of it? What’s important and integral to the story and, knowing the resources we have available, finding ways to be able to achieve that for the director and the writer, that’s my challenge and passion.
You’ve mostly directed or produced your own work. Is that a conscious strategy in terms of building your career?
I’ve always wanted to produce my own content from the very beginning. There was never a time that I decided I’m going to go it on my own and get my own stuff going. I started making short films, making my own content, I worked with writers on stuff that I developed or I’d written myself, purely to have something to produce.
And taking jobs done for higher-profile projects: that started out as a financial resource in the off times where I wasn’t making my own stuff. But luckily I’ve been able to choose which jobs to take, because those jobs for hire can be tough.
Can you recall a moment when you knew you’d arrived as a producer?
There’s been countless number of moments that have shaped where I am right now. What has worked, what hasn’t worked, highlights and really down moments. I keep two folders in my email box. One’s called “rejections” and the other ones called “bullshit.” The rejection email folder fills up frequently. There’s always something, whether it’s a film festival or an application for development, or an offer on something. That keeps going in.
Every so often I’ll open that up and I’ll take a look and go “ok,” for every ten rejections, there is one acceptance. And that’s what makes those acceptances sweet.