TRAILBLAZERS

ReelWorld Trailblazer 2010 Winners


VINCENT GALVEZ

Vincent Galvez is a Toronto based writer, producer and director. His work has been showcased at the Chicago Filipino American Film Festival and Kultura.  In the fall of 2009 he wrote and produced his first feature film Babe with a Sword, now in post-production. He is currently in the Philippines producing a documentary examining the life and culture of Manila.

On why he left a Computer Science degree for film school.

Well actually I grew up performing onstage, dancing and singing and being a part of school plays. I do have a technical mindset which is why I was in Computer Science. But film is such a powerful medium that I needed to be a part of if. There were [also] things on film I haven’t seen and I wanted to put that up on the screen. I never saw—to  be honest—my people, Filipinos, represented in North American media.

His thoughts on young Canadian filmmakers.

We are all inspired by filmmakers of the generation before us like Norman Jewison, Vincenzo Natali, and David Cronenberg. And with the technology that’s available to us it’s all lot more accessible. In the next  five to six years you’ll see a real upswing in Canadian film recognition throughout the world.

His advice for budding artists.

The most important thing is to represent what they see and what they know as truthfully as possible. The best practice is to look at what occurs and just represent that. We have to be fully be honest with what’s out there, doing the homework, doing the research. If you see something and you’re not sure if it should be said, you know, say it anyways.


MPHO KOAHO

Mpho Koaho is a Toronto based actor whose previous acting credits include Get Rich or Die Trying, Saw III and Saw VI. Koaho received a Gemeni Award in 2009 for Best Performance in a Featured Supporting Role, Dramatic Series in SOUL.  He is slated to take on a role in a TV series executive produced by Stephen Spielberg in 2010.

Why he got into acting.

I think that it’s something I’ve always been into. I’ve always been into performance, even before I got my agent. I remember being 6 or 7 and doing Parks and Rec performances and recreating Michael Jackson videos frame by frame.

On a role he’d like to play.

I’ve always wanted to do a Mandela biopic. The story I would want to capture would be before he was put into prison. I’d like to cover his late thirties-early forties. [That’s a role] that I know I could play…That, culturally, is very significant to me being South African. My mother grew up in apartheid. I’d even consider writing it, or even directing it too. Wow! Now that’s a step up!

What he is proudest of.

I think I’m most proud of how long I’ve stuck with it. Everything is starting to look good now—just kind of the way I see things starting to turn. Winning the Gemini was so cool. That hit you. You think  ‘Maybe I’m okay at this.’

Advice for young actors.

First and foremost you’ve got to want this… If you want to do it, go for it, chase it. You must take this very seriously. This is not some kind of after school program. There’s a lot of people who put their butts on the line for you. And it should be about the work. All this fame and movie star stuff—it  doesn’t last.


LALITA KRISHNA

Lalita Krishna is a Toronto based filmmaker whose work has been broadcast nationally on all major networks, and featured at film festivals around the world. She specializes in documentaries about children and teens making a difference. She has been awarded the DreamCatcher Award for using her craft to better humanity. Lalita is also the Co-chair of DOC Toronto.

Why she focuses on the stories of children and teens:

I made a documentary Ryan’s Well that was in the second ReelWorld Film Festival. Ryan was a six year old boy who decided to bring water to people in Africa. After making the film, it became my mission to change the image of youth in the media.

What she loves about her work:

Being in docs, the number one thing that I love is meeting so many amazing people. When people see a film and say that they loved it and they really learned something, that’s just amazing. I am in touch with every single person who’s story I’ve told. We’re not just in touch, I really know their lives. That is a wonderful thing because making a film is hard. You put people through paces. It’s grueling.

Her advice for documentary makers:

Don’t focus on the issue. A film is a story. You have to engage people in the story. That’s where the energy should go: who are the characters, what is the story.  Only make a documentary if there is a real story.

On the challenges of making a documentary.

No matter how many films you make, the biggest challenge is financing. But people who have a passion and a story to tell should tell that story. You have the desire and you can get it done. One has to fight and just do it.


DARLENE NAPONSE

Darlene Naponse is an Ojibway woman from Atikameksheng – Whitefish Lake First Nation in Northern Ontario. She is a writer, director, producer and poet. Darlene owns and operates the award winning Pine Needle Blankets Productions. Her work has been screened at the Sundance and imagineNATIVE film festivals. She is currently working on the feature film Every Emotion Costs.

The biggest challenge she’s faced:

Definitely living in the North. You don’t have a lot of contacts. To figure something out technically you have to figure out yourself. Or you’ll have to head to Toronto to work something out. But it’s also very comforting working here in the North.

On why film festivals matter:

Film festivals allow unique voices to come out that you can’t really see in the threatre or within you rentals. [A film festival] helps filmmakers of all genres, cultures and disciplines to come out. It lets their films play and lets the audience decide what comes of them.

On her current project Every Emotion Costs:

The proudest moment of my life was being able to make film with community and within the community. We were working at a quick pace and no one ever stopped to say, ‘I can’t do this’. And we did really well. People who weren’t in our community noticed, because there wasn’t that negative energy. We worked together as one. We worked together and we were happy.

Can film create a sense of community?

Definitely. It helps you understand traditions and different cultural viewpoints.

Thoughts about the future of film in Canada:

I think we need to nurture [film] as a community and not only as a filmmaking community. Canadians are so supportive. Here in Sudbury people love films. People will watch the most obscure thing to the most recent and popular. You just have to find that audience that loves to hear stories.


KEVIN PENNANT

Kevin Pennant is the Creative Director of the Pennant Media Group, a public relations firm representing clients in the entertainment and lifestyle sectors. Kevin has worked with influential personalities such as Hilary Duff, Deborah Cox, and Jamie Foxx. He has also worked on a number of films including August Rush, Letters From Iwo Jima and Made in Jamaica.

Advice for artists telling stories about their community or culture:

I just encourage people to continue making stories whether it’s music or television or film. Some people are afraid to tell their stories or to share that ideas in their head, but we learn from each other by telling stories.

On what it takes to be successful:

Hard work and consistency and not giving up.  A lot of doors will close and a lot of opportunities will disappear, but it’s important to keep trying and keep telling your story. And just a really strong work ethic. I thank my parents for instilling a strong work ethic in me, I’ve needed it.

Is he hopeful about the future of entertainment industry?

Very. Especially in Canada. I just see the way it’s growing. I think it’s a good time to be in this industry…We are very talented here in Canada. People like us. They like us and they think we do great work.

On his work with ReelWorld:

I was born in that office. I remember going to the office really early on Sunday mornings and working with Tonya. We were working on the idea for two years before it stared. I’m blown away that it’s ten years later. A lot of careers have been created , good relationships have been formed, good films have got out there.


JEFFREY REMEDIOS

Jeffrey Remedios is the president and co-founder of the boutique record label Arts & Crafts. Artists signed to the label include Feist, Broken Social Scene, Timber Timbre and the Dears. Remedios was recently featured in a Rolling Stone article ‘How to Save Rock and Roll’ as one of ‘nine insiders who are reshaping the music biz for 2009 and beyond’.

On why he left Virgin Records to start the Arts & Crafts label with Kevin Drew:

I always thought I wanted to work for a big company. When I started [at Virgin] everything was amazing. I was working with lots of amazing people. But as time went on I thought the goals of big music companies were no longer aligned with the goals of artists.

On what young artists should know:

Certainly on the music side of things, they should know that there has never been a better time to make music. The same thing for film. It’s never been easier to make a film. It’s never been easier to get in seen…People should focus on creativity and, as long as we do that, the art figures itself out.

On how to keep in touch with a huge fan base.

I think the key is that we work with authentic musicians who are making authentic music…If we can get [our artist’s] message to the fan base in an uncluttered way their  message will come through and we’ll be able to maintain a connection with the fan base irrespective of its size.

On the growth of A&C.

The key is that you have to stay small and mighty. You have to be nimble to move quickly… I don’t have any aspirations for expansive growth. We’ll always be a boutique label.

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