Being a young filmmaker in Canada is something to celebrate, not escape

Lauren Thomas

There’s a lingering preconception among many young filmmakers in Canada that to truly have a successful career in film, we must pack up and head down south for good. This belief is false and distracts many from seizing valuable opportunities for screen-based creators here in Canada.

While numerous Canadian film talent have embarked on successful careers in the United States, the exciting opportunities in Canada’s established and rapidly expanding film industry shouldn’t be ignored.

Accessible resources that support workers in Canada’s film industry—the reputable media guilds and unions, programming and arts funding offered by The Canada Media fund, Canada Council for the Arts, Telefilm, and many others—hold strong potential to help establish many creatives’ careers.

While it’s undeniable that Hollywood’s mega studios hold god-like status, familiarizing ourselves with local resources and opportunities before racing to become tiny fish in America’s massive ponds is a helpful reminder that there’s no one uniform way to enter the industry.

In fact, a growing number of Americans over the years are choosing to immigrate to Canada over LA with aims to work in our rapidly expanding film space.

According to the Canadian Media Production Association, the filmmaking industry employed more than 180,900 people in 2018-19, with the total volume of film and television production reaching a record $9.32 billion and generating a GDP of $12.8 billion for the Canadian economy.

Canada’s arts spaces and film funding philanthropies are highly regarded and even enviable to young American filmmakers whose art councils’ support cannot meet the massive demand.

While distinctly Canadian anglophone cinema has not traditionally dominated world theatres, Canada’s powerful position in the film industry today cannot be denied. Canadian talent is behind some of the world’s most beloved movies, and its landscapes host a surprising number of esteemed productions.

From the Toronto International Film Festival, to the internationally ranked animation school Sheridan College, to the country’s distinctly strong screen-based programming by BIPOC creators, Canada’s place in the world of cinema should energize and inspire its youngest creatives.

We’re in an age where Hollywood is no longer the default for cinema success, and filmmakers in Canada are lucky enough to be surrounded by accessible tools to help us build valuable skills and globalized networks. So why rush to run for the Hills?

In the end, wherever the wide-ranging career paths in film production may take young Canadians, we should enter the creative field with open minds and confidence that we have the option to enter a world of possibilities here in Canada.

Lauren is a third-year Film and Media student and The Journal’s Film Editor.

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