June 20, 2018
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Adventures in BANFF: Kirsten Carthew reflects on her #BANFF2018 experience

Member, Kirsten Carthew, shares her experience as a BANFF Diversity of Voices Initiative fellow, key insights from buyers, and her always reliable "how to get a meeting" hack.

Editor's note: The BANFF Diversity of Voices Initiative is a training and development program for emerging and mid-career creative producers of commercial Television and or Digital Media content that aims to support industry access and prepare participants to sell their projects in the international marketplace at the Banff World Media Festival (BANFF).

I hugely applaud and thank the BANFF World Media Festival and the Canada Media Fund (CMF), Canada’s Indigenous Screen Office and Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC), for launching the inaugural Diversity of Voices Initiative (DOV). This was my first time attending BANFF. The festival was well organized, set in a beautiful location and scheduled over an ideal amount of time. My goals were to connect with industry decision-makers and pitch two TV projects. As part of the DOV, I was paired with 2007 WIFT-T Crystal Award honoree, Tecca Crosby, Senior Vice-President, Creative Affairs, Entertainment One. Tecca is brilliant. Having one-on-one time with her was an extraordinary opportunity to receive actionable and candid feedback on my pitches and real-world industry advice. She pointed me in the direction of a few key influencers at BANFF, and I am hugely grateful to Tecca for carving out valuable time to lift me up. To that end, despite the full schedules of every executive, I managed to secure a few meetings, including spontaneous ones. I never get over how asking is often the key to cut through the mystery of “how to get a meeting”.

Many impressive examples of broad-selling Canadian TV shows (Kim’s Convenience, Travelers, Workin’ Moms, Anne, Mystery Road) were featured—to my mind they signify growing global market interest in Canada. Within Canada, I was given the impression that most broadcasters are looking for procedurals. By comparison, and in addition to procedurals, US and international broadcasters (Japan, Germany, Israel) are also looking for premium original dramas, based on both established IP and original ideas. Executives reiterated that increasingly slimmer sales margins mean they have to sell content to as many territories as possible; thereby resulting in decisions to prioritize content with broad global appeal and multiple season arcs.

As a filmmaker from the Northwest Territories, I was glad to see Valerie Creighton (CMF) get a massive shout out from the Festival and Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly. I really appreciate the work the CMF has done to support producers and storytellers from Canada’s North. In addition to the workshops and meetings, I met, and reconnected, with fantastic filmmakers from almost every province and territory, as well as from the UK and Japan.  My BANFF experience was an excellent and effective use of my time and I feel good about what took place even if it is too soon to know what how those connections will unfold. Next year, Netflix is sponsoring the Diversity of Voices Initiative. I strongly encourage all interested to apply.

Kirsten Carthew (@kirstencarthew) made her directorial debut with the coming-of-age dramatic feature, The Sun at Midnight (starring 2017 Telefilm Birks Diamond honouree, Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs and Duane Howard). Her short-form credits include: The YK Doc ProjectAbe & Alfred, and Fish Out of Water. Kirsten also holds multiple writing credits, which include the Brazilian feature film Uma Loucura De Mulher (2016), directed by Marcus Ligocki and starring Mariana Ximenes. Kirsten is an alumna of the Canadian Film Centre, the National Screen Institute, the London School of Economics, and the University of Southern California. IMDB

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