After years of languishing in the shadow of Vancouver’s sci-fi playground or New York’s Broadway, Toronto is proving to be the place to be to film, schmooze and find the next big thing. Influencers in the industry are taking the city and what it has to offer seriously, and, naturally, that leads to an improvement in the calibre of the industry events happening here. Industry leaders and movie-goers have been flocking en masse to the Toronto International Film Festival and the critically curated, Caribbean Tales Film Festival for years. As of late, though, arts and culture have been making major moves in the 6ix on the whole. When this year’s 40th anniversary installment of TIFF kicking off on September 10th, and CTFF just a day prior on September 9th, is combined with the flurry of activity that’s already transpired here this year, creatives and industry professionals can continue, without a doubt, to declare that they’ve hit pay-dirt in the T-dot-O. And the numbers are there to back it up. According to Toronto’s film sector development officer, Michele Alosinac, 2015 is set to be Toronto’s biggest year of entertainment yet, with film productions alone bringing almost $1.29 billion to the city’s economy.
Throughout the year, Toronto has been abuzz with big budget productions and visitors to the city looking to explore and engage in film business. Top producers like Jeff Melvoin (Northern Exposure, Alias and Army Wives) spoke at the Toronto Screenwriting Conference about what it means and what it takes to be a show runner. Also speaking at the conference were other prominent players, such as Mara Brock Akil (Girlfriends, The Game, Being Mary Jane) and the father-and-son team of Eugene and Dan Levy (Schitt’s Creek). The air was electric, with attendees walking out of the sessions all smiles, notebooks in hand. It was certainly a treat to participate in their presentations, and all of the panelists, especially Jeff Melvoin, were candid and generous with their responses to audience questions. Even better, the emphasis in each of their talkbacks encouraged the creation of quality content, rather than focusing on themselves and their accomplishments. Held at the beautiful Daniels Spectrum Cultural Arts Centre in the newly redeveloped Regent Park, the program for the two-day conference was organized to offer professional screenwriters, executives, and TV/film producers “a condensed, advanced-level education in screen-based industry skills development.” The curriculum is publicized as being unparalleled by any other screenwriting event on the continent, while the event itself is considered informative, social, and first-rate by audience members and speakers alike. The lecture-style setup created an informal yet intense atmosphere; similar to sitting in on a great university lecture, the educational tone of the event definitely left a lasting impression.
Aundreya is an expansive force on the artistic scene; respectively, a successful model, writer, actor and producer. She focuses on bringing authentic and relatable content to life, working with and bridging the gaps amid a broadening network of creative talent. Perpetually prolific, find her online at www.aundreya.comand http://www.aundreyathompson.blogspot.ca/