Sometimes the seed for what our futures can hold is planted very early on in life. That certainly was the case for director Jordan Canning who, thanks to a mother who worked in production design, was exposed to life on a TV set very early on. While those days spent on sets with her mom certainly sparked her interest in filmmaking, it wasn’t until her 20s when Canning decided to pursue it as a full-time career. She soon moved to Toronto and was a 2010 graduate of the Director’s Lab at the Canadian Film Centre, as well as an alumnus of Women in the Director’s Chair.
Once in Toronto and out of the CFC, Canning admits to having the very relatable struggle of getting that first opportunity to direct TV, her first chance to prove she could do it. That eventually happened with an episode of Saving Hope, and Canning is now directing many of the industry’s most popular shows such as Schitt’s Creek, Baroness von Sketch, Little Dog and Burden of Truth.
The St. John’s, Newfoundland native recently spoke with us as part of our Women Behind Canadian TV series to share her experiences. She tells us how that first job really did make a difference and afford her many more opportunities. Canning also shares why she thinks it’s getting better for women behind the scenes, but how there’s still a need to keep pushing for change, and keep pushing for more women and diversity hires at all positions behind the scenes.
The TV Junkies: Is directing something you always knew you wanted to do? Can you share a little about your background?
Jordan Canning: No, I don’t think I always knew I wanted to go into directing. It all occurred to me after I graduated university. I had grown up around film — my mom worked as a production designer so I had been on sets a lot with her and seen the process. I think I was always attracted to it, and watched a lot of movies as a kid, but my mom made it an accessible career. She made working in film not seem so outside the realm of possibilities that I couldn’t consider it a real job.
I went to university for creative writing, had been writing short fiction and was into photography at the time. When I graduated I thought I’d go into journalism or go back to school for media studies, and then I got a job working at a production company. When I moved back to St. John, I got a job as a writer at a production company and eventually, started directing on a reenactment docudrama they had about ghost stories and fairies in the forest. It was very fun.