What is your role with Mosaic Entertainment and GIFT?
Can you share some of your beginnings with Mosaic Entertainment?
Yeah, so Mosaic Entertainment started over thirteen years ago. It was just on a whim. We were all working in production and a friend of ours said: “Hey APTN is looking for a sketch comedy show, why don’t we pitch one to them?”. We put together a very quick pitch, got some talent, flew the Western Director out to Edmonton, and did a live show with all of these guys, and got greenlit for a pilot. It just kind of never stopped after that.
What is GIFT?
GIFT is Girls in Film and Television, basically it is an educational program specifically for teen and tween girls to get them inspired and excited about the film industry and to support them if it is something they want to try out for as a career.
What inspired you to found Mosaic Entertainment and GIFT?
Well with Mosaic it is kind of more, I fell into it. We just started producing and kept going. Girls in Film and Television was about a year ago that I started it. It was just kind of a reaction to the kind of content that I’m seeing in media. I have an eight-year-old daughter and I’m watching more and more movies and TV and I’m realizing how few female characters there are, and how few full characters there are, as opposed to stereotypes. It comes down to how many women are behind-the-screen. How many women are writing, directing producing? So that was what we really wanted to do with GIFT, was to start feeding more young women into the industry and supporting them so they can get a leg up and hopefully start seeing gender parity behind the camera and eventually in front of the camera.
Do you have any success stories from GIFT or Mosaic Entertainment?
Yeah! I think with Mosaic Entertainment we’ve produced over a hundred episodes of scripted TV, three feature films, five-hundred short bits, and three mobile games, and countless hours of online content. We’re doing pretty good, and I enjoy it. We’ve just won Best Feature Film for our feature film #Roxy with the Alberta Film and Television Awards. With GIFT the biggest success is the girls, who are getting inspired and feeling empowered. What I found the biggest effect was seeing their confidence go through the roof with our programs and master being able to write, shoot, and edit their content. We already have girls about to graduate high school looking at the film industry as a career now, which is a huge win.
What has led you to become a producer as opposed to taking the director’s chair?
Well again, I kind of fell into producing. I worked for another production company very early into my career. I saw what an incredibly stressful job producing was, and I actually swore I would never produce. Now I’m producing, so that’s kind of funny. I wouldn’t discount the idea of directing, I feel like I’m ready for the next creative challenge. Producing for the last thirteen years is really satisfying and I really love it.
Can you define the difference between an executive producer and a producer?
An executive producer is more of a credit given for a lot of different roles. Somebody who brings money, or a big connection. In television, they often give E.P. credits to the showrunners and creators and writers. The producer is the hands-on person. The way my business partner describes it as the “best picture award at the Academy Awards goes to the producer”, they oversee the entire thing, they are there beginning to end, they are very hands-on.
What are some of the challenges producing in Edmonton?
Haha. What isn’t a challenge producing in Edmonton? Actually, I know what isn’t a challenge. The crew are amazing. They are so supportive and give 110% every time they’re on set. Everything else is a challenge for sure. It’s a great city to be based in but we’re far from the center. Keeping in touch with decision-makers. Most of the decision-makers are in Toronto, we’re not too far from LA, which is a three-hour flight. We also lose a lot of crew to Vancouver because they are such a busy center right now. It’s always sad to see someone go but we do understand there is a lot more work there.
What is your greatest challenge?
Our company has always been very forward-thinking which gets us in trouble a lot. We’ll be doing things that other production companies aren’t. Moving forward faster. Unthread paths have a lot of potholes. That’s been our biggest challenge, curveballs we aren’t expecting.
Can you tell me about a favorite moment on Caution May Contain Nuts or Tiny Plastic Men?
I have a few favorite moments. We’ve had a few guest stars on both Tiny Plastic Men and Caution May Contain Nuts. Probably my most favorite is Colin Mochrie,, that guy is unbelievably funny. It was an absolute pleasure watching him on set. My other favorite moment is very personal, but my kids, as they’ve gotten older have played little bit roles on screen. My oldest son played a version of Harry Potter on a Dungeons and Dragons sketch, which was quite funny. My daughter has dressed up as a kid-elf. Oh yeah, my littlest one was a baby pirate.
What advice would you give to women entering the film industry today?
I think you need to surround yourself with other strong women. Really find that support system. We have some great associations and mentors that want to see other women come into the industry. I don’t think there is a better time to come into the industry as a woman than now. There is a real conscious effort to support women. Have a thick skin. It is a tough industry. You need to be able to brush off criticism and attitude because it is still definitely a male-dominated industry, and it is noticeable.
What are you working on now?
We have a couple of shows in development. One with CBC, and one with APTN. We are focused now on teen and tween girl content, with Mosaic as well. Our feature, #Roxy, was a teen romantic comedy. We have tween series that is kind of political. It is about a girl who has parents that are anarchist and she wants to run for class president.
What is an interesting fact about you as a person?
I would love to watch more TV. I don’t have time to watch it. I’ve done a ton of other jobs before I got into this industry. I worked as a camp counselor, I worked as an events planner at Jasper Parks Lodge, I was a manager at blood donor clinics. This is definitely my favorite industry to be in.