Message from the Chair: The People Who Move Us Forward

July 18, 2019
Posted by: Leslie Wootton

At our AGM on June 27, MPPIA elected the 2019/20 Board of Directors to enact the Association’s strategic plan in the coming year. When we gather each year to form the core group of industry volunteers who will move together to keep us on a competitive and sustainable track, it’s always striking to take note of the dedicated people who are willing to add to their full time jobs by taking on MPPIA Board roles.  MPPIA operates on a lean annual budget, but we are rich with volunteer industry professionals who make us a strong and effective industry association.

This wealth of dedication was especially poignant at this year’s AGM, as just days before the meeting we lost powerhouse volunteer and champion of the BC industry for decades, Crawford Hawkins , who passed away June 25. Crawford’s contribution to our industry was considerable and varied, but one of his most important legacies is the tradition of volunteerism and collaboration that he helped to establish — and that has become a distinguishing characteristic of the BC production community. Crawford was our elder statesman, but his ideas were forward thinking and his support was generous at all times. He will be missed, but I’m confident that we will continue to follow the example that he set.

Certainly, the spirit of collaboration has driven the Association’s accomplishments again this year and we would not be in a position to get so much done without the committee approach to our work.  The successful and well attended set of Creative Industries Week events in Victoria on May 1 were distinguished this year by the record number of ‘Creators’ + ‘Job Creators’ who came out to share the story of BC’s creative sector with our partners in government.  Such a high level of engagement from both industry and government demonstrates our mutual commitment to a thriving creative economy in British Columbia.  We are fortunate to be working so closely on our continued success.

Similarly, the MPPIA Motion Picture Community Initiative (MPCI) delivered the next milestone in the ‘Industry Stewardship Project’, this year staging a Forum on Excellence in Location Production May 31-June 1 in collaboration with the DGC BC, Creative BC and the Locations Managers Guild International. With international participants alongside our BC production community, as well as partners in municipal and provincial government, the two days included a locations fam tour, a full day of panel sessions and evening networking events — which all together led to an even greater collective appetite for industry best practices on location and a universal standard of excellence in production.

Events figure prominently in our deliverables across most years, but they are often the culmination of many committee volunteer hours that most across our industry never see: Education and training committees actively addressing labour market issues in physical production, as well as in animation & visual effects; initiatives to ensure market share for BC producers and directors; environmnental stewardship and action plans driven forward by volunteer industry engagement in Reel Green; the more recently established Diversity & Inclusion Committee that will help us build an industry that offers equal access to marginalized peoples and better reflect the communities we live in.

The film and television production industry worldwide continues to evolve with unprecedented volume and ever changing trends, and in BC we’ve become one of North America’s most prominent production hubs. We’re still driven by many of the values that we started with when Crawford and a handful of industry leaders established MPPIA in 2002, especially around collaboration on common goals. But we know we can do better — which is the driving force behind the Association’s committee work and the hundreds of volunteer hours that go into it.

It all comes back to the people who jump in to do the work and we’ve been fortunate to have a bounty of individuals who aren’t afraid to do so. Recently retired MPPIA board member and treasurer Jim Westwell is one of those individuals and I want to recognize and thank him for his years of service to the organization.

Looking ahead, I want to congratulate Marnie Orr on her recent appointment as our BC Film Commissioner and Director of Production Services at Creative BC. Marnie has proven herself as an industry leader and we look forward to her continued work on our behalf.

I’d also like to welcome Amber Orchard to the MPPIA fold as our new Association Coordinator.  Amber’s experience and energy are a great addition to the team and we look forward to working with her as well.

Finally — I want to thank the 2019/20 MPPIA Board for stepping up to do the work of the Association — for many of you again — this year.

Peter Leitch, Chair, Motion Picture Production Industry Assn. of BC