Photo by Stevie Nelson/LMGI

As the epicenter of film and television production in Canada’s most western province, Vancouver was a natural to host the September 17 gathering presented by the LMGI, Directors Guild of Canada BC, with additional support from the MPCI (Motion Picture Community Initiative) and the environmental sustainability organization “Reel Green.” The event explored cultural, environmental, and creative issues of concern to filmmakers and the community at large.

Downtown Victoria

One of the principal event organizers and host Ken Brooker/LMGI, who sits on the Board of both the DGC BC and the LMGI, says the idea for what would become THE PEERS+PARTNERS+PLANET event took shape during a lunch early in the spring of 2022 with DGC BC members Hans Dayal/LMGI and Jina Johnson/LMGI. “We were reminiscing about the 2018 “Leaders on Location” event and how we needed to build off of the successful partnership that was then launched between the LMGI and the DGC in BC. 

“Hans, Leslie Wootton MPPIA (Motion Picture Production Industry) and I started spit-balling ideas and quickly landed on three topics that seemed to be dominating discussions around town: How do we work more closely with our First Nations communities? What steps can we take NOW to increase our sustainable practices? And with the competitive race between studio facilities to build Volume Spaces, how do locations fit into the picture? 

“De-Carbonizing the Set” panel on screen Lisa Scope/LMGI & Colin McDougall/LMGI. L-R: Moderator Geoff Teoli, Gemma Martini, Mary Jo Biernes/LMGI, Ryan Schaetzle/LMGI & Eric Cerretani

“After months of planning with fellow event organizers, we were able to pull together First Nations leaders in our industry from both Canada and the USA, location professionals from across North America, and practitioners on the cutting edge of using Volume Spaces in their daily work.” 

LMGI President John Rakich and LMGI members LM Alison Taylor, LM Jason Nolan, LM Ryan Schaetzle, LM Mike Fantasia and KALM/scout Stevie Nelson attended a full day of lively panel discussions that culminated with a party at the Vancouver Art Gallery where the BC film community recognized some outstanding “Leaders on Location” for their work and service to the film community. 

Prior to the event, the location professionals traveled via helicopter to the picturesque city of Victoria on Vancouver Island for a full day of scouting hosted by local LM Paul Russell/LMGI. “Paul did a fantastic job of touring us around on the oceanside and throughout the city looking at the various neighborhoods,” says Nolan. “There is a lot of potential within the city and plenty of great locations that have never made it on screen yet.“

L-R: LMGI members Jason Nolan, Ryan Schaetzle, President John Rakich, Mike Fantasia, Ken Booker, Alison Taylor & Stevie Nelson

Fantasia was honored to moderate the “Engaging With Our First Nations Partners” panel. “Panelists Taylor, Nolan, Red Nation Celebration Institute President Joanelle Romero, and Indigenous Relations Advisor Vancouver BC Johnna Sparrow each brought their own unique perspectives to the conversation,” he says. “As usual, our Vancouver hosts put together a fantastic, well-attended event that enabled production professionals an opportunity to meet and discuss subjects important to them.”

Nolan adds, “I have worked with many First Nations closely while filming over the past 20 years. There were some great insights and takeaways throughout the day’s panels on how to do better as an industry while helping our communities and planet at the same time.”   

L-R: (bottom row) Andrea Moore/DGC BC, Ryan Schaetzle/LMGI, production designer Matt Middleton, Mike Fantasia/LMGI, LMGI President John Rakich, Matt Palmer/LMGI, Alison Taylor/LMGI; (top row) Jason Nolan/LMGI, Ken Booker/LMGI, Mary Jo Biernes/LMGI

Acting Vancouver Film Commissioner Geoff Teoli moderated the panel “De-Carbonizing the Set” with panelists LM Schaetzle, Martini Film Studios CEO Gemma Martini (and new Chair of MPPIA), Disney Environmental Sustainability Manager Eric Cerretani, Director of MBS Studios Mary Jo Biernes/LMGI, and via Zoom, Australian LMs Lisa Scope/LMGI and Colin McDougall/LMGI.

Atlanta LM Schaetzle was impressed that the discussion was not theoretical. “It’s not so much that the companies that film in Atlanta or that the crew members there aren’t willing to implement sustainable practices,” he says, “it’s just that in Vancouver and Toronto, they are already actually doing it in a big way. The thing that struck me the most is the effort put forth to provide infrastructure power on location in order to reduce and someday eliminate generators. On top of confirming that Vancouver is a beautiful city with a great film community, I came away with a renewed confidence that I can be a part of bringing these practices to my home base in Atlanta.”

L-R: LMGI members Mike Fantasia, Ken Booker & Paul Russell at the Legislature Building, Victoria

The last panel of the day was “Virtual Production and Locations,” moderated by director Zach Lipovsky. Joining Rakich on the panel were production designer Matt Middleton (Star Trek Discovery), Pixomondo’s virtual production supervisor Gladys Tong,  Animism Studio’s CEO Stephen Kelloway and Steve Read, the Head of Studio/Executive Producer for Versatile Media Company LTD.  

Fisherman’s Wharf, Victoria

“I found the virtual production panel particularly intriguing,” enthuses Stevie Nelson.” It was the first discussion I heard that really delved into the collaborative nature of practical locations and Volume Stages, which is what the 360 degrees of LED panels stitched together to create that giant green screen is called. The VFX panelists were refreshingly candid on the limitations of the technology, and it was fascinating to hear production designer Tom Middleton discuss his creative process when deciding whether to film on location or on a Volume Stage. 

“It was a great event—informative and also a wonderful opportunity to visit and catch up with our Canadian brothers and sisters,” concludes Nelson. “Scouting Vancouver and Victoria was an added bonus! They are extremely cinematic cities and Ken Brooker and Paul Russell were gracious tour guides. DGC BC Director of Operations Andrea Moore deserves kudos for a lot of the tour organizational heavy lifting as well.

“I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we can’t wait for the next DGC BC/LMGI event!”

Downtown Vancouver

Chinatown, Victoria