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Dear Fellow ACTRA Maritimes’ Members,

 Is it just me? I feel as if I am emerging from my hibernation den and slowly venturing out again. That was indeed a quiet, sleepy Winter here in the Maritimes, but things are starting to pick up.

 Auditions are already in progress for Season 2 of Pure, and Season 8 of Mr. D will soon follow. I have been contacted by the Casting Directors in town who’ve asked that our members please update their ACTRAonline profiles. Not already on ACTRAonline? Need help signing up? Your ACTRA Maritimes Councillors are coming to your rescue. On Saturday May 12th from 1:30-2:30 PM (just before the Annual General Meeting) in the Windsor Foundation Theatre of the Art Gallery of NS, we will have volunteers on hand to help you register. It’s free, it’s easy, and it just might get you work. What are you waiting for?

If you want to put some ‘Spring in your step’, here are two upcoming ACTRA events we would love for you to help us celebrate:

 On Saturday, May 12th (as mention above) we are holding our Annual General Meeting from 2:30-4:30PM in the Windsor Foundation Theatre of the Art Gallery of NS. Now I know what you are thinking – a two hour meeting is not exactly my idea of a fun time – but, If you have never attended an AGM before you might be pleasantly surprised. It is a great chance catch up with fellow members, find out what is happening within the local industry, and raise your own questions or concerns. Our special guests this year are ACTRA President David Sparrow and Regional Representative Daintry Dalton. They will be giving us updates on what is happening nationally, including the recently penned Industry-Wide Code of Conduct, and efforts being made at the federal level to support work opportunities for Canadian performers all across the country. The conversation is always spirited and I am always impressed with the passion of our members. Speaking of ‘spirited’, all members who attend the AGM will be given a free beverage ticket for the reception immediately following the meeting. Yes, you may call this a shameless ploy…I like to think of it as incentivizing.

 It is ACTRA’s 75th birthday! So we’re going to have a little party. From 5:00-7:00PM in the upstairs Galley of the Farmer’s Market (1209 Marginal Road) we will raise a toast to 75 years of Canadian story-telling and the continued success of our proud union members – you! There will be some nibbles, a cash bar, and birthday cake. Fun, right? It’s free to all members with guest tickets available for puchase. Please RSVP

 The second event you won’t want to miss is the 4th annual Screen Nova Scotia Awards Gala, taking place Wednesday, May 16th at 8:00 PM in the Schooner Room at Casino Nova Scotia. The event will be co-hosted by some of Nova Scotia’s brightest talents, including ACTRA Maritimes’ members Jonathan Torrens and Bette MacDonald along with ACTRA Newfoundland member Cathy Jones.

 “Home-grown Maritime productions have again provided our actors with the opportunity to shine,” said David Christoffel, Chair of the ACTRA Maritimes Awards Committee. “Our local projects have showcased wonderful performances by some very talented established and emerging artists.”

 For ticket information and a complete list of nominees visit the Screen NS website:

 I hope to see you all very soon and look forward to celebrating with you – my friends and creative colleagues.

 In solidarity,
Francine Deschepper
Branch President and National Councillor
ACTRA Maritimes


Dear fellow ACTRA Maritimes’ Members,

We are just three weeks into 2018 and it has already been a busy and eventful year. So let me tell you what your ACTRA Maritimes’ council and staff have been up to so far.

Our Training Committee kicked things off with our Training and Talent conference. Joanne Miller and Dave Rossetti organized a day packed with workshops and discussion panels aimed at increasing work opportunities for our members; including local Casting Directors, a fantastic Voice & Dialect Coach (who just happens to be an ACTRA Maritimes Past-President), and special guest acting coach Lewis Baumander of Toronto’s Casting Central. Staff and Council were on hand for New Member Orientation and to help with signing up for ACTRAonline. Councillor Koumbie along with her film-making partner Taylor Olson and ACTRA Maritimes’ IPA Business Representative Eva, gave a very informative tutorial on creating your own films using our MIP agreement. In addition, we introduced our ‘made-in-the-Maritimes’, newly revised AIP agreement. Your Council listened to feedback from local indie producers, and we believe these changes will make it easier than ever for them to hire professional ACTRA performers for their next project.

I have to give special thanks to the mother of one of our youth members. When a power outage threatened to cancel our afternoon sessions, she made a phone call and literally saved the day!

The two workshops that did have to be postponed (Being an ACTRA Parent with Angela Poole and Self-Tape Auditions with Chris Cuthbertson) will be re-offered, so keep an eye out for the new dates.

On the Political Action front, Branch Representative Richard Hadley and myself continue to advocate on behalf of our local industry; meeting with provincial MLAs, and collaborating with Screen Nova Scotia to increase production to pre-2015 levels. We are very happy that Development Funding has been announced for local screenwriters and we remain hopeful that Equity Financing will also be reinstated. Please keep telling your own provincial politicians how important this is to our success.

ACTRA Maritimes’ Women’s Committee hosted a meeting with local industry partners (SNS, IATSE, DGC, CMPA, WIFT, and AFCOOP) to share updates on steps that are being made both nationally and regionally to end harassment of all kinds, and foster safety and respect in our workplace. Three working groups have been tasked with creating an industry-wide code of conduct, safe reporting systems, and education and training initiatives. This work will also include the goal of achieving gender parity and diversity both on and off camera. Women’s Chair Shelley Thompson and myself with be attending the ACTRA National Women’s Committee meeting in Toronto in early February where we expect to finalize these enhanced policies and procedures. The time for change is now. I am proud of the overwhelming and unanimous support of all Canadian artistic organizations to make this change a reality.

And here are a few more things I am proud of: The 2018 Canadian Screen Awards have been announced and several Nova Scotia-shot productions have made the list. This Hour Has 22 Minutes garnered five nominations including Best Sketch Comedy Program or Series; Mr. D has three nominations and Pure also has three including Best Dramatic Series. I would especially like to congratulate our nominated ACTRA Maritimes’ members: Jonathan Torrens, Best Host in a Program or Series (Your Special Canada); Jennie Raymond, Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Sex&Violence); Jeremie Saunders, Best Documentary Program (host of Sickboy); and producer/director Cory Bowles, whose feature Black Cop is nominated for the prestigious John Dunning Discovery Award.

Did you know that 2018 marks ACTRA’s 75th Birthday? Well you will very soon. Celebrations are in the works starting with two special anniversary editions of ACTRA Magazine. The first one (due out at the end of this month) features an interview with ACTRA Maritimes’ members Cory Bowles and Koumbie, a congratulatory ‘applause’ to our Past President and Past National Councillor Jeremy Webb, and a heartfelt ‘farewell’ tribute to our beloved John Dunsworth.

When I look back at the tremendous work we’ve produced here; the talented professionals who are determined to continue to call the East Coast home, and the commitment of those professionals to always do better; I’m confident this community will continue to thrive. Let’s make this year one to truly celebrate.

In solidarity,

Francine Deschepper
Branch President and National Councillor
ACTRA Maritimes


Dear fellow ACTRA Maritimes’ Members,

I am recently returned from Vancouver where I attended my first ACTRA National Executive meeting as your National Councillor for ACTRA Maritimes. I was warmly welcomed by staff and other councillors, and was once again inspired by their dedication. We discussed many items over the two days – all with the goal of improving working opportunities and working conditions for our members country-wide.

The one subject that dominated much of our time was the recognition of ongoing sexual discrimination, misconduct, and harassment within our industry, and what we plan to do to put an end to it.

On November 23rd, 2017, ACTRA National hosted an industry round table on sexual harassment within our industry, welcoming decision makers from the following organizations:

  • Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA)
  • Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)
  • Writers Guild of Canada (WGC)
  • Directors Guild of Canada (DGC)
  • Academy of Canadian Cinema &Television.
  • Talent Agents & Managers Association of Canada (TAMAC)
  • Canadian Media Guild (CMG)
  • International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE)
  • NABET Unifor and other members of Canadian Unions for Equality on Screen (CUES)

This is the joint statement sent out to members as a result of that meeting:

As representatives of the Canadian creative industry, we gathered together today to collaborate on an industry-wide response to sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying, and violence.

We agree to zero tolerance for such behaviour. We recognize that increasing gender equality and diversity across our industry is an important part of the solution.

The first steps we are committed to include:

 1) Enacting an industry-wide code of conduct, clearly defining expectations of appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, enforcement and consequences.

 2) Creating more effective reporting mechanisms and supports, which ensure all individuals can report allegations without fear of judgement or retribution.

3) Ensuring more effective enforcement of existing industry policies.

 4) Launching a multi-level education and training program, including an industry-wide awareness campaign designed to establish and strengthen a culture of safe workplaces.

This moment presents us all with an opportunity to focus a spotlight on the prevention of sexual harassment. We are committed to working in partnership to build solutions and will continue to provide updates as they become available.


Your ACTRA Maritimes’ Council and Women’s Committee are in full support of these first steps, and will be active in implementing and enforcing all policy and procedures. We are devoted to creating a safe space for victims to speak out without fear of retribution or being stigmatized. Let’s work together to shine a bright light on this systemic problem that has lurked in the shadows of our industry for far too long.

As always, we will keep you updated as plans progress. In the meantime, if you would like more information on sexual harassment services available in Nova Scotia, here are some very informative web-sites:

In Solidarity,

Francine Deschepper
Branch President and National Councillor
ACTRA Maritimes

President’s Message

Dear Fellow ACTRA Maritimes’ Members,

I am writing to you today while sitting on the deck of my family cottage overlooking Nova Scotia’s lovely Grand Lake. We are technically in the first few days of Autumn, but the sun is shining, the temperature is 26 degrees, and the cicadas are chirping. Sure feels like those ‘Lazy Days of Summer’.

I am trying to kick back and relax, and yet an underlying current of urgency keeps interrupting my zen. A niggling sense of purpose telling me to get back to work. I’ve always felt this way in the Fall. Perhaps it’s a natural instinct – harvest and prepare. Or maybe just my memories of the excitement of returning to school. In any case, I’m ready to once again put my nose to the proverbial grindstone.

Your ACTRA Maritimes’ council & staff strive to make the job of creating more work for you our number one priority. So let me give you a few updates:

Firstly, I am happy to announce that ACTRA has voted in favour of ratifying the 2017-2020 National Commercial Agreement’s (NCA) Local and Regional Addendum (L&R), which covers production and use of local and regional commercials. In the words of our National Executive Director (and Chief Negotiator), Stephen Waddell, “Unions around the world continue to face employer demands for cutbacks at the bargaining table as well as increasing competition from the non-union sector. ACTRA members are the best in the business, and this Agreement will help make it easier to hire the most talented performers in Canada and ensure they are compensated fairly for their work”.

Secondly, I want to extend a big congratulations to Jeremy Webb on his new job as Artistic Director of Neptune Theatre. Jeremy has been a fixture at ACTRA for no less than 18 years! He has served on numerous committees, was President of ACTRA Maritimes for 8 years, and your National Councillor for the last 6 years. Due to the demands of his new position, Jeremy has decided to step down from council a few months before the end of his official term. His insight, humour, and ‘get it done’ spirit will be greatly missed around our council table. We wish him much success and happiness!

It was Jeremy who first inspired me to join council, and so it seems fitting that I should run with the baton for him now. As President, I will be taking over as Interim National Councillor until we hold the next election. (Keep an eye on your email boxes, as it will be announced very soon). As part of my new duties, I will be attending the National Executive meeting in November, and I have joined the National Magazine Editorial Committee, as well as the Constitution Committee.

And finally, your council is currently organizing a couple of events to boost work opportunities and champion our industry. Specifically, the Political Action Committee is scheduling meetings with MPs and MLAs, and the Training & Special Events Committees are putting together a very exciting and informative series of workshops for early in the new year. So stay tuned for further developments and then let’s all get back to doing the work we love!

In solidarity,

Francine Deschepper
Branch President
ACTRA Maritimes


Dear Fellow ACTRA Maritimes’ Members:

I am very happy to tell you that ACTRA has successfully reached a tentative settlement with the Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA) and the Institute of Communication Agencies (ICA) to renew the National Commercial Agreement (NCA).
This was a challenging negotiation and we should all be grateful to our fellow members who fought hard on our behalf.Details of the Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) and frequently asked questions are available at If you have any questions regarding the new terms, please contact ACTRA Maritimes or, the ACTRA National help desk between 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Eastern, Monday – Friday or, email

The Local and Regional Addendum negotiations will take place in a few weeks. Once a MoS has been reached, a separate L&R ratification vote will be sent to all eligible voters.

The tentative NCA agreement has the unanimous endorsement of the ACTRA NCA bargaining team, the ACTRA National Executive, as well as myself. It includes:
*An increase of 275% in the made-for digital media Use rate – from $450 to $1250 for one year’s Use.
*Creation of an ACTRAonline Opportunity Pilot Project to combat the growth of the non-union sector.
*In all other areas of the agreement, an increase of 6% over three years – commencing with an immediate 2% increase upon ratification.
*Increased opportunities for voice-over performers on commercials using Stock Footage.
*Replacing the term New Media with Digital Media throughout the agreement.
*The dreaded Group Background table is gone. Performers will no longer need to guess at the rate they will be paid for this work. The new rate has been set at the most used maximum level of $288 / 8 hour day and will rise with the annual increase.

I am personally very intrigued by the ACTRAonline Opportunity Pilot Project. I have high hopes that it will result in more commercials using ACTRA talent.

This proposed agreement must now be ratified by ACTRA members working under the NCA. So I am asking you to familiarize yourselves with the deal and then please take the time to vote. It only takes a minute.

Your electronic ballot was sent to your email account on Wednesday July 19th. It includes links to the details of the agreement, your personal password, and secure online ballot. Voting is open from July 19th to Friday August 4th.

Thank you for your attention.
In Solidarity,

Francine Deschepper
Branch President
ACTRA Maritimes







Dear Fellow ACTRA Maritimes’ Members,

I can’t believe I’m writing to talk about the already-in-the-past, NS Provincial Election. That was a very speedy campaign. Your ACTRA council and staff tried its best to bring about a result which would see a legislated commitment to strengthening the film industry, and creating jobs for you, our members.

For three consecutive weeks, I sent out an ACTRA e-blast that gave our members links to the election web-site, the party platforms with regard to the Screen Industry, three pertinent questions to ask candidates at your door, ACTRA and SNS window signs to display, and a ‘Commit to Vote’ card. It is my hope that these messages encouraged all of our members to engage, and to vote, in the election.

After a nail-biter of an election night, the same government who badly damaged our livelihoods two years ago was once again elected. According to Global News, the difference between their winning a minority vs. a majority came down to as little as 137 votes. On top of that, the overall voter turnout was a mere 53%. Disappointing statistics, to be sure.

That said, there are, in fact, some positive things to have come out of this election. We now have two ACTRA Maritimes’ members sitting as MLAs in the House of Assembly: Lenore Zann was re-elected in Truro/Bible Hill/Millbrook-Salmon River, and Sue Leblanc was newly elected in Dartmouth North. I couldn’t think of two better people to champion for us in the legislature.

Also in the good-news department; our Treasurer, Andrea Dymond, is happy to report that we are back up to pre-tax-credit-axing numbers in terms of work. In large part due to the 2016 productions of ‘The Mist’ and ‘Pure’ we have ended the fiscal year with a comfortable surplus. Therefore, ACTRA Maritimes is, for the time being, out of ‘austerity’ mode. Because of this, we were able to once again sponsor several film festivals and events this year, including the Women in Film and Television Atlantic “Women Making Waves” conference, the Maywork’s “Reel Justice” screening, the Emerging Lens Film Festival, the NS Merritt Awards, and the SNS Gala and ACTRA Maritimes’ Awards.

We’ve also held two free workshops for members so far this year: A ‘Political Action Training’ workshop, and a ‘Taxes for Actors’ workshop, both of which were well attended.

Lastly, and most notably, we were able to bring Commercial Steward Tami Thomson back home to the East Coast.

On June 4th, we held our ACTRA Maritimes’ AGM with National guests, ACTRA National Executive Director, Stephen Waddell, ACTRA Regional Executive Director, Daintry Dalton, President and CEO of ACTRA Fraternal Benefit Society, Bob Underwood, and newly elected ACTRA National President, David Sparrow.

We were also treated to a special appearance by Past ACTRA National President, Ferne Downey– fresh from the awarding of her honorary doctorate degree from Dalhousie University.
We were all very happy that Ferne happened to be in town, as we wanted an opportunity to thank her for her many years of service as ACTRA President, and to wish her all the best in her future endeavours.

I was once again impressed with the level of knowledge and passion our attending members displayed regarding the local screen industry. Much spirited discussion ensued, and your council is committed to taking action:

Moving forward, we will continue to work with Screen NS to advocate for our industry with the re-elected Liberal Government. To convince the Liberals of the importance of Equity & Development funding, so that our local writers and filmmakers can see their own projects get made, and by extension, see our ACTRA Maritimes’ members cast in more significant roles.

Your Political Action Committee will be organizing visits to MLA offices in the near future, and encouraging producers to invite politicians to visit film sets.

We will further strive toward Age & Gender Parity and Diversity in our region.

And we will try to stem the tide of commercial work that is shooting non-union. Currently in the works, SAG/AFTRA has partnered with ACTRA to develop a joint plan to address non-union production in North America. Under the #WorkingTogether initiative, the two unions will pool resources to promote the value of union work to employers and engagers.

Thank you to everyone who voted in the Provincial Election and to everyone who came out for our AGM. Your interest and involvement is something of which we can be proud.

In Solidarity,

Francine Deschepper
Branch President
ACTRA Maritimes

Dear ACTRA Maritimes’ Members,

A provincial election has been called for May 30. On this day we will be asked to make a decision that will critically affect the future of our screen industry here in Nova Scotia. It has been two years since the Film Tax Credit was eliminated and the office of Film and Creative Industries Nova Scotia was closed. At that time we were neither consulted, nor in any position to ‘have a say’ regarding those changes. But we do now.

ACTRA Maritimes wants you to be well prepared for this election. We want you to have all the information you need to make a wise decision, and we want you to have the tools to successfully advocate for the screen industry during the next three weeks.

Keep an eye on your inbox and our Facebook page for pertinent information, window posters, questions to ask your candidates, and links to the parties’ platforms and contact information.

Together with our sister unions (IATSE, WGC and DGC) and Screen NS, let’s make ourselves seen and heard during this campaign period. Then on May 30th, let’s finally ‘have our say’ at the ballot box

In solidarity,

Francine Deschepper
ACTRA Maritimes’ President


Dear ACTRA Maritimes’ Members,

I want to thank those of you who were able to attend our ACTRA Maritimes’ political skills training workshop on April 23rd. It was a great day and I was very impressed with the level of political engagement and industry knowledge in the room. You made me very proud.

For those of you who were unable to be there, let me give you a brief summary of the day: In the morning, our branch council had the pleasure of welcoming ACTRA National President, Ferne Downey;  ACTRA National’s Director of Public Policy and Communications, Elliott Anderson; ACTRA Ottawa Branch Representative and Federal Outreach Coordinator, Chris Cornish; and ACTRA Toronto’s ‘Day of Acton’ organizer, Michal Hay.

{If you are not already familiar with this very successful ACTRA Toronto event, I urge you to check it out here:}

Our ACTRA National guests walked us through some key points to effective lobbying; focusing on the most powerful tool the film industry has: our people.  People who work here, live here, pay taxes here, and most importantly, vote here; people who are creative and passionate by nature and know how to tell a good story. Ferne, Elliott, Chris, and Michal also gave us some great ideas and practical tools which we can use to make that power work to our advantage.

In the afternoon our invited guests were John Lohr (Progressive Conservative MLA from Kings North), Joachim Stroink (Liberal MLA from Halifax Chebucto), and Lenore Zann (NDP MLA from Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River). Our members had a chance to hear firsthand what type of lobbying most resonates with them, and afterward there was a spirited Q&A.

We want to be prepared and proactive in anticipation of the next provincial election, and we want to give you as much information as we can to make that happen. So, your branch executive will be meeting this week to make a concrete plan for our action going forward, and we will communicate that to you very soon. Please keep an eye on your ‘inbox’ , and the FB page, for ACTRA updates, and spread the word to anyone you think might also want to be ‘in the loop’.

This election, we will be armed and ready.

In solidarity,

Francine Deschepper
ACTRA Maritimes’ President


Hello fellow ACTRA Maritimes’ Members,

I am writing today on the dreaded Ides of March. It seems a fitting time to prepare ourselves for two inevitable, impending troubles: specifically, income tax, and a provincial election.

Who doesn’t need a bit of guidance and wisdom when facing such challenges?

So, I am happy to announce two FREE upcoming ACTRA Maritimes’ workshops to help you dodge those slings and arrows.

On Sunday April 9th at 4:30 PM at Theatre Nova Scotia/Cultural Federations (1113 Marginal Road), accountant to the (local) stars, Ralph Urquhart, will give his ‘Taxes for Actors’ workshop. This very informative session will focus on the unique aspects of a performer’s income tax needs and will be followed by a Q&A. The last time Ralph offered this workshop was in 2012 and it was very popular, so we ask that you RSVP to if you plan to attend.

The second FREE workshop is in anticipation of the next provincial election, which is likely to be called as early as this Spring. I am sure I do not need to remind anyone in the film industry how important this election will be to our future.

Thanks to the efforts of our National Councillor, Jeremy Webb, and our Branch Representative, Richard Hadley, we are very excited to announce the first ACTRA Maritimes ‘Political Action Training’ seminar. Special guests ACTRA National President Ferne Downey, and Director of Public Policy Elliott Anderson, will teach us the tools of successful political lobbying; including how to effectively speak to your MLA, what questions to ask the campaigners at your door, and what the top election issues are for ACTRA members. You don’t want to miss this! So pencil it into your calendar: Sunday April 23rd, 2:00-5:00PM at The Museum of Natural History (1747 Summer Street).

See you all there.

In solidarity,

Francine Deschepper
ACTRA Maritimes’ President


Dear Fellow ACTRA Maritimes’ Members,

On Saturday January 21st, a North American-wide march is taking place to raise awareness of women’s rights and equality. This ‘Women’s March on Washington’ is taking place in every major city in America and Canada including here in Halifax and is expected to have a very large turn out.

The mission statement from this organization reads as follows:

“In the spirit of democracy and honouring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.

We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice and equity for all.”

As your newly elected President of ACTRA Maritimes, and as the chair of the ACTRA Maritimes’ Women’s Committee, we would like to encourage your participation in this peaceful demonstration. We believe that the recognition, equality, and respect of women is paramount in every industry, but is certainly very much an area for improvement within ours. Recent stats regarding gender parity in film and TV make that clear.

So please consider showing support for our American and Canadian brothers and sisters by attending on Saturday. Bring your families and friends. Bring your creative, positive signs which celebrate human rights, diversity, and equality for all. And for goodness sake, bring your hats and mittens.

Women’s March on Washington: Halifax
Saturday, January 21st from 1:00PM – 3:00PM
Grand Parade Square.

In Solidarity,

Francine Deschepper
ACTRA Maritimes’ Branch President


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