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President’s Message – December 21, 2018

Dear Fellow ACTRA Maritimes’ Members,

I am sitting in the comfort of my Mother’s home, the smell of fresh baked biscuits wafting from the oven, watching the snow fall softly outside. True comfort and joy. And yet I can’t help complaining about how early it turns dark and how cold it is this time of year. My husband – ever the pragmatist – offers his sage advice: “turn on a light”; “put on a sweater”. I give him a withering look but really he is right…my griping won’t change the calendar so I might as well do what I can to endure it.

However, much to my delight, tomorrow marks the Winter Solstice and with it comes the promise of rebirth, regrowth, and abundance.

Could our Nova Scotia film industry also be emerging from its dark days? We did have a busy shooting season this past year. Many of our members were working on sets again. The Provincial government even increased the NS Film Incentive Fund by $6 million to “meet greater demand and local spending from the sector”. That sounds like a ray of hope, right?

Plus, it’s the Holiday Season – a time for gratefulness, goodwill, and cheer. So allow me to take a moment to focus a bright light on the positive, and remind myself why I am thankful to be in this business.

Number one: the brilliant artistry and grit of the people I get to call my peers. The Maritimes shines with talented actors, designers, and technicians. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

I am thankful for local producers like Mike Volpe who gave us eight stellar seasons of Mr D.  Think how many of our members literally grew up on this show. If you’ve not yet read the recent economic study, it is very impressive:

Thank you to Floyd Kane, Bill Niven, Jay Dahl, Terry Greenlaw, Karen Wentzel, Doug Pettigrew, Nelson MacDonald, Nancy Urich, Ginny Duzak, David MacLeod, Marc Almon, Melani Wood, and all the producers determined to keep NS Film ‘open for business’.

I feel such goodwill toward our many local writers and directors whose creativity and vision give us great characters to play and bring our stories to life. Thank you Trailer Park Boys, Thom Fitzgerald, Andrea Dorfman, Cory Bowles, Mike Melski, Ashley MacKenzie, Jason Eisener, Jason Shipley, Rob Cotterill, Stephanie Clattenberg, Nicole Steeves, Megan Wennberg, Mark Little, Andrew Bush, Michael Amo, Koumbie, Shelley Thompson, Heather Young, Seth Smith, and Taylor Olson, to name just a few.

And ACTRA had much to cheer about this year. We celebrated our 75th Anniversary, we implemented an industry-wide Code of Conduct, and we successfully negotiated both our National Commercial Agreement and our Independent Production Agreement.

However, I am not quite ready to declare “it’s a wonderful life”. There are still some outstanding items on our wish list…like increasing the film incentive fund to a level that is competitive with other Canadian markets, bringing back equity funding for low-budget productions, and building that oh-so-crucial sound stage. But we’ve made it this far through pretty dark times, and we are still here.

So my New Year’s resolution is to try more often to look on the bright side. Yes, there are still three (four?) more long cold months of NS Winter to endure but hey, put on a sweater, and remember that it is always darkest before the dawn.

It has been my pleasure to serve the last two years as your President, and I look forward to continuing to represent ACTRA Maritimes as your National Councillor in 2019.

In solidarity and with optimism,

Francine Deschepper

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