Film Training Manitoba – Board of Directors
Film Training Manitoba’s Board of Directors consists of ten members who set policy, monitor the financial health and performance of the organization, and provide guidance to the Executive Director.
Chair: Andrew McLaren, Research Consultant, Intergroup Consultants Inc.
Andrew is a Research Consultant with InterGroup Consultants Ltd, a firm specializing in socio-economic studies and environmental impact assessments. Andrew has worked on a variety of projects including utility rate design and capital planning, socio-economic impact assessments and environmental licensing for major capital projects, program evaluations and feasibility studies for the Province of Manitoba.
In 2003 and 2004 Andrew worked with FTM and MMPIA on the Economic Impact Assessment/Training Needs Assessment for the film industry in Manitoba.
Andrew is a graduate of the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Manitoba with a Masters degree specializing in natural resource economics.
Vice-Chair: Brendon Sawatzky, Inferno Pictures
Dividing his time between a number of different roles in the film, television and digital media industries, Brendon Sawatzky has primarily focused on producing drama. His debut as a producer resulted in the feature film Inertia, which won the Best Canadian First Feature award at the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival.
After the success of Inertia, Brendon founded Inferno Pictures and started development on a slate of new feature films and television series. This lead to the co-production Who Loves the Sun, a feature film that went on to premiere at the BFI’s 50th London Film Festival. Shortly after that, Brendon forayed into dramatic television production with House Party, a six-episode series that premiered on The Comedy Network in the fall of 2008.
Vonnie Von Helmolt, Independent Film and Television Producer
With an international reputation for producing award-winning projects, Vonnie Von Helmolt has produced and co-produced a variety of features, television movies, series, documentaries and specials over the last 20 years.
Best known is the Emmy-winner Dracula - Pages from a Virgin's Diary, directed by noted auteur Guy Maddin. Dracula was a TIFF Canadian Top Ten Feature Film, and on the Village Voice New York Critics list of the top10 films of 2003, in addition to winning numerous international film festival awards, Geminis, Blizzards and an International Emmy. IMDb recently listed Dracula as 8th best horror film ever made out of 70.
Her other awards include Canadian Geminis, Manitoba Blizzards, and Best Picture awards from major international film festivals including Canada, Europe and Asia. Nominations include US Cable Ace awards, Banff Television Rockies, and many international television awards.
The Tale of the Magic Flute, a dazzling dance special for the CBC was nominated for a Rockie award at the Banff Television Festival in 2006. She co-produced, with Merit Motion Pictures, the documentary miniseries Ballet Girls in 2006, returning, in 2009, to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet school to produce the documentary feature Ballet High, bothfor BRAVO!
Von Helmolt was the founding chair of both Film Training Manitoba and the Manitoba District Council of the Director's Guild of Canada.
Scott McLaren – Business Agent, Directors Guild of Canada, Manitoba District
Scott is the Business Agent for the Directors Guild of Manitoba Canada (DGC) , Manitoba District Council, and represents this founding organization on FTM’s BOD.
Prior to moving to the DGC in August of 2007, Scott Worked for the Canadian Auto Workers Union as their Health & Safety Coordinator as well as overseeing all of their training in Manitoba Region.
Scott has an extensive labour relations background and has developed several WCB/CAW joint workplace training programs through The Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba’s Community Initiatives and Research Program.
Steve Morrisson, General Manager, William F. White International
Steve has been involved in the film industry for over 20 years. He started his career as a Production Assistant for the commercial production house Champagne Motion Pictures. Based in Toronto, Steve worked for them as an office PA, and pre-production coordinator, for 2 years.
He started working on set in the Lighting Department. Renowned Canadian DP, Rene Ohashi, hired Steve as part of a feature lighting crew. He worked his way through the Lighting Department over the years, travelling to Europe, the Caribbean, and across Canada as a Gaffer, a Rigging Gaffer, and a Best Boy. Steve is an IATSE 669 member, as a Director of Photography. He is also a Gaffer with IATSE 873 in Toronto, and an IATSE 856 Winnipeg member.
Steve Morrisson is currently the General Manager of William F. Whites in Winnipeg. Founded in 1963, William F. White International (WFW) is Canada's oldest and largest provider of motion picture, television and theatrical production equipment. With offices across the country, the company has the most extensive inventory of equipment in the industry, including the very latest in technological advances.
Graham Thomson, Dean of the School of Business & Applied Arts, Red River College
Graham Thomson is Dean of the School of Business and Applied Arts at Red River College. Prior to this he has had a long career in post-secondary education including as an RRC instructor, Business Administration Program Coordinator, Chair of Management and Marketing, and Chair of Creative Arts. Before joining the faculty at RRC, Graham owned and operated two small businesses.
Graham currently sits on the boards of Central Neighborhoods Development Corporation, Cre-Comm Radio Inc. (Kick FM), and FortuneCat Video Games Incubator (past-Chair). He holds a Bachelor of Commerce (hons) from the University of Manitoba and an MBA from the Edinburgh Business School.
Rob Rowan, Business Agent, IATSE Local 856
Rob is the business agent for the International Alliance of Stage and Theatre Employees (IATSE) Local 856. After almost 20 years working on the lighting crew, Rob accepted the position of business agent in November 2011.
He has worked on numerous Manitoba feature films and television series including Stone Angel (2007), Capote (2005), and The Lookout (2007). He has been an intrinsic member of the local film industry for many years.
IATSE is a labour union made up of more than 100,000 specialty artists, technicians, and freelance craft workers across North America. IATSE Local 856 represents freelance specialty Artists, Technicians and Crafts workers in the Manitoba Motion Picture industry. Many of its members have been working in the Manitoba film industry for fifteen or more years.
Talia Pura, Actor, representing ACTRA
Talia is currently the President of the ACTRA Manitoba Council. She also sits on the board of Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers.
Talia teaches drama and theatre production at the University of Winnipeg. She is also the coordinator of a Youth Mentorship Program in the Arts, through ACI (Arts and Cultural Industries Association of Manitoba). As a playwright, she has had several publications and a CBC radio commission. Her book, STAGES: Creative Ideas For Teaching Drama, is now in it’s sixth printing. As well, many of her plays have been produced by high schools and in fringe festivals in Canada and the United States.
As an actor she has appeared in feature films and independent shorts, as well as on stage for such companies as the Manitoba Theatre Center, Shakespeare in the Ruins and in numerous fringe festivals. As a dancer, she has performed with Rainbow Stage and in many independent musicals and concerts.
She recently produced her second short video, which documents her latest passion, aerial dance, which she performs on ‘silks’, hung 25 feet above the floor.
Talia has also lead many workshops and adjudicated many theatre and dance festivals.
Chris Vajcner, Director, Communications & Revenue Development, NSI
As director of communications and revenue development, Chris oversees all communications and marketing initiatives delivered by the National Screen Institute. She also heads revenue development for both operations and programming, working with government and private sources, and foundations.
Chris has been in communications for 19 years. She started at NSI in 2003 first as publicist and then moved on to business development.
Jeff Peeler, President & Executive Producer, Frantic Films - Branded Content and Commercials
As a producer and executive producer, Jeff Peeler has been helping big brands establish awareness through internationally distributed short content and advertising solutions for clients such as Wal-Mart, Kimberly Clark/Huggies, Verizon, MTV, Monsanto, and Parks Canada. Jeff served as Executive Producer on Wheels of Change, a 45-minute documentary produced for Cadbury Canada and on season one of the NOS Energy Drink Challenge for Coca-Cola. His other long-form projects include work as Executive Producer on the multi-award winning Forever Changed for The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and the Gemini Award-winning Peter Jordan's Grey Cup Adventure for CBC Sports.
Previously, as a vice-president and producer at Credo Entertainment, Jeff was active in developing lifestyle and documentary television series, including the popular international travel series World's Greatest Spas. His independent feature film credits include Jeff Erbach’s The Nature of Nicholas and Brad Fraser's Leaving Metropolis.