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: Brendon Sawatzky – Producer, Inferno Pictures
Dividing his time between a number of different roles in the film, television and digital media industries, Brendon 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.
Vice-Chair: 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.
Steven Foster – Manitoba Representative, Directors Guild of Canada, Manitoba District Council
Steven is the Manitoba Representative for the Directors Guild of Manitoba Canada (DGC) , Manitoba District Council, and represents this founding organization on FTM’s BOD.
Originally from Winnipeg, he recently returned from Toronto where he received his Public Relations Certificate from Ryerson University. He most recently was the Director, Artist and Label Services for Entertainment Business Affairs Inc. in Toronto. He is a freelancer, running his own company for the last 10 years. He provided multiple clients with project management, grant writing, marketing and communication services.
Graham Thomson – Community Member
Graham was most recently 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.
Jan Skene – President, ACTRA Manitoba
Jan is an accomplished actor/singer having appeared on almost all of Winnipeg’s main stages over the past 25 years. She has also been working steadily as an actor, puppeteer and voice performer in Manitoba’s film and television industry.
Currently, Jan is President of the ACTRA Manitoba Council and head of the Training Committee. She has co-developed and delivered ACTRA’s Apprenticeship Training Course over the past several years. She has also developed and delivered a Business/Tax Course for self-employed artists. Previously Jan served on the board of MMPIA (now OnScreen Manitoba) and on the Blizzard Committee.
As a business manager and administrator, Jan is well established in Manitoba’s cultural community, with an emphasis on the film and television industry. Through her role as manager for Skene Stunts Inc., Jan has been associated with close to 200 made-in-Manitoba films, tv series and commercials since 1989. She has also worked as the Publicist for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Executive Director for the Manitoba Author’s Association and has been involved on a contract basis with many of Winnipeg’s cultural establishments, including most recently the Canadian Museum for Human Rights through Ralph Applebaum and Associates.
Chris Vajcner – Director of Communications & Revenue Development, National Screen Institute
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 the NSI in 2003 first as a publicist and then moved on to business development.
Jeff Peeler – President & Executive Producer, Frantic Films – Branded Content and Commercials, representing On Screen Manitoba
As a producer and executive producer, Jeff 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.
Andrew Yankiwski – Producer, Precursor Productions
Andrew is a professional producer who has overseen countless projects during his decade at the helm of Precursor. His philosophy as a producer is simple: understand each artist’s creative vision for their music and make it a reality in the studio. As an engineer he is known for extremely high production values and the unique ability to create a signature sound for each artist.
Brandice Vivier – Community Member
Brandice was most recently the development manager, independent production for Bell Media where she was the creative executive on projects coming through the Winnipeg office (serving producers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan & Alberta) that are in development or in production, and also led any community engagement and outreach programs in the prairie provinces.
Brandice has worked in the film and television industry for over 20 years, most recently the senior program manager at the National Screen Institute (NSI). In her role, Brandice developed course curriculum, facilitated training and helped course participants further develop their series and feature projects. She has worked on numerous award-winning projects for Bell Media, Shaw Media, CBC, HBO Canada, and City. Prior to joining NSI, Brandice negotiated development and license agreements for CTV, The Comedy Network, and Discovery. She also prepared compliance reports for the CRTC and liaised with independent producers on all Canadian dramatic programming developed and licensed by CTV. She began her career at Manitoba Film & Music as a programs analyst.
Beverlie Stuart – Business Development Manager, Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology
Beverlie has over 25 years experience in business management, career and workforce development, and strategic human resource planning and development. Her experience includes working in the private, public and the non-profit sector designing, developing and implementing programs and strategies for developing Manitoba’s workforce.
She was the Founding Chair and Executive Director of the Alliance of Manitoba Sector Councils and in 2012, joined the Department of Jobs and the Economy as the Executive Coordinator to the Minister’s Advisory Council on Workforce Development.
Beverlie has served on numerous regional, provincial and national committees and organizations, some of which include: Canadian Career Development Foundation, Board of Directors, Council on Post-Secondary Education (COPSE), Board of Directors, Alliance of Manitoba Sector Councils, Founding Chair, Board of Directors.