A former disciple of the legendary filmmaker Guy Maddin while at the University of Manitoba, Drew parlayed those creative juices into a job in development at Buffalo Gal Pictures. Nowadays he is sharpening his pencil pushing skills as a Location Manager and Scout, while writing and producing original movies with his creative partners when the pandemic allows.
Drew is a great example that reflects the passion many Manitoba crew members have for film. They work various positions on professional crews while pursuing their own projects on the side. Hopefully Drew will get to work with his hero Jackie Chan one day soon!
When and how did you get started in the film and media production industry?
I am what you would call a Maddinite, which is a term I just made up for someone who was given their start in the film industry by Guy Maddin. Guy was a professor of mine at the U of M. I was looking for a summer job and I asked Guy if he had any ideas and that’s when he introduced me to Phyllis Laing at Buffalo Gal. She brought me on as an intern and then that transitioned into a full time gig. So I guess I’m both a Maddinite and a Phyllistine.
What area of the film industry do you work in now and why? What do you like most about it?
To pay the mountains of bills, I am a location manager and a location scout. The why part of that is an interesting question that I ask myself every day. The answer is that I get to see and do things that barely anyone else gets to see and do. Working in locations and the film industry in general is a great way to see every corner of the province, which has given me a new appreciation for the place I grew up in.
When I’m not pushing pencils, I write and produce movies. I was associate producer and story editor on the feature film “The Return” (coming to a screen near you) directed by BJ Verot. Most recently I produced a short film called “Wolf in Dude’s Clothing” with Solmund Macpherson, which is nominated for Best Comedy Short and Best Midnight Short at Palm Springs Shortfest and is just starting its festival journey now.
What’s a substantial change you’ve witnessed since starting in the industry?
The biggest change is the size and scope of shows that we’re seeing in the province and we’re seeing them with more frequency. We are now able to support multiple large shows at once and I think our capabilities are only going to grow as these productions bring more eager folks to the industry.
What advice would you most like to give to your past self?
I would tell myself to just go for it and not to worry too much about what’s coming next. If you’re smart and you work hard, people are going to notice and good things are going to happen.
What advice would you give to somebody just starting out in the industry?
Try everything. No one department is better than another. Try at least a couple of days in every department that you can and find your lane. I think a lot of people get stuck thinking “I want to be a gaffer” or whatever, but then they start doing the work and they they get discouraged when it’s not everything they dreamed it would be. Try some things out and see what fits your strengths. But lets be honest, nobody dreams of being a gaffer (I’m kidding and I’m sorry).
If you could work on a project with anyone in the film industry, who would it be and why?
The answer is Jackie Chan, which should be everyone’s answer, but if that’s a cop out my backup answer is Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker as Batman and Robin. Jackie is Batman.
What films, TV, or books inspire you or get you excited about your work?
I’ve recently been into the the King KIller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss and the Starlight Archives by Brad Sanderson. I think it would be a real shame if those aren’t someday made into TV series. Ideally starring Jackie Chan. I’m kidding. Unless someone would actually make that. Then I’m not kidding anymore.
Why is learning and training important?
Do you think Jackie Chan just walked onto set one day and knew how to kick the dust off a henchman? Okay, maybe it’s time to retire this bit… Learning and training is the bread and butter of the film industry. Things are constantly moving and changing and it is our job to keep up with the times. Besides, I don’t think anyone joined the industry to do the same thing every day. Trying new things and getting better at them is one of the most rewarding things you can do in your life and your career.
What do you like most about working in the Manitoba film industry? Is there anything in your mind that sets it apart?
The community within our industry is the best part. You’ve worked long, hard days and done ridiculous things that no one else gets to do with these people. Our industry is at this really interesting point where we can support multiple large shows, but you can call anyone on any show at any time for some advice, or more typically, someone’s contact information.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
The goal is to be writing and producing movies full time. I’ve found a great group of people that I really love in this industry and I want to keep finding ways to collaborate with them for the rest of my days. Either that or I want to be.on a beach somewhere getting the dust kicked off me by Jackie Chan.
FTM is a member of the Province of Manitoba’s sector council program funded through the Department of Economic Development and Training. FTM builds a highly skilled and adaptable film industry workforce to support the activities of Manitoba production companies. FTM collaborates and partners with members of the film and television industry to identify training needs to support workforce development output.