“Be confident in what you do… Own your mistakes and fix them.” – Reel Career Profile of Corey Walker

FTM’s 20th Anniversary: 20 For the 20th – Reel Careers Profile Series

Corey Walker is Manitoba base film technician and member of IA856. He grew up in the Fort Garry area of Winnipeg and started in the Film Industry in 2002. Corey enjoys the intensity of production, and is fond of teamwork with his colleagues. He brings a sense of calm and assurance to the workplace and coupled by an assiduous work ethic; he has moved into the head position within Transportation department.

When and how did you start in the media production industry?
I came into this by chance. It happened at a very fortunate time because I ultimately had to finish with work that was keeping me away from home. My previous background included construction and renovations, then commercial trucking. For years I was south of the border three weeks out of a month with that, and it took its toll. I reluctantly finished off with long hauling around the beginning of June that year. A few days later, I happened to read an online help wanted ad looking for carpenters and painters to build movie sets. Surprisingly the next morning someone actually contacted me. I didn’t think it was legitimate, but after talking with them further, itturned out I had worked with a relative of theirs in the past, and that relative had graciously given me a strong recommendation. That was on a Monday. On the next day, I was in a studio building movie sets. 

What area of the film industry do you work in now and why?
I am a Coordinator in the Transportation department. I started off in the Art department and wound up here. On my résumé it indicated I held a class 1A drivers license, so I was approached to do work in the Transportation department. Years ago there was a fraction of the workforce there is today, so it wasn’t unusual to see members in different departments. I had the luxury of working in either department. Transportation is where I find my groove. It’s such a fascinating, behind the scenes, hands on, jigsaw puzzle to put together. It’s an exciting time collaborating with the Locations department and the fabulous people from the city when we iron out details to make it work out. The job for us is an onslaught of details and deadlines. There’s always something going on, or something to do. I’ve worked every job in this department and I really appreciate what it takes for my crew to pull it off.

What has been a substantial change in the industry since you started?
We’re more cognizant of safety at work. It’s becoming more of an instinct while performing one’s job. Members are watching out for other members. Some minds get so focused and involved at work, they’ll start to wander into a potential situation, but someone is usually looking out for them. Everyone has a right to go home after the workday. There’s no excuse for being reckless or otherwise. The other change is the technology. In this department, for instance, drivers had pockets of change or a phone card, maybe a pager, or a Nokia phone, phone books, maps, street guides, note pads, etc. Information came via paper, and there was lots of paper. Now there are smartphones and mobile broadband networks that have optimized the efficiency of the workflow. The film break used to be about 5 – 15 lbs. of exposed film in boxes to go to one of the air cargo depots. Now the “film break” fits on an SSD flash storage no bigger than the fob on your car key.

How did taking FTM training affect your career?
FTM is a wonderful resource. The Set Orientation course was my first stop. I found it was to the point, and informative. It explained the how’s and why’s, and what an individual needs to do to manoeuvre in the environment without committing errors. I’ve taken advantage of an array of well-presented courses, ranging from Management courses and Conflict Resolution courses, and it’s made me better for what I do. FTM has many great workshops and mentoring programs. They are also receptive to assist in developing something you think may be of interest. I had the pleasure of developing a course for the Transportation department with the aid of Adam Smoluk and the team at FTM. 

What is advice you would give to someone starting off in the media production industry?
Be confident in what you do. Do what you say you will do. Own your mistakes and fix them. Don’t take things personally. Be open minded and respectful. Take advantage of courses offered to you. Take day calls. Try other departments. You may find something you never knew you flourished at. Be punctual! (If you’re not ten minutes early, you are late.) I don’t think there are any small jobs in a production, so take pride in being a spoke in the wheel. Your friends and family will think your job is stupid. Don’t forget your friends and family. Try not to be star struck and get off your phone…

Is there something about you or an interesting past experience that you’d like to share with your colleagues?
I’ve been fortunate enough to work around different parts of Manitoba, Alberta, in Churchill, and also the Yukon with some amazing people. It was hard work. It was also very exciting to be there to do my job.  If you ever get a chance to travel with a production, go for it. It’s a brilliant way to challenge yourself. You could wind up in Brandon for a month, or at a beach for a week, or even Russia for half a year. 

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
If all goes well, I’ll be on a stage telling poorly written jokes…