Film Master Series with Rory Kennedy Report

Master Series instructor Rory Kennedy

February 27, 2024 – Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Film Training Manitoba (FTM) recently completed the Film Master Series with Rory Kennedy, which took place on February 10 and 11, 2024. This major training and skills development event was a joint partnership with DOC Manitoba, Moxie Films, and The Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology (MITT), which also served as the event host.

FTM is a non-for-profit charity and is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The organization is funded through the Province of Manitoba’s Department of Economic Development, Investment, Trade and Natural Resources. FTM is a member of the Manitoba Sector Council Program and was created to support workforce development in Manitoba’s film sector.

The Master Series instructor Rory Kennedy is an Academy Award-nominated, Primetime Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker. She has made over forty films, including DOWNFALL: The Case Against Boeing, Last Days in Vietnam, and Ethel, all of which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Her films have appeared on the major streamers and broadcast networks including Netflix, HBO, National Geographic and PBS. Her work has been profiled in The New York TimesThe Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times, and she has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon StewartThe Today Show, CNN, and NPR.  

“I was excited to visit Winnipeg that has a great reputation right now in the film industry. I was very excited about the one-on-one conversations with filmmakers… and talking to them about my own experiences and hopefully sharing a bit of knowledge, the pitfalls, and excitement that lies ahead.” Said Kennedy in a CTV Winnipeg interview.

This large-scale training event was held in MITT’s Delta Room which included a Supporting Women in Film Trades (SWIFT) session, a masterclass, eight one-on-one sessions for advanced learners, and a screening of Kennedy’s film Ethel (2012). Through each session, the total participation was over 170 participations.

Following the session, FTM collected 98 participant evaluations and 98% of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the training sessions helped the learners develop in their job or career.

Fawnda Neckoway and Gerldine Shingoose

The event started off with a land acknowledgement from FTM’s Special Projects Manager Fawnda Neckoway, and a smudge ceremony by FTM’s elder Gerldine Shingoose.  This ceremony recognized the importance of Manitoba’s connection to the indigenous community, FTM’s commitment to reconciliation, and to celebrate this ground-breaking event.

Fawnda Neckoway, Gerldine Shingoose and Rory Kennedy

“FTM’s Film Master Series was a major initiative to develop and build Manitoba’s film industry. Kennedy’s world-class instruction and film industry knowledge was exceptional.” Said Film Industry veteran and FTM’s Vice-Chair Ellen Rutter, she added, “The scale of this programming was unprecedented in Manitoba.”

Rory Kennedy and Beverlie Stuart

At the start of the programming of the MB Film Master Series, Kennedy was joined by Beverlie Stuart, the Vice President of Business and Organizational Development of MITT for a special Supporting Women In Film Trades (SWIFT) session. Stuart’s extensive and accomplished background as an executive, career coach, and public speaker made her the ideal Manitoban to moderate this session.

Participants of the sold-out Masterclass

Over fifty-five Manitoba-based women attended the SWIFT session which focused on women’s advancement in jobs and careers. With Stuart’s in-depth moderating; Kennedy spoke of the challenges and opportunities for women to be successful in jobs and careers in the film industry, as well as the needed changes within workplaces.

In addition to faculty and students from MITT, the Film Master Series was also attended by contingents of film and media students and graduates from the National Screen Institute of Canada, Red River College Polytech, and Assiniboine Community College. The session also had staff members from multiple Manitoba film companies.

Rory Kennedy providing instruction to Masterclass participants

“Like FTM’s SWIFT program, the Manitoba Film Master Series with Rory Kennedy was another extraordinary program delivered to provide both training and business intelligence to Manitoba’s film professionals.” Said film producer Merit Jensen-Carr chair of DOC MB, and owner of Merit Motion Pictures. She added, “This high-level of programming is putting Manitoba on the forefront of skills development within the film industry.”

In addition to the sold-out program, the Manitoba Film Master Series was profiled by multiple news outlets including CTV, CBC, The Winnipeg Free Press, and 680 CJOB.

Christina Reid, Rory Kennedy and FTM’s Chairperson Andrew Yankiwski

“Having a highly accomplished film professional like Rory Kennedy in-person conducting this learning in Canada demonstrates Film Training Manitoba’s incredible reach and capabilities to build our film community.” Said Andrew Yankiwski, the chairperson of FTM’s board of directors and owner of Precursor Productions.

Past Master Series instructors have included: Steve Yedlin, Cinematographer – THE LAST JEDI (2017) and KNIVES OUT (2019), Carl Gottlieb, Screenwriter – JAWS (1975) and THE JERK (1979), Mark Irwin, Cinematographer – THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY (1998), SCREAM (1996),  Jordan Samuel, Makeup Department head – THE SHAPE OF WATER (2017), and FAHRENHEIT 451 (2018), and Les Blank, Filmmaker – BURDEN OF DREAMS (1982), & WERNER HERZOG EATS HIS SHOE (1980), William B. Davis, Actor – THE X-FILES.

FTM’s Executive Director Adam Smoluk, Jennifer Smoluk and Rory Kennedy

“Film Training Manitoba and DOC Manitoba’s selection committee conducted in-depth discussions with our board Executives which resulted in the excellent selection of Rory Kennedy to lead the Manitoba Film Master Series. Rory Kennedy and her production company Moxie Films have been highly supportive in creating this outstanding program. We couldn’t be more honoured.” Said FTM’s Executive Director Adam Smoluk. “Post-secondary institutions should make it mandatory for all business students to view her film DOWNFALL: The Case Against Boeing.” He added.

The Saturday session ended with a special class screening of the film Ethel (2012).

Class screening of Rory Kennedy’s Ethel (2012)

With the success of the event, the organization is planning additional skills development programming in Manitoba which includes the third Canada’s Supporting Women in Film Trades (SWIFT) Conference scheduled for November 23 and 24, 2024.