Laina and Taylor Brown – Folks Films – “If you’ve ever thought about getting into film, do it now because Manitoba is taking off”

Folks has a diverse portfolio, to put it lightly. From award-winning short films about magical car radios to perfectly captured wedding days to Bachelor-themed curling promos for TSN, this brother-sister team delivers compelling content whether it’s as filmmakers or creatives for hire.

Growing up, Taylor and Laina Brown would make films together with whatever kind of camera they could get their hands on, so it was only natural for them to make visual storytelling their profession.

Not only do they create compelling video content for commercial clients, they also compete in film festivals all over North America with super-creative and visually-stunning short films.

They’ve won the Golden Sheaf for best comedy at the Yorkton Film Festival, Best Film in the 48 Hour Film Competition at Gimli Film Fest, and screened their films at many other festivals across North America.

FTM is always happy to champion up and coming production companies and Folks is a great example of how there are all kinds of opportunities for Manitoban film professionals. Learn how they seized those opportunities in the profile below.

Who founded your company?

Myself (Taylor Brown) and my sister (Laina Brown) founded Folks together as a partnership. Growing up together, we made home-video films so it felt like a no-brainer to start our professional careers together.

Why and when did you start the company?

We started Folks in 2016 shortly after moving to Winnipeg from Regina. We’ve always been passionate about telling stories through our family home video camera (8mm), and that evolved into the telling stories of those around us.

Before long, we had enough equipment to go out on our own and start making videos for weddings and small businesses. We love finding the stories behind people and places, so we thought why not monetize that passion? Today we get to make our creative dreams a professional reality.

What is unique about your company within the industry?

We always try to give everything we make a distinctive “Folks” flavour: imaginative and original, effervescent and fun, with a good dash of humour. We try to create works that people will remember and talk about, and we’re lucky to have achieved that with many of our projects. I think our ability to come up with unique concepts that we can execute quickly with a small team of focused professionals is also what sets us apart.

Who is someone in the industry you would like to work with?

For myself (Taylor) I would love the opportunity to work with Steven Kostanski who recently directed Psycho Goreman. I think I could learn a lot from him as we both bring comedic and practical effect elements to our work, and also obviously Taika Waititi.

Laina would love to work with more dancers and artists like Bridget Moser, or cinematographers like Thimios Bakatakis (The Lobster, Master of None Season 3) and Olivier Gossot (Fauve).

Why is training and learning important in the film industry?

The film industry starts to get really tough the minute you think you’ve finished learning. There is a science to it, yes — but as soon as the project becomes about maximum efficiency and not creativity you’ve lost it.

Your creativity is always growing and evolving. You’re combining more and more experiences together to make something new. You need to constantly find tools and mentors to help give you a fresh new perspective.

How do members of your organization keep learning to stay up to date in this ever-evolving industry?

We grew up in a generation where things were changing and evolving constantly. We experienced the life and death of LimeWire downloading and music torrenting in middle-school then T9 texting and smartphones not long after.

Adapting to technology has just always been part of our lives, and part of that was having access to filmmaking tools — like old camcorders and even smartphones — which gave us the ability to figure out what did and did not work for us early on. Online classes, YouTube, and local film communities are what fuel the need for constant growth.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the industry since you started?

The way that great equipment is so much more affordable allows for more people with unique voices to actually create stuff instead of waiting for their turn. When we started our business, we made friends and started making stuff immediately. Because we could access our own equipment, we didn’t have to wait decades to create what we wanted to create.

What’s a project or projects you’re proud of?

I am very proud of our 48 Hour Film Festival projects, Refraction Sector, Model Citizens, and now Phenomena. Model Citizens won a golden sheaf at the Yorkton Film Festival. Making it into the Festival was exciting enough but winning was an absolute delight.

What’s a unique challenge you faced with a production and how did you overcome it?

While we were filming pickups for our 48 Hour Film Festival project Model Citizens, a light actually caught fire… some old cords and wires in the lamp head. When flames started licking the ceiling, our team was starting to panic, but Laina stayed in control and calmly took it outside to extinguish the flames on the pavement. She was as cool as the light should have been. We then continued to finish the project… and stopped using very old lights.

Any exciting upcoming projects you can share?

Songs from a Box! We finished a 28-minute short film last year but haven’t been able to do much with it because of the pandemic. It’s a very ambitious project about a struggling musician who finds inspiration from an ominous music box. We are also hoping to adapt some of our short films into longer projects.

What do you like about being based in Manitoba?

I always tell people how incredible it is to work in this industry here in Manitoba. The amount of opportunities we’ve had to follow our dreams has been incredible. The people are supportive and down to earth. The province is home to an inspiring community who always support and encourage filmmakers in the growing film scene. If you’ve ever thought about getting into film, do it now because Manitoba is taking off!

Connect with Folks on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Vimeo.

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.