“Technology has pushed forward every aspect of the industry.” – Nicolas Phillips

20 for the 20th – Reel Career Profile Series: Nicolas Phillips

Nicolas Phillips has worked in the Manitoba Motion Picture industry for 16 plus years. Having lived in all three prairie provinces at different stages, and graduating from the University of Regina with degree in Film Production with a Minor Film Studies, he found his way back to Winnipeg to work in the Lighting department – he continues to do so to this day – working on productions both large and small. Nicolas is also heavily involved in his local motion pictures technicians union, IATSE Local 856. Having served multiple terms on the 856 board he is now serving as President of the local and continues to work not only on set, but towards the growth and improvement of the lives of the members he serves.

When and how did you start in the media production industry?

I started in 2000, just out of University, a province over working on a television show in Regina with crew from Manitoba. I eventually made my way back Winnipeg in 2003 and I have been working in the Motion Picture Industry here since.

What area of the film industry do you work in now and why?
I work in the Lighting Department. At first it was just a matter of getting on set in any way I could, but I found Lighting to be a craft that appealed to me and continues to appeal to me on a technical and artistic level.

What has been a substantial change in the industry since you started?
Technology has pushed forward every aspect of the industry. Everything from new LED technology in lighting to the capabilities of the camera and digital formats to the delivery systems of content with streaming services. There is more production across the board than ever and more ways to make and deliver it. I’m also happy to say safety practices and awareness has come a long way in the last few years, the hours can be long and the job difficult but everyone should be able come home at the end of the day.

If you could give yourself advice today to yourself in the past, what would it be?
Start putting away money right away. The industry can have its ups and downs financially but try and plan for the long term by putting money away.

How did taking FTM training affect your career?
Courses provided through FTM have helped me develop not only in a very practical level in terms of maintaining needed accreditation but also helped expose me to other aspects of the industry to help me become a more well rounded technician.

What advice you would give to someone starting off in the media production industry?
Ask questions. There are so many skilled people and resources out there for someone starting off and there are answers out there. There are so many different opportunities for a career in Motion Pictures here in Manitoba, some of them may not be immediately apparent.

What are some of the films, TV series or even books that have inspired you? How about anything new you’ve been into?
That’s a hard question. I like to consume a lot of media, not just films, television and books, but video games as well. Blade Runner, Evil Dead 2, The Third Man, Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, Wild at Heart, O Brother Where Art Thou are some the films that consistently float around on my top films list, with others coming in and out (see Parasite!). I always have a stack of comics on the go as well and I recently finished Control on PS4 which has some very noticeable Lynch-ian and Cronenenberg influences.

Is there something about you or an interesting past experience that you’d like to share with your colleagues?
When I was in high school I worked at the Banff Television Festival. One year I stopped Chantel Kreviazuk from entering the festival. She was not pleased but she didn’t have her pass and the rules were the rules.

Is there a film technician or filmmaker that you would really like to work with and why?
There are any number of Cinematographers and Directors I’d love to work for but I’ll be honest I’ve been really lucky to work for some great people whom I had little or no knowledge of until the day we met. That’s one of the great things about working in this field is the potential to meet and work with so many talented people from around the world.

Where do you see yourself in ten years from now?
Truth be told I’ve always hated that question. I would think I am still working in Motion pictures in a strong and healthy industry here in Manitoba.