Creativity is Key: A Profile of Terence Fuller

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

“I don’t think people fully realize what kind of an impact FTM can have on your career starting out.  You get the opportunity to learn parts of the job right from the people you will be working with on set.” – Terence Fuller

Terence Fuller has worked in the Manitoba Film Industry since 2004 and for the last two years has served as the Steward for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 856 which is based in Winnipeg. In his current position, Terence has undertaken numerous training programs including receiving a Conflict Management Certificate though Mediation Services Winnipeg, Harassment Investigation (Level 1 & 2) Certificate through Hill Advisory Services, and Safety Training through both SAFE Work Manitoba and the Construction Safety Association of Manitoba.

As a veteran of the film industry, Terence has instructed multiple training courses for Film Training Manitoba (FTM) for close to a decade. In addition, he has aided in the organization’s curriculum development and instruction of the Set Orientation, Safety Awareness and Respect in the Workplace in-class course. In 2018, Terence was appointed as a Co-Chair of FTM.

When and how did you start in the media production industry?
I jumped on a bus around 2002/2003 and stopped in at the Winnipeg Film Group to put my name out there to volunteer on any productions that they had going. It was suggested to me that I should also reach out to the two rental houses that existed at the time, William F. White & PS Prairies.  WFW just happened to be the first call.  A couple of days later, I was in the back-shop learning what some of the gear was and by the end of that day, I was offered a full-time position in the warehouse.

What area of the film industry do you work in now and why?
I currently work at the IATSE 856 office as the Steward.  As much as I loved working on set, after 15 years, I started feeling a little burnt out and was looking to transition to something else, preferably still in the Manitoba Film Industry.  The Steward position came up and I jumped at the chance to get the job.

What has been a substantial change in the industry since you started?
The sheer volume of work is the biggest change.  There was a time when it was almost inconceivable for us as a city to have three Productions running at the same time.  These days, we are seeing six or seven go at once.

If you could give yourself advice today to yourself in the past, what would it be?
When I was starting out was that I really wanted to be a permanent part of a single crew.  If I could go back, I would encourage myself to work with as many different Department Heads as possible, jump at every single opportunity that presents itself to me and learn as much as I can from as many different people as I can.

How did taking FTM training affect your career?
Taking the Intro to Grip and Lighting course with François Balcaen had a huge impact on my career.  It gave me a chance to work closely with a Key Grip in an environment where the pressures of a working set weren’t a factor.  I don’t think people fully realize what kind of an impact FTM can have on your career starting out.  You get the opportunity to learn parts of the job right from the people you will be working with on set.

What advice would you give someone starting off in the Media Production Industry?
Don’t be late!  Be respectful, introduce yourself to your Head of Department at the end of the day and shake their hand, thank them for having you out.  Be safe and stand up for yourself in a respectful manner.  Attitude is a huge part of working in the Manitoba Film Industry, put your best self forward.

What are some of the films, TV series or even books that have inspired you? How about anything new you’ve been into?
I go through phases with films, I could point to a million specific titles.  I usually go head first into a Directors career, guys like Peter Greenaway, David Lynch, Seijun Suzuki & Werner Herzog have all been big in my life.  In recent years, Crime Fiction has had a huge impact and when Brad Pitt and crew tackled a George V. Higgins book to make “Killing Them Softly”, it skyrocketed to the top of my list.  Stories are a massive part of our lives and it’s amazing to me when you can get the right people attached to a script or a book and it just turns into something mind blowing.  Creativity is key!

Is there something about you or an interesting past experience that you’d like to share with your colleagues?
It’s always been really important to me to have a variety of hobbies or interests outside of work to be able to focus on to maintain sanity.  This work can be incredibly stressful and all of us need something healthy to help us unwind.  For me, one of those outlets has been making music again.  Synthesizers have crept their way into my life in a big way and some of what I record finds its way onto my weekly UMFM radio show, Dead Air.

Is there a film technician or filmmaker that you would really like to work with and why?
Werner Herzog would be incredible to work with, as would David Lynch.  I love people who do things just off the beaten path with a very unique vision.  It would be an incredible experience to see these guys work.

Where do you see yourself in ten years from now?
Honestly, still involved with the union in some capacity.  I didn’t set out to get to where I am right now, so a part of me just isn’t sure.  My goal when I started was to try and get one day on a film set, everything that happened after that was me just taking a chance and grabbing on to the opportunity.