National Screen Institute's Drama Prize gets a boost from William F. White International
There's certainly been no shortage of depressing news in the Canadian film industry over the past few months. While B.C. slipped to fourth place in the list of the largest North American film and TV production centres for 2011, federal cuts to organizations such as the CBC, NFB, and Telefilm Canada have raised concerns in screen-based industries.
So how about some good news?
At a Vancouver industry reception on May 10 at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel in Vancouver, William F. White International director of marketing and communications Lowell Schrieder told the Georgia Straight about a new partnership his production equipment company has established with the non-profit, Winnipeg-based National Screen Institute (Canada).
Lowell said that William F. White has become the exclusive equipment sponsor for the NSI Drama Prize and will provide access of up to $70,000 of in-kind equipment grants.
The NSI Drama Prize is a course that provides emerging filmmakers with training, funding, mentoring, and services to help them make a short film. Up to four filmmaking teams are chosen each year. Producer Michelle Kim ("The Goodbye Girl") and director Jeremy Lutter ("Floodplain"), who attended the event, are members of two of the British Columbian teams that were chosen for this year's program.
Lowell called this partnership an investment.
"What we are doing is we're saying, 'We believe in the next generation of Canadian filmmakers and this is…one of our investments in the future of Canadian filmmaking.' In addition that, we've just created a brand new education training program...that's a whole new department at William F. White. So not only do we rent equipment, but we also provide technical expertise and mentorship to up and coming filmmakers in the industry who are trying to get their feet wet and may not have all the tools they need."
William F. White CEO Paul Bronfman cited several reasons for choosing work with NSI, in addition to the fact that they're a national organization.
"We're very focused on giving back to our community because it's our responsibility to do so. So we felt that NSI has got some great programs and career-building programs, which will ultimately help the industry, which ultimately helps our company."
In light of the federal funding cuts to many screen-based national organizations, Lowell said companies like his need to help the industry.
"That's why they need private organizations like ours to step up to the plate and fill the gaps that the government is not filling. And we're there to lend our equipment, in many cases to up-and-coming filmmakers who need our support and can't access our equipment, and hopefully they'll turn into customers one day."
You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at twitter.com/cinecraig.