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Finding film/TV work in Vancouver


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#1 Jacqueline Donaldson

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Posted 27 December 2006 - 07:24 AM

Hi and merry xmas to everyone.

I am planning a strategy for 2007, trying to get back into working on real productions and getting paid for it. I used to work in independent production in the UK on the production /AD side. I've now moved back into camera which has always been my love, and although I am sometimes paid for my camera work here in HK, it's usually small corprate stuff and I'm not learning a huge amount more than I already know - I occasionally get to try out a new HDV camera etc...

Anyway, this year I'm setting more ideas into motion, applying for my MA in cinematography, applying for a camera apprenticeship - but one of the more out there ideas I have is going out to Vancouver for a while and trying to freelance on crews there hopefully on the bottom rung of the camera dept. Video Assist or something similar - but hell, I'd be a runner if it was offered!

I'm not sure if this is insane or not - I'm not tied to anything here, I don't have a house, cat or boyfriend and I know they shoot alot of stuff out there, and considering I live in the reknown cultural desert called Hong Kong, it's seems like there is work to be had.

I have a friend who has invited me to stay in Vancouver for as long as I want, so money is not a huge issue, but the big question is how do I go about getting work, should I just go and try my luck, should I try to organise something in advance? I spent about 5 years travelling aroung the world by myself in all sorts of strange places like Pakistan, inner mongolia and the jungles of sumatra - so I wouldn't be too worried about just taking off and going. Also, does anyone know what I do about getting a visa after all freelancing is not steady etc...I was thinking about a one year working holiday visa - because I'm from the UK - but apparently you have to be a student to get that! Whatever??? Maybe I'll try to figure that one out.

Anyway - I'm hoping someone will have some words of wisdom to help me refine my plan.

Take care and have a great New Year! Thanks Jacqueline
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#2 Richard Boddington

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Posted 27 December 2006 - 11:41 AM

Are you a Canadian citizen? You can't just show up and work in Canada legally. Small productions may hire you under the table, but any big US or Canadian productions will need to see a Canadian social insurance number, and proof of citizenship or legal work status.

Frankly Canada hands out temporary work permits and free healthcare to any one who comes in as a "refugee". But people with skills, training, and no criminal records, can wait years for a work permit. Yes Canada has the most screwed up immigration system on the planet.

Plus what about the unions? Any big Hollywood shoot will be union, and you'll need to be a member to work.

I'm just pointing out some practical hurdles that may need to be over come first, before you embark on the hard part of actually finding work.

R,
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#3 not valid

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Posted 27 December 2006 - 04:27 PM

Canada Australia and the Uk as far as im Aware have a nice deal going on between each other where you can get a wokring visa for 12 months i believe my cousin has come over from Canada to AUs on a 12 months working Visa and we also met alot in our travels around Aus that were doing the same thing.

I think you have to be under 27 to be elidgable it would be worth looking into Canada is a great place im lucky enough to have dual citizenship. Try Talking to a canadian embassy if their is one close to you or im sure you could find more info somewhere on the net.

I also hear Vancouver has quite a large film industry so your heading to the right spot.

good luck and happy new year.
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#4 Jacqueline Donaldson

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Posted 29 December 2006 - 06:43 PM

Thanks for the replies, they have given me some things to work on.

Richard, you mentioned having to be in a union to work on big productions-does that mean I'd have to try to join a specific union over there or if i'm in union over here, i.e - I'm a member of BECTU (Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union) which is the British film Union, does that cover me? Does it count?

Thanks,

Jacqueline...
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#5 Richard Boddington

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Posted 29 December 2006 - 09:09 PM

I'm not an expert on the unions, but I can guarantee you that being a member of a UK union will not help you in Canada. You'll need to join IATSE.

It usually takes years to get into the union. They exist to stop new people from working in the industry, not to help them.

R,
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#6 Jacqueline Donaldson

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Posted 29 December 2006 - 10:20 PM

Hi Richard,

Wow, that's harsh!

It's hard enough getting your foot in the door in the first place, never mind the unions putting the boot in. I've found out that I do qualify for a non-student 12 month working holiday visa and if my current plans fall through this coming year - I'm thinking about doing that in 2008.

I will be very happy to get some work on non-union low budget productions to expand my experience, have something different for my showreel and work with new people.

Thank you for all the information,

Jacqueline...
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#7 Jon Kukla

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 02:33 AM

You might not want to hear this, but you probably would stand a good chance if you came back to work in London - the work has been very busy lately; 2006 definitely beat the horrible 2005 hands down. In any case, the UK market is much easier to crack due to the lack of real unions here, so it's very doable. If you have a lot of time on your hands, then the best thing to do is find a rental house that will let you hang out for a week or so to play with the equipment and help out ACs checking out. It's a quick and easy way to become more familiar with the gear and meet people - people who will be inclined to return your favor of helping them out.

The most valuable thing when you're getting started is having the time and money to be able to take the jobs as they come, so I'd say that if can do that, you're in a good place; the hardest thing is sticking it out in the beginning when you only get crumbs. Gradually things start to snowball as you work more and meet more people, so then you should be (relatively) fine. When I was getting started I only had three or four people as contacts, so when things were slow I had to always remember when I last called people so as not to seem a pain! As the work's gotten busier and my contacts increased exponentially, the problem now often is finding the time to get around to giving everyone a friendly call now and then. (Definitely a better problem.)
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#8 Jacqueline Donaldson

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Posted 30 December 2006 - 12:21 PM

Hi Jon,

Thank you for the good news regarding work in London.

London is another option I have been thinking about - and i've been considering trying to get a job in a rental house. Should I look for a rental house job and spend a year doing that - or do you think I should just do some volunteer work with one and then try to network through AC's and start crewing? If I wait till later this year, I should have enough money saved to go without work for a while and I think I can lodge with a friend for cheap in London.

I have plenty of experience using and lighting for DV and HDV cameras , but not very much loading film cameras (just dummy rolls) etc... although I have some experience operating and some focus pulling. I love operating cameras and would love to take the AC route to being an operator, but I don't feel experienced enough to go in as a loader and I'm sure no-one would trust my inexperience.

I've been trying to figure out for a while now how to get from where I am no, to the point where I am able to sell my self as a 2nd AC / loader. Early this year - I flew to Australia to take an intensive 35mm Cinematography course - and that really taught me alot, gave me confidence in new skills and I got my hands on the camera for a while - but how do AC's gain their skills? I've read loads of AC books, I've looked at aking short courses etc...but it all leaves me with a feeling of not really being equiped to do a great job.

Any thoughts?

Thanks Jacqueline
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#9 Jon Kukla

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 01:27 AM

I'd say that you should make good friends at the rental house so that you might be able to work there if need be, but if you have the time to more or less devote yourself totally to working as an AC, even at low or no pay at the start, then you are in an enviable position.

If you want to bone up on the loading and equipment side of things, definitely try to set aside as much time at some of the rental houses as possible. Not only that, but make a point to ask if you can help any ACs who are doing checkouts. Don't be afraid to spend time at several rental houses, either - it's a great way to learn a bunch of cameras and accessories, as well as make friends with the floor staff! Some places are cool enough to just let you browse around the aisles and pull out equipment to play around with. It all depends.

Basically, I'd try to learn all the ins and outs of the London film scene here, from the labs to the studios, and talk to as many people as possible. You might have to trainee for a brief while, but if you are determined and get under the wing of one or two good loaders, you'll be up and flying within 6-12 months at most. Just make certain to treat every weekday like a work day and do something productive and relevant to your work, whether its calling people, reading technical data, or researching on upcoming productions.

Best of luck wherever you land! Hopefully the above advice should serve you well no matter which city you choose.
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#10 Jacqueline Donaldson

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 02:48 PM

Hi Jon,

Thanks for the great advice, I really appreicate it.

Jacqueline.
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#11 stephen defilippi

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 07:26 PM

If you're planning to work here for money, it's best you get a work permit through HRDC. If you don't and you get caught out, they will deport you and never let you back in. The permit needs to be prepared by a prospective employer and it has to say they need you, you and only you, and that no canadian can do what you do. it will take up to 3 months to get one that way, and of course there are fees involved. OR hire a canadian immigration lawyer and together with the prospective employer you can get a corporate visa in a day or two. Ive been through both situations myself. good luck
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#12 Jacqueline Donaldson

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Posted 09 January 2007 - 12:12 AM

Thanks Stephen,

I'll put that on my list to take a look at.

Jacqueline
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#13 Mitch Lusas

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 04:10 AM

Question about working in Canada. I am a Legal Resident of Canada, and I am allowed to work there. However, I heard that you need to be a Citizen to get a lot of film work due to the law of percentages; that certain percentage of your crew needs to be Canadian. Now, I married a Canadian, and I'm on my way to duel, but until that happens, will not being a Canadian prove an issue?

Thanks for your input,
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#14 Richard Boddington

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 10:38 PM

Question about working in Canada. I am a Legal Resident of Canada, and I am allowed to work there. However, I heard that you need to be a Citizen to get a lot of film work due to the law of percentages; that certain percentage of your crew needs to be Canadian. Now, I married a Canadian, and I'm on my way to duel, but until that happens, will not being a Canadian prove an issue?

Thanks for your input,


What they are talking about is tax credits. The producers can get back part of your salary if they hire Canadian citizens. Also, some productions get money from the gov't by qualifying as "Canadian content" in order to do this all or most of the key people must be Canadian citizens.

So yes there is a possibility that not actually being a Canadian citizen will prove to be an issue for you.

If you can work in the USA good grief stay there and work!! Go to LA.

R,
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#15 Norm Li

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Posted 02 February 2007 - 12:11 AM

Hi Jacqueline,

I'm an independant cinematographer in Vancouver, BC.

There is a lot of work here for sure but everyone is right, you have to make a name for yourself here
first to get on any productions. It will also help if you have a reel of course.

If you want to be a runner, you can get into the local union IATSE 669 trainee program where you're a slave to the camera crew but you'll be rotated on all the big Hollywood tv shows and movies to learn with the crews. I was on it for a bit but quit because DP'ing was what I was really into.

There are a few websites here that you can look for jobs as well in the indie world. I came here 4 years ago and I'm getting a lot of work. It'll take a bit of time to develop and showcase yourself but it will come if people like your personality and skillset.

Good luck!

Norm




Hi and merry xmas to everyone.

I am planning a strategy for 2007, trying to get back into working on real productions and getting paid for it. I used to work in independent production in the UK on the production /AD side. I've now moved back into camera which has always been my love, and although I am sometimes paid for my camera work here in HK, it's usually small corprate stuff and I'm not learning a huge amount more than I already know - I occasionally get to try out a new HDV camera etc...

Anyway, this year I'm setting more ideas into motion, applying for my MA in cinematography, applying for a camera apprenticeship - but one of the more out there ideas I have is going out to Vancouver for a while and trying to freelance on crews there hopefully on the bottom rung of the camera dept. Video Assist or something similar - but hell, I'd be a runner if it was offered!

I'm not sure if this is insane or not - I'm not tied to anything here, I don't have a house, cat or boyfriend and I know they shoot alot of stuff out there, and considering I live in the reknown cultural desert called Hong Kong, it's seems like there is work to be had.

I have a friend who has invited me to stay in Vancouver for as long as I want, so money is not a huge issue, but the big question is how do I go about getting work, should I just go and try my luck, should I try to organise something in advance? I spent about 5 years travelling aroung the world by myself in all sorts of strange places like Pakistan, inner mongolia and the jungles of sumatra - so I wouldn't be too worried about just taking off and going. Also, does anyone know what I do about getting a visa after all freelancing is not steady etc...I was thinking about a one year working holiday visa - because I'm from the UK - but apparently you have to be a student to get that! Whatever??? Maybe I'll try to figure that one out.

Anyway - I'm hoping someone will have some words of wisdom to help me refine my plan.

Take care and have a great New Year! Thanks Jacqueline


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#16 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 02 February 2007 - 07:25 AM

Hi,

> Canada Australia and the Uk as far as im Aware have a nice deal going on between each other where you
> can get a wokring visa for 12 months

If that were true, I'd be long gone. Canadians and Australians can usually come to the UK, often on heredity visas, and there is a very narrowly-defined "working holiday" thing for Australia (with caps on what you're allowed to earn, so basically fruit-picking), but that's it.

Can't understand why anyone would possibly want to come to London either - it's a miserable hole!

If you are established in a place with links to China, I'd stick there - the place is clearly booming, it can't help but be a better bet than here.

Phil
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Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

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Aerial Filmworks

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Willys Widgets

rebotnix Technologies

Technodolly

The Slider

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Paralinx LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Rig Wheels Passport

Visual Products

Opal

Metropolis Post

CineLab

Wooden Camera