Who's Who Women in Business


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On Screen Manitoba & Manitoba Film and Music celebrate local women producers transmit strong industry intelligence and news to and about members. A newly funded three- year partnership with New Media Manitoba will continue to improve access to markets and raise the province's profile. And again, Manitoba women are leaders in embracing new digital technology. In its 27th year, Merit Motion Pictures has jumped into transmedia production — telling one story across multiple platforms and formats like games, books, events, cinema and television. Its award-winning documentary One Ocean was recently broadcast on CBC and augmented with an interactive website and partnerships with teachers across Canada. "Our purpose as a company has been to make films that increase our understanding of the world around us, stories that are entertaining but that also help us to understand the human condition" says executive producer and president Merit Jensen Carr. The new digital media allows for projects with a wider range of budgets and more nimble production, but it has its challenges. "It's a new form of storytelling that we've all had to learn, dealing with a lot more work and a lot more platforms, but I'd also say it's liberating and it just increases the options," Jensen Carr says. While current TV productions The Pinkertons and Sunnyside are top of mind locally, Buffalo Gal Pictures producer and president Phyllis Laing says digital technology helped drive a recent growth spurt, with the inception of Buffalo Media Group and its collaboration with a Spanish company on the animated feature Run Ozzie, Run. "We're interested in finding new work and new partnerships with animation, which really lends itself well to international partnerships because you can work anywhere and have strong relationships," Laing says. Eagle Vision's Lisa Meeches, who also manages the National Screen Institute New Voices program, says quality drives success, no matter what the medium. "We have strong producers, strategic ways of getting of our projects done, and we're always one step ahead of other provinces," she says. Eagle Vision provides a wide range of quality content, targeting aboriginal and non-aboriginal markets. Its award-winning production We Were Children was the top-rated Canadian documentary on Netflix, and the company just wrapped Season 9 of TV series Ice Road Truckers. Meeches is always developing new projects, but she especially loves "passion pieces," which can have a huge social impact. "We Were Children really woke up our community, as far as this terrible secret that we all felt that we needed to hide, but it's just scratched the surface of the kinds of stories that we're going to start seeing in different genres and in multi-platform," she says. Original Pictures founder Kim Todd is continuing her work on award-winning TV series Fargo, which is bringing more welcome attention to the Manitoba industry. "The fact that I am an Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning producer helps Original Pictures' brand internationally and it helps us position Original Pictures as a Canadian and international company that has its head office in Winnipeg," says Todd. "Our feature film Midnight Sun, for example, which is an international production, had a budget that was at the top of the range for Canadian movies," she says. "But we also have a reputation for being able to bring great quality to lower-budget productions, and these attributes are important in all our markets." Todd says being an entrepreneur in the Canadian television and film market is extremely difficult. The market is small, the buyers are few and the competition from the U.S. is fierce. But she says women producers in Manitoba consistently bring quality to the table, which makes them tough to beat. "In my capacity as an entrepreneur, it is my job to understand the markets of the world so I know where to take our material to sell it and how to finance it to get it made," she says. "In my capacity as a producer, my job is to make people realize that they can be better creatively than even they think they can — and then to support them in achieving that goal." • Pioneering women (from top) Eagle Vision's Lisa Meeches, Original Pictures' Kim Todd celebrating Fargo's Emmy win, Merit Motion Pictures' Merit Jensen Carr and Buffalo Gal Pictures' Phyllis Laing.

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