Watching the McNeil government repeatedly bungle negotiations with teachers, I can’t help but reflect on how I have learned as a filmmaker to approach an issue when my original plan wasn’t working.
I’ve lived my entire life in Nova Scotia, with the exception of a year spent studying abroad in Scotland when I was an undergraduate. I was born at the Grace Maternity Hospital in 1967, and grew up in Dartmouth. I graduated from Acadia University with an Honours degree in History and Political Science in 1989, and from Dalhousie University with a law degree in 1992.
For the next several years I was involved in the burgeoning Halifax music scene at the height of the Halifax Pop Explosion as a member of the bands Tall Poppies and Julia’s Rain. In 1997, I transitioned to the film and television industry, first as a consultant for Salter Street Films, where I worked on the creation of the Independent Film Channel, and then as the Program Administrator for the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation, where I managed the Provincial government’s film funding programs, including equity investment and the film tax credit.
In 1999 I left the civil service and entered the private sector as a producer, writer, and director. My work since then has included television series and documentaries for a number of networks both here in Canada and internationally, as well as three feature films, including the award-winning thriller Exit Thread, which was released in 2016.
I’ve been involved in industry-related public policy organizations for years, including terms as president of the Nova Scotia Film and Television Producers’ Association and a member of the Province of Nova Scotia’s Film Advisory Committee. I’ve done my best to give something back to the community as well by mentoring young filmmakers, visiting high schools over the years to talk about a career in the film industry, and taking high school film students on board as interns on various productions.
I have also been an instructor and basketball coach for the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, and was the founder of the Festival of Hope, a music benefit series that raised money and awareness about AIDS. I was actively involved in student politics, serving as the Chairperson of the Acadia Students’ Union, as well as the Deputy Chairperson of the Students Union of Nova Scotia. I also served a term as one of two student representatives on Acadia’s Board of Governors.
I’m an avid photographer and naturalist, and believe that moving towards a green economy is not only vital to ensuring a sustainable future, but also a tremendous opportunity for economic growth. I spend a lot of my spare time wandering about the wonderful trail systems located within Clayton Park West.
I’m a lover of poetry (particularly the War Poets and the Beats), Shakespeare, vanilla milkshakes, conversations about the nature of space and time, history, all types of music, baseball, Bergman films, and Monty Python.
Most important, I have a family and group of close friends who keep me grounded and happy, and who appreciate my quirky and self-deprecating sense of humour.
The McNeil government waged a fundamentally dishonest public relations campaign against Nova Scotia’s film & television industry in the wake of their decision in 2015 to dismantle the film funding system that had worked for twenty years.
The negative effects of the McNeil government’s actions in dismantling the 20-year old film funding structure and government film agency in April, 2015, have been felt just as strongly in rural Nova Scotia as they have in Halifax.
The McNeil government’s Culture Action Plan is all talk and no action, lacking specific new budgetary provisions, real programs, and success measurement benchmarks and matrices.