“We’re coming off the heels of a very exciting year in which our tax credit was made permanent, and as a result of that we’re sitting on a very exciting and pivotal opportunity to grow,” explains the CEO of Manitoba Film & Music Rachel Rusen Margolis.
Before coming to Manitoba Film & Music in 2019, Rusen Margolis enjoyed a 22-year career as lawyer, practicing primarily in entertainment law, which she credits with inspiring the passion she has today for Manitoba’s entertainment industry.
“I sat on the board of Manitoba Film and Music for a period of time and when the opportunity presented itself that there would be a vacancy in the office of CEO, I was very excited to make that shift and start a new chapter in my career,” says Rusen Margolis, who was selected as the successful candidate for the position following a national search. “I’m thrilled to be in this role and take our industry and this agency into the new decade.”
In January 2019, the Manitoba government announced the tax credit for film and video production in the province would be made permanent, which Rusen Margolis says has positioned Manitoba to be one of the most attractive locations for filming in Canada.
“Great work has been done building the foundation for this industry, but, broad strokes, what I’m looking to do in this new year and this new decade that we’re starting, is really invest a little bit more into the agency as well,” Rusen Margolis says. “I’m looking to strategize on larger scale industry growth, and that means not just looking to bring in shows and productions to film in Manitoba but also attracting companies to expand into Manitoba and invest in the province, the people, and create some solid infrastructure. And as well, the spinoff of that and a huge part of my mandate is to work on our labour growth.
“Currently, the demand to shoot in Winnipeg exceeds our trained labour resources. We have some amazing crews here, but I want to work on succession planning of some talented crews that are looking to retire in certain key positions, I’m looking to train more crews to meet the current demand, and then I’m also looking to implement a strategy to develop future growth, to make sure that we can continue to compete that way. So, it’s really about looking for permanency in Manitoba.”
Some highlights from Manitoba’s film and music industries in 2019 include:
- Tales From The Loop, a TV series produced by Amazon Studios and 20th Century Fox, directed by Jodie Foster
- Flag Day, directed by Sean Penn and starring Penn as well as Josh Brolin
- Nobody, starring Connie Nielsen, Bob Odenkirk and Christopher Lloyd
- Locally written, composed and produced movie Stand!, which was the first Manitoba film that was the number one Canadian film at the box office the week of December 10, 2019
- Manitoba singer Begonia’s album Fear reached number one on the Earshot Charts, and her single Juniper reaching number one on CBC Radio 2’s Top 20
- A total of 12 Manitoba Film & Music-funded artists were nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award
- Leonard Sumner was nominated for Indigenous Album of the Year at the Juno Awards, for his album Standing in the Light
Additionally, a total of 13 Hallmark Channel movies were filmed in Manitoba in 2019, six of which were directed by Manitobans.
“It’s a wonderful relationship that Manitoba is servicing with the Hallmark movies,” Rusen Margolis says. “We’ve created a very nice nucleus really for Hallmark movies. Certainly our climate is number one on that, it’s always Christmas here. But I’ve met with those who are in charge of the Hallmark movies, and they can’t stop singing the praises of Manitoba and the local producers they’re working with, and the quality and sophistication of our crews out here. I’m very proud of the work we’re doing here for Hallmark.”
Looking forward to 2020, Rusen Margolis says Manitobans have a lot to be excited about, including the filming of The Ice Road, a movie starring Liam Neeson, and in which the plot takes place in Manitoba; an exciting TV series that can’t be announced until it begins production in February; and the Western Canadian Music Awards, which will be hosted in Winnipeg in October of this year.
“We’re really looking forward to an exciting new year.”