I don’t remember how I first learned about Holiday Films but I do remember my first meeting. The Office Manager interviewed me at the old King St. office. I remember how she greeted me with interest and kindness. When I learned I won the job, I was astonished when they told me it was also a paid position. At the end of my first week, a director took the whole staff out onto his boat and I was invited. Right from the start I felt very welcomed, and the boat party was a memorable way to end my first week.
The staff was inclusive, treated me with respect, introduced themselves as they crossed my path for the first time, and would take time to respond to my questions, and show me the work they were doing even if it wasn’t necessarily within the purview of my role in the office. As someone with a mixed identity (Black/White/Raised in China), I was very comforted to see a woman like Jo as an Executive Producer. I wouldn’t have been able to point to it then, but now I am acutely aware of how a diverse staff infuses the environment with a spirit that benefits everyone.
As an intern I was brought out onto set on a number of occasions which was fantastic as someone who had not had that experience before. The “Film Industry”, I quickly learned, has very strict ideas about what experience is good and valid. The hours you spend on set, what sets those are, union or non-union, etc.–I didn’t know these kinds of things mattered. The internship understood that and wanted me to not only have a good experience in the office, but also develop some kind of tangibles that would make me useful afterwards too. Because of that, and relationships I was able to build with the various crews I was on set with, I was able to work on some pretty good gigs (perhaps the most exciting was working with Jamie Oliver!).
To be honest, I think the experience, and the fact that THIS was my introduction into the film world, spoiled me and gave me an unrealistic expectation of how fast things would move afterwards. I thought I could leave and in no time I’d be on Holiday’s roster of directors helping them make cool content. But when I left, I was only really able to get work as a PA. Being a PA is fine work, but I wanted to be a director. So, I had to go out and find/make those opportunities for myself of course.
Now, after a lot of effort, diligence and luck, I have worked on many more cool commercial shoots–most recently as producer for an Air Miles spot. I have followed my interests in promoting justice and equality to work with NGOs at the United Nations in the form of videos that advocate gender equality as well as religious sovereignty. Some of this work has literally resulted in people on death-row for their religious beliefs in the Middle-East being freed. And last year, I incorporated a production company of my own. We’re called Wrapped Productions Inc. We’ve made short and long form documentaries with one more on the way, are developing a feature drama that I wrote, and have two other limited series shows that are in development based on books we’ve optioned. And, of course, I would still jump at the chance to work on something with Holiday Films one day to complete the circle!
I’m proud of the fact that I interned with Holiday. I’m glad that I got to know the folks there. Over the years I have bumped into them at various events where it’s clear that we’re still friends, and I actually still feel a sense of support from them. Being there was my first step on the long road of filmmaking. I value what I learned there, and feel they are with me even to this day. Recently, I’m even prouder having seen and been a part of the steps the office has taken towards addressing our collective understanding of inclusivity, diversity, justice, equity, and responsibility.