Membership Services Director, Cat LeBlanc's Online Orientation is accessible to anyone who is interested in finding out more about the NB Film Co-op. Anyone can take the online orientation and then email Cat if they have any further questions.
My name is Cat Leblanc and I have been Membership Services at the NB Film Co-op for over 20 years. To find out more about myself and the other Co-op staff, check out our bios on the Film Co-op website under the ABOUT US link. I will now begin walking you through the story of the Film Co-op and how the organization came into existence.
NB Film Co-op's Beginnings and Membership Composition
In 1979 a small group of young men and women came together as an informal group. They all had something very elemental in common; they loved everything about film. In those days film stock was cheap and video wasn't even a distant gleam in anyone's eye. The group began projecting films and meeting and discussing how to apply for grants, pool resources and formalize their structure to create a professional space. The principles of the group and the Co-op that have held steadfast all these year are listed on the the Film Co-op's website under the ABOUT US link.
The group moved ahead applying for infrastructure grants from different funding sources (Canada Council, National Film Board, Province of New Brunswick), and were eventually successful in finding monies to rent a space at 51 York Street in downtown Fredericton (formerly a radio station). Over time, they were able to receive enough grants to purchase cameras, sound, lighting gear, editing systems for film etc... They applied for charitable status again and this time were accepted. At this point there were perhaps about 20 Co-op members.
In the eighties, the growing members/staff began to use their learned skills and expertise to put on professional workshops.. They also brought professionals from inside and outside of the province to teach sessions. Go check out the history of the organization under the ABOUT US link to see the names of those alumni members who kept the film fires burning over the years at the Film Co-op. As the expertise of the staff and membership grew....productions began to happen..
From this small group of people who had a gem of an idea in 1979; the Co-op now has swelled to 250 members province wide with a hard working small staff, board of directors, committees and advisory groups from different areas in the province. The Co-op in recent years moved from it's long-time downtown location in Fredericton to the Charlotte Street Arts Centre (732 Charlotte Street) to be with other cultural groups in the city.
The Co-op membership is made up of the following film/video people in NB: emerging, mid career and professional. The membership is made up of people from all walks of life and life styles. There are couples and friends who make films together.....the youngest member is 16 years old and the oldest member is over 80 years old. Students, government ministers, church ministers, part-time and full-time artists, politicians, retirees, teachers, professionals who work in the independent or commercial film and video industry or both....with a melting pot of different cultures thrown in for good measure (Greek, Turkish, German, Irish, British, Scottish, Aboriginal, French, East-Indian, Lebanese, Asian, Korean etc...).
- A person can become an associate member or full member of the Co-op. Members can upgrade or downgrade their membership depending on how busy their life and schedule is and what they want to do. Go to the JOINING link to find out more about the two types of memberships at the Film Co-op and the volunteer things that members can do to get their required hours in no matter where they live.
It has always been important to the Co-op staff and board of directors to be inclusive of the entire province of NB. Even though the Co-op operates with extremely limited funding...it's board and membership has been instrumental in assisting the staff with outreach to many areas of the province. The staff, board and membership truly makes the Co-op what it is; an excellent community based charity whose focus is on NB film and video creators who have a desire to tell their stories with complete creative control.
Accessing Resources at the Co-op
Only Full members in good standing can access full resources at the Co-op (equipment, editing resources, small cash grants etc.). In order to have this kind of full access, a person must first pay a full membership or upgrade from an associate membership, then volunteer 30 hours and take some required workshops through the Co-op's annual workshop series which runs typically from Feb-June (screenwriting/directing/ production management/production design.) Members are encouraged to also take technical workshops as well to get a full understanding of filmmaking, but only those directly touching and using the equipment have to take technical workshops before accessing co-op gear. (cinematographer/gaffer/grip/sound recordist/camera assistant).
As well, members can take one-on-one or small group workshops through the Co-op with professional instructors for a fee of $30/hour. Membership Services takes each member through this process and answers any questions. Once the above criteria has been fulfilled, the member can then access equipment in three different ways:
1) by preparing a proposal for Membership Services to go through the production committee and board for approval for deferral on resources. Membership Services typically assists members through this process leading up to it.
2) straight rental at incredible independent rates for personal creative projects (docs, dramas, comedies, animation etc..)
3) straight rental for commercial projects (only short term industrial projects are eligible) at commercial rates.
This above criteria does take time to fulfill and people should never join the Co-op with the intention of accessing and doing projects right away through the Co-op.
No one should join the co-op to access it's resources for purely commercial purposes as the organization is NOT a equipment rental house, it is an artist-run-centre and film co-op. There are equipment rental places in NB that people can access gear from as a straight rental.
Check out the Co-op's Equipment Pool by emailing Cat for a PDF of the Equipment List at the Co-op at: firstname.lastname@example.org or checking out the equipment link at: Equipment
The Co-op has grown from being a film only training centre in it's early years to become a complete studio for film and digital production, assisting it's members on their projects from prep to post to final distribution
- Check out the Activities link on the Co-op website.
- The NB Film Co-op was a recipient of a United Nations Year of the Volunteer Medal in 2001. The New Brunswick Foundation for the Arts awarded the Co-op the Arts Organization of the Year Prize in 2002 for the province of NB. Others that were up for this award at the time. (TNB, Harvest Jazz and Blues etc).
- There have been four Unsung Hero Awards given out to Co-op members (Brigitte Noel and John Christenson) and staff, Cat LeBlanc and Tony Merzetti, on behalf of the City of Fredericton.
- The Co-op Executive Director Tony Merzetti was awarded an Excellence Award for Community Cultural Development in 2005 and both he and Cat LeBlanc were awarded the CBC Pioneer Award in 2010. Most Recently Cat LeBlanc was awarded the WIFT-AT Award (Women in Film and Television Atlantic).
The Co-op hosts numerous socials throughout the year including a Winter Blah Buster Party, Spring Fling, Christmas Party along with the Co-op AGM BBQ each summer.
- The Silver Wave Film Festival formally known as Tidal Wave came into being after the Co-op the staff and board of directors brainstormed for several years prior to 2001 concerning creating a showcase event to promote and expose the rest of the province to the film and video works that the Co-op membership and others in the province were creating. The Silver Wave Film Festival is now in it's 17th year and has proven to be an excellent annual event for film in the province. www.swfilmfest.com.
The New Brunswick Film/Video makers are the true celebrities of Silver Wave to the Co-op.
- The Co-op took over the organization and coordination of the Capital Film Series in 2004 and changed it's name to the Monday Night Film Series. This Film Society has an annual membership that joins as well as those who pay general admission to come and see the films....this is a excellent fundraiser for the Co-op each year. The films run from September to December and then from January to April with a break in the summer time. Check out the link for the series on the Co-op's activities link on its website.
- Under the Stars - Films in the Park is an opportunity for people in the community to gather together every Sunday night at dusk in Barracks Square during the summer to view classic Hollywood films, and short films produced by Co-op members across the province. The partners on this great event are: New Brunswick Film Co-op, Fredericton Tourism and Downtown Fredericton. Email email@example.com for further info.
Getting the News Out!
- The Co-op sends out a weekly electronic e-news which has visual and written content. The listserv for the e-news is 5000 strong Canada wide and internationally. This very important initiative ensures that people in the province of New Brunswick, the Atlantic and Canada are kept up to date on what is going on within the active Co-op membership and the film and television community at large in the Maritimes to do with: productions, paid and volunteer work, casting, training and development, film screenings, festivals and events, spotlights on producers, filmmakers, writers and production companies etc... check out our archived e-news at: news
- For those who do not want to become a member of the Film Co-op, anyone is welcome to pay an annual subscription fee of $10 to be put on the listserv.