Meet Laurel Brown, Founder of Cinema Spectacular

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Tell us about yourself.

My name is Laurel Brown and I came to Vancouver for school, and stayed for the community! I’m the director of the Cinema Spectacular festival, which I started in 2014. On a film set you can usually find me in the camera department!

What is Cinema Spectacular?

Cinema Spectacular is an all-Canadian motion picture variety show. We’re a screening and networking event started by filmmakers with a passion for working with and supporting more Canadian artists. We wanted to bridge the gap between student/amateur festivals and huge festivals for established professionals. We head down to the Vancity Theater with our short film program, have a great time with filmmaker Q+As, sponsor-supported raffle prizes, and it’s a really great atmosphere!

What are the biggest challenges for filmmakers? How do you think we can overcome those challenges?

I think a lot of the challenges that face filmmakers in this city and in Canada are money and distribution related – two huge factors in making movies. It’s difficult as an emerging filmmaker to get people to support you financially in the first place, let alone with the funds synonymous with fantastic production value. It’s crazy because you see the talent here – on both sides of the camera, and a lot of the time I wonder why we aren’t producing more high quality content that starts and finishes on Canadian soil?

What advice would you give emerging filmmakers?

The most useful things I can say to emerging filmmakers is to be persistent, work hard, and ask lots of questions!

What do you like best about the art community in Vancouver?

I like how multi-faceted the arts community is in Vancouver. Every time I think I’ve discovered all of the film festivals and collectives in town, I’m always surprised to find more fantastic niche-filling communities!

What are you looking for when you accept submissions to Cinema Spectacular?

We are looking for original, passionate content! Other than that, Cinema Spectacular has a short list of basic rules – we accept short films, animations, feature film trailers, and music videos. They must be shot in Canada and produced by Canadians. A maximum run time of 15 minutes and a maximum budget of $15 000. Other than that, our rules are pretty wide open. Documentary, experimental stuff, dramas, comedies – we really want to see what sort of stories are coming out of Canada. It’s only $5 to submit. We like keeping our submission costs low – we know, as filmmakers, submitting your film to festivals is a huge financial hurdle!

Where’s your favourite spot in Vancouver to set up a laptop and get shit done?

I’m a big homebody when it comes to work – I’ll go have a coffee or an ice cream at one of my favourite Mount Pleasant shops then walk home and get down to business. For business meetings, I love Matchstick Cafe on Kingsway.

Can you share any resources you’ve found most helpful in your career?

A big resource for me, and for any filmmaker – is people. Learning how to collaborate and keep in touch are two huge skills that I’m definitely still working on. There are tons of places in town to connect with – tons of film events – whether it’s VIFF or the Queer Film Fest, Cineworks or Iris Film Collective, everyone working at these places loves film, they put on great events, and their community support in the city is great.

What’s in the works for you right now?

I have a stop-motion animated short and a live-action short in the very infantile stages of writing and preproduction. Other than that, it’s hunkering down to prepare for Cinema Spectacular 3 this May!

Cinema Spectacular can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! And we have a barebones website up while we build our full site.

Did you connect with Laurel’s story? Check out my interview with Sara Bynoe, creator of Teen Angst Night, or drop me a line and join the party. Here’s how you can get involved.

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