Photo by Lung Lui

Meet Brianne Nord-Stewart, Writer, Director, and Editor

I believe everyone is creative. That’s why I started the creative interviews series–to showcase the many facets of art, life, and creativity. Want to take part? Drop me a line.

Photo by Lung Lui

Tell us about yourself.

Make the first question a little harder why don’t ya! Well, I’m a filmmaker. I write, direct, produce, and edit various works of film and media. Mostly scripted, mostly comedy. I love collaborating with musicians on music videos, whether concept, or live videos. The goal is to have most of my focus on sole directing, both in TV and feature films, while remaining a creative producer, and co-writing, or working with a writer to build the project together. Outside of that, I ride my bike, do yoga, borrow dogs and cars for hikes, dream of owning a boat, and travel at every opportunity.

What drew you to becoming a filmmaker?

As a seven-year-old actor once said to me, “I want to be a director like you so that I can tell everyone what to do.” I was lucky enough to write and direct my first short in high school. I knew right then that I wanted to be a director, and I was more than capable enough to pursue it. From then on I just pursued a a director career and didn’t leave space for any doubt in as to whether or not it would work out. I then started writing so that I would have something to direct, and edited because no one else around me was interested, nor got my humour. Now I have too many ideas to execute them all, and while I know how to edit, and I’m good at it, and others pay me to do it for them, it would be fantastic to find a collaborative editor who gets me, gets my comedy, and makes it even better.

Is there anything that particularly influences or inspires your work?

Real life. Real life x 1000. Or the over caffeinated version of real life. At this point, I will stay longer in almost any situation that I don’t particularly like just to find out: what happens next? Online date that is making animal noises at me, sure. Let’s stay awhile, this might be reaaaaal good. If you look through my body of work, you may come to the same conclusion that my grandpa did, “you seem to make a lot of films about sex, eh?” I think I just want to bring the relief of laughter to situations most of us are too uptight to laugh about. I’m currently working on some serious dark subject matter and calling it a comedy. There is a theatre show on tour that is a comedy about rape, by and for victims of sexual assault. I hope it’s hilarious, and I would love to see it.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start filmmaking?

You need to be seriously flexible with your lifestyle. You need to know how to save when you have a pay day, and make it last when you aren’t making any money, so that you can use that “not making any money” time to really hone in on your craft, and invest in yourself, to finance your own work.

Also, don’t be a prick. No one wants to do favours for a prick, and you will need a fuck ton of favours to get your indie whatever made.

Know what other people’s jobs are all about. If you don’t know what an editor is up against, you are doing yourself a disservice as a director. I have learned so much by editing my own work. I can hear myself directing on set, times when I did well, and times when I should have shut the hell up and let the scene carry on. You also get to see all your mistakes and shots you should have gotten over the ones you did.

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

Making movies is fucking expensive. That said, you can make films for practically nothing now, and a good script is far more valuable than fancy equipment or fancy locations. Story comes first. Finding out that your story isn’t that great while you’re in the editing room, is a seriously expensive mistake. Show people your script. Pay for a script doctor. Make the film, show people, and do it again. As your skills with each project, you can also grow your budget (or not).

You also have to be self-motivated. No one will hold you accountable to write your own first feature. No one cares if you sell it. Only you do. So do yourself a favour and work hard. As for favours, make it better, and try like hell to make it.

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

My house (either my desk, my kitchen chopping block, the dining room table, or the old lady chair in my room), my office (on my office mates’ desk), JJbean on Bute & Alberni (the space chairs upstairs are so comfy). When it’s just me and my notebook, Happy Hour at Waterfront Station’s Rogue Wet Bar.

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

There are really so many, and every year I just add more. William F. Whites has been HUGE in supporting my productions and I look forward to studios paying them millions in the future to rent their gear for my productions. Women in the Director’s Chair has mentored me since university, Telus and Telus Optik, Harold Greenberg Fund, BC Arts Council, The Movie Network, Movie Central, SEED in Northwest Territories, the NFB, have all financed a film, music video, or my professional development. The people I met at my old yoga studio got me more contract video work than anyone from university or otherwise ever did. I’m a hustler and have either found or created most of my paid work in the last seven years. I’ll be getting an agent very soon and hopefully I will be credited them for a lot in the near future.

What’s in the works for you right now?

I just wrapped Season One of a new comedy web-series, YOUNG & RECKLESS, written by Andrea Shawcross, which will be available on Telus Optik VOD, YouTube, and more come the fall. I have one or two new videos coming down the pipe with singer RYKKA, and my first with Vancouver’s Sadie Campbell, which will be out mid June.

I have three other web-series/series in the works, my short BEAT AROUND THE BUSH is killing it at film fests across the continent and now spilling into Europe, as well as a feature film of the same concept in development. You can keep up to date with all the things at www.Nord-Stewart.com.

Anything you’d like to add?

Please recycle. Eat real food. Respect the outdoors, and laugh at my goddamn movies.

Did you connect with Brianne? Check out my interview with Melanie Jones or drop me a line and join the party. Here’s how you can get involved.

Screen Shot 2019-11-13 at 9.36.58 PM

Meet Samantha Landa, Founder of Brandcafe

It’s tough to make friends in adulthood. Without the confines of a classroom to force you together, forging new friendship relies on extending out beyond your comfort zone. Enter Vancouver Neatos interviews, where I introduce you to a new face in Vancouver every week (ish). Want to take part? Drop me a line.

Samantha Landa on Stylings and Stories

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a full-time content, branding, and writing professional (samlanda.com) who’s launching a new company (brandcafe.co) this summer. That’s “by day.” I’m also a metal drummer “by night.” Born and raised in Richmond, I now live in Mount Pleasant with my boyfriend and husky. I have a dusty geography degree from UBC and I love meeting new people. Overachievers unite–you can find me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

What drew you to the content and branding world?

I’ve been writing all my life–I’m pretty sure I was born with a pen in my hand. That later became a Windows 3.1 PC. And that later became a MacBook. As a creative writer, I always dreamed of being a novelist. I may not be one yet (although I finished writing one a few years ago), but I do get paid to do what I love, which at the moment is helping companies tell their stories and find an interesting voice–especially those in traditionally non-exciting industries.

Is there anything that particularly influences or inspires your work?

I love a great ad campaign, especially one that makes me think or makes me laugh. There are a million ways to promote a product, service, or cause, but there are only a few ways to do it right. Most of all, however, it’s people who inspire me, both in my content work and my music. I love making people happy.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start doing what you do?

For those wanting to write for businesses: volunteer a lot, if you aren’t walking out of school with a communications degree (and even then, you should get experience your own way). There are plenty of people looking for writing help, and you can plump up your resume very quickly. Go to networking events. Check Meetup.com. There are tons out there!

For those wanting to quit the day job and work for yourself: do it. But have a plan, and a backup plan. Start moonlighting and meeting people who could become potential clients. Just don’t let the planning get in the way of your dreams. It’s never going to be the perfect time, which means now is the perfect time.

For those wanting to learn drums: you’re going to suck after just a few tries. Don’t give up. The number of people who say “I’m a horrible drummer” but have only sat down on the drums once, is astounding. I was a terrible drummer for a long time, and I’m a musical person; I just didn’t want to practice enough. Find your passion and do whatever it takes to get there, no matter how long you need to struggle. Rent an hourly rehearsal space (there are plenty in town) and get a good teacher.

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

The biggest challenge for many writers–especially freelancers–is setting one’s self apart from hundreds of other Vancouver writing professionals. There are many of you out there, but there’s more than enough work to go around. Shake hands. Get outside. Make and receive referrals. Be a good writer (“maybe she’s born with it”). But most importantly, be genuine, and people will respect you and trust you to do good work. Then go in there and prove how awesome you are, champ.

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

I’m biased, but I work a few days a week (when I can) at Spacekraft, a great coworking space in Burnaby. It has everything I need to be productive, but it also provides the social setting I miss from when I used to work in a corporate office.

Also, my patio is awesome.

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

The most helpful resource I’ve found so far has been a closed Facebook group called Girl Gang. I’ve found clients, contractors, referral partners, and friends through this group. I highly recommend finding Meetup groups like this, or starting your own accountability group, especially if you’re a solopreneur or a new small business owner.

What’s in the works for you right now?

I’m launching my company, Brandcafe, this summer. It takes the SaaS package business model and applies it to the content world (to the uninformed, it means businesses sign up for a package to get ongoing custom content every month). And my band is recording our second album!

Did you connect with Sam? Check out my interview with Sara Bynoe or drop me a line and join the party. Here’s how you can get involved.