by Juliet Borges MD Remedy Productions UK
After a delay due to British Airways over selling seats I finally arrived in Banff 24 hours after I should have. The journey from the airport was glorious, especially when the relatively flat landscape changed and the Cascade snow-peaked mountains came into view. My driver was keen to point out a coyote at the side of the road and a deer slowly crossing in front of us. I had really arrived.
After checking into the stunning Fairmount Banff Springs hotel I ventured into the town to tag on the end of a dinner with our CEO James Burstall and Toby Dormer, the President of our newly formed Canadian company, Remedy Canada, who were dining with a great Canadian production company Force Four. It was after 10pm so I managed a glass of bubbly before the evening ended. By all accounts the evening, steak and local red wine had been a great success.
After a 4am wake-up (thank you jet lag!) I spent a few hours watching CNN before meeting for breakfast and heading to register for the festival. We then all attended a great CNN opening Key Note speech by Paul Lee, President of ABC Entertainment Group. A lot of talk of Smart TV for Smart Viewers. Modern Family and Revenge are the big hits. Modern Family was the first ever scripted show to knock American Idol of the top spot in 9 years. Smart TV with a heart!
The sun was shining and the sky was blue! Lucky considering it had been snowing just two days before. After the keynote speech I managed to walk into Banff to grab a Starbucks to set me up for the day!
Nick Rigg, President of Leopard USA, arrived late morning from New York. It was really good to see him. Our first meeting was outside in the glorious sunshine with a view that can only be described as spectacular, unreal even! I could have stayed there all day. We met with James Millward from Secret Location, a young and very talented digital producer. It was a good meeting and I hope we can find a way to work with him, if not in the UK then definitely in Canada.
We then moved inside to the Delegates Lounge, all part of the hotel, to meet with Etan Vlessing, a very interesting guy from The Hollywood Reporter who after our meeting agreed to run a piece on Argonon and our new Canadian venture. Good news! This had been set up by Leslie Oran our LA based PR company. I hadn’t met with Leslie before but we clicked straight away and it was a pleasure to spend time with her.
After a couple more great press meetings set up by Leslie, it was time to go and freshen up before our first Argonon dinner. This was at The Bison restaurant, Bear Street, Bison Courtyard! How’s that for an address! I resisted the temptation to eat Bison and instead opted for some lamb, but Nick tried it out and was certainly not disappointed. The food was delicious a great choice of restaurant. Well done Toby! There was a Netflix party to go on to, but the 7-hour time difference and the early wake up was starting to hit me and I was well and truly ready for bed by 10pm!
Tuesday’s weather did not disappoint and was even better than the previous day. We started the day meeting with David Zitzerman of Goodmans, a Canadian legal firm we are working with on the setting up of Remedy Canada, and ended the day meeting with Richard Brownse, President and CEO of British Columbia Film & Media. David was very informative and we learnt a lot about what we were to expect from starting out as a newly formed company with Toby at the helm and how to deal with the Canadian Heritage. Richard talked about the domestic credits available from the Canadian Media Fund budget along with a lot of other great stuff. Both meetings were really informative.
During the day it was really good to hear about all the meetings Nick and Toby were having with the Canadian broadcasters. They were armed with some great sizzle tapes and the feedback all round was really positive.
Before we knew it, it was time for dinner again! This time at the Maple Leaf Grille in Banff. We invited some guests along to join us. Catherine Catton, Senior Commissioning Editor at UKTV, Etan Vlessing of The Hollywood Reporter and James Millward from Secret Location. Unfortunately Etan could not make it in the end. James, Toby, Nick, myself and our two guests had a great meal. Poor Catherine had only just flown in from the UK a few hours before, so was suffering with the jet lag I was slowly getting over! Other than Catherine we all made it along to the Entertainment One Television party in the presidential suite at the hotel. It was packed, hot and very noisy. Good to go to, but I left after one drink.
The final day and our CEO, James Burstall, was on a panel talking about Socially Responsible Media. It was a really interesting panel and the speakers had us all enthralled. James was brilliant and showed some great clips of Leopard Films UK shows ‘The Day The Immigrants Left’ and ‘Tourettes: I Swear I Can Sing’.
We were off to the airport late afternoon, so after a light lunch we decided to treat ourselves to a horse ride along and across the Spray River. The heavens opened as we got in the saddle but it was still fun. And what a lovely way to see more of the wonderful Canadian countryside.
All in all Banff was a productive and most enjoyable trip. The Banff Media Festival was well run and well attended. We met a lot of really good people and came away feeling energised and excited about our newly formed Canadian company.