While Wendy Donnan may be a new member to Company of Women, she most definitely is not new to the world of film and television.
Graduating from Western with a degree in English, she started working at TV Ontario, working in programming, production and broadcasting. She cut her teeth in the industry there and after eight years, left to launch her own freelance business.
In 2001, she was instrumental in the launch of the PrideVision channel, the first of its kind. From documentaries to feature films to working with the Weather Network, and creating programming for such networks as TVO, OUTtv, Bravo, and Discovery Channel, Wendy brings a broad range of experiences to the Oakville Festivals of Film an Art, a non-profit she co-founded five years ago.
“I love film and saw a town where culture was draining away.” she shares. She also saw the festival as a way to introduce the public to Canadian movies and support new, emerging film producers. Only 2 percent of total box office take in Canada is earned by Canadian films.
When she is not making her own documentaries, she offers her freelance services to others in the industry, helping them with production management and lining up investors.
She’s an ongoing student, after gaining her masters in Cinema and Media Studies, she is now working on her PhD. She also teaches the business of film at Wilfrid Laurier, a course she developed for the university. She has also acted as a Teaching Assistant for Film and Communications courses at York University.
Each year a social cause is chosen as the theme for the festival. In the past they have focused on mental health, violence against women and this year the theme is women and family issues. Many of the films selected showcase women directors and stories, and the Gala on June 23 features the Eastern Canadian Premiere of the film Paper Year, produced by an all-female production team, many of whom will be at the Gala.
Having worked in the public, private and non-profit sectors, Wendy acknowledges that each sector has its share of challenges. With her entrepreneurial spirit, it is sometimes hard to seek permission to do what she wants to do.
Regardless of these constrictions, she loves what she does and bringing film to a new audience makes it all worthwhile.
If you get a chance to check out the film festival, it runs from June 22-24 in Oakville and you can find the schedule at www.offa.ca