Favourite Memories with First Weekend Club

Favourite Memories with First Weekend Club

I’ve always believed that film is a reflection of our national identity which is one of the reasons why I feel the work we do at First Weekend Club is so important. In the spirit of being completely honest though, the reason I’ve continued to do this work for over 14 years is because it has been a huge amount of fun! So as we are approaching our nation’s 150th anniversary and celebrating everything Canadian, let me share some of my personal favourite moments of working in the Canadian film industry through First Weekend Club.
First, it’s always about the people. Filmmakers and actors have to be the biggest dreamers who work hard and over come so many obstacles to make their dreams come true. I’m deeply inspired by these individuals and I find I’m drawn to them and want to help these filmmakers and actors get the attention and recognition they deserve. Putting the spotlight on our creative talent at film festivals is particularly exciting as these festivals are celebrating their accomplishments and the energy and excitement all around is electric. I love feeding on that energy and that passion! Seriously, I gobble it up.

Going to the Cannes Film Festival with my colleague Priya Rao in 2016 was  definitely a career highlight! The environment, of course, was incredible, and we got to meet some great new talent and interview some seasoned vets (and enjoy a beautiful glass of rosé with an incredible lunch overlooking the Mediterranean – what’s not to love.)   The Toronto International Film Festival is a big one for us too and usually the whole First Weekend Club team is at this festival doing interviews, shaking hands, watching movies and hosting our annual party. There have been so many laughs over the years and it’s been a lot of fun being right in the mix with our Canadian talent and celebrating their success.
Another particularly favourite memory was in 2006 when C.R.A.Z.Y. by Jean Marc Vallée, SCARED SACRED by Velcrow Ripper, IT’S ALL GONE PETE TONG, by Michael Dowse and MILO 55160 a short film by David Ostry were all up for Genie Awards (now known as the Canadian Screen Awards). We decided to invite these filmmakers to Toronto a day early to host a special Talkback Salon with them at the Drake Hotel the night before the awards show. We packed the house and the engaging discussion that ensued was riveting. That evening, First Weekend Club hosted our featured guests for dinner, and you should have seen all the waitress fawning over the charming French Canadian Jean Marc. The next night, these same four filmmakers all walked across the stage to collect their awards and that evening, as we were all staying at the Drake we found ourselves celebrating together on the sky yard patio. Sharing in these filmmakers’ victory was definitely one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences running First Weekend Club. All of these filmmakers have gone on to make many more wonderful films and First Weekend Club is always their to shout out their praise and encourage people to see their films!

There have been so many wonderful films that have come through the club and we’ve had the pleasure of working with filmmakers from every corner of Canada. When we really love a film and if we have the resources we’ll host special events around a films release – tying in something from the film to create a memorable experience for our audience. When we helped release CAIRO TIME, for instance, we brought in a belly dancer. When we helped with METAL: A HEADBANGER’S JOURNEY we brought in a heavy metal band to perform after the film. When we did FIDO we helped organize a Zombie Walk to the movie theatres. All of these events and more, were ridiculously fun and hugely gratifying!

First Weekend Club is a big part of my life and I’m grateful for the opportunity it has afforded me to meet with so many passionate and creative individuals, and to experience Canada through their eyes. Each story is so unique and wonderfully diverse and they provide a great reflection of our cultural identity. If you want to watch more Canadian films, check out CanadaScreens.ca where you’ll find a wonderful selection of some of the best films produced in Canada in recent years.

I’m looking forward to seeing what our creative industry will produce next! Many more wonderful films I’m sure will be coming our way and First Weekend Club is here to let you know all about them!!


Mike Dowse