Ten years ago in June 2006, I was awarded a CTV Fellowship to attend the prestigious Banff World Television Festival. Since then I’ve attended to report on most of the yearly Banff World Media Festival (Banff’s new name). Based on my personal experiences, I recommend the annual Banff gathering be something someone working in media/entertainment industry should attend at least once in her/his life (and may be even yearly). Great way to pitch projects to concentrated groups of decision makers from around the world, to meet and make friends with industry peers, and learn from the many Master Classes you given by some of the best creatives in the industry.
Take this year as an example, knowing HBO Chairman and CEO Mr. Richard Plepler will attend the 2016 Banff, I did some research including watching these two videos to prepare. And I ended up learning lots from attending and meeting Richard in his Company of Distinction Keynote: HBO’s Richard Plepler Banff World Media Festival Banff. And yes, I felt totally honoured when Richard compared me to his mother after I asked him about his work experience at “RLP International“ quoting what I learned from his commencement speech to the Franklin & Marshall College Class of 2015!
Let me share just another highly insightful and fun to watch video from the 2016 Banff: In Conversation with Sir Peter Ustinov Comedy Award Recipient Russell Peters. I love Russell Peters even more as I heard the etalk co-host Lainey Lui asked Russell, “You’ve been making this kind of money for the last few years and you are still hustling, 250 shows, 120 cities, 25 countries, you are still hustling with an immigrant work ethic!”
In the last 10 years, I’ve met and interviewed a lot of creatives and senior executives at Banff. The following are some samples of my video interviews.
*2010) Meeting someone I really admire like Ricky Gervais was epic and wonderful for me. I was able to capture his “Award for Comedy Speech” which I think is better/more fun than the official Banff version shot with more expensive video equipment. (watch and read my full 2010 report of Ricky here)
*2008) Two years before I met Ricky, Banff attendees had the pleasure to meet the highly successful producer Jon Plowman (photo) who came to Banff to accept his Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as former head of BBC comedy and producing/executive producing great shows like Absolutely Fabulous, The Office, Little Britain, and The Vicar of Dibley! I wrote a brief report in 2008 but didn’t shoot any video. I did walk up to meet Jon and personally thanked him for his great work!
*2011) Mike Farah, President of Production, Funny or Die,
*2010) TiVo CEO Tom Rogers interview,
*2013) Watching “VICE co-founders Shane Smith & Suroosh Alvi at Banff 2013” was a lot of fun and then interviewing “Shane @ Banff ” was awesome given how much VICE Media has grown since 2013! (Aug 18th, 2017 update: CNN, “‘Vice News Tonight’ has breakout moment with Charlottesville coverage“, full short doc segment on YouTube Aug 14th “Charlottesville: Race and Terror – VICE News Tonight on HBO“)
*2012) “Masterclass with Terence Winter creator of Boardwalk Empire at #banff2012” (more info on Boardwalk Empire)
*2012) And my video interview with “Terence Winter, Creator of Boardwalk Empire at banff 2012”
*2011) Tom Perlmutter, NFB Chairperson,
*2010) Tony Lacavera, Globalive & WIND Mobile Chairman audio interview, (It was fun for me interviewing Tony, an University of Toronto alum, over the years. In March 2016, Shaw Communications Inc. closed its acquisition of Wind Mobile for $1.6 billion.)
*2008) David Hoselton (Producer of House) (I LOVE House so it was interesting for me to know that creator David Shore and producer David Hoselton were University of Toronto Law School buddies.)
*2012) Duncan Fulton, SVP Canadian Tire, talks about cutting edge advertising/e-commerce technologies at #banff2012 (Since then, Duncan has been promoted to President FGL Sports Ltd in March 2016.)
*2007) Jane Mote, Director of Life Style, UKTV,
*2007) Vicky Taylor, Editor, Interactivity, BBC Television,
*2007) Dale Herigstad, Chief Creative Officer, Schematic,
*2007) Greg Goodfried, Co-creator and Executive Producer, Lonelygirl15, (note: In 2012, AdAge reported that “Everyday Health Buys Lonelygirl15 Producer EQAL in Expansion to New Genres” quoting TechCruch which “pegged the price at $15 million plus a $5 million earn-out“. EQAL founders are Miles Beckett and Greg Goodfried.)
*2007) Dawn Airey, Director of Global Content, ITV,
*2012) Paul Chard – The most interesting person at #banff2012 to me,
One of the most insightful people I’ve met at Banff
*2009) Gary Carter’s Storytelling in the Digital Age (2009) (Long list of videos, highly recommended even the 2009 content may seem a bit dated)
Attended and filmed,
*2012) “In Conversation with Chuck Lorre (Creator of Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory)“,
*2010) “William Shatner speaks with ‘The Big Bang Theory’ creator and showrunner Bill Prady“,
*2012) “Conflicts in Reality TV and psychological profiling – The Chicken or The Egg – Most fascinating and controversial session at 2012 Banff”
*2010) “Ian Brennan, creator/writer Glee (19 Emmy nominations) @ 2010 Banff” (extensive video)
*2013) “Julia Louis-Dreyfus talks about Veep and other topics at Banff World Media Festival 2013”
*2012) This was a lot of fun and insight for me, “Master class Q&A with Glen Mazzara – The Walking Dead at 2012 Banff World Media Festival”
*2006) Finally, It was my honour to meet and listen to Oscar winning director & writer Paul Haggis at my absolute first Banff in 2006. I wish my “professionalism” hadn’t stopped me from asking for a photo! Oh well, something I have regretted ever since. Anyway, the story of how Paul broke into Television is something I will likely remember for the rest of my life! Enjoy!
*2016) I think Girls is one of the most cutting edge and funny TV comedies in recent years. I had the pleasure this year to attend and listen to Jenni Konner talk in person. And I enjoyed the session very much.
Comedy Master Class with Casey Bloys and Jenni Konner (note: Casey Bloys is senior vice president, HBO Entertainment)
*2016) I didn’t know the name Jay Baruchel but after watching this, I discovered I’ve watched A LOT of Jay‘s stuff without knowing his name and I LOVE them all! Very insightful: “In Conversation with Canadian Award of Distinction Recipient Jay Baruchel”
*2016) Richard Plepler: Stick with the Optimists (background research for Banff 2016)
*2016) HBO CEO Richard Plepler: Full Discussion @The Paley Center for Media (background research for 2016)
*2016 Banff) “The Night Of” Master Class: A Closer Look at HBO’s Limited Series Model featuring Academy Award-winning writer Steven Zaillian. After watching the video, I realized one of my favourite films “Searching for Bobby Fischer” was written and directed by Steven and he talks about it at timecode 16:10.
*for 2016) Westworld: Teaser Trailer (HBO) (brand new to viewers at Banff, publicly released after 2016 Banff)
P.S. On a personal note, I want to thank Scott Benzie, Lindsay Nahmiache, Robert Montgomery, and, for the last 10 years, many other team members for their kind help at Banff and arranging my press credentials, etc. I really enjoyed attending Banff and I’m happy to share what I learned with my readers/viewers.
It has taken me some time to create this post and I am still amazed how many great creatives and industry senior executives I’ve met and tried to learn from all these years. And there are still some that I haven’t listed! Like in 2009 when I met and interviewed Ron Moore who amazingly re-imagined Battlestar Galactica (BSG)!
Let me mention something most people might have missed. For a few years in a row, I noticed Tony Lacavera, Founder and Chairman of Globalive & former WIND Mobile Chairman, was sponsoring the Banff CRTC Breakfasts. (see my 2010 report) A side benefit was Tony got some “face time” to chat with CRTC Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein (photo of the two at CRTC Breakfast). Well, to me, that was money well spent in the long game of business! As you may know, this March 2016 WIND Mobile was sold to Shaw Communications Inc. for $1.6 billion.
If you ask me, I say the C$1.6 billion deal has to be one of the biggest deals that Banff World Media Festival has *indirectly* facilitated! Pretty cool!