By Nicole Murphy
Local filmmaker, Brandy Yanchyk has produced 13 television documentaries and 9 television series since 2009 with Edmonton as her home base.
“I made a goal that I would make one film a year until I died. Now I have done more than that,” said Yanchyk.
COVID-19 has put a hold on her two current projects. Belongings is a series she is creating with CBC about people and their connection to the stuff they own. The other is additional episodes of her travel series Seeing the USA, where Yanchyk explores the United States.
Yanchyk has owned her production company for over 10 years working in a high risk industry where things change all the time. She has consciously built her business to sustain challenging times.
“I am a survivalist. I make things work,” said Yanchyk.
She explains that there are many ways to build a film career but what has worked for her is the decision to own the intellectual property of her films, buy her own equipment, pay everyone that works for her right away, save money, and do not accumulate debt.
Being resourceful and adaptable is so important, and she is always getting her next project going while working on her current one.
“I also only choose projects that I absolutely love, because I am going to be with them for years,” said Yanchyk.
From the research to funding to pre-production, building a team, filming and later selling each film and series the process of creating in this industry takes time and commitment.
“I spend a lot of time networking and educating myself going to different conferences like the RealScreen Summit, the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers, the Banff World Media Festival and also the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. I went to those festivals every single year,” Yanchyk said.
“I saw what other people were doing and I learned where money was coming from, how to navigate the system and there is so much more that I have to learn. I am just at five per cent of what there is to learn. There is so much more I could be doing.”
With hours of experience dealing with the ups and downs of the film industry, Yanchyk explains why she keeps doing it, as she breaks out in a joyful laugh.
“It is so much fun. I mean I have a lot of fun travelling around Canada and the United States, going to remote communities, having literally amazing adventures…then the news stories where I get to go deeper and meet fascinating people, and have access to people and stories that makes life worth living really,” said Yanchyk.
She concludes that this is not a lifestyle for everyone and you need to be committed.
“If you are not one hundred percent sure that this is what you want to do, if you’re like ‘I’m not sure, I could do something else,’ do the other thing. Because it is really hard,” said Yanchyk.
You can watch Seeing Canada and the first seven episodes of Seeing the USA on Amazon Prime, as well as many of her other documentaries on CBC GEM.