Andrea Whyte: Today’s Notable Young Professional

Andrea Whyte is the IFE Programming Manager at Spafax Canada, where she manages monthly in-flight entertainment programming for Air Canada. She also helps manage the annual Air Canada enRoute Film Festival, which showcases short films made by Canadian student and emerging filmmakers and awards amazing prizes to the top films each year…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I am the IFE Programming Manager at Spafax Canada, where I manage monthly in flight entertainment programming for Air Canada. I also help manage the annual Air Canada enRoute Film Festival, which showcases short films made by Canadian student and emerging filmmakers and awards amazing prizes to the top films each year. I work on every aspect of the festival, from coordinating festival planning and overseeing outreach initiatives, to managing submissions and administrative details, to sitting on the Festival Programming Committee, and to working with the many teams involved in organizing the film festival and screening events in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
My background is in film festivals and event programming and I was excited for the chance to continue pursuing this passion through my work on the Air Canada enRoute Film Festival, as well as take on the new challenge of programming for a unique medium – airlines. Spafax is an international leader in in flight entertainment management and Air Canada is well recognized for its incredibly diverse and high quality programming, so I was excited to have the opportunity to work with these two exceptional companies. My role at Spafax allows me to take my knowledge and love of film and television and channel this expertise into selecting the best in-flight entertainment content each month.

The chance to be involved in the Air Canada enRoute Film Festival definitely appealed to me. I had been following the festival for some time and have always admired the festival’s mission to support young Canadian talent. The Air Canada enRoute Film Festival is such a great opportunity for these emerging filmmakers. It is completely free to enter and the potential for exposure and recognition is fantastic. Selected films are shown onboard all Air Canada planes, which means millions of passengers have the opportunity to see your work. On top of this, all shortlisted films are viewed by a jury comprised of key Canadian industry figures and celebrities who vote to award prizes to the top films, including a $5000 cash prize for Best Short Film, courtesy of presenting sponsor Cineplex Entertainment, and a trip to a major international film festival. Free screening events are also held in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal to showcase these incredible films. The Air Canada enRoute Film Festival offers an unprecedented opportunity for young filmmakers to have their films seen by influential members of the Canadian film industry, as well as a wide public audience, and I am thrilled to have the chance to get involved in supporting the next generation of Canadian talent.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
Every day I watch hours of film and television and have the opportunity to support original and creative content through programming in-flight entertainment. For the Air Canada enRoute Film Festival, I get to be involved in giving talented young filmmakers a chance that can help propel their promising careers forward. Discovering and encouraging incredible Canadian filmmakers is the best part of what I do.

On the other hand, one of the most challenging things I have to do is say no. For every project we program, whether in the Air Canada enRoute Film Festival or in the monthly in-flight entertainment selection, there will be many others that I will have to decline and it is always difficult to reject a project when you know how much work and passion went into every frame.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
That’s a difficult question but ideally I will still be working in a job that I find creatively stimulating and intellectually challenging every single day.

What does success look like to you?
I think success is finding happiness in many different areas of your life, from enjoying your work and feeling confident in your professional achievements, to making time for your personal life and taking pride in your relationships. Success is about striking that balance.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Always keep learning and keep building your personal and professional networks. Whether it’s through attending seminars and lectures, joining a professional organization or keeping in touch with people you meet in social situations who might have likeminded goals, it’s important to continuously cultivate these relationships. I’ve been a member of Women in Film and Television since I was a student and have found the opportunity to meet and learn from women working in all different areas of the media industry, at all levels, invaluable. Your network is a support system where you can discuss any challenges with your peers, as well as learn about new opportunities and stay informed on what is happening in your industry.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I have supported many community arts groups over the years, through both donations and volunteer opportunities. This year I sat on the Programming Committee for the Regent Park Film Festival, which is a great festival that makes relevant international film and media arts accessible to a community audience. I think it is incredibly important to support accessible festivals like Regent Park to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to engage with the arts, no matter their economic situation.

Describe your ideal retirement: how old will you be and how do you plan on spending your retirement years?
Retirement feels very far away! I fully plan to spend retirement traveling, reading, cooking and probably watching even more movies.

What are you looking forward to most about retiring?
Time! And having the freedom to take a nap in the middle of the day.

What to you is notable?
Having both confidence and humility when it comes to your success. The people I have most appreciated in my career are those who remember what it was like to be just starting out and take the time to mentor and support those who are in that position now.

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To download an entry form and view full contest rules and regulations, visit Submissions will be accepted until Friday, May 31.