Executive Reads: Justine Whyte

Justine Whyte is an Executive Director and Producer at CFC Creates, having worked in arts and culture for 25 years to help creative voices have their work realized and appreciated by audiences; these are some of the pages that have inspired her career…

Justine Whyte is an Executive Director and Producer at CFC Creates. She has worked in arts and culture for 25 years, helping creative voices have their work realized and appreciated by audiences. Having spent a number of years working with many Toronto-based artists in preparing their work for public presentation and gallery exhibits, she entered the film industry in 1988, working at Cinephile Limited, a distribution and world sales company specializing in new Canadian and foreign talent. Justine’s involvement with CFC Features began at its inception in 1992, and she has worked intimately with over 100 directors, writers and producers in overseeing the business and creative development of over 45 projects and the actual production and marketing and distribution of 21 theatrical feature films, including: BLOOD & DONUTS, RUDE, HOUSE, CUBE, THE UNCLES, KHALED, 19 MONTHS, THE DARK HOURS, SIBLINGS, NURSE.FIGHTER.BOY., and more recently OLD STOCK and MOLLY MAXWELL, CRUEL & UNUSUAL (in post-production) and RHYMES FOR YOUNG GHOULS (in post-production). In addition to launching many careers, these films have registered success on critical, cultural and commercial levels. The films have screened at more than 75 of the world’s most prestigious festivals. These are some of the pages that have inspired her career… 

WAS by Geoff Ryman
My dear friend Regine and I, who I met through the distribution company I once worked for, routinely shared books with each other like treasured possessions and experiences. WAS is one of those, told in three parts and exploring three very different and wildly imaginative worlds, all wrapped around the iconic Wizard of Oz – both the 1939 movie and the book by L. Frank Baum. The power of story in these two original works is taken to new places with the novel, so incredibly creative and gripping. We learn about the real ‘Dorothy’ living with relatives in Kansas, the unhappy fame of Judy Garland, and a man like many of us, who has a special bond with the story of Oz dealing with AIDS. What makes this book and story even more special, is that I received a random call one day while working at the CFC from a producer in London. She had secured the movie rights and wondered if I knew of any interesting Canadian directorial talent to recommend…my jaw dropped. The dear friend that shared the book with me had it shared with her by director Laurie Lynd (a CFC Alumni). Now, how incredible is that! I’m still waiting for that movie version by Laurie Lynd and can’t imagine a better suited visual storyteller to bring this novel/story to even more people and do it the justice it so deserves as a movie. 

My Indecision Is Final by Jake Ebert and Terry Ilott Faber
The Spectacular Rise and Fall of UK-based Goldcrest Films in the early 80’s; think David Puttnam and Richard Attenborough. Given that I was working for a distribution and sales company experiencing great difficulties, and one that represented many of Canada’s top filmmaking talent, this was a very juicy read, satisfying both my left and right brain story cravings. Really, it’s a cautionary tale for anyone in the film business, be it a creative or business-minded individual. Sadly the same story has repeated itself in the world of film distribution over and over since. Bottom line: the film production and film distribution/sales business is a crazy hard business! Attracting a unique group of people; success can be so very fleeting.

With Nails, The Film Diaries of Richard E Grant by Richard E.Grant
If you’ve worked in film production, you will love the wit and daringness of this actor’s storytelling and sharing of experiences on various film sets. If you’ve never worked in the production business, you will also love this book for the sneak peak behind the curtains of both big Hollywood and independent film productions, and the drama that happens off screen. It just goes to show how hard it is to keep the drama on screen and not off screen! It is LOL funny, smart and so very entertaining. I have recommended this book to many over the years and everyone has LOVED it. I dare anyone not to become a fan of Richard E.Grant’s writing, he’s got a lot of it waiting for you to discover. So much fun. We all need fun and a regular dose of gut-splitting laughter. 

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
I think I’ve exceeded my limit her, but this is a great example of just how creative the human mind can be with story.