YEDaily: Shea Wageman

The Canadian film industry is significantly more established than we typically give it credit. But with talent like Director Shea Wageman, it’s only a matter of time before the quality of “Hollywood North” productions is validated on the international stage. Find out more about this 34-year-old director and producer in today’s YEDaily.

When did you start your business?
I originally founded my company in 1997, right out of film school at the age of 19. I wished to setup a vehicle to produce films under. We started with music videos and commercials, then short films, and now we’re doing feature length movies. We have over 20 shareholders.

Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
Centurion Pictures Inc., my feature film company, produces mainstream feature length films with the aim to be as marketable as they are moving and magical. Our goal is to produce A-level content which is similar to such films as Rocky, The Karate Kid, The Pursuit of Happyness, and It’s a Wonderful Life.

Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
My goal as a boy was to become a film director. Along the way, I realized I loved producing as much as directing, and now I do both. My inspiration was Steven Spielberg’s films, such as E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Schindler’s List. As a kid I loved how his films were crafted perfectly to be extremely entertaining or impacting, while creating deep and amusing characters. They appeal to the young and old – my goal is to create films which do the same.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The most rewarding and challenging part is always having to come up with something amazing. There are no points for tied for 2nd place. A script/story, character moment, or camera direction choice needs to be as perfect as you can make it – as a result there is no rest, because there is always a way to out-do yourself, until you either run out of production days, or the distributor rips the film from your hands in the editing suite. The pressure creates a constant feeling of needing to one-up what you have or where you/your film is, so I am seldom relaxed or content. The reward, however, of seeing something surpass your original vision substantiates all the extra effort you put in. And the best reward is when an audience agrees with the effort.

Where do you see your business going in 5 years?
My business goal is to produce three feature length films and release them successfully over the next few years. We have already produced one, and are gearing up for our second. Our business plan has been designed to use these first three diverse films to launch a fully Canadian feature film company – which produces content that rivals films seen at the highest level. I feel strongly that Canada needs more homegrown studios which produce their own content, capable of supporting the talented film labour and production infrastructure existing within a number of Canada’s largest cities.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Definitely directing and producing my first feature film. We were very fortunate to attach and convince Kelly McGillis (Top Gun, Witness, The Accused) to travel to Vancouver in 2008 to shoot a 3-minute pitch trailer for our first film What Could Have Been, which is scheduled for release this fall. As a result of Kelly’s efforts and a number of supportive investors, my company was greenlit to proceed producing the full-length feature last summer. The entire experience was extremely building for myself and my company in all ways – from hard work, to ups and downs, to extreme successes.

newspaper article

A couple months before production started we got word from Bruce Allen Talent that Bryan Adams (who we had approached regarding the movie’s theme song) had confirmed he would do an original song for the picture. A day before production started, Bryan sent us his initial demo for the song – it was incredible, and a perfect start to principal photography.

The entire post-production cycle continued the same way, with the Vancouver industry pulling together to help us finish our low-budget picture to the highest standard of filmmaking. The industry in Vancouver deserves more home-grown studios to keep such talent and skill working without interruption. We have some of the best people, facilities, and locations in the world.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Never give up on your dreams. It is a hard road to walk, and there will be many, many ups and downs. But ultimately when you decide what they are and never let go of them, nobody can take your dreams from you, no matter how hard they try. Eventually, you will look in the mirror and realize you are that person you dreamed about as a kid , if you hold steady…

What is Notable to you?
There needs to be more venues like Notable to launch young talent, and get the work out there. To me Notable is one of the highest forms of promotion of individuals trying to forge ahead in the world.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or other?
I have an iPhone. Not sure if you can live today without one…

Watch the trailer for What Could Have Been here.