So what is it you do again?

I was once in the hairdressers and said I worked in opera. The response was" Oh I love her AND Dr Phil. I LOVE Dr Phil." Too embarrassed to make the correction,  I went along with it and left someone with the very firm impression that I work on an American daytime talk show.

Still from Compagnie Baroque Mont-Royal video

I have never found a short way of describing what I do. I make films about the world of opera. Even then I think people imagine me standing in the back of a theatre with a camera recording performances. This is NOT what I do. Probably a better explanation is that I'm a journalist (BBC trained) who tells stories through video about the making of opera and about opera singers. I am an opera-aholic and love to promote the art form which I think most people would enjoy if they just gave it a try. (You can't have an opinion if you've never seen one).

Denys Arcand and Caroline Gélinas in video for Opéra de Montréal

I got into this line of work because of my opera obsession. More specifically because I wrote to Montreal Opera and cheekily told them they needed videos about their young artists. After setting me the task of making a test video with young artists about to appear in a Bizet concert - they agreed and I've been working for them since 2011. Then Opera McGill asked me to make films about their program and I've been working for them since 2013.

Geoffroy Salvas profile video for Atelier lyrique

Most of the singers I film are young artists - either at university (yes you can study opera) or at a YAP (Young Artist Program with an opera company) although I also make films for singers who are out in the big wide world looking for gigs. At Opera McGill I am their official videographer - making documentaries about their program and trailers for their productions.     

Brent Calis in Opera McGill trailer for Midsummer Night's Dream

At the Atelier lyrique (the YAP at Montreal Opera) I have made profile videos of their young artists to help promote them in their careers - as well as trailers and concert recordings. I now advise young artists on their social media presence. My clients also include the Schulich School of Music at McGill University where I'm making a series of short films about students in areas other than opera (such as this Week in the Life of a Woodwind Student) as well as many independent artists - singers, musicians, festivals and independent opera companies.

Rodelinda trailer for Opera McGill

I can make films about anything by the way. I used to make films about heart surgery (and other things) when I was the health reporter on BBC television for 13 years. When I emigrated to Canada in 2008 I thought I'd follow my passion for the art form and get out of the world of news. (best thing I ever did).  I regularly lecture at McGill University to students about video-storytelling.

A Year in the Life of Opera McGill: a documentary

I've created this blog for those who wonder what the hell it is that I do.  I'm a one-woman band by the way. I do all the filming, interviewing and editing myself - which cuts down on costs and means I can be a total control freak. I'm planning to give a behind-the-scenes look into my world of filmmaking and maybe sometimes Norman the cat will be featured, yes.

The Year of Shakespeare video: a documentary 

 I have to say my favourite format is the documentary - when I get a chance to really explore my subject - such as my recent video,  A Year in the Life of Opera McGill when director Patrick Hansen commissioned me to follow three students for a year and tell their stories. I shouldn't say this but I cannot believe I got paid to do that. I was in my element. Since then I've produced a documentary for the 60th anniversary of Opera McGill and am just putting the finishing touches to another on the world's first Opera Binge Festival (coming soon). All of my videos for Opera McGill are on their YouTube channel. More recently the McGill Chamber Orchestra under the artistic direction of conductor Boris Brott has commissioned me to make films telling the story of their projects including this one released in November 2018 :  Indigenous Visions and Voices.
Filming the latest Atelier lyrique videos (coming soon)

I admit I'm a bit of a weirdo but if you work in opera and are hiring a video producer wouldn't you rather have one who lives and breathes opera and isn't just phoning it in?  Well that would be me - and this blog is the story of my life as an operatic filmmaker.

You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter @viewfromalake where I regularly publish photographs as I work. Or for a comprehensive look at my videos check out my website.

Norman, filmmaker's cat may appear in this blog.


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