Saturday, September 14, 2019

Have You Ever Wanted to Work in Media?

We're less that four weeks away from the first Duluth-hosted Catalyst Content Festival, a potentially much bigger event than most Northlanders have yet to realize. It's actually been years in the making in a pair of ways.

First, there have been years of investment in making Duluth the remarkable place it's become. After the collapse of it's industrial base, it took quite a while for the Twin Ports to find its footing. Over time, with much investment, Canal Park, Downtown and Lincoln Park have been transformed.

Second, ITV Fest's first 13 years enabled it to find its own footing as regards what it is and how it fits into the new media landscape. Now in its 14th year and bearing a new name, Catalyst has come of age. In short, for a variety of reasons it appears to be a perfect marriage.

Friday night St. Scholastica hosted a Catalyst Content Preview Event in Mitchell Auditorium. The room wasn't as packed as when Low or Trampled By Turtles performed, but it was a healthy, appreciative crowd. Clearly, something special is coming to town.

We were welcomed by St. Scholastica marketing director Ira Pavala who shared a few remarks including, "We're proud to be a part of this." St. Scholastica is a two year sponsor and will he home to the Storyboard Academy beginning January. "The aim is to lower the barriers to entry into this industry," she stated before introducing Catalyst executive director Philip Gilpin.

Philip Gilpin
Gilpin was upfront that the aim here is jobs, and helping people to find their place in this massive industry. Where do you fit in? We're all familiar with the actors and extras who appear on the screen, but part of this event is helping people see the scale of infrastructure and staffing needed to bring stories to the screen.

In addition to story developers, directors, producers and casting, their are all kinds of other roles and needs to fill. A few of these categories include:
Props, Set Direction, Locations, Art Department, Camera, Grip, Lighting, Production Sound, Special Effects, Transportation, Greenery, Paint, Craft Services, Catering, Publicity, Music, Post-Production, Picture Editing, Visual Effects.

Greenery? Well, yes. For example when Marlon Brando was chasing his grandson through the garden in The Godfather, somebody had to be taking care of the plants, someone with a green thumb. That's greenery.

To see the full range of jobs required to make movies and shows, visit

Mitchell Auditorium Friday evening.
Here's a surprising detail. Last year, more films were shot in Georgia than in Hollywood. Why? Because they have the infrastructure in place for all these various needs.

Part of the Catalyst Festival is simply bringing people together, and part of it is training so that there is more talent in the industry. A third part is simply having fun for a week, sharing ideas and watching films.

Gilpin stated that there were 800 submissions for this years festival from all over the world. 60 to 70 films will be screened during the five day fest. A requirement for the selected films is for the film makers to be present, so we can ask questions, get to know them and their motivations.

How We Got Here
Gilpin shared how he met Riki McManus last year in October. Riki’s and others’ work has made this possible. Duluth has much to offer and was selected because there was a sense that with the industry at an inflection point there might be more rapid growth than their Vermont home could accommodate.

As has been noted here in the past, Minnesota believes in the arts. There's an infrastructure here that believes in and supports the arts. The City, the County, the people, the sponsors… "It's a town with great energy, which makes something like this possible."

He also cited the five year commitment the Abrams Artists Agency has made to Catalyst. There is a hunger for narrative episodic content, but with technology advances  costs have been greatly reduced, making it possible to produce quality material for pennies on the dollar compared to the big budgets Hollywood must fork over.
Six months ago when this event was first announced, it had an air of unreality about it. Could it really work? Could they really pull it off?

Today, as we stand on the threshold, it's apparent that a lot of work has preceded this moment. It's not a misty phantom but rather something firm, solid and really taking shape before our eyes.

Have you ever wanted to work in media? This is a great opportunity to see what it's about.

Related Links
Catalyst Home Page
Festival Schedule
ITV Fest Re-Branded as Catalyst
Sign up to as a Volunteer
Unremembered Histories: Six Stories with s Supernatural Twist
(I included this last link because I believe some of these stories might make thought-provoking and entertaining short films, with the title story a multi-year episodic series.)

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