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Government of New Brunswick

Sandy Hunter

Sandy Hunter Bio
Photo: Xaviar Johnson

Sandy Hunter (he/ him) is a New Brunswick-based film & television producer with more than two decades of experience at the heart of the Canadian industry. As the past head of Apple TV in Canada, Sandy worked with streamers, broadcasters, producers and distributors. Sandy has held positions at Alliance Atlantis, Res Media Group, was the co-founder of Toronto production company Soft Citizen and in 2009 produced the critically acclaimed documentary Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands. Since moving back to his home province of NB in 2021, he has produced Drop the Needle (Prime Video), Wabanaki Modern (CBC) and O’Don’s (Bell) and developed a slate of TV projects via the Bell Slate Development Fund. In 2024, Sandy and his co-producers go to camera on Unseen, the second feature from filmmaker Taylor Olson. Sandy produces and consults via Cazador inc. and through his NB-based production company Cultivation Pictures and is a member of the NB Film Co-Op.

Who or what inspires you and why?

I’ve always had a fascination with stories and storytellers, which I suppose I can trace back to my grandmother Glenna Williamson, who introduced me to JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels as a child. This love of reading took me to the Florenceville library to seek out the latest Tintin or Asterix graphic novel and led to a love of comics (purchased with my farm earnings at the local IGA) and a lifelong love affair with the classic tabletop roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons. On the exact opposite side of the coin, I studied journalism and, when I am not immersed in fictional and sometimes fantastic narratives, I am equally inspired by documentary, in particular to factual stories most often with cultural or environmental subject matter at their hearts.

What drew you to working in the film industry?

Growing up in rural NB I was never exposed to the film industry, but I was always interested in media so I wound up pursuing and receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa. From there, after a few twists and turns, I wound up landing a job at ‘Boards Magazine, a Toronto-based trade magazine covering TV commercial production. This job really served as my intro to how films (in this case 30 second ads) were made, and exposed to me amazing creative talents who make moving images come to life. I’ve been lucky to have been able to work in many different roles in the industry and ultimately, I came to producing, a job which sees you involved with a project from inception to execution and beyond.

What do you enjoy most about creating films?

The collaborative work that goes into making films or TV is truly special and the collective energy which goes into making a finished piece of work is truly astounding. It’s always creatively and professionally fulfilling to finish and screen a project, but the journey, be it during development, on set or in post production is just as personally rewarding to me.

What do you enjoy most about being an artist living in New Brunswick?

Working as a producer in New Brunswick has allowed me to meet a truly amazing cross-section of talented folks from across the province who come together to do the hard work required for every project. In Toronto there is infinitely more work, but this is often accompanied by a much more mercenary approach to filmmaking. Here in NB, while it can be harder for professionals to earn a living in film and TV, there is more room for creative cross-pollination amongst the driven folks pursuing this work.

Then, of course there’s the natural beauty of this place. The river valley holds a special place in my heart and the fact that its only a half our drive to find oneself immersed in inspirational settings is a constant source of creativity for me.

Describe what you are most proud of as an artist.

I’ve been working in some role or another in film and TV for 24 years now, so to be honest it’s hard to pinpoint a single proudest achievement. Pursuing this work is a constant sequence of hills and valleys: pitching, failing, winning, shooting, delivering and then hearing others feedback good or bad, are all a part of the journey. That said, having the opportunity to produce a small shoot in my hometown of Florenceville this year was very special indeed. It’s called Justus: Seaghan Destroy and it’s a proof of concept short for a larger TV project my creative partner Clem McIntosh and I have been developing for a few years now. It’s getting it’s NB premiere at the Silverwave Film Festival this year and authentically, and hopefully comedically, depicts a world of potatoes, Skidoos and Alpine.

What is your artistic approach and/or philosophy to creating films?

Whether it’s fiction or fact, every successful project I’ve been a key part of us based on real-world elements that resonate personally with me. Good ol’ Mark Twain said “write what you know” and my time as a journalist only solidified this approach for me. Films and TV are nothing if they are not shared with viewers, so when contemplating a new project, the first question I ask myself is, “who is this for?” Given the financial cost of producing professional work, it’s essential to me that whatever the truths to be conveyed in a film or series, it should speak to an audience in a meaningful way. So, the development and creative process of listening, shaping and packaging ideas in the hopes of securing funding to actually produce a film or series is a hugely important part of the process. Without these raw materials, the cameras won’t role. When it gets down to shooting the script, it’s all about the team that comes together and, trusting the team you’ve assembled to deliver is the only way to survive the stress of seeing an idea I’ve been dreaming and scheming of for months or years. Honouring and actively shepherding the post production process to completion is one of my favourite parts of filmmaking; seeing all of the components of a project come together is truly rewarding to me.

Who is your favourite film producer and why?

Film producers don’t often receive the same limelight and accolades as their creative partners in crime, directors. Noah Segal, co-president of Toronto’s Elevation Pictures, really stands out to me as someone who’s career as a Canadian producer has resulted in both outstanding creative output and ongoing professional success. He has the eye for projects, is willing to take risks but never lets go of the joy of being able to work in this business. On the TV side of things, I’d have to say Ken Burns. His ability to shape compelling human narratives from a broad cross section of media have exposed to strands of culture I might have ignored without his trademark approach to storytelling.

What advice would you give to young, emerging artists in the film industry?

Very few filmmakers start out as directors. Breaking into the industry, especially in New Brunswick, means saying yes to any opportunity to learn and network with a film crew. Given how complicated making a film can be, being a part of a crew is the best way to understand the madness and magic of filmmaking. I am not saying you shouldn’t pursue your own films, but it’s a collective art form, so working with and learning from those more experienced than you is the best way to gain exposure and access to the industry.

Where can people connect with you?

Justus: Seaghan Destroy (Trailer)

When unknown foes burn his truck and steal his snowmobile, brawler turned farmer Seaghan Allan embarks on an action-packed quest for justice across the snowy forests and potato-laden hills of lawless Russet County, New Brunswick, Canada.

Director: ClemMcIntosh
Producer: Sandy Hunter
© Cultivation Pictures LP. 2023

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