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An Unexpected Journey: Emily’s Road to #KFF2021

My best friend Avery tells me often that I’m in the “perfect job” because I’ve always had such a passion for movies. Even though she’s told me this numerous times, I’m often surprised. Do I have a passion for film? When I think of the word passion, I think of my dad and his passion for reading and how that lead him to managing the Mobile Library here in Kamloops. I think of my mom and her passion for helping people, and how I can’t go grocery shopping with her unless I’m prepared to stand beside her while she’s stopped by at least three past clients, all telling her how much they appreciate her and wishing her well. But when it comes to film, I’ve never really thought about it being my passion. It’s always just been a part of me, and something I’ve always loved to do in my spare time. Is that a passion? A hobby? Are they the same thing?

* Emily and her brother on May 4th in 2015*

Film has surrounded me since before I was born. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen the original Star Wars movies, because I’ve been watching them with my dad on repeat since I was in diapers (maybe even earlier). When I was young, movies were a huge part of my spare time. I thought it was normal to watch at least one movie a day, whether it was a movie on TV or a VHS tape that I ruined through repeat viewings (looking at you, Lion King). My family went on a lot of road trips, and the best thing ever was when my dad gifted us with a mini DVD player so my brother Greg and I could watch movies in the backseat (it was probably just to get us to stop fighting, but it worked!). We had an entire case of movies to choose from, but we always picked our favourites. Mine included The Empire Strikes Back, Peter Pan 2: Return to Neverland, and Toy Story, while his were Robots and The Incredibles.

* Emily, Avery and Keri-Ann in Disneyland in 2015 *

Before being hired as a Marketing and Front of House Coordinator here at the KFS, I don’t think I ever fully realized how much film shaped me into who I am, and how important it is to me. I had just never really thought about it before. My friends have always known, but to me it’s almost been like a reflex: what do we do on a Friday night? Well, we watch a movie of course. If my mom and I want to spend some time together, we put on a classic rom com and quote our favourite parts. A ton of my memories and inside jokes with my family come from movies, and my high school memories are full of movie nights and screaming over who is the best superhero (or supervillain).

I think that to an extent, film is like that for everyone. We all have a favourite movie that we loved growing up, one that we go to when we crave comfort, or inspiration. 2020 took a lot from us, but the one thing it didn’t take was our love of movies. If anything, that love grew into a huge wave of support. You would think that in a world where attending a movie theatre is illegal, that the age of streaming would have finally snuffed out the light of cinemas. However, I’ve found that we’ve had more support than ever before from our film community.

In the time since our closure, we’ve created stronger relationships with other independent theatres in BC, and our social media presence has grown exponentially. I love what social media can do for a company or organization, so being able to dedicate more time to our social media platforms this year has been incredibly eye-opening and exciting for me. It seemed that everyone was wanting to show their support in some way, even if they couldn’t physically join us at the theatre, so our follow count and engagements went up every week (go follow us on social media if you don’t already!). That gives me a lot of hope not only for our festival this year, but for the future of our Paramount Theatre. Film is an art of storytelling that shapes us like no other, and I’m so glad that it has helped shape such a wonderful film community here in Kamloops.

Your support has meant the world to us, and gave the KFS the drive we needed to create a unique and safe Kamloops Film Festival for 2021. This job has shown me the power of our community, and made me so proud of Kamloops and the care our city has given to local businesses and organizations. Since being promoted to a full-time Patron Engagement Coordinator last year, I really do love my job and enjoy what I do. Even with what’s happened this past year, I’ve never been more confident in my career choice (yes, even though I work in the arts during a pandemic). I love engaging with our film community, and making connections with other businesses and organizations. Most of all, I really do love movies.

This year I’m kind of second-in-command for the festival, which I’ve really enjoyed because I’ve been able to try new things and reach out to a wide variety of businesses that I have a past relationship with for potential sponsorships and partnerships. One thing that I really wanted to do this year was create more Youtube content, which I was able to do with one of our committee members for DarkFest.

DarkFest is a part of the festival dedicated to horror fans and is in partnership with our friends at Drunk in a Graveyard. DarkFest is both online and at the drive-in this year, with four films in total. So even though horror isn’t really my cup of tea, I wanted to try and have some fun with it this year. So fellow KFF Committee member (Shannon Cooper) and I decided to have the community vote on which iconic scary movie we should watch. We then recorded ourselves watching it (it ended up being The Ring (2002)) and made a video of our thoughts, and of course added some good jump scare reaction moments. Shannon and I had so much fun putting this together, and with the help of our trusty video editing pro and KFS staff member, Sam Theriault, I think we made something entertaining for all of the community to enjoy, not just horror and thriller fans.

The drive-in gives the community a fun and cozy way to watch films. I’ve seen people bring piles of pillows, blankets and stuffys for the back of vehicles to snuggle up under the stars and watch a movie together. We’re really grateful to the City of Kamloops for letting us run the drive-in at McArthur Island Park once more, and the sports arena staff for always being so helpful. It’s a good environment to show some awesome films, and we really do have some great films this year for the drive-in festival (if I do say so myself).

We’ve also got a ton of movies online as well, which is exciting because it means we’re showcasing more movies than we ever had before. There’s definitely something for everyone, and I, as well as a lot of other festival patrons that I’ve talked to, have been carefully scheduling out the festival to watch as many movies as we possibly can.

Maybe at first, I couldn’t really tell what my own passion looked like, but now through this job, I definitely can. I can finally see what my friend has been telling me all these years. Movies are a huge part of my life. I love what I do, and I love this community that I get to be a part of. Plus working with Dušan Magdolen every day is (almost) always a treat.

Thank you for those that have shown their passion by sending us donations, heartfelt messages, or even just liking our page on Facebook. Each action is a step closer to a future where we get to operate out of the Paramount once more. In the meantime, let’s enjoy what we can do, and have fun during the 24.5th annual Kamloops Film Festival.

*Photo taken at last year’s film festival before the pandemic*

Emily Brown