Richard Warden is a Canadian film producer based in Glasgow who regularly teaches producing and production management. After programming for the Renfrewshire version of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival for a number of years, Richard is now the national Film Curator.
For the most part, I’ll skip my first five non-film jobs, which include various tourism-related posts in my birthplace of Niagara Falls – a town where the circus never leaves! Running a ferris wheel when you’re 16 feels like a huge responsibility, but it’s nothing compared to the importance of handing out raincoats for the Maid of the Mist, the boat that travels to the base of the largest cataract. If I’d stayed in Niagara, I’m certain I would’ve continued my rise through the hometown ranks to be mayor now instead of my high school chum… he was merely selling snack cakes back then.
Volunteer – Toronto International Film Festival:
Almost exclusively, this involved moving chairs and people around an industry forum. The biggest thrill was meeting Bob Geldof, who delivered the keynote address (I still have the speaking notes he left behind buried among my possessions somewhere). While the work was mostly unremarkable, the connections made at the event led to my first paid employment in Toronto, so I’ve appreciated the potential inherent in volunteering ever since. Good thing, as much of my film work has turned out to be that, whether intended or not!
Executive Assistant – Canadian Film Centre:
I had the good fortune to assist a producer who was overseeing Canada’s national film school at the time. He was very generous with what he had learned ‘in the trenches’ of independent filmmaking, which greatly eased my first forays.
Programme Coordinator – Canadian Film Centre:
A second role at the Centre allowed me countless opportunities to observe Canadian and international film talent at the peak of their game. Many years later, I continue to be inspired by the creative bravery I witnessed there.
An unpaid position on a short drama offered invaluable insights regarding how to lead a film project. It was a trial by fire, having not worked my way up via production assistant and production secretary gigs, as is often the case. However, having survived it gave me the confidence to leap into producing.
Four shorts, three feature-length films, and I’m still at it – my fifth film job continues. I love the variety of doing other things as well. Teaching requires me to organise and better understand what I’ve learnt along the way. And being Film Curator for the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival is not only an honour given the important work it does, but also keeps me on my toes as a filmmaker. Many of the films I have the pleasure of viewing challenge me to improve my own craft, as well as to see things in new and exciting ways.
With over 300 events across Scotland from 1 – 19 October, you can find out more about this year’s Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival on Central Station here.
We’ve asked professionals in creative industries what jobs they have had in the past to get their foot through the door (or at least pay the rent). For more in the “My First 5 Jobs” series look here.