A virtual festival full of master classes, keynote speakers and panels for the global media industry started Monday, and the guest list is topnotch.
For the second year in a row, the Banff World Media Festival is going online but is still bringing hundreds of actors, writers, producers and executives together to network, workshop and pitch ideas.
Jenn Kuzmyk, executive director of the Banff World Media Festival, says it will be the 42nd anniversary of the festival and still a place attendees can connect with one another.
"The festival has actually grown through this period over the last two years. It continues to be a place where people from all around the world who are involved in the entertainment and media industry gather — be that virtually this year or of course, in person at Banff," she told The Homestretch on June 11.
She adds that this year, the festival had a bit more time to plan for the virtual event and were able to get some of the highest-profile speakers to ever take part.
According to a press release, there will be number of high-ranking executives from Netflix, the head of Warner Brothers Studios as well as show runners and actors from several shows — like actress Kaley Cuoco from HBO's The Flight Attendant.
The executive director adds that the industry has changed the pandemic, due to most of us streaming shows day in and out, but that it's also opened up a lot of opportunities, which will be discussed at the festival.
"We're all watching shows that are not just originated in North America, they come from all over the world and that's something that has absolutely changed and continues to internationalize how the entertainment industry works for sure," she said.
Award-winning director of Marvel Studios' The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Kari Skogland will also take part of the event along Marvel Studios President, Kevin Feige. It's called the Summit Series: Kevin Feige and Kari Skogland.
Skogland told The Homestretch on Wednesday that the conversation, which will take place Thursday, will focus will look at some of the themes of the show — specifically the making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe series and thoughts on the future of storytelling.
"We really wanted to have a very in-depth discussion about racism in America through the characters that we were not only introducing, but also characters of the (Marvel Cinematic Universe) who are really beloved," she said.
For those that haven't watched the series, it's a sequal to Marvel's End Game but looks at each of the characters individually and spends more time with them.
"The character, Sam Wilson was handed the shield and so as the first Black Captain America, this was a very, very big deal," she said.
Skogland says at the festival, they plan to talk more about the shift in optics during the series and why it's an important to story to tell.
"Certainly this is not a new story. So let's hope that by by bringing it to the fore once again, that we open the doors to further conversation," she said,
The director also has plenty of advice for those starting up in the industry and says events like the Banff World Media Festival are important to attend for a variety of reasons.
"You are in a small space with very influential people and therefore you're able to get to know them on a personal basis, because at the end of the day, it's a business where people work with people they know and like," she said.
She says by mingling (even virtually) you will feel more comfortable pitching ideas.
"Nothing happens overnight. So, you know, kind of keep your eye on the prize," she said.
As well, you can sharpen you skills in a variety of departments, such as producing and even finance.
"You have to have you have to be able to sell your project. So all of these things are learned," she said.
The Banff World Media Festival runs online from June 14 to July 16, Visit their website for more details.
With files from The Homestretch.