You could say that Meaghan Brander is a bit of a film buff. She has been working in the film industry for about 20 years and is passionate about bringing film—the creation, production and dissemination—to Canadians outside the major urban centres like Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary. This passion includes both the community-building and commerce side of film.
Meaghan’s parents are both from PEI and she was born in Halifax. Her dad worked with newspapers, so the family found themselves moving around the Maritime provinces as his work determined, which included back to PEI when Meaghan was in high school. Her mom was a dental assistant as her profession, and she was also an artist. The whole family brings creative and artistic flair to their work and lives.
While attending high school on PEI, Meaghan recalls learning about a variety of aspects in audio/visual, and she became determined to learn more. “I worked at a video store when I was a teen, and my best friend and I would always quote movies to each other.”
Meaghan took her love of all-things-film and went to Queen’s University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Film Studies and Art History. “The pathways started to open up for me while I was at Queen’s where I was getting exposed to a variety of careers that I didn’t even know were options!”
After university, Meaghan lived in Toronto where she went on to have various roles with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and Cineplex.
“It took two years for me to finally get the job I wanted at TIFF, and I did many odd jobs along the way which helped me learned the things I don’t like to do as much.”
Meaghan’s work with TIFF was in the Film Circuit Division which perfectly aligned with her passion of bringing film to wider audiences in more rural areas. It was community-building in action.
During the time that Meaghan lived in Toronto, there was the infamous blackout. “I taught myself how to knit during the Toronto blackout because there was literally nothing to do. I enjoy knitting because it uses a different part of my brain than I typically put to use.”
By the time 2020 rolled around, Meaghan had been working at Cineplex for a few years. Of course, cinemas were greatly impacted by the restrictions that came during the pandemic. Like many people working in the creative industries, Meaghan found herself pondering other possibilities as the pandemic went on. “I was visiting PEI in the summer of 2020 and while I was here, I wondered, ‘what if I could come back here and help support the film industry in PEI?’” Within a year, she did just that.
In the spring of 2021, Meaghan began her role with Innovation PEI as a Film Industry Growth Specialist. In this position, she is developing a film strategy for PEI which has two important components: to attract non-Island investors and productions, and to work with FilmPEI to grow local talent.
A curious and playful Meaghan exclaims: “I get to travel and watch movies, bummer! It’s my job but it doesn’t feel like it!”
She also gets to have some hands-on experiences on film sets. Filming recently took place on PEI for the CBC show, Diggstown, where over 80 Islanders worked on production.
“I’m a terrible actor!” she laughs. “I recently spent the day as a background actor for Diggstown and even being in the background wasn’t for me!”
Meaghan’s passion and enthusiasm for film is contagious. She has demonstrated that if we have a deep connection to and interest in something, we can construct our own path. I imagine few of us could readily imagine turning our love of watching movies into a career that contributes so widely to the art and film industry around us. Meaghan has done just that (and she made my little cousin very happy to know that such a thing is possible!).