After more than three decades as a leader and champion in this province’s film and music industries, Manitoba Film & Music CEO and film commissioner Carole Vivier is retiring, effective June 2019.
Since joining MFM in 1985 — and serving at its helm for the past 26 years — Vivier has supported some of Manitoba’s biggest cultural exports, including Guy Maddin, the Weakerthans, Doc Walker, the Crash Test Dummies, Norma Bailey and Tanya Tagaq, since the beginning of their careers. She has built a local, national and international reputation for being a passionate and committed ambassador for Manitoba filmmakers, musicians, producers, creators and crew.
Vivier was not available on Tuesday to comment on the announcement, but had this to say in the press release:
"I am grateful to have been a part of this industry for the past three decades and to witness the growth and success of our amazing artists and professionals. I am immensely proud of the talent in this province. Although I will miss MFM, I am tremendously encouraged that a strong foundation is in place, from which new talent can reach even greater heights. The future of film and music in Manitoba is very bright."
During Vivier’s time at MFM, Manitoba’s film production volume has grown from $12 million in 1992 to over $173 million in 2018. The province’s music industry has also become a major economic driver in that time; Manitoba boasts more musicians per capita than any other province.
In 1997, Vivier worked with the provincial government to establish the first film tax credit in Western Canada. It was a game-changer for the province’s film industry and, over the past two decades, the tax credit become the country’s largest: filmmakers can receive up to 65 per cent on eligible Manitoba labour.
Those are just some career highlights on what is an impressive reel. Several major films were shot in Manitoba during Vivier’s tenure, including Capote, which was shot in 2005 and earned Philip Seymour Hoffman an Academy Award for best actor; Shall We Dance, which starred Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon in 2004; and 2007’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, which starred Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck. Through the relationships Vivier has built as the province’s film commissioner, nearly every major studio — including Warner Brothers, Sony, Fox, Paramount, Columbia and MGM — has filmed in Manitoba.
"Carole has been instrumental in developing the Manitoba film industry into what it is today," says Phyllis Laing, president of the Winnipeg-based film production company Buffalo Gal Pictures. "Her accomplishments are too many to mention, and her legacy will live on in Maniotba for years to come."
On the music side of things, Vivier played a key role in bringing the Juno Awards to Winnipeg twice, in 2005 and 2014. MFM has helped fund the careers of many Manitoba artists — but just as valuable, says Winnipeg singer-songwriter JP Hoe, is the support Vivier offered artists personally. Hoe is grateful for her advice over his career, as well as her ability to open doors and create opportunities for local musicians that might not otherwise exist.
"You can’t buy these opportunities," Hoe says. "We’ve gone down to L.A. and have met people who put music into the biggest movies and TV shows, and we get the chance to develop a relationship. You might not get a song in a movie right away, but you never will if you don’t have a relationship."
Many Manitoba musicians have had their songs placed on TV shows and in films as a result of these MFM-initiated showcases.
Hoe says Vivier is a ferocious advocate for the talent in this province.
"The cause of Manitoba music is important to her," he says. "We’re such a small dot in the landscape — you need a lioness. She is a force to be reckoned with. She believes wholeheartedly in our culture here, and we’re very lucky to have someone like her in our corner."
Laing echoes that sentiment.
"She was passionately focused on doing everything she could do to make Manitoba hit above its weight," she says. "Carole is a fierce supporter of Manitoba."
Jen Zoratti is a Winnipeg Free Press columnist and co-host of the paper's local culture podcast, Bury the Lede.
Updated on Wednesday, August 29, 2018 at 3:40 PM CDT: Name fixed.