Filming in the “hearts” of downtown Halifax

Filming in the “hearts” of downtown Halifax

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Jon Mann (Founder, Popular Demand Pictures)

Producing a show is intoxicating. Making a series like Pub Crawl, a docu-series that highlights the history and novelty of Halifax’s most well-known bars, even more so. The obstacles to overcome, the unpredictable and fast-paced nature of the work, and the responsibility of building trust with a community that’s faced so much uncertainty over the past few years combined to create an incredibly rewarding challenge.

Popular Demand Pictures began shooting Pub Crawl back in the spring of 2020, just when the pandemic began. The docu-series follows actor, producer, and Acadia graduate Rob Ramsay as he immerses himself in the stories and local folk tales behind Halifax’s most historically significant bars.

The goal of the docu-series is to showcase the unique and dynamic personalities of the bars and the people who occupy them — a challenging task during a pandemic. But our ability to pull off this series was due to the incredible nature of the business community in Halifax. To be successful filming in this city, you need to know how to show up in person, make things happen fast, and stay true to those hand-shake favours and quick passing promises.

After filming two seasons of Pub Crawl in Canada’s fastest growing city, we have some key takeaways when it comes to building successful relationships in business and television during unpredictable times.

1. Get used to change

When working in business, or on projects of certain sizes, we often have a reactionary entitlement to make things as complicated as possible. But producing is reducing, and writing is often rewriting. In some cases, fast is fine, but accuracy is everything. And yet in other cases, written is better than right. Producing requires you to recognize and adapt to shifting priorities at every step.

2. Perpetual orbit

You have to identify the relationships you need and orbit them. In high-pressure and time-sensitive environments, the success of those relationships will often determine the outcome of the project. For example, consider a relationship that is mutually beneficial. In Halifax, this is key to building trust and engagement with businesses, especially with those who have faced compounding challenges over the past few years. If your project needs creativity and longevity, orbit and maintain newly formed relationships and include people in the process whenever possible.

3. Consistent communication

Anything can happen, on-set or off-set, and you need to be ready to pivot — without leaving people behind. This starts by ensuring communication remains strong between members of crew, location scouts, talent, broadcasters, and anyone else who is responsible for the success of the project.

Filmmaking is a balance between creativity and consistency. An independent production company is similar to any startup or small business, as it requires you to adjust your conception of a workday. Responsibilities are fluid. We devote our time to thinking about future projects while also managing complex teams in the present — but we wouldn't have it any other way.

To learn more about Popular Demand Pictures, visit our Instagram (@populardemandpictures) and watch Seasons 1 and 2 of Pub Crawl on Bell Fibe TV or the Bell Fibe App.

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