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How we started our film production company

Posted May 11, 2020

What started as a little idea for a video editing contest eventually snowballed into a media company standing proudly on the world's stage. Boldly as a production company was officially formed in September, 2013 by three partners: Sebastien Galina, Geoff Manton, and Shelby Manton, but prior to that, it's little known baby brother, Exposure Contest, was the first project started by the trio.

It all started in December 2012, at Shelby's birthday party of all places. Her brother Geoff had recently returned from living abroad in Monterrey, Mexico, working at the Monterrey International Film Festival. He and Sebastien were discussing the use of software in the VFX industry as Sebastien was working as a developer at Prime Focus VFX at the time (now, DNEG). The discussion sparked the idea of bringing more software into the production side of the industry.

The following March the software idea has spun its web into filming a music video for a local band. It wasn't quite the mix of software and production they'd been hoping for; but with a stroke of luck, Geoff asked if the footage from the music video could be put online for free, allowing editors from all over the world to download it.

Suddenly the idea clicked. It would become a video editing contest and the software would be a contest platform tracking downloads, edit submissions, and the contest voting system too. Shelby's involvement grew, from initially helping produce the music video itself, to developing a strong business plan for the contest.

After the initial video was shot, the trio began working on the website to host the contest. A carefully chosen team was involved in judging the entries, as well as marketing the project through radio, on social media, and through networks of filmmakers. In the end, 380 people signed up, 40 submitted edits to the contest, and 5 were chosen as the top, to be screened at an awards gala in Vancouver on June 23rd, 2013.

Exposure Contest

Exposure Team, May 2013
Exposure Team, May 2013
Poster for Exposure Contest, May 2013
Poster for Exposure Contest, May 2013

Contestants from all over the world signed up, including Germany, Greece, Canada, and the UK, some even flying out to Vancouver for the special event featuring performances by Canadian acts: Dear Rouge, The Tourist Company, and more.

Finally, the contest chose a grand prize winner, Conrad Olson, whose winning edit was selected as the official video for the band. Additionally, the Exposure Contest team had put together a prize package including $5000 worth of rental gear from William F. White International, $4000 worth of sound design and mixing from DBC Sound, and countless in-kind sponsorships by Jukebox Print, Subway, Safari Studio. The grand prize also included production provided in kind by Geoff and Shelby Manton for the short film 'The Highjumping Witch' written and directed by Andrew Gillingham, co-produced with Conrad Olson.

Small Beginnings of BOLDLY

Geoff Manton and Shelby Manton in their makeshift office, 2015
Geoff Manton and Shelby Manton in their makeshift office, 2015
Boldly Brand Identity, January 2016
Boldly Brand Identity, January 2016

After the contest's initial hype died down, the trio received several requests for video projects from local music festivals, and various small local brands. The summer of 2013 proved to be a busy one, with several shoots back to back for brand clients. Thankful for the work, and taking into serious consideration their gig-like lifestyles, the trio incorporated on September 9th, 2013 as Boldly Creative Agency Inc. Their first office was in Geoff and Shelby's basement on Davie Street in Vancouver's West End. (The building has since been torn down).

Never in a million years did the team think the company would last as long has it has. Their initial vision for the company was to continue building small creative projects like Exposure Contest, and filming music videos on the side. Luckily for them, their can-do attitudes and multidisciplinary skills brought them project after project, albeit on a small scale within the local community.

The following year saw a bit of growth in their music videos for Brevner, Kyprios, and Ryan Guldemond, and repeat work with a few local brands. The trio spent this time honing their skills quietly and with low risk projects. As the company was part time for them, they had the flexibility to keep margins low, and put their hard-earned cash on screen. Later on, this decision would prove to be hugely beneficial for them, as their quality of work stood out enough to move into a higher production bracket.

First Commercial Success

Screengrab from Playland - The Beast, one of the first commercials produced by BOLDLY, June 2015
Screengrab from Playland - The Beast, one of the first commercials produced by BOLDLY, June 2015
Jeremy Cox, Kristoff Duxbury, Cedric Yu on a commercial set in Vancouver, March 2013
Jeremy Cox, Kristoff Duxbury, Cedric Yu on a commercial set in Vancouver, March 2013

It wasn't until 2015, when the company had it's first successes with larger commercial projects: Deloitte, Playland, Coast Capital Savings, A&W and music projects for Felix Cartal and Nicky Romero.

Slow Build with Music Videos

Screengrab from PUP - Sleep In The Heat featuring Finn Wolfhard, October 2016
Screengrab from PUP - Sleep In The Heat featuring Finn Wolfhard, October 2016
Poster for Literally, A Web Series, August 2018
Poster for Literally, A Web Series, August 2018

In 2016, the company hit its stride, working with several advertising agencies in Vancouver, and producing videos for PUP - Sleep In The Heat and Marianas Trench - Who Do You Love. That same year, Kristoff Duxbury became a partner in the company and the trio became the dynamic quatro its known as now.

In 2018, the release of the company's first long-form project: Literally, A Web Series starring Shane Koyczan. Distributed through TELUS's networks and VOD platform. The company expanded its sales force and operations to Toronto, Canada and produced its first set of commercials outside of Canada, filming in Grenada, West Indies in November, 2018. The company's expansion led to projects with advertising agencies and brands in San Francisco as well.

A year of Awards and Festivals

Virtuous Circle, nominated for UKMVA, October 2019
Virtuous Circle, nominated for UKMVA, October 2019
Kristoff Duxbury and Sebastien Galina at the UKMVAs, October, 2019
Kristoff Duxbury and Sebastien Galina at the UKMVAs, October, 2019

In 2019, BOLDLY won the Small Business BC award for Best Company - a huge achievement and testament to the hard work of everyone involved in their productions. That same year, Shelby Manton was listed in the Top 30 Under 30 from BC Business Magazine. Literally, A Web Series was selected at the T.O. Web Festival in Toronto, Canada, screening at the prolific TIFF Bell Lightbox Theatre. Random Is My Favourite Colour, a documentary produced by BOLDLY and directed by Stuart Gillies about the life and work of queer mixed-media artist Lyle XOX was distributed in Canada by CBC. Virtuous Circle, starring Antoine Olivier Pilon was released on YouTube and Vimeo, racking up a nomination for Best Alternative Video at the UKMVAs, as well as a win at the SF Indie Shorts Festival.

2020 saw the announcement that Rules For Werewolves, the short film written by Kirk Lynn, starring Finn Wolfhard and directed by Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux would have its world premiere at SXSW in Austin, TX. Virtuous Circle picked up a win for Best Music Video at the Shiny Awards.

Present Day

Finn Wolfhard, photographed by Brandon Meadows for Rules For Werewolves (Short Film), June 2019
Finn Wolfhard, photographed by Brandon Meadows for Rules For Werewolves (Short Film), June 2019

To date, the company continues its expansion of commercial work for mega brands like Lululemon, Specialized Bicycles, and Intel Computers, while also carefully choosing its music video clientele as an outlet for raw creativity. The company's mission has significantly shifted to one of community building, development of emerging directorial talent, funding of original long form projects, and pursuing creative excellence on all their projects.

Get in touch with Shelby Manton