Emma Norton - St. Lawrence International Film Festival

Location: Canada

Age: 27

Job Title: Events and Awards Producer at the St. Lawrence International Film Festival

Education: Advanced Diploma

 

Background:

I grew up with a singular passion in mind and heart: Entertainment. I have always had such a strong love for film and television. From a young age I could rattle off pop cultural knowledge and could easily tell you the primetime lineup for the evening and as I got older, I learned more about the different facets that the industry has to offer. 

After making it through film school where I focused primarily on screenwriting and producing, I luckily found my way into an internship after a volunteering position allowed me to stand out from the crowd (and I snuck into the after-party.) Going back to my youth, since I can remember, I would watch the Academy Awards, Emmys, Golden Globes, etc. in awe. Little did I know, this passion and knowledge for the industry would lead me into working on the Canadian versions of these awards.

It’s an odd thing to be afraid of what you love the most and one of the few things that comes naturally. The fear of failure, rejection, criticism, all of that comes with the territory, but it is so freeing once you face it, regardless of the outcome.
— Emma Norton

From intern to various contracts, I eventually landed a full-time job in Toronto, with a media-centric events company, leading me down another rabbit hole of programming festivals. This is where I was able to hone my knowledge, figure out the key players in both television and film and produce panels based on what was currently in focus in the industry. Always being apart of a small team, I picked up other duties along the way, from sponsorship to operations. Things that never crossed my mind.

I reached a point with my company where I was unable to continue growing, so I made the brave decision to quit without any job to head into. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was moving into the wild world of freelance.

My ultimate goal is the typical Hollywood dream, mostly now because I just hate the cold Canadian winter. Alas, even with the contacts I had made, I realised it would be an uphill battle to make the move to America and on top of that, build my dream career. I do imagine my life in a series of achievements and feel as though I will continue to work on different projects in varying capacities, just focusing on what I'm passionate about. After all, that’s what to me, makes a career and life whole.

Although I believe it to be the best decision I’ve made yet, leaving my full-time job and delve into the unknown was the scariest thing. I’ve always been ambitious, but at the same time I’ve lacked true confidence and for me the buzzword since then has been ‘bravery’. Even writing out my story here seems a bit daunting, yet freeing and I know when I hit ‘submit’ I will be incredibly proud of myself. 

I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that it’s wonderful to have others believe in you, but you must also be confident in your passion, your talent and you! Luckily to balance my confidence levels, I am naturally someone who doesn't give up on things where others might. That's a gift and sometimes a curse too.

Since moving into freelance, I’ve pushed myself to be brave. I’ve applied to various jobs all over the place, I’ve sent emails asking people for advice, I’ve added them to LinkedIn! All these seemingly small tasks required an act of bravery from me and still to this day it’s something I struggle with. I've even begun sharing a series idea around, pitching to various companies, which is particularly daunting to share my personal ideas with others. It’s an odd thing to be afraid of what you love the most and one of the few things that comes naturally. The fear of failure, rejection, criticism, all of that comes with the territory, but it is so freeing once you face it, regardless of the outcome.

The Key Things I've Learned Are:

  1. You have to be brave. Whatever that means to you, whatever scares you, do it.
  2. You have to be open to taking an alternate route to your final destination, even if it may take a little longer. 
  3. You have to enjoy the ride and pick up as much knowledge and interesting stories from the people you meet along the way.
  4. Find some confidantes you trust that you can bounce ideas off of and who will be brutally honest with you.
  5. Go with the flow. Even if you're an OCD planner like me, sometimes the universe just knows better.

At times, perhaps my ambitions are too singular, but I am so thankful that from a young age, I knew what I wanted to do. Also that my vision has been broad enough that I have fallen into a variety of roles that have continually both challenged and satisfied me. I've already achieved some major goals which gives me the motivation go keep going for the rest.

Currently I am the Events and Awards Producer for the inaugural St. Lawrence International Film Festival. We are the first cross-border festival between Canada and the United States. Again I am taking on a varied role that is different than anything I have done before. I've got my feet planted in both countries and I'm helping to build an event from the ground up. It's another amazing experience I am learning so much from and I'm in a leadership role, which is amazing. 

I feel that at this point, although I am still trying to reach a certain status in my career, I know that I am well on my way and I look forward to developing new projects with like minded people that share my passion and balance out my skill set. I look forward to what's next and where it will take me.

Connect with The St. Lawrence International Film Festival