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ACTRA National

President’s Message – July 2019

As President and National Councillor for Manitoba, I am extremely proud of the excellent talent and services we provide for Manitoba’s burgeoning film industry. ACTRA Manitoba represents over 618 Full, Apprentice and ACTRA Additional Background members, with our elected Council of 10 directing policy, member services, budgetary decisions, training, special projects and social activities.

Thanks to all the members who attended our AGM in June and to those who put their name forward for Council positions. If you have any issues regarding work situations or your membership, contact any of our staff: Rob Macklin, Branch Representative; Liz Quesnel, Business Representative (Steward); or Julie Penner, Administrative Assistant & Member Services.

I urge all members to continue to look out for each other on set, in auditions, classes and make use of staff services when required. Keep yourselves up to date with ACTRAonline, AFBS and PRS; the HAVEN HELPLINE program and our pamphlet – RESPECT ON SET – resources for respectful and productive working conditions for all.

Jan Skene

ACTRA Manitoba President

ACTRA Manitoba Awards Gala

Dear Members: I want to take this opportunity to congratulate all those Members who picked up an ACTRA Award on Friday, October 12.  And, I congratulate all those who were nominated – an important recognition.  The event was hugely successful with an attendance of over 350 ACTRA Members, Crew Members and many friends and families and some noteworthy dignitaries, including Cathy Cox, Manitoba’s Minister of Culture, and Mayor Brian Bowman.  I also want to thank all those who worked so hard on the day and on the days and weeks before the event – your hard work became self-evident with such a wonderful award ceremony and party – maybe the best to date.

ACTRA Manitoba gave out seven performance awards and two industry awards.  The Wayne Nicklas Award was given to Phyllis Laing, CEO of Buffalo Gal Pictures, for her long-time and ongoing contributions to the industry, which has benefited ACTRA Members for years and hopefully for many more to come.  Our new Award, ACTRA’s MANITOBA Award was given to two productions from a short-list of seven – ‘Lovesick’ (Eagle Vision) and ‘Stegman Is Dead’ (Julijette Inc).  Both productions showcased our Manitoba Members in an exemplary way with Members in numerous, large and meaningful roles.  Congratulations go to Eagle Vision and Julijette. The other productions that were short-listed are: Candle Cove (Channel Zero), No End House (Channel Zero), Trench 11, Snowmance and Menorca.

We also took time in the Award Ceremony to recognize Carole Vivier, our beloved Film Commissioner and past recipient of the Wayne Nicklas Award.  Carole is soon to retire and we needed to publicly recognize the years of unwavering dedication she has brought to our industry – a great champion.  We thanked her and gave her a piece of beautiful original art by a Manitoba artist to remember us by.

The seven performance awards given to Members and all those nominated and all of the submissions that came in confirm how far we have come as an industry and a community, and how well ACTRA Manitoba Members are doing in this tumultuous, exciting and frustrating industry we love.  Again, congratulations to the seven award winners, listed below:
































We look forward to the next Awards in 2020.


Jan Skene


ACTRA Manitoba

President’s Message – October 2018

Hello, fellow members.

Please RSVP for your free ticket to ACTRA’s upcoming Gala & Awards Evening.  In addition to the performance awards, we are handing out two very special industry related awards.  At a time when our industry is thriving and more of our members are working than ever, I expect this Gala to surpass all others – not to mention we are also celebrating two ACTRA Anniversaries.  We are also offering complimentary tickets to members of IATSE and DGC unions. All tickets include 2 drinks, food and entertainment. Please spread the word. I hope to see many of our members and industry friends out celebrating with each other on Friday, October 12th!

We have had a few changes at ACTRA Manitoba over the last couple of months, one of which is losing our wonderful Toni Reimer from Council, as she has made a temporary move to Vancouver.  We miss her terribly but welcome Cheryl Gensiorek to Council.  Along with Toni we have lost our newsletter, possibly temporarily, but thought it would be a good time to re-evaluate where Council puts its energies and look to our members for what they see to be priorities.  For the time being we will be sending bulletins when we feel we have urgent news for our members.  I would appreciate any feedback members have on whether the newsletter is of value to you.

We have a new staff person at ACTRA Manitoba: We welcome Liz Quesnel as the ACTRA Manitoba Steward.  Liz will be part-time in the office, and, on-set stewarding productions and offering assistance to members in relation to working conditions and contracts.

Finally ACTRA Manitoba’s “RESPECT on SET” wallet cards are now available for our members in regard to maintaining a respectful workplace for all.  Stop by the office to pick up a few to pass around.

Jan Skene

ACTRA Manitoba President

President’s Message – February 2018

After representing Manitoba at three solid days of meetings with ACTRA Councillors and various staff and representatives from across the country, I am refuelled with enthusiasm and pride for our union, our work and the members we represent. I am now on the ACTRA National Executive, and in April we are hosting for the first time an Executive Face to Face Meeting – in Winnipeg. Although our branch may be small in numbers, I maintain our super-strength is in holding up the integrity of ACTRA’s agreements for all our nation’s members who end up working in our fair province. Looking forward, we are celebrating Manitoba’s 60th Anniversary and ACTRA National’s 75th this year – check out ACTRA Magazine’s special edition. Also, plans for our Awards Gala on October 12th are already in motion – get your nominations in!

Although it is somewhat daunting, I am honoured to be sitting on the National Executive surrounded by so many intelligent and passionate voices.  In his opening address to Council at the February meeting, National President David Sparrow said, “ACTRA is leading the way on so many initiatives right now. We are being looked to by unions and politicians around the world as an association that has it right! ACTRA has become a go-to voice on the arts in this country.” I agree. The issues and initiatives are so far-reaching I won’t even begin to expand on them in this report, just know –  we have a big year ahead of us. We must find real and immediate solutions to dealing with personal harassment in our workspaces; we have to keep fighting for inclusion in our stories and on our screens; we have to be sensitive to the realities of our small branch economies and find creative ways of opening work opportunities.

Finally, I task you to think about what you would like to see in a newly negotiated IPA. We will be coming to the members and asking for input very soon.

See you at the MIP Event – March 24th.

Jan Skene

ACTRA Manitoba President

President’s Message – January 2018

Hello fellow Manitoba members and welcome to 2018.

Our industry in Manitoba continues to flourish and, as a result, more members are working than ever before AND booking more significant roles.  I don’t remember, ever in my lifetime, turning on the television and seeing so many recognizable faces on the screen.  I can’t even single out any of our amazing members for congratulations in fear of leaving others out – there are so many!  If you want a fun exercise, go to our What’s Shooting  page and then check out the IMDB credits for the films and series that have shot here recently.

Council is very busy with our various initiatives, including:  Training – the new Accent Parties and the upcoming FTM workshop with Mackenzie Gray, plus the very much anticipated Casting Panel; Diversity and Women’s working on many initiatives and participating Nationally on inclusivity and RESPECT discussions; Political Action – always working behind the scenes to keep our issues front and center with funders and advocacy groups; Social/Networking – next up is MIP Night on March 24th and then we go full throttle toward our next Gala Awards Celebration. Thanks to the members who agreed to sit on our Discipline Committee – your support is much appreciated.  Finally a big shout-out to Toni Reimer who has brought our Newsletter into a new dimension and works diligently at bringing us closer together as a membership through her informative Member Spotlights, ASK ACTRA and member-driven announcements.

As working members of ACTRA I ask, as always, that you do your part to keep informed and advocate for your fellow performers and, in turn, yourself.  We – Council and staff – are always here for you, but we need your participation, support and direction. I would love to hear from you if you have suggestions or solutions or questions.

Jan Skene

ACTRA Manitoba President

p.s. RESPECT on SET: Do it  Be it  Say it

President’s Message – October 2017

RESPECT on Set doesn’t seem like too much to ask, does it? The title of this campaign, initiated by Manitoba ACTRA Women’s committee in conjunction with IATSE & DGC (and supported by On Screen Manitoba and FTM), is aimed at literally changing the culture of the film industry for everyone (thanks Harvey Weinstein!)  Say the words proudly: RESPECT on Set. Stand up for yourself and your fellow performer, crew member or office worker, and do your part to ensure our film sets, production offices, workshop and audition rooms foster a culture where we are all able to do our best work, and be our best selves.

Manitoba is experiencing a healthy production cycle and as a result more members are working than ever before. At Council, we are constantly working to make your experience on a film set as rewarding, safe and lucrative as possible – all within our collective agreements.  Did you know any member can come to a Council meeting with a presentation, or just to observe?  Did you know we have committees that need input: Diversity, Women’s, Social, and Training? Did you know, together with FTM, we offer some of the best and most affordable actor workshop training in the country? Help us help you by contacting anyone on Council or Rob Macklin if you would like to be more involved with ACTRA Manitoba. We not only represent ourselves, but we represent a strong union of working professionals across the country.

Finally, our next Awards Gala is only a year away, so start thinking about the special performances you have seen or been a part of.  We will be calling for nominations in the new year.

Jan Skene

October 17, 2017

President’s Message – June 2017

Another year on the books and our membership has grown – which means we are working! I want to thank everyone who came out to the AGM to take part in the running of our branch. “Taking care of each other” was the theme of the evening for this year’s AGM. It is my greatest hope that, during my time as President and National Councillor, if I can leave one stamp, it will be to support members who are informed and act professionally; who collectively disseminate accurate information; and most vitally who always stand up for each other. The phrase, “I didn’t want to say anything because I was afraid of losing the job” is sometimes factual, but never appropriate. We need to advocate for each other and we need to use the mechanisms our union has in place to ensure that anyone who is in an “underpowered” position can be “powered up”. And if our mechanisms are faulty we need to fix them or make new ones. This kind of change does not happen overnight and is ongoing. The one thing that is constant is our need for each other and for the safety, security and rates ACTRA negotiates and guards for us. We are a small, but mighty, branch of a union that represents 22,000 members across the country.

Congratulations to Nancy Drake as this year’s recipient of the Vic Cowie Award. Nancy is a long time, contributing member with a long list of professional accomplishments. Nancy shared some wise words with us and graciously accepted the award named after her friend and colleague, Vic Cowie. We also named B. Pat Burns as this year’s recipient of a Lifetime Membership.

As you should all know by now (and can read about in this newsletter), our new Council was elected – ready to serve for the next two years. I was thrilled to see so many excellent candidates come forward and I thank them all for throwing their hats in the ring. Much thanks to three outgoing Councillors: Gord Tanner who has been Vice-President for the past two years and is stepping down for personal/work reasons; Shannon Jacques & Kevin Longfield have been members at large for the past 8 years and have reached their term limits. Shannon has been an integral part of the Social Committee and valuable contributor to our lively meetings. Kevin has been our Political Action representative, coordinator and attender of all union related meetings. Kevin has really put in the miles for ACTRA – there isn’t enough space to thank him for all the work he has done over the years, initially joining ACTRA as a writer in the early 1980’s, however I have a feeling he will continue to be active within our ranks.

Have a great summer and best of luck with booking work on one of the many productions shooting here.


May 12 to 15 was ACTRA National’s AGM and election of our new National President – David Sparrow, former President of ACTRA Toronto. A huge thank-you goes out to both David and Alvin Sanders (President UBCP/ACTRA and Vice-President of ACTRA National) for running. Ferne Downey was given a standing ovation and plenty of love and accolades, acknowledging her extremely productive time as President of ACTRA National.

Immediately following the AGM, Stephen Waddell and his team headed into negotiations with the Joint Broadcast Committee of the Institute of Communication Agencies (ICA) and the Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA to re-negotiate the National Commercial Agreement and the Local and Regional Commercials Addendum.
A tentative agreement is expected soon and qualifying members will receive a ratification notice.

Jan Skene

June 12, 2017



Greetings fellow members and welcome to Spring. This is a very busy month for all of us as we plough through auditions, work on taxes and for many of you, head to set for a day or several on one of the many productions that are filming. We had good news from the Province in that they are continuing to support our vital film industry through Manitoba Film Tax Incentive credits and with their very public championing of the industry through events like Movie Night in Canada.

It was wonderful to be part of such a huge celebration of our province’s film industry on April 19th at the Concert Hall shared with 2000 fellow Manitobans and co-hosted by our member and ACTRA Woman of the Year, Tina Keeper. We can be very proud of the film LOVESICK – kudos to Manitoba’s Ali Tataryn, Rebecca Gibson, Ross McMillan, Darren Wall and Sarah Constible for their leading performances plus the rest of the cast and crew. Congrats also to writer/director Tyson Caron – what a huge night for him – and to Eagle Vision for producing the film. Manitoba Film and Sound put on a party to remember with live music by Royal Canoe and a high-end reception open to everyone at the event. Thanks for giving us all the “star treatment”.

I would also like to welcome our new part-time Branch Clerk, Julie Penner to our ACTRA Manitoba family. Stop in and say hello to Julie during her regular office hours.

Looking towards summer, I hope to see you all at the AGM on Tuesday, June 6th at the Radisson.

President’s Message – January 2017

Whenever I attend a weekend of National meetings, I always return with renewed energy and appreciation for ACTRA.  Add a landmark women’s march to the experience and these feelings surge to an all time high.

It has never been more apparent to me that our union is one that not only protects our collective interests and wages, but it always endeavours to “do the right thing” for humanity.   In the middle of a full  day’s agenda, 30 of us, led by our fearless President –  Fern Downey, – don our pink hats and head to the street to march in solidarity with thousands of others – all compelled to “do the right thing!”

As members of a small branch, we may not always see the bigger picture. It is hard to turn down those casting notices that say “non-union” or to fill out the proper paperwork to do an independent film, or stand aside while some of our non-member friends “get to do” animation voice- overs. I feel your frustration, believe me.  

I want you to know we do everything possible to try and open the doors for you to work. When the doors close, it is often because of a much larger issue beyond our control.  The only way to keep the integrity of the agreements that work so hard for us, is if sometimes we have to sacrifice those jobs that just do not have the budget or the will to adhere to our basic, bottom line, needs.   

Thanks to all our members who continue to “do the right thing”.

Jan Skene – ACTRA Manitoba President

DECEMBER 2016 President’s Message

Hello fellow members,

As we approach and enter 2017, I would like to wish all our members and their families a healthy, safe and happy New Year.  2016 was a good year for our Branch, particularly the second half.  Production has been thriving and our members have been working. I encourage everyone on-set to always look out for their fellow members, and remember you must never feel pressured into doing anything you feel is unsafe, or did not agree to in your contract.  Branch rep, Rob Macklin is available to support and advocate for you, but he cannot be on all film sets at all times – he’s pretty great, but he is just one man.  

On that note, on behalf of all our members I thank Rob for his excellent work and thanks also to Alan Wong for his recent time helping out in the office.  Alan’s contact with members, checking in on their needs and understanding of ACTRA’s services, was a great help to the health of our branch. If you stop in for a visit you will also see a more welcoming and spacious Branch office.

One of Alan’s projects was to update our photo wall, but in order to do so, he needs your updated photos.  PLEASE update your photos with the office and with ACTRA online  if you haven’t done so already.  (You will notice I am trying to lead by example with my new headshot – thanks Kevin McIntyre.) Producers and industry associates appreciate seeing the photos of our members when they enter the Branch office, but out of date photos are unprofessional for you personally, and for our profile as a branch. Some of the photos on the wall are over 10 years old, so let’s start the new year fresh – out with the old and in with the new!

(Check out our webpage for local head-shot photographers.)

Jan Skene

ACTRA Manitoba President and National Councillor

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