An Interview with Helen Du Toit

Date and Venue September 2011 | VIFF Trade Forum, Vancouver

Reviewer Michael Pink

Helen Du Toit, creative director of the Vancouver International Film Festival TV and Film Forum, is as innovative and diverse as the Forum events she arranges.

Born in England, lived in Europe, high school on Vancouver Island, and creative director of both the Vancouver and Palm Springs Film Festivals, Du Toit is a true citizen of the world and passionate booster of the film and television world.

“I live an international life” says Du Toit enthusiastically, “Toronto is my base then there are other cities that I frequently go to. As creative director of the five day Forum, I work on setting up panels, choosing topics, speakers and arranging for panel hosts.”

Helen Du Toit

The Vancouver Film and TV Forum is the largest event of its kind in Western Canada and runs concurrently with the Vancouver International Film Festival. The mandate is to develop and strengthen the Canadian film and television industry and to help our filmmakers produce quality product for domestic and international markets.

The New Filmmakers' Day (NFD) is the only event of its kind in Western Canada and a 'standing-room-only' event for the past seven years. It is designed to cater to emerging writers, producers and directors of film and television. Networking at the Forum is also a critical aspect of its enduring success. Last year the combined attendance was 1,200 participants.

“For me it is interesting to be at the Forum and see what’s going on in the industry. It is also important for me and the guests in general to learn about business issues in film” says Du Toit.

One popular Forum event will be The Art of Prep: Directing Workshop. Acclaimed director Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown, Twilight, Red Riding Hood) is notorious for her extensive prep on a film. She will bring her fascinating stories to life, from concept to camera. This is the type of real experience mentoring that is vital for emerging filmmakers.

Another event that is sure to get the creative juices flowing is the TV Comedy Writing event which features comedic writing legend Lee Aronsohn, writer on the Big Bang Theory and now returning to the hit series Two and a Half Men. Co-Creator, Exec Producer and Writer Lee Aronsohn will talk about Two and a Half Men, described as “the biggest hit comedy of the past decade” by the New York Times. Participants will learn what it takes to not just create a hit series, but sustain and grow an audience over 9 years.

According to Du Toit, “the world of film and television is always interesting and the emerging creative talent on the west coast is great.

© 2011 Michael Pink