Directing success

With more than 20 years of experience at Telefilm Canada, executive director Carolle Brabant ensures Canadians in the audiovisual industry get a spotlight on the international stage.

Q: What made you want to become a CPA at age 34?

A: It took me some time to realize that, although I love arts and culture, my forte is in numbers and management. From the first accounting course I took, I knew it was the right decision. After studying, I worked at an accounting firm where I learned to transfer my knowledge from one organization to the next. The most important asset I’ve transferred in my career is the ability to listen carefully — to the needs of the people I work with, the clients and the industry. I’m very proud to be a CPA.

Q: How do you describe your leadership style?

A: This might sound like a cliché, but I have a partnership with my team. I work with my employees to achieve our goals together. I don’t strive for consensus just for the sake of diplomacy — I’m not afraid to take over if I feel it’s the way to go. But most importantly, I listen to what’s going on in the industry and to what my team needs.

Q: You won an award for your leadership from Canadian Women in Communications five years ago, and you’ve been named one of 13 Female Power-Players Who Rule the World by The Hollywood Reporter. Is it important to you to promote women’s success in the audiovisual industry?

A: Canada is recognized worldwide for its diversity and I think that should be reflected on our screens — both big and small. When I was a CPA in 1990, there were a lot of men in the accounting industry and not many women. So CPA Canada began running ads to promote gender diversity in the industry, and I’ve often used that example of how strong the campaign was to convince my colleagues in this industry. Last year, I decided to bring key people — producers, directors, writers — together and for all of us to agree on a goal to close the gender gap in film production by 2020. And it’s working.

Q: What’s your favourite Canadian film?

That’s very tough. There is so much talent in Canada. In fact, five years ago, we created the Micro Budget Production Program to give emerging talent a chance to shine on the world stage. We’ve partnered with 40 film and audiovisual schools across the country that recommend one film from alumni each year. So far we’ve financed more than 70 projects and few have failed. Many have been selected by film festivals around the world. So there isn’t just one film I would pick — I would pick all of the microbudget films.

Carolle Brabant worked at Samson Bélair Deloitte & Touche before she joined the team at Telefilm Canada as an auditor in 1990.