TIFF, CFF, VIFF, and the CSAs — Gina Simone Is a Filmmaker to Watch!

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Gina Simone is a Producer, Director, Editor, and all-around Filmmaker who has won numerous awards including the TIFF, CFF, VIFF, and CSA awards for her work on a variety of projects from feature films to music videos.

Gina’s love for film began at a young age. Her grandfather loved cinema and passed on the same love to her. Movies such as “The Greatest Show on Earth,” “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” and “The Sandlot” inspired her to explore the entertaining nature of films.

She comments: “As a kid, I was always curious about how film could bring people together. What was it about a specific story that so many people could fall in love with? How did the film have the ability to influence and change people?” 

Though she grew up in a family that primarily worked in the trades, she had a different career path in mind. She would often steal away to concerts and movies to learn everything she could about entertainment and building stories.

In High School, she started to see her work pay off. After entering CBC’s Making the Grace Contest, she won first place out of hundreds of contestants for the PSA she wrote and directed about teen mental health.

She went on to attend and graduate from York University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. It was around that time that she created her first documentary after a loved one who took his life. Seeing the power and importance of filmmaking, her work on the documentary gave her the momentum she needed to kick-start her career as a professional filmmaker.

Gina went on to create a number of horror films claiming that “[h]orror films are almost a rite of passage for filmmakers in Canada” as they are fast and cost effective to produce and export out to other countries.

Then, she joined the Director’s Guild of Canada and began to produce music videos and larger-budget productions. Over time, she gained experience in creating short films, music videos, documentaries, features, commercials, and more.

Her short film “Whale” was funded by Netflix and the Harold Greenberg Shorts and centers around an indigenous story shot in Tofino BC. The film has been nominated for multiple awards and premiered at VIFF.

Gina went on to co-produce a documentary, “I, Pedophile,” for CBC that has since been nominated for the Canadian Screen Award. She also co-produced “We Came to Wreck Everything,” which will premiere at TIFF in 2023.

When it comes to music videos, she has seen a lot of success including one she produced—“Totally Fine” by PUP—which has gained close to 500k views and was nominated for the Academy Prism Prize Award.

Another popular project she worked on as the director was a series called, “Coming Distractions.” The series has been on Amazon Prime, and the featured talent has been nominated for numerous awards. Gina continues to direct this series today.

After over 10 years in the industry, Gina decided to work with three other filmmakers to create Pocket Film School. She explains: “This fully self-guided film school takes over 300 hours of content across all aspects of filmmaking and puts it in one place.”

One of the biggest challenges she has faced is treating each production as not just art but also a business. In her words: “…a big challenge as a female producer and a director is knowing that every film is a business. Each with its own audience, sales, and goals so everyone you embark on is going to be different.”

She notes that resilience is key to “making it” in the film industry. Each project is different and comes with its own set of challenges. On top of that, while some projects may only take a couple of months to complete, others will take years. She comments: “…this industry is about resilience and tenacity. Sometimes projects fall apart, it’s part of their journey.”

All in all, Gina Simone is a Canadian filmmaking star whose work can be seen across Canada, the US, and Europe. From documentaries and feature films to commercials and music videos, Gina has become a well-versed filmmaker and storyteller.

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