Alumni Spotlight: Lindsay Blair Goeldner

Posted: Apr 3, 2024


This month’s spotlight highlights a recent conversation with award-winning film producer Lindsay Blair Goeldner. Lindsay began her journey in production in the commercial world before transitioning to narrative filmmaking following her acceptance into the CFC’s Norman Jewison Film Program in 2019. Since then, she has created numerous projects, from shorts to feature films and episodic content. Among these achievements are the short films Diaspora and Scaring Women at Night, as well as feature films including Learn to Swim (directed by alum Thyrone Tommy), Going In, Queen Tut (directed by Reem Morsi), and I Like Movies (directed by alum Chandler Levack). Additionally, Lindsay has spearheaded the 4-time Canadian Screen Awards nominated series Streams Flow from a River, which has been renewed for a second season. 

Currently, Lindsay serves as the VP of Production at Fae Pictures, a media production company founded by fellow alum Shant Joshi. Through her work, Lindsay remains dedicated to amplifying emerging and underrepresented talent. She is at the helm of expanding her portfolio, with various projects on the horizon. Dive into the spotlight below!

Could you share details about your journey into the film industry and how you became involved with Fae Pictures? 

My journey into the film industry was a bit of a backward process. Initially, I had no intention of making movies; honestly, I just wanted to watch them. The best job I ever had was working at a video store (shoutout Queen Video) and as a movie-obsessed kid who spent weekends watching rented DVDs, I was content to do that forever. When it came time to pick an undergraduate focus, I chose the Cinema Studies program at the University of Toronto because it most closely resembled my goal of being a professional movie-watcher. I juggled being a full-time student with a part-time job at the video store and began working seasonal contracts at local film festivals at TIFF, Hot Docs, After Dark, etc. After graduating, I continued to pick up festival contracts, and it gave me the privilege of visiting festivals in the US and meeting new film connections along the way. 

I made a festival film friend who informed me that a new company in NYC was hiring, and she thought that I’d be great in the role. It was a job with an education technology company based in New York, and they produced video training content for large companies. The fifteen months I spent in that role were a deep dive into film production in New York City, other states, and even abroad. It was a huge learning experience for me, and my background in retail and film festival work provided me with a varied skill set that felt natural in the role of a producer. 

When that visa ended, I moved back to Toronto after a brief stint in Belgium, where I worked on a few short films. I eventually landed a gig as an in-house integrated producer at an advertising agency. I spent a year working on broadcast commercials and was offered a role as a junior producer at a well-known commercial production company. It was this role that inevitably pushed me to look outward towards narrative filmmaking. Truth be told, that job was incredibly toxic, and commercials were unfulfilling, so I quit without a game plan. I had a fateful meeting with the wonderful Jennifer Shin, who encouraged me to apply for the CFC’s film program. It was there that I met my colleague Shant Joshi, who shared a similar vision for producing films as I did. We both wanted to see stories on screen that we had not seen before – with an emphasis on LGBTQIA and BIPOC-led projects. After the CFC program ended, the pandemic hit, and it was then, as we were stuck in our homes, that Shant and I formally joined forces to develop Fae’s slate alongside our Development Head and fellow CFC alum, Abdul Malik. The rest, as they say, is history.

What were some of the highlights of your time in the Norman Jewison Film Program, and how did it shape your career as a film producer? 

It’s difficult to pick out a singular moment because the whole experience is what led me to find my taste and purpose in this industry. Heading into the program’s Producer Lab, I was terrified. I came in with solid experience producing large-scale commercial projects, but in terms of narrative work, I had only some short films and music videos under my belt. I had previously been a producer who simply got the work done, and had not yet flexed my creative producer muscles. I felt unqualified at first, but I quickly realized once I met my cohort at CFC why they chose the folks that they do. We all came into the program with varying degrees of experience and from all different sectors of the film industry. I learned so much from my fellow pupils in the lab: Shant, Julie Strifler, Brendan Whelton, and Erin Byrnes. The talent in the other cohorts—the actors, the directors, composers, editors, and TV writers—are all people who I continue to work with and stay in touch with. I also keep in touch with many of the facilitators as well. I can’t express how much the CFC meant to me in terms of building community, which is something I missed in the commercial and corporate production spaces. 

Lindsay Blair Goeldner On Set of I Like Movies Photo Credit Tom Wood

Lindsay Blair Goeldner – On Set of I Like Movies – Photo Credit Tom Wood

How has the CFC impacted your career journey? What advice would you give to the current cohorts of the CFC?

The CFC changed the trajectory of my career. Aside from the obvious and essential element of building community and expanding my industry network, the CFC is a resource that I continue to tap into. Whether it’s for a workshop, or connecting with new cohort talents, the CFC is an active and engaged group that continues to uplift and engage alumni. 

The advice that I would give the current cohort is to be open-minded and flexible with what you’re expecting to come out of the experience. It’s great to know exactly what you want to get out of the program, but many unexpected learning moments for me came from just going with the flow and asking questions. 

It’s so exciting to watch CFC alumni collaborate! You recently worked with fellow alumni on projects like Streams Flow from a River, I Like Movies and Learn to Swim, to name a few! How do you leverage your shared experience at CFC when collaborating? 

I like to think of the CFC as a bit of a matchmaking service. After I graduated from the CFC program, I was introduced to Thyrone Tommy, Alona Metzer, and Chandler Levack as potential collaborators. They were all looking for a producer for their respective projects, and my name was put forward as someone for them to meet. With both teams, the CFC was a familiar force that brought us together, and that matchmaking endeavour worked out well. The CFC is where I also met Karimah Zakia Issa, a brilliant filmmaker who was the production manager at Pinewood when my cohort was producing our shorts. Together, we made Scaring Women at Night, which premiered at TIFF 2022 and continues to tour the world, having recently won the 2023 Iris Prize. I’m working with Karimah right now on her next project that we will be shooting this summer. 

The Fae Pictures projects Streams Flow From a River and Queen Tut were two of the bigger projects on our early slate. Before we produced them, we had been in development mode and had been primarily producing short films and series teasers. Streams being our first series and Queen Tut being our first regional feature film, it was important for us as producers to tap into all the resources available to ensure the success of each project. With every shoot, we aim to be mindful of building out a team based around the story, so it was important to find a crew who reflected and resonated with those narratives, and you will see a lot of familiar crew names in the credits of those projects that were folks we met at the CFC on our short films or folks we met through the larger CFC network. The CFC gave all of us a foundational framework and network to start working with, and it’s amazing to see how my fellow alumni from the program have taken their learnings and applied them to their careers. 

How important is fostering relationships and networking? What advice would you give to those looking to build their own network?

Networking and community building are part of the course for filmmaking if you want to pursue a career as an independent film producer. Not everyone is comfortable with networking, which is understandable, but I think the best way to overcome this is to know that you will find your people eventually. It’s a rite of passage to have an awkward conversation with a stranger at an industry event, where you can tell that they’re looking over your shoulder to chat with someone else, but that at least gives you insight that they are probably not the person for you right now. It’s easier said than done, but the moment you stop caring about how you might be perceived, the sooner you realize that everyone is in the same position that you are in. It’s also essential to try and reach out to new markets and industry events.

For emerging folks looking to build out their networks, I always recommend that you take the time to watch a lot of movies. Film festivals are an excellent entry point, and if the high cost of festival badges is an obstacle, you can always volunteer or work on a festival contract to help access those spaces. As you’re watching films, take note of the people making projects that you love and see yourself making. I am a big advocate for cold email, so get an IMDBPro account and email the people you want to work with. The worst outcome is that they ignore it, but the best outcome is that you get a response and a potential meeting in the books. 

Why do you believe it’s important for people to support Canadian talent and content? 

Unfortunately, Canadian film has been pigeonholed into a sub-sect of niche, regional indie cinema, or historically has been seen as living in the shadow of the US industry. I no longer think that’s the case, but it’s extremely hard to get Canadian films out into the global landscape. I Like Movies taught me so much about what resonates locally versus internationally. Our film made a viral splash at 2022’s TIFF and then online. Once the trailer was released and Letterboxd became a huge advocate of our movie, there was a large international audience asking for the film. Despite this, it was incredibly difficult to get the film a proper US release, and I know that this isn’t a unique problem. I am seeing a lot of my peers in the industry take on self-distribution as a means of getting their film into the world to have a semblance of control over their release. The Canadian cinema landscape is plentiful, but it’s hard to get our films to reach beyond the border, so it’s essential to support them however we can. When an independent film is doing its theatrical run in Canada, run to see it, and bring your friends. The opening weekend is essential for the film’s success both domestically and internationally.

As the Vice President of Production at Fae Pictures, what are your main goals and objectives for the company in the upcoming years?

Since the beginning of our collaboration, Shant, Abdul, and I have had a shared vision of Fae Pictures being a leading production company in both the Canadian and global media landscape, working on feature films and episodic content that focuses on LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC-led stories. Our mandate to Decolonize Hollywood is something we adhere to both in front of and behind the camera. It applies to how we crew our shows, how the sets are run, and the environment we want to facilitate to allow safe spaces to tell these stories, and we are constantly learning and growing out how we can best produce our projects. We want our projects to have access to the most support possible, and with that, we are looking outward to co-production opportunities.

2022 was the beginning of that pursuit, and having recently obtained an O1 visa, I decided to open up a New York chapter of our team. Splitting my time between Toronto and New York City, I can see how difficult it is for Canadian filmmakers to make the move abroad, but it is also essential to grow our projects and slates. There is a tangible ceiling for film production in Canada, and the only way to expand that ceiling is in the realm of co-production and co-venture with other countries. We are producing our first co-production project this upcoming fall with Granny Lee, a script that Shant shared with me back in 2019 at the CFC. We are collaborating with a South African production company and an Irish production company, both of whom we met while attending various international markets. We are also developing more episodic projects, more feature films, and, of course, have our eyes set on more co-productions.

I realized as I’m writing this that April 2024 will be the four-year anniversary of me joining the Fae Pictures team! 

Shant Joshi and Lindsay Blair Goeldner Fae Pictures at TIFF 2023 Getty

Shant Joshi and Lindsay Blair Goeldner – Fae Pictures at TIFF 2023 – Getty

How do you approach finding and nurturing emerging talent within the Canadian screen industry?

At the beginning of my narrative career, and certainly with the platform that the CFC provides, the way I found talent to collaborate with was through the CFC network, attending local events, screenings, and film festivals. These days, it’s a bit less about me reaching out to folks and more about them reaching out to me or a mutual connection that brings us together. The work that I have put out into the world is usually what attracts filmmakers interested in specific kinds of work to reach out, and I appreciate the people it’s connected me to so far. It’s incredibly meaningful to connect with other creatives who share a similar passion and vision for their art. 

What advice would you give to aspiring creators?

My go-to piece of advice is to always be a mentee and a mentor. Find the people doing whatever it is that you want to do, and ask them questions. Take them out for coffee. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Learn everything you can from people who are generous enough to share their time and insights with you. Once you have those insights, share them with others. Something I stopped being self-conscious about is the level of knowledge I have. Whether you’re at an early stage of your career, mid-level, or senior-level, there is always more to learn, and there will always be people who want to learn from you. I am so fortunate to have been able to be mentored by some amazing industry talents, all of whom I met early in my career and who were all kind enough to spend time with me, which eventually led me down the path I’m on now. Take the kindness that mentors provide for you and extend it to others.

What do you believe sets Canadian storytelling apart on the global stage, and how do you strive to showcase that uniqueness in your work?

Canadian films are special because they are global stories. Growing up in a city like Toronto gives you access to every part of the world. It’s hard to pin down exactly what a Canadian film is because of how varied and diverse our storytellers are, and that’s precisely what I look for in projects. I want to see and support stories that have not been on-screen before, reflecting lived experiences for folks who previously have not had a platform. Canadian cinema is currently being redefined by a growing group of new, exciting voices who are telling their stories in Canada, abroad, in their respective languages, and in new and innovative ways. I’m excited for what’s coming up and to see how the landscape adapts and grows to allow these films and filmmakers to prosper.

How do you measure success in your career?

Success for me is about impact. I want to leave the world a better place by making films that allow people to feel seen by them. As a queer kid growing up with a movie obsession, there were a few films that provided me with a sense of validation—shout out to Hedwig and the Angry Inch, But I’m a Cheerleader!, and Mulholland Drive—but not every kid was as lucky to see themselves on-screen. I want to support and uplift projects that allow others to feel represented and represented truthfully, in varied and complex ways.

I would be remiss not to mention the monetary side of success. Independent filmmaking is an extreme privilege to pursue, and many of the successful people doing it can do so because they come from a background that allows them to pursue creative work without fear of monetary failure. I don’t have that level of privilege, but one day soon I hope to just be able to focus on the projects I want to make, without concern for how I’m paying my rent. That, to me, will also become a marker for success.

What do you have planned for the near future, any exciting projects we need to know about?

At Fae Pictures, we are so excited to celebrate having ten Canadian Screen Award nominations across three of our projects, Queen Tut, Streams Flow from a River, and In Flames. We are also gearing up for our first co-production feature film shooting in South Africa in Fall 2024, titled Granny Lee, and our series Streams Flow from a River has been picked up for a second season. We have more episodic and feature film projects in development that will keep us busy in the coming years. I am also operating Fae’s New York office and will be in production on our first short film project in NYC in May, with more projects in the pipeline to help expand the US branch of our business.

On my personal producing slate, I Like Movies is embarking on a US theatrical tour with some of our crew and cast in tow. We will be kicking things off with a screening in New York on April 8th, with more dates to be announced soon, including a streaming release. I am producing two projects this year in both New York City and Toronto with both new talents and long-term collaborators of mine. I am developing two genre feature film projects because horror films are my favourite films, and I’m currently working on a funding application for my biggest project to date. I can’t wait to share more about these projects soon! In non-film-related news, I play drums in a band called Cold Mess, and we are recording our first EP with some live shows in NYC (and hopefully Toronto) soon. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me on my social media at @lindaysonline—and I still recommend movies on TikTok! —and @faepictures for all Fae-related news. 

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