A labour of love has won national attention.
An entry based on a Box Trolls promotion held to celebrate Salmar’s 65th anniversary last September took top prize at Show Canada, an annual movie industry conference.
An excited Salmar manager Daila Duford is quick to shine the spotlight on her staff, saying they all put their hearts into the project, which included creating a binder that outlined all aspects of the promotion.
“All the staff worked together to create costumes and decorations and the float,” says Duford, noting theatre supervisor Tessa Pickell surprised everyone with her artistic ability. “Tessa went above and beyond.”
Rather than entering computer-generated material, Pickell made the binder cover out of a cardboard box, burning the edges to give it more character. All the inside pages were tea-stained and Pickell hand wrote all the information.
Duford says Pickell did a lot of work on her own time, including a couple of all-nighters.
The binder was sent to the Motion Picture Association of Canada in Toronto where a panel of judges evaluated the entries.
Members of the panel included reps from major studios like Disney and Warner Brothers and large theatre operations such as Cineplex and Landmark.
Theatres from across Canada made their submissions in what Duford describes as stiff competition.
When she didn’t hear anything for a long time, Duford called Toronto and was told no final decision had been made.
A few hours later, she got the call that Salmar had won an award.
Having come in second last year in the showmanship award, Duford and her staff were very excited thinking they had won first place in that category.
And that’s what she had in her head when she left for the conference in Quebec City on June 2 .
“The head of Universal Studios came up to us and congratulated us. They wanted my picture and we couldn’t figure out why,” says Duford with an engaging grin. “He is the big head honcho of Universal.”
Duford points out that at last year’s conference in Whistler, Show Canada officials created a new award to honour the former head of Universal, who had passed away.
Described by Duford as a wonderful, flamboyant character, the award is for the best overall pick.
“They take all of the submissions from all over Canada in every category and they choose collectively the one they think went above and beyond,” Duford says, recalling that when the announcement about the new award was made last year, she turned to her husband and said, ‘we’re going to win that one day.’ “And we won it the very first year,” she laughs.
Duford says the big theatre chains have big budgets for their promotions and staff get financial incentives to create equally big-budget promotions so she did not expect Salmar would win in that category.
“They said they’d never seen one as creative before,” she says with pride, noting the award was accompanied by a $500 cash award. “My reward was a trip to Quebec (paid for by Show Canada) and a fancy awards dinner with everyone at Show Canada and we gave the money to Tessa.”
Duford says Salmar was the only independent theatre to win any of the showmanship awards.
“We want the Salmar to be recognized for being not-for profit and for giving back to the community, and it’s working. Everybody down there knows who we are now,” she says. “Afterwards, Paul Gross came up, shook my hand and congratulated me. That was my celebrity moment.”