News / Edmonton

Edmonton hero making city's mark in film business

Lindsey McNeill is a filmmaker, writer, actress and director

Lindsey McNeill was recently selected to represent Canada at the Cannes Film Festival.

Chad Steeves /For Metro

Lindsey McNeill was recently selected to represent Canada at the Cannes Film Festival.

Horror, women making movies and Edmonton are three things many wouldn't link together.

But Lindsey McNeill is working to change that and, evidence shows it's working: McNeill was recently selected to represent Canada at the Cannes Film Festival.

For that and many other reasons, McNeill's an Edmonton Hero.

McNeill is a filmmaker, writer, actress and director. She clearly likes to do it all, but it’s her desire for collaboration that sparked her move from writer and actress to director and producer. That and unemployment.

“When I lost my job in the 2008 downturn, I had time to put scripts together, that was the first turning point,” McNeill says.

A few years later she realized she wanted to create whole projects for herself, so step two was realizing she wanted to work collaboratively.

“It’s more exciting to be part of the process than just to sell a script,” McNeill says.

Creating her own projects allowed her to craft stories by women, and for women like herself.

Equal pay and the severe lack of recognition for women behind the camera have been big topics lately. And McNeill felt these issues in Edmonton, when she would show up for auditions for stereotypical roles.

“I was tired of showing up to be heartbreakingly disappointed that my role is 'slut number two.' I didn’t even get to be the first one,” McNeill says. 

In 2008, McNeill's Truckstop Bloodsuckers landed on Bite TV. The ups and downs of that kept her working to create something that was truly hers. And to keep pushing in a male dominated field to make her own way.

“Creativity doesn’t have a glass ceiling, but the industry certainly does,” McNeill says. “But it’s changing.”

She credits men in the industry for encouraging her to become the producer she wants to be.

“I’ve been challenged by more men who help me recognize I’ve been the one playing small.”

This work led her to Gillian’s Just Right, the movie that she's often defined by, and a mentorship with Women in Film, awarded to only 10 other women in Canada.

Last spring, she represented Canada at Cannes. And now McNeill is producing a web series, starring in another, and working on another short film to start filming next May.

The number of projects McNeill is involved with seem implausible in a city rarely recognized for its film work. But she says the city's scene is in transition, and she’s helping to draw attention to it.

Her website Scream Queen B started as a way for her to keep tracking of writing, but it became a point for discussion on the local film industry is faces and profiles women in the industry.

McNeill dismisses talk that Edmonton has a small film scene — she lists off local productions up for awards that she's surrounded by at her day job at Alberta Media Production Industries Association.

What's needed, she says, is someone trying to bring it all together, like a film commissioner.

“We need an advocate.

If that is what Edmonton needs, the city is lucky to count McNeill, who's acting in an unofficial yet highly influential capacity as that very thing.

Know a hero?

Edmonton Heroes celebrates people who are building Edmonton through bringing the right people together to make something bigger than they could on their own. Do you know someone who should be recognized as a hero? Get in touch with us at edmontonletters@metronews.ca