Neil Macdonald (left), Dave Hamelin and Jayden Soroka formed Outpost 31 to create a full-service production company in the Yukon. Their success resulted in an invitation from Telefilm Canada to attend the 2019 Cannes Film Festival in France.
In 2018, the Yukon saw vast growth within the local film industry. One of the reasons for this was the emergence of northern production company, Outpost 31. Outpost 31 is a full-service media and entertainment company located in Whitehorse and helmed by founders Neil Macdonald, Dave Hamelin and Jayden Soroka. The focus of the company is on creating dynamic film, television and digital media content. The company’s success was recognized at the Startup Canada 2019 regional awards in early May, where the trio received the Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Both Macdonald and Hamelin grew up in the Yukon and have known each other since grade six. They started making amateur movies together when they were just 13. After studying in B.C., Neil worked in the Vancouver film industry as a director of photography (DOP) and lighting technician. Dave got his start as an assistant editor. Both eventually returned to the Yukon in 2010. In 2011, while working on a short film called Fragments, they crossed paths with Soroka, who had recently moved to the North to do visual effects. Originally from the prairies, Soroka attended the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
All three have unique skill sets and expertise and this diversity has contributed to the success of Outpost 31. Macdonald’s role is as a producer, director and DOP; Hamelin’s role is as a writer, director and editor; while Soroka specializes in motion design and is the creative director. Together, the trio has formed an all-encompassing production company that knows how to deliver quality content.
“In the North, we have to wear many hats in the film and media industry,” Macdonald said. “The primary focus of Outpost 31 is on developing and creating original content.”
Though the company doesn’t limit itself to that. Outpost 31 also offers a wide range of pre-production, production and post-production services, along with service work and rentals. The company has partnered with Outside companies and has also created many commercials and projects for local industries such as Tourism Yukon.
The name “Outpost 31” holds significance as it was inspired by the science station from John Carpenter’s 1982 sci-fi film, The Thing. “We create a lot of horror sci-fi genre stuff and the idea of the remote outpost made sense for what we are doing in the Yukon,” explained Macdonald. “One of the biggest challenges that we faced was getting people, Canada and the World to know who we are.”
Macdonald said he and his partners were surprised at how busy and successful Outpost 31 has been. This year, the company was selected by Telefilm Canada to attend the 2019 Cannes Film Festival in France.
“We really appreciate the Yukon Media Development and Economic Development Branch for helping us get to Cannes,” said Macdonald.Macdonald also had some words of wisdom for local aspiring filmmakers.
“Stay at home and tell stories. Tell northern stories. There is a lot about the North that sets us apart.”
As the media industry has become smaller and more accessible, the ability to create content anywhere has become more than a possibility.
For more information and to view content produced by Outpost 31, visit Outpost31.ca.