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‘Concordia gave me the opportunity to meet like-minded people and run with our ideas’

Meet four grads who helped drive WAM, the production company behind The Detectives, to Canadian Screen Awards success
December 17, 2019
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By Maeve Haldane

With a head office and post-production facility in Montreal, a development office in New York and a list of partners, past and present, that includes Netflix, Bell Media, Rogers Media and more, WAM Media Group, the company behind the CBC docudrama series The Detectives, has experienced tremendous success.

Concordia has played a crucial part in that success, having provided multiple WAM staffers and contributors — writers, researchers, directors and producers alike — with formative training and education.

We caught up with three of WAM’s executive producers and an award-winning editor, all of whom had a hand in the anticipated third season of The Detectives (premiering Jan. 9, 2020 at 9 p.m. on CBC).

Scott Bailey, BA 01 Scott Bailey, BA 01

Scott Bailey, BA 01 (comm. studies)
WAM executive producer and managing partner

What’s your favourite part of the job?

People, by far. I find teamwork and collaboration a hugely rewarding and challenging puzzle. And when you throw creativity into the mix? When you get it right it feels so phenomenally good.

The biggest challenge?

Rejection. If we pitch ten really great, well-thought-out ideas with amazingly talented people involved? We’re doing well if two of them get into development.

What have you learned about detectives from the show?

That the job is harder, more emotionally and mentally challenging, and physically demanding, than you think. They pour themselves into their job. They’re singularly motivated to help solve these tragic crimes. It’s very touching and very humbling.

Why are so many Concordia grads associated with WAM?

People have to be very talented, hard-working and [capable to work here]. But also the softer, human skills resonate with us: emotional intelligence, people treating people properly, being thorough, being respectful. Maybe that comes out of an education that isn’t just training.

Petro Duszara, BA 98 Petro Duszara, BA 98

Petro Duszara, BA 98 (comm. studies)
WAM executive producer and managing partner

Talk about your role as showrunner for The Detectives.

I created and produce the show. A showrunner hires a creative team — who the director’s going to be, the writer, the cast. All the decisions land on your shoulders at the end of the day.

What did you learn from your work on the show?

I better understand how investigations work. Policing is a bit of a hot-button topic, so spending time on the other side has been eye-opening. [Investigators] are some exceptional human beings.

What did you enjoy about your time at Concordia?

It was an environment that allowed you to think. The friends I made, the projects we’d dig into, the teachers — it was really focused on who you are, what your voice is, what you want to share with the world.

Jennifer Gatien, BA 97 Jennifer Gatien, BA 97

Jennifer Gatien, BA 97 (comm. studies)
WAM executive producer and head of production 

How would you describe your role at WAM?

I’m head of production. I work on development, I put the budgets together and the schedules, the legal stuff, the insurance, I deal with all the unions. All the big, back-end pieces of the puzzle that need to get put in place so you can get the show on its way.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

As head of production you get to see [the work] from beginning to end. From before it was an idea, to the very end when the final episodes are being delivered to the broadcaster.

And your least favourite?

I just adopted a 10-year-old boy from Ukraine with my husband. I’m 46, I’m a new mom and I’ve never had to do this [balancing act] before.

What have you learned about detectives from your work on The Detectives?

They’re eating, sleeping and breathing the case. They’re the first person on the scene, the last to leave, and they get to know the [families of victims] really well.

How would you describe your time at Concordia?

I made lifelong friends. The professors were so passionate and had experience in the field. One of my favourites, Dennis Murphy, instilled in us the idea that if you’re going to work in media you have a responsibility. He always asked the right questions to get us thinking and he’d spark these huge class debates.

Glenn Berman, BFA 78 Glenn Berman, BFA 78

Glenn Berman, BFA 78
WAM freelance editor 
Winner ‘Best Picture Editing, Factual’ at the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards

What prompted you to go into this line of work?

Love of old movies. When I was a little kid I would come home from school and turn on this ancient black-and-white television. I’d watch old Westerns and got intrigued and amused by how they were put together.

Do you analyze the work of other editors when you watch movies or TV?

People say to me, ‘Oh, you must see all the mistakes.’ Well, I marvel at the successes! There are so many ways a movie can go wrong. Even if you think you’ve got every element correct, there’s still no guarantee it will really take flight. It may just taxi along the runway, you know?

How did Concordia shape you and your career?

Concordia gave me the opportunity to meet like-minded people and run with our ideas. The equipment was available, advice was freely given, the energy was fantastic. [My] department was run by a really gifted teacher named André Herman. He had a singular influence on me and a lot of other people who are now working in the industry.



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