How does one person with minimal experience in a field somehow engage in said field and manage to do so well even they can’t believe what’s happening? Maybe it consists of their previous experience, that’s normally the case. When Hollywood North Magazine got respawned after a pricey purchase on Flippa, it was originally nothing more than a website for me to voice my opinions on movies and the team wasn’t much. I wasn’t one for interviews, but as of lately my skills have been manifesting overtime and I’m doing stuff I never could’ve seen myself doing. With just enough power and perseverance, anything is possible. Today, Hollywood North Magazine has been recognized as a top site on two lists, is respected in the local area of Vancouver, makes quality articles and reviews with reliable team members, and is miraculously turning a profit during a pandemic of all things. When it comes to businesses named Hollywood North, they turn out strong.
There’s a few Hollywood North companies out there and I’m not the most aware of them. On the rare occasion, Hollywood North Magazine and Hollywood North Buzz get mixed up on social media at times but I’ve never contacted them before. I’ve never been on Hollywood North Radio, neither toured Hollywood North Production Resources, nor have I gone to that Hollywood North Club, but I did once apply to Hollywood North Extras (only to get no work at all) and even better, I have had the recent delight of talking to Darren Marynuk (not ours, that’s Darren Wiesner) of Hollywood North Productionz (not a typo). Darren is looking to build up relationships with other businesses aside from the local ones in his town of Sudbury but also throughout Canada to make his business more widely known (overseas traveling isn’t totally safe yet, folks) and so we engaged in a long heartfelt conversation on Zoom. I really felt a connection with him.
For someone who never went to film school or has a very minimal resume/IMDB page, Darren still has determination in creating his own business consisting of ties with local Sudbury businesses, friends he grew up with, people around the world, and a mindset and heart that both tell him he can do so much to make Sudbury more than just a shooting location. If everyone bonds together with their skills out there, they can be part of something so strong, it’ll mean changes to the town and even the Canadian film industry itself. Darren reached out to me on our Instagram regarding this website’s business name and hoping he wouldn’t tread on us or any other businesses I mentioned above because of the name he decided on. I accepted his message and even talked to him to see what he is up to. I am very impressed, and I’m sure you will be too.
HNMAG: First I need to know, what inspired you to create your own production company?
Darren Marynuk: Just the opportunities up here in Northern Ontario. I guess you could say it’s been a whirlwind of adventure here. With all the new production coming up here, with all the Ontario grants that have been given out, it’s definitely opened up opportunities but it’s also opened up my eyes to what could happen here. I wanted to move on from acting to making my own movies, so I thought, “Why not just open my own thing?” It’s been an interesting year to say the least, but with Resident Evil being here the last little while, and a couple other feature films in Northern Ontario and Sudbury, it seems like we’re lacking something here. Either it’s a company embedded here, though we do have one, but it seems like it’s not enough.
HNMAG: So work is pretty steady amidst the COVID pandemic?
Darren Marynuk: Absolutely. You can see that people are hunting to work. There is productions up here that are available so the opportunities are there for anyone who wants to take it. Even in Sudbury, there’s a lot of good people that are talented artists and actors. But it doesn’t seem like they know how to break into the industry. I’m not saying I’m an expert, but I am seeing many different opportunities in areas we could capitalize in as a whole.
HNMAG: Why did you choose the name Hollywood North in particular?
Darren Marynuk: It seems like everywhere you go in Sudbury, there’s some sort of film going on. It’s been called that, just off-the-cuff kind of thing. I thought it was pretty fitting. There’s a common misconception that you have to move to Hollywood to make Hollywood films. I don’t want to move to Hollywood, I want to stay here, I love everything about it. Why not make Sudbury Hollywood North? Since then, I haven’t even thought up of another name.
HNMAG: And what kind of films are you planning to make with this company?
Darren Marynuk: I’m hoping to go big, I don’t want to be doing Christmas movies, that’s for sure. As much as we all love a good Christmas movie, I want to bring up some good talent that to get proper movies done that I want to do. I’m looking to do a couple of gangster movies, maybe a couple of sports movies, stuff like that. I’d LOVE to do something with Robert DeNiro or Al Pacino or Joe Pesci. It would be amazing to do that but you gotta dream big. It would be my goal to do something like that, to produce it and maybe be one of the actors in the movie too. I want to make some cool movies, I want to make some movies that I like. If it’s my company, I can pick what kind of movies I want to do. Once everything starts rolling and a script comes my way, whatever the case may be. With talking to producers, I may say “Well, I’ve got this movie I want to get done. If you do this, we’ll do your movie next.” That’s going to happen, and there’s going to be times I don’t like what I’m doing. That’s just the business of movies though.
HNMAG: Who does your team consist of?
Darren Marynuk: While I do have a team that I will be bringing, I will also be spearheading the whole thing by myself. I do have a lot of people, but with the film industry, you don’t really go anywhere until you have a lot of money. You kind of got to do it on your own and you don’t want to invest too much of your own capital, especially with COVID. It’s one of those things that you’ve got to strategically plan, navigating through the system. I never went to school for business, but I know a lot of people who have, and I’ve grown up with these people here. So basically what is happening is we’re all professionals in certain different areas. There’s a friend who is an accountant, a friend who owns a business, I’m just pulling all these people together.
HNMAG: Will you also be making projects for clients? Like commercials, instructional videos, or promotional work?
Darren Marynuk: As a company just coming in, it’s baby steps, you can’t just say “I want to do this, this, and that.” because it becomes a little overwhelming for yourself. But absolutely, I want to open up a production studio here for film and music, it’ll be a one-stop shop kind of thing. We’ll make movies here, we’ll have the people to do it on deck here. We’re different over here and I’ve got some really amazing contacts from here to Bangladesh to people all over the world. So, I do have some people on board. But ultimately, I’m taking a big shot with this and if I win, I win. If I lose I have to see what happens.
HNMAG: What kind of features will your company provide? A studio and editing suite? What will you have?
Darren Marynuk: I don’t want to say everything that I’m doing because I don’t know exactly where my investors are going to take me. But what I want to do and what I plan on trying to organize as a whole for the company is buy a piece of land and build a state-of-the-art production studio. We can use it to be a production company for anything coming into town, whether we’re producers of it, or just someone coming to use it. We want to have a studio for music, and a fully functional soundstage for commercials. We don’t want to be a fly-by-night company, this is going to be something that’s embedded into the economy. I want to create jobs, I want to bring people here, and we have people to create anything you need. But we need to organize them here. I want to bring everyone together to make our own Hollywood in Sudbury. There’s so many good opportunities that it seems like somebody has to do something about it and that’s what I’ve done here.
HNMAG: So have you teamed up with other businesses in Sudbury?
Darren Marynuk: Yes, I’ve now teamed up with one of the #1 marketing guys in Canada and he’s based right out of here. He’s 5 minutes right down the road, and when we started speaking to each other we started realizing how we knew certain people. I mean Sudbury’s not a big city, we got 3000 people, but everybody knows each other here. He then tells me “I want to help you help me” and it’s teaming people up that you like to do business with because I want to do this longtime. If I want to do business with you, I want to be your friend too. There is a good lot of local people on board, but some of this stuff, you kind of gotta outsource and that’s the way it is. I’ve met some interesting people, but it’s going to take some time.
HNMAG: I’d like to know a little more about you, what productions have you acted in?
Darren Marynuk: I’ve been in about 5 productions.
HNMAG: And how did you get into acting?
Darren Marynuk: I started off recently, I’m not a veteran. I guess you could say I’m a guru of TV’s and movies. But the start of being on a movie set or anything started on Letterkenny, which is filmed entirely in Sudbury.
HNMAG: What was it like working on Letterkenny?
Darren Marynuk: Jared Keeso [The Program Creator] and I ended up speaking on set while I was doing my first filming. We realized that we played hockey against each other. He’s a year younger than me, I was playing in a team called The Greys and he was playing for Listowel and then we were like “Wait a minute!” and then we started going back and then I started to see him on a personal level. When I realized how many people it took to produce a 30-minute show, it was insane. It really opened up my eyes because these people weren’t from Sudbury but you’d think they were because of how they portrayed these characters.
HNMAG: So can you tell me how you became part of the show?
Darren Marynuk: Through a good friend of mine I used to play junior hockey with, his cousin is one of the casting directors. She runs Northern Casting and I guess they were casting people for hockey players. I didn’t think it would be hard to find hockey players in Sudbury that wanted to be on a show, but when you put it together, you need skilled hockey players that are willing to be an actor to do it. I was in, she ended up contacting me, we were in touch, and she called me up saying “This is where it’s going to happen, we’re going to meet up and have you as a skilled actor.” I was stunned, it was getting deep. As a skilled actor, you get paid a little more for having a skill. Getting involved was kind of sheer luck, also knowing good people in Sudbury. It was an experience I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. I’m a huge fan of the show, I’ve seen every episode.
HNMAG: What else do you do besides act and play hockey?
Darren Marynuk: I consider myself multi-talented, I can do a lot of things myself. From performing the music to producing the music, to producing stuff to make sure it gets stuff. I do a lot of producing but I’m at the stage of where I got to call people in for help.
HNMAG: What would you recommend to companies that are just starting out?
Darren Marynuk: That’s a loaded question, it’s a great question too. In the end, just be nice to people. If you burn one bridge, I’m telling you right now: that bridge will never ever EVER be built the same way again. When it burns down, it burns down for good. So try to listen to people, hear them out with what they’re saying before you cast your own opinion of them. Any opportunity out there, take it with a grain of salt. Do your research so you know who the guy is or what the company is about.
Darren’s already doing well with doing favours for local businesses and even friends from his past years. So far he has built up many connections to help him get to where he is and it looks like his business will be a successful one. Who knows? Maybe someday when I finally retire from this and go into acting I’ll be in one of his productions. Or maybe, the Darren here will ask Darren about one of his first and upcoming productions. Now THERE’S an idea.