Tyson Media Productions Pledge for Diversity

In 2022, Tyson Media Productions (TMP) had a five thousand dollar diversity pledge that gave three people an internship to work on Animal Planet’s Pets & Pickers as well as other various TV projects. This program was such a big success, that it will be doubled in 2023. The Media Pledge for Diversity with TMP will now be ten thousand dollars. The Pledge is open to people from diverse backgrounds as well as marginalized and immigrant communities to participate in its camera and post-production trainee programs. The development intern’s duties will include casting, social media outreach, interviewing potential subjects and characters as well as on-set visits. If this sounds like a fit for you, please send in a resume and cover letter and why you are interested in the position to: info@tysonmedia.ca by July 15, 2023.


We had a conversation with the founder of TMP, Tyson Hepburn about his journey towards building a Canadian-based non-scripted television company into a global phenomenon.


HNMAG: How did you come up with the idea for the company Diversity Pledge?

Tyson Hepburn: This mandate wasn’t just about good business but it’s also personal. My common-law partner is South Korean. She came to Canada with very modest means; little money or grasp of the language. She made a life for herself before she met me. I have so much respect for new Canadians. I believe that it is our duty as established Canadians to give back and help out where and how we can. 

In 2022, the three applicants selected had the opportunity to work on our TV series PETS & PICKERS  for Animal Planet as well as various development projects. Due to the success of the program, the company is committed to going even bigger for a second year by increasing its pledge to $10,000. 


HNMAG: Have any of the 2022 participants found jobs in the entertainment industry? 

Tyson Hepburn: Nessie Blanes was the first camera trainee to work with TMP. 

Nessie told me that she found this job empowering, “It is my dream to make my own documentary and the TMP team taught me a lot about the interview process, especially when it came to the veterinarians themselves. I’m also an animal person and so this job was super special to me.” We plan to hire Nessie full-time for future productions. 

Another participant Thofiq Hussien worked with the team in post-production. Thofiq was a lead logger and this was his first time experiencing this type of post-production position. Thofiq told me, “Learning to be and stay organized was a big job, with many responsibilities and problem-solving on the fly. In the lead logger role; things happen quickly. Editors need clips and information in an instant and it was my job to supply that.” 

Thofiq has since moved on to become a forensic video analyst with the RCMP. He found the Diversity Program has helped him develop key skills necessary to work in his current job.

We look forward to receiving new applications this year with similar results.


HNMAG: Were you born in Sechelt?

Tyson Hepburn: Yes sir!


HNMAG: Is it the very northern part of the Sunshine Coast?

Tyson Hepburn: I was born there but I grew up in White Rock.


HNMAG: Were you always interested in Television

Tyson Hepburn: I was actually, yes. We had a film school in my high school and we did tons of cool projects. It was very helpful, learning how to work with people, learning scripts, and learning the entire process. 


HNMAG: You studied film at Simon Fraser University (SFU), how did the program work?

Tyson Hepburn: For the first two years it was a general bachelor’s program and then we had to apply to get accepted into the film program in the third year. I think there were twenty to twenty-five students selected. Over two hundred applied. 


HNMAG: What happened after SFU?

Tyson Hepburn: I got lucky, I got a couple of really nice jobs and then in 2008 I started working in unscripted right away. I was hired while I was still studying at SFU I was a production assistant on a show for Discovery Channel called Mega Moves. 


HNMAG: What did you enjoy most about working in non-scripted production?

Tyson Hepburn: There are many advantages of working in non-scripted in comparison to scripted. You get to do a lot more jobs. You get a taste of everything. You get to be a PA, lighting technician, camera operator, director…You kind of get every role. On a big scripted set, there are a hundred workers and everyone has one role. For example, if you were working on a Hollywood North feature film, in the IATSE camera department, your job for the entire shoot could be to pull focus. On our productions, there would be one or two camera people and they’re doing everything. 


HNMAG: How did you start producing your own shows?

Tyson Hepburn: In 2012 I made my first show called Pyros. We partnered up with a bigger company called Omni Films here in Vancouver. 


HNMAG: How did you make that all happen

Tyson Hepburn: You need something sellable for a production company to take interest. A sizzle reel is a good way to show that. 


HNMAG: Is that what you did for Omni Films to come on board?

Tyson Hepburn: Exactly, we had a really strong sizzle reel. I thought I had a job filming sports during the 2010 Olympics but it got canceled. I still got access to filming at a barge and I started filming out there every night. I saw the potential since they had these amazing nightly fireworks. I became good friends with the fireworks team and we kept in close contact. 


HNMAG: What was the experience like when making Pyros?

Tyson Hepburn: It was one of the most fulfilling experiences, traveling the world. Every firework is like a party, so it was always a crazy celebration everywhere we went. We went to Montreal, Mexico City, Brazil, Spain, Germany. The fireworks company, GFA is based out of Montreal.


HNMAG: What show did you do after Pyros?

Tyson Hepburn: The next big show was shot in Newfoundland called Cold Water Cowboys. It went on for four seasons. It was on the Weather Channel and also appeared on Netflix. Then we had another big show called Rust Valley Restorers. Classic car restoration show. Season five is airing this Fall. 

HNMAG: Tell us about your new show Pets & Pickers

Tyson Hepburn: It’s about an animal hospital where people who can’t afford to pay their vet bills, get some help. How do they help? From abandoned storage lockers that people donate and a team of pickers, pick through them. The money raised goes to the animal hospital. It’s all filmed in Richmond, BC. It airs on Animal Planet US. You can also get it on the CTV app and season one is now on Crave. 


HNMAG: How does the diversity pledge work for applicants?

Tyson Hepburn: It’s a part-time internship with TMP that could turn into a full-time internship. The ten thousand dollars cover the internship but depending on the person, it could turn into full-time work after that. 


Tyson Media Productions is a success story that has local, grassroots in Vancouver. The founder Tyson Hepburn was a film student that worked as a production assistant and four years later was creating his own Television show. Now their programs are celebrated around the world. TMP is giving back by offering opportunities that were very hard to come by. The diversity pledge will lead to the next Canadian Film and Television success story. 

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