“Jobs of the Future” is a series focusing on career paths, local job opportunities, programs, and tales of success that highlight North Bay's diverse job market.
This is the digital age and Richard Fortin says it’s only beginning.
“We are really at the beginning of this Internet revolution,” he says. “We’re just getting this system really going now and I don’t think it is going anywhere and I don’t think that fact that we can access it through our devices in our pockets is going to change either, it’s just a matter of how much more integrated will these things be in our everyday life.”
Fortin is the Founder and CEO of RFPMEDIA INC., which is a group of collaborators that are looking to support the arts and the digital media space through video and audio production.
“An artist has to feel safe in order to put themselves out there because it is a real humbling experience to show off your heart and your hard work and your ideas, especially if it's progressive or challenging a social norm,” says Fortin.
“When you’re not aiming to please just for the sake of pleasing people, you need that space that is going to allow you to reach those potentials. How to create and tell that story is sensitive too. You put everything into your song or your painting or your interactive art experience and then you’re putting it out on the market and asking people to judge you. That’s essentially what you have to be ok with because once that work is out in the public arena, that’s inevitably what happens, and it takes courage to do that.”
Fortin says based on his own experiences he knew how important it was to have that space and so he built a multi-use studio space in the co-working building at the former Tweedsmuir Public School at 176 Lakeshore Drive.
“We’re trying to be that catalyst to make that happen for people locally. We have so much talent here, that’s why I decided to establish my company here. We can do so much with the people and the resources here, it just comes down to bringing a spotlight on that talent,” says Fortin.
“When we go to create videos to tell our story or marketing products, it takes a team. It’s hard to do alone, it’s hard to shoot, edit, publish and manage a brand alone. The idea with RFPMEDIA is to help brands and artists find their voice, and bring that voice to the market.”
Fortin says everything we do now is about storytelling and he believes the best way to communicate those stories starts with authenticity.
“The reality is that the way we communicate now with phones and Instagram and Facebook and all of social media being what it is where we connect, even in smaller communities, its video production and storytelling by video that is really important,” he says.
“I think what COVID did was accelerate everyone’s comfort level with how efficient some of these technologies can be to our everyday life.”
Fortin says more and more businesses and organizations are looking outside the box in how to promote their content. He points to an example where they recently held a live stream broadcast for the four area school boards to discuss the apprenticeship program with students.
“We had all four boards on, with Skills Canada and special guest speakers, panelists from all around the province, we had segments that were live from the studio, segments that were pre-recorded and we had over 500 students from around the region watching this whole production that was emanating out of our space in real-time.
"There’s no way that it was a plausible option even two years ago, but now it’s so convenient for everyone. Service Canada has even said that more students have access to their information. In the past, they would set up a booth in the schools and would try to give them that information, but now they’ve got everyone’s attention for two hours in an interactive workshop and it starts to open some doors for people that might not have even looked twice and at the information.”
He says the more students see this technology being integrated into everything they do, the more likely they are to want to be a part of creating that content.
“Students want to create and create in that digital space and they recognize the information that’s within that world. Working on a movie set or within media takes skilled labourers and the truth is that a Tik Tok presentation from Skills Canada about the trades sector will have a much longer-lasting impact on today’s students than an in-person presentation. You show them that the work to create those scripts and those movies and the marketing is labour intensive, but you show them that there is a culture behind creating that great piece of art and they connect with that.”
Fortin’s goals for his company have revolved around two ideals: telling stories and creating jobs for North Bay.
“When I got into realizing that video production is going to be an important element in how we communicate and move forward, my objective to move back to North Bay eight years ago, was to create a company that would really have a lot of job creation. That was going to be my measured success, how many people in North Bay could I employ?”
He says with Candore College investing heavily in this industry by creating post-production studio space and a production facility, there was an opportunity for job creation.
“I just thought that we needed more companies that could give those students their first opportunity to start making money. I see RFPMEDIA as that place where people who are into the future of the communications industry can collaborate,” he says.
“I have three students right now doing a placement with me and they are from Barbados, Fort Albany, and Taiwan. Meanwhile, I’m from North Bay, but Bernardo who has worked with me for the last two years after graduating from Canadore, is from Brazil and I have a sound engineer from West Ferris. It’s just a snapshot of how North Bay can reach out to the world, we’re here right now and we just want to create.”
Fortin acknowledges that there are bigger companies around doing big-scale projects, but he says that’s why the focus for RFPMEDIA is on YouTube.
“The Hallmarks and bigger productions have multi-million dollar budgets and they have a whole crew and they do things at a certain scale. I would like to get to that point eventually, but I realize that the real game for most brands and artists is on YouTube where you’re creating videos and can curate our own channels,” he says.
“It’s a question of how can we accomplish these tasks without a huge crew and maintain that quality of content. People are used to seeing high quality and you need to have that to promote your brand.
"Showcasing that we are a YouTube-friendly space, puts us in that in-between realm of not being a huge production, but being big enough that we can help someone get their name and brand out there. I’ve re-worked the RFPMEDIA website to show what we’re all about and what our vision for the future is. It’s interesting because there is no real model for this; this is all brand-new space that we are working within. We are catering to a generation that is no longer getting their content from cable tv, they are just streaming content online. So for me, this is all about tapping into the future of communication, making it affordable for someone to do that, and building my team.”
Fortin says moving forward, the big revolution is in Interactive Media.
“We are trying to attract these new economy jobs to this co-working space here on Lakeshore and one of the things I always thought was so vital is that idea of what art does for any community. It communicates an idea that is usually bigger than the artist itself,” he says.
“That’s why you connect to it and that’s why it has an impact. What makes art connect is how it interacts with the viewer, whether it's art or media, it is speaking to you. That’s what matters to me, is making that connection and how do we help each other and how do we break that down into stories. Whether you’re a video artist that’s figuring out ways to create an exhibit that is interactive and innovative or whether you’re a brand trying to create a piece of media that brings attention to something you are trying to accomplish, you still need to figure out a way to story-tell by using these new technologies that fit right into our pockets now.”
Fortin adds, “At the end of the day its video production and sound production, which is nothing new but the platforms we’re sharing that content with, is new.”
If you have a story idea for Jobs of the Future, send Matt an email at [email protected]