Michael Canton‘s love of film started with a superhero.
When he was seven, Canton watched the first instalment of the Batman series at a local theatre. It was the first film he saw on the big screen and it left a lasting impression.
“I just loved the fact that I could use my imagination and feel like I am Batman,” recalled the 31-year-old.
In high school, Canton was introduced to video editing through a communications technology class at grade 10. It sparked his interest in television broadcasting.
He took out his savings for one semester of college and put it towards purchasing his first video camera. He then enrolled in the Television Broadcasting program at Mohawk College.
“I fell in love with media. I was finally in something that I loved to do.”
Shedding the (camera) light on Hamilton’s startup scene
During his second year at Mohawk, Canton did an internship with the Hamilton Economic Development department. He produced BizClip, a video series on local business news. Some of his favourite videos include the opening of Tourism Hamilton in the Lister Block and the Hamilton Digital Media Interactive (HDMI) event. The annual event brings together Hamilton’s web, media, film, gaming, music and animation groups.
One of his assignments brought him to Demo Camp. Launched in 2011 by Software Hamilton, each Demo Camp kicks off with a keynote speaker followed by five software demos for five minutes each.
Watching start-ups pitch and present their ideas to the audience, Canton was inspired by their passion.
“They just wanted to make something really cool and unique to benefit others,” he said.
“I believe that having these different aspects of the community is very important. They all play a role in telling Hamilton’s story.”
This led to the idea of a online video series showcasing new initiatives in media and technology called TechTalk (now known as TechTalk X)
The series consists of more than 70 videos of interviews and footage of key young professionals, media, start-up and entrepreneurial events. The Hamilton Media Guild’s first event after its launch, Doing Media Differently, was featured on TechTalk X.
Whether it be interviews of start-ups, developers or coverage of young professional events, Canton would be documenting them all and he has done them without being paid.
“They deserve recognition with what they have done and created. I am more than happy to spend my time on them [the videos].”
Building a community of web series creator
As Canton continued doing videos, he connected with the Toronto Web Series Community, an open group of individuals who create scripted online videos. Like him, many of the creators share a passion for storytelling.
The group founded the Independent Web Series Creators of Canada (IWCC) in 2013, a grassroots nonprofit organization that promotes, supports and encourages the development of web series in Canada. Canton became the organization’s social media manager in 2013.
The IWCC launched the first Toronto Web Fest in May 2014 at Harbourfront Centre. With the goal to support independent and audience-focused web and digital series, the three-day festival covered a wide range of entertainment genres including drama, comedy, kids, fantasy, non-fiction and more.
For Canton, initiatives like the web fest and IWCC showcase the talents of video creators and give them creative control of video production.
“You have the freedom to share and tell the story inside of you,” he said.
“It opens up more doors for different kids of storytelling where the viewer isn’t just the viewer.”