Music’s role in film 

Inaugural Whistler Summit and Canadian Music Showcase explore connections between cinematic and music industries

Ali Milner is a familiar face on the local music scene. The fiery-haired songstress has long been a long-time fixture on stages around town, but since graduating from Whistler Secondary School last year she’s been splitting her time between Whistler and Vancouver while trying to get a full-time music career off the ground.

Between playing a wide range of corporate gigs, Milner was also able to take part in a prestigious five-week summer program at Boston’s Berklee College of Music to strengthen her keyboarding skills.

“It gave me a lot of the tools to become better, and I got a way better mindset in terms of playing,” Milner said.

She’s also busy writing new material with a distinct pop-jazz sound and feel.

“They’re very me,” Milner enthused. “Finally, I’m just writing these songs that feel so right and I’m so comfortable with them and I’m so happy with them. I’m really excited to record them.”

Milner recently received the Emerging Artist grant from the Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings (FACTOR), which will help finance the recording of her next album.

“It finally felt like maybe I was a legitimate artist and people really wanted to help me,” Milner said with a laugh.

She hopes to head back into the studio soon to record her second full-length album. It’s been almost four years since she released her debut album, which featured six original songs on the 10-track CD.

“I’ve grown from the pure jazz thing, and I wanted to find my own niche and sound,” she explained, adding that she is collaborating on new material with friend and colleague Don MacLeod.

Most recently, Milner was selected as one of five musical talents to perform at the first annual Canadian Music Showcase, being held in concert with the 8 th annual Whistler Film Festival.

“It’s just a chance to expose Canadian talent to music supervisors for television and film,” she explained, “It’s an incredible opportunity.”

Tyl van Toorn is the producer of Transmission, a four-day internationally renowned musical showcase that takes place in Vancouver on the same dates as the Whistler Film Festival.

Organizers of Transmission and WFF decided to team up and host a collaborative event in Whistler this year when they realized their dates coincided.

“We are really excited about teaming up with Transmission,” Shauna Mishaw Hardy, Whistler Film Festival Director, said in a recent press release, “It’s a very holistic approach to connect film, music and the future of content with our existing industry programs. We anticipate a very compelling, innovative and positive outcome for both initiatives for filmmakers, artists and executives alike.”

Van Toorn explained that the purpose of the event is to find common ground and open up lines of communication between film and music professionals, who are facing a lot of the same challenges in the face of rapidly changing technology and culture.

“It was a realization that these two industries had something to gain from each other, so we decided to essentially bring these two programs together in Whistler to discuss where the future of content was going,” he explained.

Now, they plan to hold a keynote speakers’ event on Saturday, Dec. 6 which will be moderated by Paul Hoffert, CEO of Noank Media, and features an impressive roster of guests, including Brad Pelman, co-founder and co-president of Maple Pictures Corp.; Seymour Stein, co-founder of Sire Records; Simon Wheeler, head of Beggars Group; Matthew Daniel, VP of R2G; and Brett Gaylor, head of new media and director for EyeSteelFilm.

The speakers’ event is also preceded by an afternoon musical showcase that features Milner, Vince Vaccaro, Courtney Wing, Final Flash, and one unnamed act at Moe Joe’s on Saturday afternoon.

This isn’t Milner’s first time playing a film-industry event – she participated in the Canadian Music Café during the Toronto Film Festival.

She’ll be playing four or five original compositions during a 20-minute set, where she hopes someone in attendance may like what they hear.

“They’re keeping an ear out for music that could fit in film and television, so I’m just playing songs I have with strong lyrical content that are relatable,” she explained.

Milner points out that in today’s industry it can be incredibly difficult to get a musical career off the ground.

“There are 10,000 people lining up to take your spot, all the time, so events like this are just so incredible and really expose talent that Canada has to offer.”

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