Harvey Kahn discovered what he really wanted to do for the rest of his life while working for the Disney Channel in 1983. Thirty-three years later, he is the president and producer of Vancouver’s Front Street Pictures, a company he founded in 2003, and has won dozens of awards for his films.
“I started my career as a reporter in Washington working outside the industry,” Kahn says. “But I moved to L.A., started working for the Disney Channel as their director of publicity, and I realized that I really enjoyed bringing people together to make a project happen.”
That is when he says he started the long road to becoming a producer. By 1990 he had started to produce independent films and TV projects, most of which were filmed in Vancouver where the U.S. dollar went further.
“I had made a lot of friends in L.A., and I put the idea of starting a production company in Canada to producers and executives to see if there was any interest,” he says. “Now I’m running Front Street where we offer an array of services to big studios and independent producers.
“Whether they need a crew, office space, or help navigating the tax credit systems, we’re open to helping anyone. And, of course, we do all these things for our own productions too.”
Front Street employs 15 people full time to help run the offices. But their film crews are made up of about 75 people, so Front Street can have two films in production at any given time.
“Our film crews often move from one project to another after completion,” Kahn says. “It’s been built into a small community. But we’re always looking for new people when we start up production.”
He says the industry has mushroomed and he finds his company is constantly recruiting new people to fill all the positions. A lot of the positions are entry level, but there is room to grow with the company if you are loyal, diligent and passionate.
“Our VP of production, Allen Lewis, started out as an office assistant 11 years ago,” he says. “Now he is heading up all of our production. Our chief accountant also started out as one of our junior accountants.
“This industry is made for media consumers. When I interview someone, I ask if they watch TV and if they like movies. I ask them if they have a Netflix account. I want to hire people who follow their interest. Whether that is costumes, transportation, post production, camera operator, whatever it is they want to do, I want them to be passionate about it.”