Some say Camp Rock, filmed at Camp Wanakita in 2007, launched the careers of Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers.
It inspired Brad Brown’s career too.
It was the local videographer’s first job in the film industry, thanks to a connection with Tammy Rea of Sticks and Stones Productions.
Fifteen years later, after a couple of years traveling regularly from his home in Minden to the GTA as part of his production company, the pandemic halted most of his work.
But there was a silver lining.
“It let me take a step back and reassess and see what I wanted to do,” Brown said.
What he wanted to do became clear: working closer to home in Haliburton County.
He said a video with a friend who led ice fishing tours “reintroduced himself to the County.”
Since then, he said one project has led to another. Throughout the pandemic, he’s worked with musicians, dancers, businesses and non-profits through his company, Upside Brown Production Services.
“It’s been really awesome, I can’t be happier to be working locally. I love that aspect of it,” he said.
That’s gotten easier over the years. Previously, it was faster to drive footage to Toronto rather than upload large files, with Haliburton County network speeds painfully slow.
All that’s changed, clearing the way for an efficient workflow within the Highlands.
“As I came back and started doing these video jobs, that’s an aspect of the job I like,” he said. “I get to learn about these things I didn’t necessarily know were here. There’s so much going on here.”
If you’ve watched videos from the Haliburton Sculpture Forest, Abbey Retreat Centre or musicians Nick and Benton, along with numerous other community mainstays, you’ve likely seen Brown’s work.
He said grants that emerged throughout COVID-19 might have equipped businesses and local groups with the funds to pivot to video, a decision that even a few years ago might have seemed daunting.
“People are realizing how important video is. Not that people didn’t know that before, but everyone’s a lot more aware of it now,” he said.
As a high schooler in Haliburton, Brown said he couldn’t wait to leave. Now, he said working in the County has shown him the community’s diversity.
“There’s a lot of great organizations and people passionate about what they do,” he said.
As the County’s population spiked by nearly 14 per cent in the past years, it’s likely Brown’s work is viewed by people who might be eyeing the Highlands as a tourist destination or even a place to live.
“I think it’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly. I think it’s important to show everything in the best light,” he said.