Film interview: Start-up Community

Veronica Naas

Local photographer and filmmaker Taylor Jackson is putting the finishing touches on his documentary film, Startup Community, and working to take it to the next level. Helping him achieve these goals is this year’s Miss Oktoberfest, Lindsay Coulter, who has also worked for the University of Waterloo Research + Technology Park. Jackson took the time to share how far he’s come and how far he hopes to go with this project.

Veronica Naas: What was the inspiration for the film?

Taylor Jackson: I’ve always wanted to travel with a purpose. Last September, while in Shanghai, I interviewed a friend of mine who had completed his degree in architecture there. He decided to go in a completely different career direction and he opened up a bike shop instead. I thought that if this awesome thing is happening over there then it’s probably happening here, too. I wanted to document what inspiring people were doing here, what enables them to be like they are and like our community is. We want to show the world that this is a great place to raise a family and that exciting things are happening here.

VN: Where did you get the idea to use crowd sourcing for fundraising?
TJ: This is a project about the community, for the community. We wanted to open opportunities to those people who wanted to be involved in the project — the more the better. I didn’t expect things to take off like they have. People and businesses have been getting on board and pushing things to the next level; it’s been very collaborative. This started as a personal project but now with the funding and support of others, I can make it even better than I anticipated.

VN: Would you say that social media helped advance the project?
TJ: Absolutely! It’s been the absolute number one driver for sure. The media has picked up on this as well. TechCrunch was the first to pick up our story and it got sent out via Twitter, which gave the project credibility so it was easier for people to get behind it.

You’ve recently returned from San Francisco, what was the result of that trip?
TJ: Talking to start-ups there we learned that to leave Waterloo Region for the [San Francisco area] is great to expand your network and gain experience but there is a pull to get back here where there is access to talent, a supportive community and culture. Here is where things are happening.

VN: In terms of showcasing at film festivals, what’s your goal for the film?
TJ: The goal is to get the film out into the world and in as many places as possible.
There’s also a fun factor to having your film play at a festival and to put Kitchener-Waterloo into that spotlight. In mid-September, we’ll fill out all the applications and go to as many festivals as we can.

VN: Is there a favoured film festival?
TJ: Sundance has always been a kid dream of mine and it’s on the other coast so it’s far enough away that we would be able to raise awareness and maybe bring some back. I’m absolutely going to do everything I can to show at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) next year. The Tribeca Film Festival would be great as well. Hopefully, we can raise more media attention and gain more traction stateside.

VN: Do you have any pearls of wisdom for other artists or filmmakers that you’d like to share?
TJ: Do something that you love. Do something that’s on the edge of your comfort zone that you’re capable of and push to make it happen. Have someone hold you accountable and for this project. The whole community is holding us accountable so that is definitely a good motivation.

To learn more about this documentary film and follow it’s progress visit