Lot 48 Film Company
A Belleville couple has found themselves on the forefront of a burgeoning new business sector within the Bay of Quinte region; one that is at the heart of the creative economy, but which is also artistically fulfilling and, hopefully, lucrative – making films.
Both Aaron and Angela Bell bring a wealth of experience to their new enterprise, Lot 48 Film Co., with Aaron working in media, public relations, photography and video production for years, while Angela’s background is tourism and economic development, including a significant stint working for the City of Belleville.
“If we were chatting back about 15 years ago and you were to say ‘you’re going to make films down the road,’ I would have thought you were kidding. My career arc started in writing and then I got more into design and then photography and eventually into video and film. Looking back, I can kind of see how it was all leading to this point, but it was definitely not part of some master plan,” Aaron said, adding that the name of the company, which started up in 2016, is simply part of their home address.
“And I think why it works now is with Lot 48 I am able to bring all those attributes together to tell a story visually. You need to be able to interview people and get a good story out of people. I think it’s sort of culminated in this moment. And as a kid, after realizing I wasn’t going to be a rock and roll star, I got into photography. My dad really introduced me to photography. But the interesting thing for me all along is music has been part of what I do, whether it’s been playing music or promoting music or photographing shows or talking to people about music and musicians, it’s been the common thread along the way, and some of our first films with Lot 48 are about music.”
Angela started out wanting to be a nurse, but eventually got into the municipal sector, specifically economic development, a large part of which involves compelling marketing strategies involving eye-catching visuals and good storytelling.
“Working in economic development for the city we used to put together community profiles and marketing materials that involved appealing pictures. So I was always interested in photography, but it really grew to be a passion when I met Aaron,” said Angela.
There are two main focal points for Lot 48 Film Co. at present – documentaries that could act as standalone films or as a prelude to a series, and professionally-filmed and edited, documentary style business and corporate films (for marketing, promotional or advertising purposes etc.)
“What we’re aiming to do is create projects that can be commercially successful on their own. We have done a couple of things, including our Vinyl Revolution project [which looks at the revival of vinyl LPs in the digital age]. Ideally we would love to develop a revenue stream for those. But at the moment the corporate stuff is our bread and butter. For the documentary projects we plan to submit them to film festivals or many put them out on a pay-per-view basis on Google Play and Vimeo,” Aaron explained.
“We have found the corporate work to be really enjoyable. We did some with the Bay of Quinte Immigration Portal with their crew and we were able to tell some really cool stories. And what I like is when we’re doing those shorter corporate and non-profit sector videos, we’re helping to tell their story in a creative and compelling way. And each stream reinforces the other: the more films that we do the better that we get at the corporate videos and vice versa.”
Like any good partnership, Aaron and Angela share similar skills but also bring other attributes and perspectives to their filmmaking process that truly complement one another.
“We’re both curious and even if something seems quite mundane on the surface, underneath it we always believe there are some quite amazing stories. So we have curiosity in common and that desire to find a good story, and we also do each step of the filmmaking process together. I come at things from one perspective and Angela has a different perspective. I think some of the best things we’ve done is because we’ve questioned each other’s preconceived notions.”
The Bells have found that the nascent film sector within the Bay of Quinte to be very much like other boutique or ‘craft’ industries in the region – supportive, encouraging and very collegial.
“We have had the chance to spend time with other local filmmakers and I think we have a really good support system in this community. They are not competitive like it might be in larger centres. They are very supportive and there to help you. You can ask them any questions and they will let you know what worked and what didn’t work for them, they know about grants we could apply for, or resources we could share,” said Angela.
“It’s the small-town feel, and the location is great for a budding film centre. We can be in Toronto in 90 minutes and be in Ottawa pretty quickly or even New York. But at the same time, we’re not in any of those places – there’s room to breathe and develop your skills and your niche here. It’s a great opportunity to make a name for yourself and get out there and get known by people in the community. There’s enough people where you can do things and you can try things, but it’s not so big that you get swamped or lost.”
As well as a supportive, encouraging and incubator-like environment for the Bells and Lot 48, there is the enviable lifestyle benefits of living and operating a business within the Bay of Quinte region.
“I love the trails and the waterways and being right on the Bay of Quinte is very nice. My boys are pretty active so they have a lot of sporting opportunities and fishing. Belleville, in particular, has all the amenities of a big town, but it’s got that small-town vibe – the people are always very nice,” said Angela.
For more information on Lot 48 Film Co., visit www.lot48films.com.