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Who We Are

Shaftesbury is an innovative creator and producer of stories for all screens.


Founded by Chairman and CEO Christina Jennings in 1987 as a feature film company, producing such acclaimed titles as Camilla starring Jessica Tandy and Bridget Fonda, and Mina Shum’s Long Life, Happiness & Prosperity, starring Sandra Oh, Shaftesbury has evolved into a diversified, globally successful business. Spanning the production of drama, kids, and digital content sold in 120 countries worldwide, Shaftesbury is known for its innovative international co-production, financing and distribution partnerships and award-winning storytelling.

Shaftesbury’s slate includes:

Smokebomb Entertainment
Named Playback’s Digital Producer of the Year in 2015, the company’s groundbreaking digital and technology arm, Smokebomb Entertainment, creates convergent experiences for television and original digital content including branded entertainment. Combining world-class storytelling, integrated second-screen experiences and innovative social campaigns, Smokebomb builds compelling storyworlds.

Smokebomb’s milestones include:

  • Creating the first digital short-form scripted series in Canada to migrate to prime-time television, Backpackers, for top-five U.S. network The CW
  • Launching the world’s first scripted mobile App series, Totally Amp’d

Recent convergent work includes:

  • Award-winning tablet app for The Moblees
  • Slasher VR, a unique virtual reality experience for Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear and Oculus Rift.

shift2
In June 2014, Shaftesbury partnered with Youth Culture to launch shift2, a branded entertainment agency that drives profitable engagement with millennials using scripted series, enabling brands to be executive producers.

Branded entertainment projects include:

  • Three seasons of U by Kotex®-funded drama series Carmilla
  • Comedy series MsLabelled, in partnership with Corus Entertainment and Schick® Quattro for Women (Season 1) and Tetley (Season 2)
  • Mystery series V Morgan Is Dead, brought to life by RBC.

Stories For All Screens_for website

Shaftesbury’s Board of Directors are:

Christina Jennings, Chairman and CEO, Shaftesbury

Scott Garvie, Senior Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs, Shaftesbury

Gord Mcilquham, Senior Vice President, Finance, Shaftesbury

Millard Roth, President, Corporate Growth Assistance Limited; former CEO, The Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association

Carey Diamond, President and CEO, Whitecastle Holdings Ltd.

Donald Ziraldo, C.M. LLD; Chairman, Ziraldo Estate Winery; Board member, Genome Canada; Director, Senhora do Convento (Portugal); Co-founder, Inniskillin Wines Inc.

Jay Switzer, Chairman and Co-founder, Hollywood Suite

Claude Gagnon, Consultant, Former President of Technicolor Creative Services

Christina Jennings
Christina Jennings

Christina Jennings

Chairman & CEO

A visionary producer with a track record for delivering award-winning scripted content for audiences around the world, Christina Jennings is founder, chairman and CEO of Shaftesbury, a content company known for innovative storytelling and building successful brands. Spanning the production of TV, feature film and digital content, Shaftesbury titles are sold in 120 countries worldwide and include acclaimed international hits Murdoch Mysteries, Carmilla, ReGenesis, and Life with Derek.

As world-class brand builders, Shaftesbury is an industry leader in engaging and sustaining audiences by creating brand extensions including original content created for digital and social media platforms, mobile apps, and VR experiences. Taking the company’s expertise in scripted storytelling to the advertising industry, Shaftesbury partnered with leading millennial media agency Youth Culture to launch shift2, an agency dedicated to growing the company’s roster with brand funded content targeted at the coveted 18-34 demo. The company’s KindaTV, home to U by Kotex®-funded drama series Carmilla and other Shaftesbury web series, is the largest scripted YouTube channel for millennials in Canada, reaching nearly 100 million views since its launch in 2014.

Jennings is a graduate of the Canadian Film Centre and currently serves as Chair of the Centre’s Board of Directors. Named to Maclean’s Power List of Canada’s 50 Most Powerful People, Jennings’ recent awards and honours include Playback’s Producer of the Decade, the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television’s prestigious Academy Achievement Award, the PROFIT Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship at RBC’s Canadian Woman Entrepreneur Awards, and the Innovative Producer Award at the Banff World Television Festival.

Scott Garvie
Scott Garvie

Scott Garvie

Senior Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs

As Senior Vice President of Business & Legal Affairs, Scott Garvie has overseen the negotiation and implementation of all development, financing, sales and recoupment arrangements for Shaftesbury since 1994. Garvie serves as executive producer on all of Shaftesbury’s productions and, as a result of his strategic relationships with key broadcast and financing partners, has been integral to the growth of the company into one of Canada’s leading creators of original content for multiple platforms. Garvie is currently Chair of the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) and has served on the Board of Directors for over 15 years. He also sits on the FilmOntario Board, is a former Chair of the Ontario Producer’s Panel and served on the board of the Canadian Television Fund for four years.

Gord Mcilquham
Gord Mcilquham

Gord Mcilquham

Senior Vice President, Finance

A chartered accountant, Gord Mcilquham is a seasoned finance executive with 10 years of experience in the entertainment industry. As Senior Vice President of Finance at Shaftesbury, he oversees all corporate finance, treasury, tax and operational aspects of the finance organization. Prior to joining Shaftesbury, Mcilquham served as Lead Finance at CCI Entertainment and Vice President of Finance for Fireworks Entertainment.

Adam Haight
Adam Haight

Adam Haight

Senior Vice President, Scripted Content

As Senior Vice President, Scripted Content, Haight oversees development for Shaftesbury, with an emphasis on fostering innovative production models and international partnerships. Shaftesbury’s current scripted drama slate includes detective drama Frankie Drake Mysteries for CBC; psychological thriller series Slasher now available on Netflix; and 11 seasons of Murdoch Mysteries for CBC, UKTV, Ovation, France Television and broadcasters in 110 countries worldwide via ITV STUDIOS Global Entertainment.

The former President and COO of Toronto-based Fireworks Entertainment, Haight brings to Shaftesbury an extensive background in internationally-acclaimed dramatic programming and kids live action. Haight has played a key role in many of Canada’s most acclaimed television series, including La Femme Nikita, Relic Hunter, Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda, Mutant X, Night Heat and Due South. Haight has also produced a number of acclaimed kids programs including Blake Holsey High and the Emmy-nominated Real Kids Real Adventures and The Jessica Savage Story.

Maggie Murphy
Maggie Murphy

Maggie Murphy

Head of Shaftesbury U.S.

Murphy is the Head of Shaftesbury U.S., the company’s Los Angeles-based division focused on development for the U.S., Canadian and international markets. Shaftesbury U.S. has a dozen projects currently in development at major networks, as well as new supernatural drama series Houdini & Doyle from House creator David Shore, for Sony Pictures Television, ITV, FOX, and Shaw Media.

With more than 20 years’ experience in television development and production, Murphy has developed with top talent including Darren Star, Howard Gordon, Diablo Cody, Rob Thomas, Ron Moore, and many others. Murphy served as the development executive for David Kelley. While there she developed Ally McBeal, The Practice and Chicago Hope.

Murphy also served as Senior Vice President of Drama Development for UPN/CW where she supervised the creation, from inception to series, for a variety of shows including Veronica Mars. While there she also developed the USA Networks hit In Plain Sight. Before UPN/CW, Murphy served as Senior Vice President at Regency TV where she helped create and develop top-rated series including Roswell, Bernie Mac,and Malcolm in the Middle. Early in her career, she also worked in development at 20th Century Fox where she was involved in the development of The X-Files and The Simpsons.

Murphy is also an associate professor at UCLA in the graduate TV film and digital department.

Jay Bennett
Jay Bennett

Jay Bennett

Senior Vice President, Creative & Innovation

As Senior Vice President, Creative and Innovation, Bennett is responsible for the creative direction and innovation of the company, focusing on technology and multi-screen content including feature films, original digital and branded entertainment, in partnership with Shaftesbury’s brand agency, shift2. He also oversees Shaftesbury’s award-winning digital and technology arm, Smokebomb Entertainment, named Playback’s Digital Producer of the Year in 2015, in addition to marketing, research, audience engagement and merchandising and licensing strategies across all divisions.

Bennett joined Smokebomb as Creative Director in September 2008 and was promoted to Vice President, Digital Media and head of the division in June 2012 prior to being appointed to his current role in November 2015. Under Bennett’s creative direction, Smokebomb’s landmarks have included the creation of the first digital short-form scripted series in Canada to migrate to prime-time television, Backpackers, for top-five U.S. network The CW, and launching the world’s first scripted mobile App series, Totally Amp’d.

In June 2014, Shaftesbury partnered with Youth Culture to launch shift2, a branded entertainment agency that drives profitable engagement with millennials using scripted series, enabling brands to be executive producers. With 82 million views and counting on the company’s KindaTV channel, which is the largest scripted YouTube channel for millennials in Canada, branded entertainment projects produced by Smokebomb include the hit U by Kotex®-funded drama series Carmilla and mystery series V Morgan Is Dead, brought to life by RBC.

Bennett is an Emmy award-winning leader in the global digital landscape whose unique creative vision has been appearing on screens of all sizes for almost a decade. Bennett has created and produced numerous productions and applications, with a distinct focus on blending storytelling with innovative technologies and social strategies, bringing a 360-degree approach to mainstream audience engagement.

Prior to joining Smokebomb, Bennett served as Creative Director at Xenophile Media, where he wrote and directed the International Emmy-nominated and Rose D’or-winning M.I. High: Whack the Mole! for the BBC; creative produced the International Emmy-nominated eight-million-strong player universe Total Drama Island – Totally Interactive! for TELETOON; and wrote and directed the Fallen: Alternate Reality Game, which was filmed on location around the world and won the first Prime Time Emmy award for Interactive Television in 2007.

Bennett holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Victoria. He has worked in India, the UK, the Netherlands and Canada and has had further media training with the National Film Board of Canada and the Canadian Media Production Association (CMPA).

Kaaren Whitney-Vernon
Kaaren Whitney-Vernon

Kaaren Whitney-Vernon

CEO, shift2

Kaaren Whitney-Vernon serves as CEO of shift2, an innovative agency that helps brands explore their millennial voice using scripted series and social media to drive measurable results. A co-venture with leading production company Shaftesbury and its digital arm, Smokebomb Entertainment, shift2 works with brands to harness the power of video content on YouTube. With 82 million views and counting on the company’s KindaTV channel, which is the largest scripted YouTube channel for millennials in Canada, branded entertainment projects include the hit U by Kotex®-funded drama series Carmilla; mystery series V Morgan Is Dead, brought to life by RBC; fashion-focused comedy series MsLabelled, produced in partnership with Shaw Media and Schick® Quattro for Women® (Season 1) and Tetley (Season 2); and lifestyle series I Do, funded by Cotton Incorporated.

With 15 years experience as CEO of Youth Culture, one of Canada’s largest youth media companies, Kaaren has a proven track record creating successful millennial-targeted products, including popular lifestyle brand Vervegirl and Trendscan, the premiere research study providing data on marketing to youth in Canada for more than 35 national and international brands. Kaaren also served as executive producer of The Avenue, the first reality show on YouTube, which garnered over 2.5 million views and developed countless loyal fans.

 

Julie Lacey
Julie Lacey

Julie Lacey

Vice President, Creative Affairs

Lacey is a Gemini award-winning writer who brings two decades of experience in writing, production and development to Shaftesbury. In her role as Vice President, Creative Affairs, Lacey manages Shaftesbury’s extensive scripted drama development slate, with an eye to expanding the company’s international partnerships. At Shaftesbury, Lacey has developed Dr. Vincent Lam’s Giller-winning book of short stories, Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures, into a mini-series for HBO Canada; several television movies for CTV and Lifetime including Eight Days to Live and In God’s Country; 11 seasons of the one-hour hit detective series Murdoch Mysteries for CBC, UKTV and ITV Studios Global Entertainment; five seasons of The Listener for CTV and Fox International Channels; and psychological thriller series Slasher now available on Netflix. Lacey’s writing credits include Due South, Power Play, The Zack Files, and Relic Hunter. Lacey is a member of the Writers Guild of Canada and the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.

Ryan St. Peters
Ryan St. Peters

Ryan St. Peters

Vice President, Kids & Family

As Vice President, Kids & Family, Ryan St. Peters leads all creative and commercial activities for Shaftesbury’s kids and family business, including creative development, production and distribution. The company’s award-winning programming slate for kids and families includes live-action series The Moblees, Life with Derek, Vacation with Derek, Overruled!, Connor Undercover and Baxter, and digital series Totally Amp’d and Unlikely Heroes. Shaftesbury recently partnered with TPF Toys to launch new animated mermaid series Splashlings, from the creator of Pound Puppies, including a collectible toy line at Toys ‘R’ Us. Projects in development include live-action adventure series Super Duper Deelia from writer and creator Laura Vandervoort (Bitten, Smallville); and Squish, a 52 x 11-minuted animated comedy co-produced by Cottonwood Media and Shaftesbury, in development for Gulli in France and Teletoon Canada.

During his tenure with Shaftesbury, St. Peters has placed Shaftesbury content in 120 markets worldwide with leading broadcasters and platforms including BBC, Sky, Hulu, HBO, Starz, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, KiKA, Super RTL, France Television, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Food Network, Cooking Channel, Science Channel and National Geographic Channel. St. Peters joined Shaftesbury in 2005 in the role of Sales Representative and was promoted to Manager of Sales in 2010, Director of Sales in 2012 and Vice President, Sales & Business Development in 2013 prior to his appointment as VP, Kids & Family in October 2014. Before joining Shaftesbury, he served as marketing manager at Pearson Education, a leading college publisher. St. Peters holds a degree in film studies and communication from the University of Southern California and the University of Ottawa.

Ted Biggs
Ted Biggs

Ted Biggs

VP, Technology & Convergent

As VP, Technology & Convergent for Smokebomb Entertainment, the company’s digital and technology arm, Biggs leads the funding, research and development, production and deployment of Smokebomb’s expanding slate of convergent and technology projects including virtual reality extension for Shaftesbury’s thriller series Slasher for Samsung Gear, Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift, and two tech peripherals targeting the millennial parent household in development for a 2016 launch.

Biggs has developed and produced a number of convergent and technology projects for Shaftesbury and Smokebomb, including the Digi Award-winning Murdoch Mysteries interactive experience The Infernal Device; and the groundbreaking Moblees companion app, which uses innovative audio technology to sync with the Shaftesbury preschool series in real time, increasing levels of active play in the young audience.

With two decades experience in the digital, technology and gaming industries, Biggs joins Shaftesbury from AWE, where he was a founding shareholder and served as Vice President Operations/Client Relations for the mixed reality software startup. Prior to that, he was Production Supervisor at The SIRT Centre (Screen Industries Research and Training Centre) at Pinewood Studios in Toronto, where he was responsible for strategic planning and management of the advanced research and development facility. Before joining SIRT, Biggs was Head of Production and Creative Producer at Xenophile Media, where he worked with clients including CBC, BBC, Cartoon Network and TVO, and managed such projects as Fallen: Alternate Reality Game for ABC Family/Disney, which won the first Primetime Emmy® award for Interactive Television in 2007; and the ReGenesis Extended Reality Game for The Movie Network, Global and Shaftesbury, which was awarded an International Emmy® in 2006. He launched his career as Solutions Manager at online gaming software company IGSS Gametronics.

Biggs attended Queen’s University, Drama Studio London and the Canadian Film Centre’s Television Producers Program.

Elysse Goldman
Elysse Goldman

Elysse Goldman

Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs

Elysse Goldman joined Shaftesbury in 2009 as Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs. Prior to joining Shaftesbury, she served as Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs at E1 Television/Barna-Alper Productions, as well as Manager, Production Financing, Arts & Entertainment at the CBC. With over 12 years of experience in the film and television industry, Goldman has experience with dramatic, documentary and reality/lifestyle programming, as well as with domestic production, interprovincial and international co-productions.

Hayley Phillips
Hayley Phillips

Hayley Phillips

Vice President, Finance

Hayley Phillips joined Shaftesbury in 2008 as Controller, having worked previously in the Film and Television industry first with Alliance Atlantis in 1996 and then with CCI Entertainment in 2000. In her role as Vice President, Finance, Phillips is responsible for managing Shaftesbury through all aspects of corporate and production finance as well as managing all development and distribution finance and reporting. With over 15 years of experience in the industry, Phillips is uniquely qualified to guide Shaftesbury in achieving its current growth and corporate objectives.

Judy Lung
Judy Lung

Judy Lung

Director, Communications & Marketing

As Director, Communications & Marketing, Lung oversees publicity, marketing and brand management for the company’s roster of award-winning television and film projects including Murdoch MysteriesHoudini & DoyleSlasher and The Moblees, and also handles day-to-day corporate communications including events, advertising and sponsorships.

With over a decade of experience in the Canadian entertainment industry, Lung has managed hundreds of PR campaigns for TV and film. Prior to joining Shaftesbury, Lung was Senior Publicist at Global TV. Previously, she was Senior Publicist for the Kids & Family portfolio at Corus Entertainment, Communications Manager for the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, and Media Relations Manager for TIFF. Lung has also handled publicity for numerous film distributors and studios including Alliance Atlantis, MGM, Paramount and Warner.

Lindsay Brown
Lindsay Brown

Lindsay Brown

Sales Executive

As Sales Executive for Shaftesbury, Brown manages all U.S. and international sales activities for the company’s extensive library of properties spanning all genres. She also manages the execution of all sales deals and delivery of related assets, and coordinates Shaftesbury’s sales presence at international markets and conferences including MIPCOM, MIPTV, Realscreen and Kidscreen. Prior to joining Shaftesbury in 2014, Brown was an International Sales Coordinator at Entertainment One. Brown graduated with Honours from the University of Windsor.