Degree: Bachelor of Recreation Studies
Employed as: Executive Producer, Prime Focus
Never let it be said that a stint on reality television can’t lead to a rich and rewarding career in show business.
It certainly paid off handsomely for University of Manitoba alum Randal Shore, a Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management grad who’s now an executive producer at one of Canada’s most prestigious special effects shops.
Of course, it helps if the reality show in question is of the “rich and rewarding” variety itself, not just another trashy iteration of Big Brother, The Bachelor or Who Wants to Marry A Multi-Millionaire?
Just ask Shore, who in 2002 kick started his career in film by appearing in the Manitoba-made Quest for the Bay, a “living history” documentary series that followed eight contestants as they made their way from Winnipeg to Hudson Bay in a York boat, using only the tools, food, clothing and equipment that would’ve been available to fur traders in the 1840s.
“It was the experience of a lifetime,” says Shore from Vancouver. “It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done – physically, psychologically and emotionally. It took us 61 days – just me and seven strangers – so by the end we were definitely all friends or foes.
“ It wasn’t like we were just going on a camping trip together.”
In retrospect, Shore probably seemed like a no-brainer to the show’s producers, given his background as a camp counselor, wilderness guide and canoe trip leader. Born in Winnipeg, Shore sought post-secondary training at Capilano College in B.C. (where he completed the two-year Recreation Management diploma program), but not before he’d logged time working with at-risk youth in Florida for a wilderness education program called Outward Bound.
He also worked in Whitehorse (for a dog sledding adventure company) before being hired to serve as Outdoor Education Coordinator for what was then the U of M’s Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation Services. He opted to finish his Recreation Studies degree at U of M, even finding time in the summer to answer an ad seeking participants for the production of Quest for the Bay.
The decision proved lucrative, as Shore’s experience enabled him to fulfill his four month field work requirement with Frantic Films, the Winnipeg-based production house that created Quest for the Bay (along with the similarly rugged reality series Pioneer Quest: A Year in the West, and Quest follow-ups Klondike: The Quest for Gold and Quest for the Sea.)
The field work at Frantic (which saw Shore handling research and promotional duties for many of the aforementioned shows) quickly led to a full-time position as a visual effects coordinator, despite the fact he had little experience working in the medium.
“I learned everything (about visual effects) on the job,” says Shore, who in recent years has overseen special effects work on films like Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Dragonball Evolution, Superman Returns and Journey to the Center of the Earth. “I don’t do the actual hands-on stuff, on the computers or the workstations, where you’re working with the software to create the animations. I’m the one managing it. Initially, I was managing schedules and artists, making sure everyone got what they needed ... And from there I worked my way up to the producer level, where you’re involved in the bidding and a lot of the client interaction and ultimately, where you’re responsible for delivering the final product.”
In 2007, Frantic sold its software and visual effects divisions to global media conglomerate Prime Focus Group, prompting a move to Vancouver for Shore and his wife, fellow FKRM grad Kyla Koskie (BPE 1997 and BRS 1999). Within months of his arrival, the company had grown from 25 employees to 85, and had traded its 3,000-square-foot office for a 14,500-square-foot base of operations.
Over the summer, Shore’s team contributed scenes to the big budget shoot-‘em-up G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, which by September 2009 had grossed nearly $300 million at the box office. Not all the films they’re involved with are winners (Catwoman, anyone?), but the company remains highly-respected in the industry for pioneering software developments in the areas of fluid and particle rendering.
And while Shore himself is now a long way from Winnipeg – and from the York boat that launched this particular leg of his career adventure – he credits two key components of his time here at the U of M with helping him get where he is today.
“One was the quality of the professors and instructors ... they were all very approachable and they all showed a genuine interest in the individuals in their classes, and what their goals and pursuits were,” says Shore.
“The other big thing was the practicum experience, which for me has continued for the last eight years of my life. Literally from the day I walked in there, I haven’t stopped learning.”