You can email me at f (dot) graver (at) gmail (dot) com
I was born in Oslo, Norway in 1965, but did not live there long. A father in the Norwegian diplomatic corps meant the family moved frequently and my primary education happened in West Berlin (1969-72), Israel (1972-75) and Moscow (1975-79).
In 1979 we arrived in Canada, where I started and completed high school, where I focussed on maths and sciences with an eye towards becoming an astrophysicist. When my family moved on to their next posting, I needed an excuse to not move again and my eye fell on the Department of Comparative Development Studies at Trent University.
As time went on at Trent, I became far to interested in all the things going on on campus to pay enough attention to my studies. It began slowly, when I through my involvement in TIP became the co-editor of a newsletter on international issues. This led to political awakening (for better or worse) and my election to the Trent Student Union, at the time one of the few radical student unions in Ontario. By the end of 2nd year, academics were going out the window as I added involvement in live music when I became one of two managers of the Jolly Hangman Pub Peter Robinson College. The Hangman was in an old garage, but was always hopping with performers like Joe Hall, the Florida Razors, Willie P. Bennett, Rick Fines, Colin Linden and many, many others.
“Naturally” this led to involvement in theatre, gingerly at first, then several productions put on by East City Productions, and finally as one of the founding members of The Union Theatre in 1989. In the period 1989-1993 — when I left Peterborough — I performed regularly in productions at the Union and elsewhere and was also active as a director, playwright, stage manager and lighting designer.
Theatre, however, did not pay the bills. There were some very lean years in there but I kept things going with a variety of activities. Managing the Jolly Hangman was not lucrative, and so I took on a second fun gig that year as the News Editor and only full-time journalist of Arthur (named after the Beatles’ haircut, not the legendary king). That was followed by a 2-year stint as a radio show host on Trent Radio with a show called “Localise It!” featuring local music and musicians.
Several short- and longer term jobs followed, until the summer of 1989 when I was hired by OPIRG-Peterborough and the Trent Student Union to research, write and produce a students guide to the university power structures. Aside from being interesting, this job introduced me to computers and desktop publishing (we had computers at high school, but as far as I knew then, they were only really good for playing Wizardry). When it came time to produce the booklet, I had to teach myself to use WordPerfect 4.2 in tandem with Ventura Publisher 2.0 on an old ms-dos machine — it went surprisingly well since I knew nothing about software before.
As happy circumstance would have it, just as I finished that project and was looking for a new job, local academic publisher Broadview Press was looking for a new in-house typesetter, and since they used the WP/Ventura setup I was able to walk right into the job. Eventually this led to my (to date) one and only published work: The Canada Pub Guide.
Somewhere in there I found the time and inspiration to get back to my studies and emerge with a B.A. in Cultural Studies.
In 1993 we moved to Vancouver. There was no master plan, simply a need to try something new. While the film industry in Vancouver was just starting to boom back then, the theatre scene was rather small and as an unknown actor from Ontario getting parts was a bit of a challenge.
Arts administration, however, was a different thing. Like any other large Canadian city, there was an endless need for interested and organised people like me who were willing to work long hours for low pay thanks to their dedication to the arts. Although my first job in Vancouver was doing research for Greenpeace Vancouver, I soon found myself going from low-paying arts admin contract to low-paying arts admin contract…
First up was Artropolis ’93, where my job was to research, write and produce a manual for non-profit arts organisations; a sort of “how-to” for organising large-scale public events. And since I was the only one in the office with my own computer and desktop publishing experience, I became responsible for most printed materials (not including the poster and catalogue).
This led to some freelance work as a desktop publisher, most notably for the Assembly of BC Arts Councils where I produced 3 issues of their magazine Quarterly Commentary. That gig finally convinced me that the WP (v.5.1 by that time) / Ventura Publisher (v.3.0 DOS/GEM edition) was the ultimate desktop publishing solution.
Eventually, I also worked for the North Vancouver Community Arts Council and had a couple of non-arts related desktop publishing contracts before ending up as the Producer of Theatre BC‘s Backstage 94 festival of theatre workshops and new play competition. It was a challenging gig, as the previous producer had quit leaving the office divided and demoralised — but as a challenge it was extraordinary and the satisfaction of getting the festival to run smoothly was tremendous.
All of this left little time for for acting, but I did work with an great group of actors developing a semi-improvised series Hollywood North, loosely based on Vancouver’s film and tv industry. We performed once, in January ’95, before the project hit a roadblock due to a lack of a venue and I was unable to lift it forward as I was quite affected by the death of my father.
In ’95 I had to face reality: I was not going to make a living as a stage actor. A small part of me still regrets that decision, but it was the right one. Then, in January 1996 I enrolled in class 48 at Vancouver Film School’s Foundation Film Programme. I was lucky enough to land in the middle of a group of very committed and talented people, and so had a great experience. After 8 months I emerged from there eager to start work in the film industry — and deeply in debt.
Almost immediately I had an opportunity to work as a 1st Assistant Director on The Second Coming, a short film written and directed by Vancouver writer Kellie Benz. This led another gig as 1st AD on a low-budget feature film called Natural Selection. We finished the shoot on time, but I do not think the film ever made it to a screen. I had big hopes of starting a career in film, but the impending arrival of our daughter convinced me to opt for the security of a regular paycheck and I took a position as the Equipment Room Manager at Vancouver Film School in 1997.
Being of a restless nature, I was able to combine that job with a number of other short and long film gigs, primarily as an assistant director but also as sound man, camera op, and, most ambitiously of all, director of a short film called “Wind”.
The job at VFS lasted until the spring of 2001 when I was among many people “cleaned out” by the new management. It was for the best, I think, since I vehemently disagreed with the new Managing Director’s operating vision — and told him so — and he obviously did not think much of me. I had a small measure of revenge when they hired me back on a short-term contract at twice my previous salary due to the lack of anyone else capable of doing my job.
Anyway, this left me free to take my most challenging AD-gig, on a series tentatively entitled Busted (and aired as Rockpoint PD). It was a fantastic professional experience, but as it happened 9/11 stuck right in the middle of the shoot and by the time the series wrapped there was suddenly no more work to be had. This eventually led to my seeking work in other parts of Canada and so I ended up as the Supervising Manager, Production, Post & Technical Department at the Canadian Film Centre.
My time at the Film Centre was incredibly rewarding, as I had an opportunity to work closely with a talented group of co-workers and residents, as well as key industry players such as Tattersall Sound and Picture, Technicolor Creative Services (including their previous incarnations as Toybox / Alpha Cine / Medallion), Deluxe, Urban Post and many other production and post-production suppliers.
All good things must pass, however, and homesickness proved stronger than professional satisfaction. In August 2006 my family and I bid farewell to Toronto and Canada for the charms of Kristiansund in Norway. By happy circumstance I was offered a job at Atlanten videregående skole teaching media and communications. I spent 3 1/2 years here and had a wonderful experience with both the students and my colleagues.
However, Kristiansund may be beautiful but it is also remote and while a videregående skole is an interesting and rewarding place to work there is little in the way of advanced film. And so, when the position as «Faglig undervisningsleder» (Head of Studies) at Den norske filmskolen (The Norwegian Film School) in Lillehammer became available I consulted with my family and decided to apply. The hiring process was long and bureaucratic, but in November 2009 I was offered the job, and started work in early December of that year.
In 2016, things changed — for better or worse. On the one hand, I was central in an application we wrote for a national «Centre for Excellence in Education», an application that was successful and led to me starting 2017 as the Head of CEFIMA (Centre for Excellence in Film and Interactive Media Arts). On the other had, an institutional amalgamation and internal unrest led to a stint as interim Dean of the Norwegian Film School from December 2016 to the end of July, 2017. The led to my being named Vice Dean once the new institution and Dean were in place.
As of 2023, however, I’m back to being Head of Studies for the BFA programmes. A new round of organisational changes have brought in a new Dean, and two new Vice Deans as the amalgamation of the Film School’s parent institution Lillehammer University College with neighbouring Hedmark University of Applied Sciences in 2017 has led to a number of administrative and organisational adaptations over the years.
Aside from my creative interests and work in media, I also follow sports. I like curling, winter sports and fotball (soccer for you NA readers) and have followed IK Start since the mid-70s.
posted by Fredrik Graver