Filmmaker Floyd Kane talks life in East Preston, making Diggstown and opening doors for Black Nova Scotians

Posted on September 01, 2021 | By Stephen Kimber | 0 Comments

Floyd Kane was frustrated, restless, anxious. On one level, he knew he shouldn’t have to carry the burden of all those angst-anchoring emotions. He should be basking in the glow of everything he’d accomplished and all he was yet to accomplish, thank you very much.

He’d grown up in East Preston, a small, majority-Black community on the fringes of Halifax. His father had been a cement mason, his mother worked in retail. The family—Floyd had three brothers—lived in a four-room house on Frog Lake Road that his father had built with “his two bare hands.”

Despite “growing up poor and without running water [in a house] that might collapse if there was a strong enough wind,” Floyd—by dint of smarts and hard work—had finally carved out a successful niche for himself in a world he’d aspired to be part of since he was a kid.

 

Behind the scenes on the set of Diggstown at Martinique Beach with Vinessa Antoine and members of the North Preston Surf Program (Photo credit: Dan Callis; Courtesy of CBC)
Behind the scenes on the set of Diggstown at Martinique Beach with Vinessa Antoine and members of the North Preston Surf Program (Photo credit: Dan Callis; Courtesy of CBC)

 

It was now 2009, and Floyd Kane was not only an entertainment lawyer—put a checkmark beside one of his childhood career ambitions—but also, and more significantly, the vice president of business and creative affairs at DHX Media, a recently formed, publicly-traded Halifax-based entertainment company in the middle of an inexorable merge-and-grow push to become the largest owner of children’s programming in the world.

Ten years before, just two years out of law school, Kane had landed a job as in-house counsel at Salter Street Films, one of Atlantic Canada’s original movie and TV production companies. He’d followed Salter Street’s key players—Michael Donovan and Charles Bishop—as their ventures morphed into the Halifax Film Company and now DHX.

Perhaps that was part of the problem. “I’m probably somebody who stays in a place longer than I should,” Kane allows. “I’d worked with Michael and Charles for a long time. I consider them friends and mentors. But…”

During his time at Halifax Film, he had gotten chances to work on some of its creative projects. He’d been a co-producer of the feature film, Shake Hands with the Devil, for example, and had even created and produced his own first TV series, North/South, a drama set in Nova Scotia’s construction industry and “steeped in the clashes between the ‘haves’, the ‘have nots’ and everyone in between.” It had lasted one season on CBC-TV.

Recently, he’d teetered on the verge of what seemed like yet another chance to do his own creating inside the new company. He’d felt encouraged. “I thought maybe I can stay a little bit longer and get some experience under my belt.” But then that opportunity “fell apart.”

Kane wasn’t comfortable with where DHX seemed headed creatively. He felt he was being “locked” into a pre-school entertainment and animation box that was “not my jam. It never was.”

Which was why he’d begun a on-the-one-hand-this, on-the-other-hand-that conversation with himself. “I am making good money,” he told himself. “I am doing one of the things I always said I wanted to do, which is entertainment law. And I actually love the job. It doesn’t make sense for someone like me—who has a good career as a VP for an entertainment company that’s publicly traded and allows me to continue to advance within the company—to leave.”

And yet Floyd Kane knew in his bones his corporate-based creative role wasn’t taking him where he wanted to go. “I found myself spending a lot of time reading other people’s work. That was very frustrating because I wanted to write.”

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