Mike Regis: On being an up and coming Black Toronto Film Maker and the future of Hollywood North

MarQuee Magazine Article about Mike Regis, Toronto Black Filmmaker
Photo Credits: Anthony Esguerra

What it means to be a filmmaker is up for interpretation. Sure, most would think the goal of a filmmaker is to become the next Scorsese, Spielberg, Lee, Coppola, Hitchcock but that’s not necessarily the entire truth. Whether it’s filming a major motion picture, a car commercial or a thirty-second clip for a project, the meaning of being a filmmaker is entirely personal. Let’s get into what it means to me, Mike Regis.

I was sixteen years old when my curiosity and interest in the film industry illuminated. I remember watching a Lebron James commercial and being enthralled by the storytelling. I watched with rapture as the 30-second clip transported me to a different world by its use of visuals and storytelling. It clicked for me, I wanted to become a filmmaker.

Mike Regis - Black Toronto Film Maker working
Photo Credits: Eduardo Lemus
Mike Regis - Black Toronto Film Maker
Photo Credits: Eduardo Lemus

I aim to provide a sense of inspiration to other individuals through captivating storytelling and creating meaningful stories. This is vital to me as a human and for my career. When I was at TIFF, I watched an excellent short film called Flood, directed and written by Joseph Amenta. Flood is one of the crowd’s favourite short films at this year’s TIFF, and it truly opened my eyes up to what film can be. I admired how the audience was able to humanize Amenta’s characters and his unique approach to showing complex subject matter. Finding inspiration in the film industry is essential for me. I watch other films in search of motivation. I soak it all in like a sponge and try to understand “why” the directors made certain decisions. I strive to showcase stories that can inspire other filmmakers. I want my audience to watch my films and come out with a changed mindset, a new perspective.

In the years since I joined the film industry, I have witnessed a monumental change. The Black Lives Matter Movement of 2020 has really pushed many industries and people to see how Black people are treated every day. There have been strides for representation for marginalized communities in film and TV, and within my seven years in the industry I’m pleased to have witnessed this fantastic change. I haven’t seen such diversity, ever. I’m truly pleased that people are finally granted the chance to tell their stories. More than ever people want more diverse voices and who doesn’t love that?

Mike Regis - Black Toronto Film Maker
Photo Credits: Eduardo Lemus

In Toronto, we are seeing Hollywood North getting bigger and bigger and in Canada, we are starting to see amazing talent come out and do incredible things! Since Hollywood North is booming, it’s a great time for myself and other underrepresented creatives to benefit as Hollywood North is celebrating diverse voices. I’m so happy that people of colour are getting a chance to change the narrative.

Mike Regis - Black Toronto working Film Maker
Photo Credits: Eduardo Lemus

As I see change and progression in the industry I have found myself becoming more confident in relaying stories that resonate with me. Que my latest short film, Promotion. Promotion looks at the subtlety of racism within the workplace and how often Black people are faced with choices to make surrounding racism showcasing the purpose of the film; should you choose to stand up or stay silent on racism and microaggressions. I was elated that Promotion was featured in the beloved CBC Short Film Face Off season 14. I was one of nine contestants finishing as top three finalists. Of course, I am proud of this great success of mine but for me, as a filmmaker, I just want to continue to make films that I genuinely care about with people I like. It’s super simple, but for me, that’s all that I need. I believe in the power of film and its ability to unite people through unique and significant stories. 

Mike Regis - Black Toronto Film Maker
Photo Credits: Eduardo Lemus

Official Website: https://www.mikeregis.com

Follow on Instagram: @mikeregis 

Mike Regis is a passionate Toronto filmmaker who seeks to find humanity in the narratives that he creates. With a focus on Black experiences, Mike aims to portray the cultural and societal nuances authentically. Mike is a Ryerson University Business Management graduate, a POV 3rd Street Alumni and a runner-up in the CBC’s Short Film Face Off Season 14.