How Oakville’s own Sean Buckley made his dreams come true – By Tara MacIntosh
Sean Buckley of Buck Productions likes to sit in the back of the theatre and listen to, as he puts it, the heartbeat of an audience. When an audience is responding to a film or TV show his team has created he describes the effect as exhilarating.
Sean was born and raised in Oakville. After graduating Oakville Trafalgar High School he studied Political Science and Business at The University of Western Ontario. Upon graduation he was one of two selected to work at Maclean Hunter in Toronto and, although he loved the experience, deep down he had a burning desire to build something of his own. After 3 years he decided to leave Maclean Hunter to embark on his own unique path.
Saying good bye to his corporate responsibilities, he embraced another kind of learning – travel. He spent a year and a half travelling the globe working various jobs to be able to get to know the local people. He explains, “When you work with someone, you really get to know them in a special way – you begin to understand their culture, their values and their passions.” This real-life education cultivated his love of people and his love of story.
Upon his return, Sean sat at his mom’s kitchen table and announced he would be starting Buck Productions. She was thrilled, responding with, “That’s nice, dear. Can I make you a sandwich?” Armed with determination and a deep-seated passion to succeed, Sean got Buck Productions off the ground. He began learning all aspects of the business by taking on various roles and responsibilities. Buck Productions produced its first film which Sean directed, entitled Last Call, on a budget of $37K. The entire film was shot in 13 days.
Sean then took the film to L.A. to try to sell it, all the while continuing to work on smaller projects and commercial shoots for clients back home. Having more than one project in progress at one time started as a survival tactic, but as the company grew it developed into a very deliberate strategy. At any given time, Buck Productions will have projects at the beginning, middle and end stages of the production cycle.
The company prides itself on telling stories through original-content creation birthed from an exceptional idea. This is so ingrained in their culture that they have a name for it – currency of ideas. What that means is each project is designed to pierce through the white noise with compelling content that stemmed from an innovative idea. Sean remarks, “There are a lot of ways to tell a story and within each medium there are again a number of ways to tell that same story, but when you get the combination right, that’s lightning in a bottle.” He continues to say, “If our logo is going on a product we will make it as exceptional as we possibly can.” The Buck Productions team, which is more of a family than a group of co-workers, has experienced incredible success and several awards over the 22 years it has been in operation. In 2016 they received a very special award for What it Takes to be Extraordinary by winning the Best Foreign Documentary at the La Femme Festival in L.A. The team was also recently successful in securing 4 x 10-episode reality shows, all original content, with REELZ in the USA. This is the largest TV block that REELZ has ordered this year in North America, making it yet another amazing achievement.
For over a decade Buck has been at the forefront of creating some of North Americas’s most innovative branded content, with hits like McMorris & McMorris for Red Bull Media House. Buckley’s latest film, Milton’s Secret, premiered opening weekend at VIFF 2016. The film, based on a book by renowned spiritual author Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, starred Donald Sutherland, Michelle Rodriguez and newcomer William Ainscough as Milton.
When it comes to documentaries, Buck Productions is very conscious to select socially-responsible subjects and takes pride in knowing the funds generated are donated back to the cause. This circle of giving is immensely powerful. Sean remarks, “What I love is that the story benefits the cause.” One example of this is the documentary Leave Her To Die which explores the orphanage, Agape, that shelters, cares and educates HIV-positive children who have been abandoned by their parents. The proceeds went back to Agape in Thailand.
At this stage in the conversation the topic turned to family. Sean and his wife, Jennifer, settled in Oakville to raise their children and he considers himself very lucky to be part of this loving family. Jennifer is most certainly the love of his life. He explains, “She has had front row seats as a business and life partner and she has made such a tremendous sacrifice to be able to share this incredible family and business with me.” Together Sean and Jennifer have 4 vibrant girls, the twins Tess who is their songbird and Jade who is the storyteller, Avery Grace who is the dancer and the youngest Adelaide, affectionately nicknamed “the hurricane”. The newest member of their family is Chase, their beloved dog. When asked what would be his perfect day, Sean so beautifully replies, “As long as I’m with my family there are moments of perfection within each day.”
A mentor gave Sean great advice when he said live your life spending 20 years learning, 20 years earning and 20 years returning. In addition to Buck Productions Sean partnered with J Jolly and Cineplex to bring to life CineCoup. CineCoup started as a social media contest intended to reach aspiring filmmakers. The filmmakers were tasked with creating an exceptional movie trailer with a compelling story in the hopes of getting their film made. Sean has great faith in the talent of young filmmakers in this country and he wants to give back by helping them fulfill their dreams. Out of the 90 submissions, one lucky winner was chosen and the film Wolf Cop was made. Due to the success of this project, the company went on to create ComedyCoup which lead to the comedy show HumanTown, likened to Kids in the Hall, winning a spot in the CBC lineup. Next up – DocuCoup.
When asked what Sean is most proud of in his career, he responds, “Maintaining integrity and the company reputation at all costs.” He is true to his character in friendship, family and the wild world of production.
To learn more about Buck Productions, visit www.buckproductions.com.