Degree: Media Arts
Year of graduation: 1982
“Editing is a real puzzle, and sometimes you need to take some time to figure things out. I like that in filmmaking, you can work both independently and collaboratively.”
Louise Lebeau doc tackles history of women’s suffrage in Ontario
Louise Lebeau has made a career out of marking history.
Working with the Broadcast and Recording Service of the Ontario Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Lebeau helms the team that records and broadcasts the proceedings of the legislature. “We cover from gavel to gavel, and from mace to mace,” says Lebeau of the days the House meets. “We cover live debates, oral questions…we work in a live situation with live proceedings, so anything can happen.”
Over the past 32 years, Lebeau has held a number of positions within the service, including camera operator, video switcher, graphics operator and master controller. In that time, she’s been responsible for covering a number of historic events and awards ceremonies, including visits from royalty and special dignitaries.
When the House is not sitting, Lebeau uses her storytelling skills to produce special projects for the Assembly, including historical and education programs, such as the history of the page program. Most recently, Lebeau has been able to tackle a project that’s very close to her heart: a documentary about the struggle to get women the right to vote in Ontario, titled Women Should Vote.
“For the past year or so, I’ve been dedicated to finding the material to tell a story that hasn’t been told before to many people,” says Lebeau. “It was always in the back of my mind that we needed to produce a project on women in politics, and it seemed to me that a lot of people aren’t aware of how women got the vote in Ontario.”
The timing of the documentary’s release is particularly notable, as while 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in Ontario, 2019 marks a century of women being able to run as an MPP in Ontario. In the doc, Lebeau showcases how women petitioned the government and held rallies, fighting for decades to have their voices heard. “They always did everything within the law,” says Lebeau. “They used satire and wit to get their point across, and I feel really proud of what they achieved and how hard they struggled. It’s an ode to them.”
Lebeau is a seasoned documentarian, adept at directing films that aim to honour the experiences of a specific time period. While working at Film Arts, a Toronto-based film production studio, she worked on dramas and documentaries such as Growing Up in America — a film about the 60s radical counterculture movement. With grants from the Ontario Arts Council, Lebeau also produced two independent films that were screened at film festivals. Sammy reworked and manipulated old Super 8 film of a childhood pet to evoke a child’s emotional bond with a beloved pet, while Desert Veils explores the isolation Lebeau experienced as the only woman working on a paleontological dinosaur dig in Northern Mexico.
Sheridan’s Media Arts program introduced Lebeau to new-age and experimental films, inspiring her adjust her focus from photography to filmmaking. The program covered everything from live television to post production, making Lebeau something of a “jack of all trades” when she graduated and began working at the CBC.
Lebeau’s adaptability has certainly helped her cover live proceedings at the Legislative Assembly, but she says filmmaking is still ultimately her passion.
“I loved making Woman Should Vote,” she says. “Editing is a real puzzle, and sometimes you need to take some time to figure things out. I like that in filmmaking, you can work both independently and collaboratively. I like taking the time to go through interviews, but also working with all these people shooting and researching. This documentary was made by something of a small village.”
To watch Women Should Vote, visit www.ola.org.