For Anne Tait, the journey to producing the Iron Road was a long and winding one indeed.
In fact, it was nine years long; though the endlessly energetic Tait is no stranger to arduous challenges.
The Toronto-born casting director, writer, director, broadcaster and producer has already mastered many roles in a long career in the entertainment industry.
She was a senior casting director at CBC TV for years on shows like Anne of Green Gables and Road to Avonlea and has cast actors like Peter O’Toole, Russell Crowe and Helena Bonham Carter for feature films. She has also written and produced her own hit play, Yeats in Love, which played in Dublin, Ireland, and throughout Ontario.
Now with the recent premiere of her film Iron Road, Tait has finally conquered the role of film producer as well.
The film, which screened as a two-part mini-series on CBC Aug. 9 and 16, represents a labour of love nine years in the making for Tait who wanted to shed light on the harrowing story of Chinese railroad workers in Canada in the late 1800s.
Iron Road was produced in tandem with mainland China and cost more than $12 million to create, with filming split between China and the mountains of British Columbia.
Tait says her experience as a casting director definitely helped her ease into the role of producer.
“Every actor has an ego and you have to have a lot of tact to know what different approaches to use with different people. A producer has to have the financial savvy to raise money and the ability to understand the needs of creative people. You have to have a creative vision,” Tait said.
While Tait learned the ins and outs of casting directing on the job, she credits her Masters degree in English from the University of Toronto for helping her hone the communication skills necessary to successfully head up a film production.
Despite having succeeded as a film producer, Tait is not yet ready to give up casting directing.
“The thing that always interested me the most was choosing the actors. I love seeing wonderful actors get a role and seeing wonderful performances from someone unexpected,” Tait said.
Tait feels like she deserves her break before jumping into her next likely project, a screenplay of her play Yeats in Love.
“Right now I’m feeling wonderful emotions — it makes up for an awful lot of lows. A producer is always solving problems and right now, for at least a week, I don’t have a fire to put out or a problem to solve,” she joked.