“There is a lot of pressure to find the next big thing and make it work,” said 100 Mile Native, Tom Hastings, who now lives in Toronto and works in the television industry.
Hastings is the director of drama in Bell Media’s Independent Production Unit. The Canadian crime drama television series, Cardinal, just won Best Limited at the Canadian Screen Awards last week.
Cardinal is one of the series Hastings oversees.
The series first broadcasted on Jan. 25, 2017. The show was adapted from the novels of crime writer Giles Blunt – focusing on detective John Cardinal, played by Billy Campbell and Cardinal’s partner Lise Delorme, played by Karine Vanasse. The two investigate crimes in the fictional city of Algonquin Bay.
“We were thinking if anybody owns the North, it’s us. Let’s find a show that we can celebrate Canada [with], its landscapes and its people,” he said. “The show has been very successful. At the (2019) Canadian Screen Awards, the show won Best Limited, Best Actor and Actress, Director. It is airing in 103 countries around the world.”
“We are beyond thrilled,” he added.
The show is in its fourth season and has been filmed in locations around Ontario such as Sudbury, North Bay and Toronto. Hastings oversees most of the original Canadian drama programs for Bell Media’s channels such as CTV, Bravo, Space and Crave. Other series he’s known for include Killjoys, Orphan Black, Motive and Being Erica.
“A big part of my job is to be out there on the hunt. Looking for new shows, meeting with producers and writers,” he said. “I am out there signalling to the creative community what it is we are specifically looking for.”
Hastings was born and raised in 100 Mile House. When he was in Grade 12 at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School, the idea of a career in television was nonexistent.
Almost immediately after graduating, he left 100 Mile and moved to Vancouver – earning his master’s degree in English at the University of British Columbia.
“I started teaching at UBC during my graduate year, I was only 21 at the time,” he said.
After a few years of teaching in Vancouver, Hastings moved to Toronto to obtain a PhD in English Literature at York University.
“I wrote my dissertation on Canadian fiction of the first World War, which kind of turned me into an expert on Canada’s role in WWI,” he said. “I had some friends who were filmmakers in Toronto, I began doing research for a production company on a documentary about WWI – that was my introduction to television.”
That introduction led him to other jobs in the industry, including National Geographic, CBC and more. Though Hastings earned his doctorate he never ended up pursuing a career in the educational field.
“I didn’t end up doing what I wanted to do. I knew nothing about television, but I knew I had to work hard,” he said. “I think coming from my mom and being raised in a small town like 100 Mile, helped shape me that way.”
Hasting’s mother, Darlene Hastings and step-father, Al Smith still live in the Cariboo, meaning he is no stranger to 100 Mile House – often visiting once a year during the summer months.