Producer and director Marc Pannia credits skills from GBC business program for his film-industry success

Senior GBC leadership with an alumni at TIFF

Marc Pannia took the skills he developed while studying at the Centre for Business and used them to carve out a successful career in the film industry. The George Brown College alumnus works for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), produces Oscar-nominated films and writes and directs his own projects. 

Pannia, a 2014 graduate of the Sport and Event Marketing program, came to GBC with the goal of working with the NHL (National Hockey League). While his career focus shifted to film, thanks to a chance opportunity to move to Los Angeles after graduation, he said what he learned in his program helped him make a name for himself and for his production company 3rd Street Video

“I didn’t realize how transferable the skills I learned at George Brown were until I got into producing and the business of film,” he said. “It’s budgeting and financing and it's planning events. With the skills you learn in Sport and Event Marketing, you could turn around tomorrow and be a producer.” 

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Connecting event planning and producing Oscar-nominated films 

Pannia has enjoyed great success as a film producer. Two films he worked on were nominated for Academy Awards in 2022: Bestia (best animated short film) about the life of a secret police agent during the Chilean military dictatorship, and Ala Kachuu – Take and Run (best live-action short film) that tells the story of a Kyrgyz woman experiencing the tradition of bride kidnapping.   

"What I learned at George Brown is that planning an event is almost identical to producing a film,” he explained. “You have the outline of what you need. You need to physically find it, and you need to make a schedule of how you're going to get everything, like a run of show. Planning a film is like planning a month-long event.” 

Connecting GBC students to opportunities at TIFF 

Pannia lives in LA and returns to Toronto every summer to work at TIFF. He started at the festival in 2017 as a protocol assistant and coordinator working on ticketing allotments and requests. He recently moved into a sales role, working to showcase films from around the world and helping international organizations do business at the festival. Part of this includes working with TIFF’s Black and Indigenous Screen Offices, where he helped secure volunteer positions for GBC students at the 2022 festival. 

Pannia hosted George Brown President Dr. Gervan Fearon and other representatives from the college for a tour of the TIFF site during the festival in September. It was one of many GBC in the City events Fearon holds around Toronto to highlight and to get a firsthand look at the impact GBC grads are having in their industries and across Toronto. 

“I enjoyed visiting Marc to learn about the work he does at TIFF, his contribution to the vitality of the city, and how George Brown College has contributed to his success,” Fearon said. “I was also pleased to see George Brown students working as volunteers at the festival. Graduates like Marc help the college strengthen relationships with Toronto organizations that provide important learning opportunities for students. GBC in the City is about our students and our graduates and the contributions they make through their work every day.” 

Advice for students and fellow grads 

Working in professional hockey was the goal to start, but Pannia said staying open to opportunities that come your way and staying curious have brought him success and a sense of fulfillment. 

“While I was working toward that goal to be in hockey, I didn't even realize what I was building and how it applied to other things,” he said. “I think just like being malleable and being open to the universe is important.” 

PHOTO: (L-R) Allan Penning, Chief Development Officer, George Brown College Foundation; Dr. Cindy Gouveia, Vice-President, Advancement and Alumni Relations, George Brown College; Dr. Gervan Fearon, President, George Brown College; Marc Pannia, GBC graduate; Krisztina Arany, Director, Advancement and Alumni Relations, George Brown College.