cinqque5tion with Producer, Production Manager Amanda Handy Nomad Films (by: Jovin Tardif)

cinqque5tion2020 Nomad Films is an award winning producer of powerful documentaries and exciting factual programming, for broadcasters all over the world. Amanda joined Nomad Films in 2007 as a Partner and Producer. Successfully leveraging her diverse film and television experience that included running the Business Affairs and Marketing departments for some of Canada’s biggest drama and documentary production houses. Since joining Nomad Amanda has worked as a producer on the critically acclaimed documentaries When We Were Boys (Official Hot Docs and True False Film Festival Selections and Donald Britain Award Nominee) and The Al Qaeda Code (BANFF Award Nominee), as well as the ambitious 4 part documentary series Empire of the Word (Worldfest Houston Platinum Award Winner and Banff Award Nominee) and Nomad’s first drama feature film with the NFB, the Afghan based Act of Dishonour (Official Selection for the Edinburgh Festival), Coproduced with Dan Iron of Foundry Films (Away from Her). The Jungle Prescription, a documentary about an ancient Amazonian medicine called ayahuasca, which is being used cure western drug addicts at an astonishing rate, and an exciting 13 part documentary series called The Fight Xchange for Super Channel, which is a fascinating look at MMA fighting through a Brazilian, Canadian exchange program. Recently completed were Giraffes - The Forgotten Giants, a ground breaking natural science documentary project that challenges perceptions of giraffes for the CBC and PBS International, I Married My Family’s Killer, which won the Student Academy Award for Best Documentary and the Canadian Screen Award nominated Much Too Young a heartbreaking feature film for TVO and Knowledge Network that looks at the young caregivers of parents with early on set Alzheimer’s. Her latest work is as Producer and developer of the international documentary format hit, Political Blind Date (TVO/CPAC), where she is producing season two in Canada.

cinqque5tion2020 with Producer Amanda Handy

Want #whatonwhatsgood directly in your inbox? Sign up below.


cinqque5tion with Producer, Production Manager Amanda Handy Nomad Films (by: Jovin Tardif)

Who works behind-the-scenes during a tv or film production?  As a fan of the film television and entertainment industry, I’m into exploring multiple genres. I always found documentaries to be quite fascinating hence why I reached out to Amanda Handy. It sometimes gives you a bit of perspective on the reality of things around us. Off the top of my head, I’m sure we all remember watching films for example ‘SuperSize Me’ with Mogan Spurlock or ‘Food Inc’ with Robert Kenner or ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ with Michael Moore. One day, I came across a documentary called ‘Giraffes: The Forgotten Giants’. ‘Giraffes: The Forgotten Giants’ is “an examination of the unknown biology of the giraffe, which is dying at a faster rate than any other large mammal in Africa.”  I discovered that the documentary was produced by Nomad Films. “Nomad Films develops and produces documentary and dramatic programming for film and television that focuses on a wide range of compelling stories on a range of subjects.” As you may or may not know, it takes a team of individuals to create a television show, film, news and or documentaries. ‘Giraffes: The Forgotten Giants’ was very captivating and I thought to myself, what does it take to produce a documentary. I reached out to producer Amanda Handy from Nomad Films for more information. Little did I know, I find out about other exciting projects going on at Nomad Films that we should probably all check out.

Amanda Handy discussing Political Blind Date only available on TVO Season 1, Season 2, Season 3
Amanda Handy

1. Can you talk about your background in dramatic films, television, and documentaries before Nomad Films?

I started working in the industry in my early twenties. I worked with some of the best, and toughest, drama and documentary producers in Canada in various capacities. Firstly, I started from being the Executive Assistant to Jay Firestone. In addition, I moved up to the Head of Business affairs for producers like May Young Leckie and Heather Haldane. Those companies included big names like Fireworks Entertainment, Cinenova, Media Headquarters, and Screen Door. I never had any formal schooling or mentors, I just put my head down, paid attention and learned by seeing and doing. There were a lot of hard lessons along the way. As a result, that process of starting from the bottom and working for various types of production companies gave me an understanding of the film and television business that was varied and complex. Most importantly, I think it made me into a stronger producer having been exposed to all different kinds of projects and companies. In addition, I learned what it takes to get a project made from beginning to completion. Consequently, I realized all the people that help make it a reality and success. In short, I know the kind of Producer I want to be and the types of projects that are important.

2. What are some of the documentaries made by

For example, we produced the Hot Docs Award-Winning ‘In the Shadow of a Saint’, the story of journalist Ken Wiwa’s journey to bury his activist father, Ken Saro-Wiwa, in Nigeria (for BBC and CBC).

Other feature-length docs include ‘When We Were Boys’. An observational portrait of two years in the lives of students at a private boys’ school in Toronto (Official Hot Docs and True False Film Festival Selections).

‘Much Too Young’ that told the story about young caregivers of early-onset Alzheimer’s parents. (for TVO and Knowledge Network, CSA Nominee for the best documentary film)

The Al Qaeda Code with Directors: Asiem El Difraoui, Mark Johnston (BANFF Award Nominee).

As well as the ambitious 4 part documentary series ‘Empire of the Word’ The fascinating history of the written word from prehistory to the future. (Worldfest Houston Platinum Award Winner and Banff Award Nominee).

After that we completed ‘Giraffes – The Forgotten Giants’. A groundbreaking natural science documentary project that challenges perceptions of giraffes for the CBC.

PBS International and ‘I Married My Family’s Killer’. Childhood sweethearts Beatrice and Purudenci plan to wed until Beatrice becomes hunted by Purudenci’s family during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. which won the Student Academy Award for Best Documentary.

Meanwhile, we’ve been producing four seasons of the hit documentary format, ‘Political Blind Date’ (nominee for best Factual Series for the CSA’s) that sends two opposing politicians out for two days to try and change each other’s minds on an issue, and get to know each other as human beings).

Amanda Handy posing with New Democratic Party NDP leader Jagmeet Singh discussing Political Blind Date CBC TVO
Amanda Handy

3. I see Nomad Films also produces dramatic films. Does producing documentaries defer from dramatic films or is it the same? Please explain.

I believe that narratives have a natural home. Whether it’s a drama, a documentary, a magazine article, a radio program, or a book. Many of the skills you need in drama are the same as documentaries. It’s just that the scale is a lot bigger. The story is paramount. Keeping committed to the essence of the story serves you well in both environments. As a result, we tend to choose dramatic films that are inspired by real-life events. The process is also a lot slower than with docs.

4. Can you describe a little more about how closely you work with the creative team and the importance of teamwork?

Teamwork is everything. That is certainly the joy of making films. Unlike the solitary life of the writer, the filmmaking process draws on dozens, if not hundreds of collaborators to make a film. We tend to work with the same team members over many years. As a result, we are like family. I love the collaborative process of making films. Most importantly, I get to work closely with all of our team members from beginning to end. Above all, I ensure they have the support they need, but also try to stay out their way so that they can do what they do best.

Amanda from Nomad Films Toronto posing with others discussing latest projects
Amanda Handy

5. What on What’s Good wants one word to describe each project below.

When We Were Boys. Coming-of-age. The Al Qaeda Code. Recruitment. Empire of the Word. Reading. Act of Dishonour. Love. The Jungle Prescription. Enlightenment. The Fight Xchange. Commitment. Political Blind Date. Conciliation. Giraffes – The Forgotten Giants. Conservation. I Married My Family’s Killer. Forgiveness.

6. Bonus: Is it difficult to handle the day to day production of each project?

Producing films is as tough as business as there is. I always say it is not for the faint of heart. Essentially you become responsible for everything, meaning anything that goes wrong. Since documentaries are made at the whim of the subjects and the events unfolding in their lives, anticipating and planning can be intense and chaotic. Being used to the pace, and the unpredictability, and open to the changes in the story, will serve you well in making a great documentary story for your audience. That being said, however, I wouldn’t want to do anything else. I love it. In short, the reward of making a great film with people you admire and respect, well…there is no better gig.

Amanda Handy posing outside of work enjoying nature
Amanda Handy


About the Author
Jovin Tardif
Press/Media What On What’s Good
StorytellerConversation Starter,
and Social Media



%d bloggers like this: