The president and CEO of Story Engine Pictures, Almon most recently produced Blackbird, which won Best Canadian First Feature at its 2012 Toronto International Film Festival debut. It also won the Grand Prix at Cannes Junior 2013.
BEST CAREER ADVICE: "Keep at it -- tenacity is the biggest factor in success."
BIGGEST 2013 ACCOMPLISHMENT:"Attending Cannes. Blackbird won the Grand Prix at Ecrans Juniors 2013, and Chenu, an Indian co-production I’m involved with, was featured in Cinefondation's L'Atelier."
John Christou (34, Producer)
An award-winning producer and founder of Prospector Films, Christou is also the chair of the Documentary Organization of Canada. His latest film is Rhymes for Young Ghouls, which will debut at Toronto.
INDUSTRY MENTORS: "Working with Daniel Cross and Mila Aung-Thwin [producers on 2007's Up the Yangtze] was the most formative experience of my career."
BIG BREAK: "When I was 24, I managed to bluff my way through producing my first TV documentary, Morbidly Obese, for the Discovery Health Channel."
Xavier Dolan (24, Actor/Director)
Dolan earned international attention when his directorial debut, J'ai Tue Ma Mere (I Killed My Mother), won three awards at Cannes' Directors' Fortnight in 2009. His latest, Tom a la Ferme (Tom at the Farm), debuted in Venice and will have its North American premiere in Toronto.
INDUSTRY MENTORS: Lyse Lafontaine, a Montreal-based producer.
BEST CAREER ADVICE: "Ambition never comes to an end."
Michelle Dube (29, News Anchor)
Dube is co-anchor of Toronto's most-watched newscasts, CTV News at Six and CTV News at Noon.
BIG BREAK: "John McKenna and Mike Katrycz [at CHCH TV] gave me my first TV job. I lost 10 pounds my first week because I was so nervous, but they kick-started my career."
BEST CAREER ADVICE: "Don't try to be anyone other than yourself -- focus on what you have to offer."
Christina Giamos (34, Producer)
Giamos worked at CTV's celebrity newsmagazine eTalk before joining Canadian broadcaster Rogers Media in 2011 as senior producer of talent relations.
BIG BREAK: "After losing my first job when Talk TV was canceled in 2002, I was offered a position at start-up eTalk."
BEST CAREER ADVICE: "Go after what you want and take chances -- Conan O'Brien's words to the Harvard graduating class of 2000."
Sarah Glinski (35, Writer/Producer)
Glinski is executive producer and head writer for Degrassi, the longest-running Canadian teen-drama TV franchise, having surpassed 400 episodes.
BIG BREAK: "Getting into the TV writing program at the Canadian Film Center."
BEST CAREER ADVICE: "Some people work hard but not smart. Others work smart but not hard. If you want to succeed, you have to do both."
Caroline Habib (33, Film Exec)
As the manager of acquisitions and broadcast sales for indie-film distributor Mongrel Media, Habib has brought such movies as Amour, SearchingforSugarMan and Room237 to Canada.
BIGBREAK: "Getting a call from Seville Pictures in 2005. I wouldn't be where I am today had a certain receptionist not gone on maternity leave."
BESTCAREERADVICE: "From John Hamilton: 'Scripts can start off well and end badly, but never the other way around.' "
Kara Haflidson (29, TV Exec)
At Bell Media, Haflidson develops comedic and factual material for broadcast and cable channels such as E!, The Comedy Network and Bravo.
BIGBREAK: "Julie Smith gave me my first job in TV on Talk Sex With Sue Johanson. It was incredibly educational -- in more ways than one."
CAN'T-MISS TV: "Louie. Each episode is sad and funny, with no rules or structure or formula, just beautiful storytelling."
Emily Hampshire (32, Actress)
Hampshire gained attention in 2006's Snow Cake alongside Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman. She co-starred with Cory Monteith in AlltheWrongReasons, which will debut at TIFF.
INDUSTRYMENTOR: "Alan Rickman. He took me under his wing, shepherded me through walking down my first big red carpet and has remained my dearest scary-voiced mentor and friend ever since."
BIGBREAK: "Playing opposite Robert Pattinson in a very unusual 'huis clos' ['behind closed doors'] in David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis."
J.J. Johnson (33, Director/Producer)
Creator of TV hits including This Is Emily Yeung, Are We There Yet? and the live-action/CGI series DinoDan, Johnson is a partner at Sinking Ship Entertainment and oversees the creative vision for each TV series.
BIGBREAK: Sinking Ship's first series, This Is Daniel Cook.
BESTCAREERADVICE: " 'No' is just the first step on a long and vicious road to 'Yes.' "
Brooke Nevin (30, Actress)
Chicago Fire's Nevin recently replaced Stefanie von Pfetten as the lead psychiatrist in the Canadian cop procedural Cracked.
BIGBREAK: "As a teen, I got a series lead on the Nickelodeon show Animorphs. I'm still hoping it will end up on some '90s trivia somewhere."
BESTCAREERADVICE: "A director cautioned me to never compare myself. There will always be someone prettier or funnier or fitter, but no one can replicate the particular combo of what you have to offer."
Jay Baruchel (31, Actor)
If one were ever to doubt his origins, Canadian actor-writer Baruchel could flash the red maple leaf tattooed over his heart. And despite having made his mark in Hollywood -- KnockedUp, TropicThunder and She'sOutof My League are among his movie credits -- the 31-year-old, born in Ottawa, prefers to make his home in Notre Dame de Grace, the Montreal neighborhood where he grew up. His unbridled love for the Montreal Canadiens earned Baruchel the status of honorary captain of the NHL team. His big break: landing a role on Judd Apatow's Fox TV series Undeclared in 2001. That's after he hosted Popular Mechanics for Kids with fellow Montreal resident and Canadiens fan Elisha Cuthbert.
Zach Lipovsky (29, Director)
A visual effects whiz from Vancouver, Lipovsky also has worked as an actor, writer and film editor.
BIGBREAK: "I was a finalist on Mark Burnett and Steven Spielberg's On the Lot. Luckily, I escaped with my dignity intact and a few good films under my belt. Thank you, Spielgs!"
BESTCAREERADVICE: "Stay hungry, stay foolish. Here's to the crazy ones."
Dan Loewy (31, Film Exec)
Loewy worked as a day trader in Serbia before joining Alliance Films five years ago. He is now vp TV and online distribution at Entertainment One in Canada.
INDUSTRYMENTOR: "While he is the godfather of Canadian film and a mentor to many, the man is actually my father: Victor Loewy."
BIGBREAK: "The opportunity to be a part of the team that built Alliance Film's digital business was a career-changer."
Tatiana Maslany (27, Actress)
A recipient of a Sundance special jury prize for breakout star in 2010, Maslany hit it big with BBC America's OrphanBlack, in which she plays seven characters. The role earned her a Critics' Choice Television Award.
INDUSTRYMENTOR: "[Canadian actor] Elias Koteas. I've learned so much about humility and presence from my few brief encounters with him."
BIGGEST2013ACCOMPLISHMENT: Attending San Diego Comic-Con.
Jesse McKeown (34, Writer/Producer)
McKeown is co-executive producer and senior writer for 19-2, Bravo's adaptation of an award-winning French-Canadian cop drama.
BIGBREAK: "Back at the University of British Columbia, professor Peggy Thompson was kind enough to send a short-film script I wrote to Chris Haddock, who brought me on to write for Da Vinci's Inquest."
BESTCAREERADVICE: "If you start talking about an idea to somebody and they start talking about the market, kick this person in the shins."
Brad Peyton (32, Director)
Newfoundland native Peyton proved his commercial and 3D savvy in 2012 with Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, starring Dwayne Johnson, which grossed $335 million worldwide.
INDUSTRYMENTORS: "Donald Sutherland [with whom Peyton collaborated on an animated TV series]; his artistic integrity is inspiring. And I've learned a lot from Beau Flynn -- he's a producer who can do it all."
BIGBREAK: "Tom Hanks' company Playtone seeing Evelyn, my Canadian Film Center 2002 short. They helped me with my first break in Hollywood."
Vanessa Piazza (31, Producer)
Piazza is producer/principal at Prodigy Pictures and produces the supernatural drama Lost Girl, airing on Syfy in the U.S.
BIGBREAK: "Teaming up with [producer] Jay Firestone, who has taught me so much and been a major supporter over the years."
BESTCAREERADVICE: "Don't take yourself too seriously."
Robbie Praw (32, Festival Exec)
Praw is vp programming for the Just For Laughs comedy festival, booking talent for the Montreal, Toronto and Chicago events.
BIGBREAK: "Producing our infamous NastyShow in 2006, which led me to pick the late [comedian] Patrice O'Neal as my first booking. He would teach, intimidate and haze me with pride. With those lessons learned, the next year I would get to book Louis C.K. and Zach Galifianakis."
BESTCAREERADVICE: "Just make it happen."
Melissa Williamson (31, Producer)
Williamson oversees development and production slates for indie TV producer Pier 21 Films.
BIG BREAK: "I started working with John Morayniss and Noreen Halpern at Blueprint Entertainment, my first job in the industry -- I was constantly getting lost in Los Angeles."