In 2003, Mandy Leith started to dream about taking OPEN CINEMA on the road and she proposed a project to the National Film Board of Canada called “The NFB’s Little Red Wagon.” The importance of building strong ties through face-to-face connection was writing on the wall, so to speak, but the Canadian documentary industry was still squarely focussed on the broadcast model.
In 2010, the idea resurfaced when Mandy’s friend Nathaniel Poole bought a school bus and Mandy became reinspired by the idea, and it became Get on the Doc Bus! Working with digital ninja, Nicole Sorochan (One Net Marketing), the project became a travelling social media roadshow to educate people about changing technology and the value of documentary filmmaking. An unsuccessful application was submitted to BC Film for support. The project was temporarily sidelined due to other work commitments and a death in the family.
Meanwhile the project became more poignant as the Canadian documentary industry continued to decline due to diminishing broadcast slots for the genre. Community screenings such as OPEN CINEMA and Cinema Politica started to become more relevant to filmmakers and distributors as an alternative distribution model. In March 2013, Mandy decided to give the Doc Bus project her full attention: she turned down editing gigs, resigned her post on the Documentary Organization of Canada National board of directors, bought a pristine 1991 Westfalia and the rest is history.