Jayden Soroka has never had a nine-to-five job in his life, something he’s very proud of.
That flexibility over the years has given him the freedom to work on any film project he chooses.
But working for yourself also comes with a price, he says.
Time, relationships and money are among the sacrifices one has to make in order to become successful.
Soroka was recognized for his success at a Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce banquet last week, where he received the young entrepreneur of the year award.
“I never planned to become an entrepreneur,” he said.
“I slowly fell into this space where I became self-employed. When I received that award, what resonated most was that I was being acknowledged for my sacrifices.”
Soroka spoke to the News from the shared office space he recently opened in downtown Whitehorse, called Creative Lab.
A space for creative professionals, it strives to offer opportunities for collaboration and shared resources in a more efficient way.
Sitting at a large boardroom table he made himself, he clasps his hands on his head and struggles to describe how crazy this past year has been for him.
“It’s by far the busiest year I’ve ever had professionally,” he said, “but it’s been great.”
It began with his production company, Pixelbox Studio, producing all six winter and summer commercials for Tourism Yukon, a “massive undertaking, bigger than anything I could have ever assumed.”
Flat Tire Films, a company he created with Vivian Belik, has also been working on a documentary that would recreate a groundbreaking social experiment from the 1970s that took place in Dauphin, Manitoba.
Known as the Mincome program, families in the small community were provided with a guaranteed income for fours years and closely monitored during that time.
Soroka’s plan is to follow three Canadian families for a year and produce a documentary on their experience.
He also talked about working on an online Cold War project that would examine the Yukon’s role in the tension between the United States and the Soviet Union.
In 2015 alone, Pixelbox hired over 70 Yukoners to work on its various projects, one of the reasons Soroka was given the young entrepreneur award.
“I think a key part of what impressed the committee is that (Soroka) seems to be building up the production capacity in the Yukon,” said Pat Tobler, who headed the awards committee.
“Jayden is not only seeing success as a young entrepreneur, he’s definitely making an impact in terms of promoting the Yukon and developing local capacity through his work.”
Soroka said it’s important for him to see people up here succeed.
There’s a sense that there isn’t enough talent up North, he said, to compete with people down south.
“A lot of the time we have to prove ourselves that we’re capable of doing these big projects,” he said.
“There’s an abundance of talent up here that never gets used. Some of the work up here rivals what is done in Vancouver.
“Very quickly, we won’t have to go Outside anymore to produce these (Tourism Yukon) commercials.”
Soroka said anyone interested in becoming an entrepreneur needs to do a lot of research beforehand.
That means finding out if there’s a market for what you want to do, what the success rates are, and whether other people in your town are doing it already.
“If everything points to yes, then it’s about investing time,” he said.
Support is crucial too, he said.
He never would have jumped into the film industry without the support of his parents, he added.
Maybe he would have ended up with a nine-to-five job.
“My mother passed away a few years ago and she was like a rock for me,” Soroka said.
“She was there throughout this entire process and without that I wouldn’t have made it this far.
“I feel like that award was really for her.”
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