She remembers the diaries she began keeping as a seven-year-old girl, the makeshift office she set up in her bedroom, and the first time she was published — at the ripe old age of nine. (The story in question, a Yuletide tale of a little boy who wants to be an elf, won third place in a rural newspaper’s holiday fiction contest, netting Schick, now the head of local communications firm RAS Creative, an impressive $20 cash prize.)
She also recalls her first forays into publishing, as the self-appointed editor of a weekly newspaper launched while working a summer job as a counsellor at Camp Stephens.
“It was called Stephens’ Surroundings, and it was mostly gossip and a bunch of other stuff the campers weren’t allowed to read,” says Schick, who graduated from RRC’s Creative Communications program in 1995. “We had an old Gestetner machine — this was pre-photocopier — so I would hand-write the newspaper on a carbon sheet, then I’d have to crank out all the copies by hand. I’d stay up all night, writing these stories and cranking them out … that’s what gave me the idea that I really enjoyed writing for a purpose.”
Schick was drawn to RRC’s CreComm program while completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Winnipeg, after an instructor suggested she’d be a good fit. She signed up, thinking she was on her way to becoming a journalist, but soon realized she might not have the stomach for a career in hard news.
“I enjoyed the fluffier stories — feature writing and movie reviews — but when it came to chasing fire trucks, I just wasn’t interested,” says Schick. “Instead, I sort of fell into Public Relations, because I thought it was a good alternative — a field where I could still use and develop my writing skills, but in a different way.”
Schick also discovered she had a knack for video production, so after graduation began looking for ways to marry the two interests. Inspired by news coverage of the Winnipeg film industry’s dealings with the Brad Pitt feature Legends of the Fall, Schick began cold-calling local entertainment reps, in the hopes of gaining a foothold.
Her first job was a year-long term with Paquin Entertainment Group, where she facilitated contracts for local booking agents. After that, she began a four-year term with local production house Buffalo Gal Pictures, working her way up from office production assistant (read: office supplies and clean-up) to production and marketing coordinator, taking on more and more communications-related work along the way.
“I managed all the communications because no one else at the company wanted to,” she explains. “So I did press releases, I coordinated deliverables for the distributors — I basically started doing then what I do now as a job.”
“That’s what CreComm taught me, was to be open to learning new things. I always think of it as having learned a little bit about a lot of things. So when I got out of college, it felt like my education was just beginning — CreComm gave me the skills to pursue those opportunities.”
Having successfully transitioned from production to publicity, Schick left Buffalo Gal for a two-year stint with the Manitoba Motion Picture Industry Association (or MMPIA, now known as Onscreen Manitoba). But she found herself spending most nights working on freelance publicity projects, so in 2004 made the decision to branch out on her own, using the same business name — RAS Creative — she’d registered while still in CreComm.
“I knew going into it that I had a certain niche — that I knew a lot of people in the music and film industries. And I always knew I could fall back on production coordinating, but fortunately, I haven’t had to,” she says.
“I had a good reputation as far as my abilities, so local producers started giving me the opportunity to work on their films as a publicist. I was fortunate, in that I’ve never really had to scramble for work. Basically it’s all been word of mouth since 2004.”
These days, Schick is busy tending to a thriving stable of clients, among them local musicians, TV and film producers, and such events and organizations as the Winnipeg Folk Festival, the Manito Ahbee Festival, the Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards, and Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. (Clearly, her efforts haven’t gone unappreciated: Earlier this month, she picked up a YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction Award, in the category of Public Awareness.)
When she’s not keeping fit as a member of the Winnipeg Rowing Club (a hobby she picked up after serving as the lone female contestant on Frantic Films’ “living history” challenge Quest for the Bay), she’s taking workshops to improve her screenplay-writing skills.
Schick is currently in the process of setting up a pair of scholarships for CreComm students —both as a means of giving back to the program and remaining connected to the College. (Since graduating, she’s been called back as a mentor on many occasions; she also sits on the program’s Advisory Board, and frequently hires CreComm students to assist with her promotional work.)
“They always say to discover your purpose in life, you should look back on what you loved doing as a child,” she says. “I used to love writing, and I used to love playing office … Now I’m a writer, and I have my own office. I’m doing what I feel like I’m meant to be doing.”
Click here to learn more about RAS Creative.
Click here to learn more about RRC’s Creative Communications program.