Scaling the Digital Ladder: DreamRider Productions

The following is a guest post from Vanessa LeBourdais, Executive Producer and Creative Director of DreamRider Productions. Read on to discover how DreamRider went from teeny unknown local theatre to international digital success – and how you can too.


In 2009 I met Sue Biely at a media conference, and shortly after she began a program for the BC film industry that was much like the BC Alliance for Arts + Culture’s Digital Ladders. I kid you not when I say that that program and everything we learned through it helped DreamRider transition from being a small, mostly unknown, children’s theatre company touring locally in Vancouver, to an international cutting edge interactive media company creating digital-driven experiences that are literally changing the world.

From Sue’s programs, I learned from cutting edge industry experts, from their successes and their failures. What I learned there helped me take my fun and interactive, silly and empowering live shows for kids and turn them into fun and interactive, silly and empowering digital programs capable of reaching far beyond the limits of our live touring capacity. It’s been an incredible journey of creative experimentation, joy, and excitement.

Our Planet Protector Academy digital programs have scaled across Canada, into the US and now India, driving change with an innovative blend of story, arts and gamification. Through our digital platform, we’re creating full bodied experiences for kid audiences. It’s like “going to Jedi School” with real-world effects we can measure. And it is so much fun.  

Digital Ladders is a phenomenal opportunity and I am so excited for our sector that I can hardly contain it. When the Canada Council announced their Digital Strategy funding, I knew that Brenda Leadlay at the BC Alliance just had to meet Sue Biely. Now I feel like a matchmaker waiting for the babies. I can’t wait to see what emerges when you all jump in, experiment, play and learn.

I’m also really excited to take part again myself. I know I’ll learn all the latest, coolest, most fun stuff. If I get to do a workshop, I’ll be free to experiment with ideas and possibilities without fear of failure, without project managing, fundraising, or worrying about wasting money (I could seriously not believe how much developers get per hour, it’s almost enough to want to change jobs). Digital Ladders is like somebody coming along and giving us a huge grant, saying, “I don’t care if you fail, just try and see what happens.” OK, this never happens. Except now. Thanks to the Canada Council, BC Alliance for Arts + Culture and Sue and her crew, we’ve got our chance. I hope you take it.  

To learn more or sign up, visit the pages on Salons, Learn-to-Do Labs, and Workshops.

Above: Esmeralda and Goober join young Apprentice Planet Protectors in the Planet Protector Academy: H2Whoa. (Video still; Nathan Frost, DOP).  Thumbnail image: Esmeralda and Goober in the digital Planet Protector Academy: Zero Heroes. (Video still: Jan Klompje, DOP, Michael Mann, SFX)

Above: Esmeralda and Goober join young Apprentice Planet Protectors in the Planet Protector Academy: H2Whoa. (Video still; Nathan Frost, DOP).

Thumbnail image: Esmeralda and Goober in the digital Planet Protector Academy: Zero Heroes. (Video still: Jan Klompje, DOP, Michael Mann, SFX)