Exchanging words with Build Films

Build Film team: Chris Paetkau, Trevor Gill, Chloe Ross-Rogerson and Carlyle Paetkau 

Swimming with beluga whales and walking with polar bears is just another day at the office for the team at Build Films.

Build Films is a video production company, located at 510-70 Arthur Street, that works on various projects, many of them focusing on conservation, tourism, science and indigenous communities in the Canadian Arctic. Two of the three co-founders of Build Films, Trevor Gill and Chris Paetkau, met while going to school at Red River College and since day one, they’ve been a strong team.

“We go from swimming with 50,000 beluga whales in the Hudson Bay to maternal health in India to a polar bear lodge in northern Manitoba where we’re walking with polar bears for tourism campaigns,” Paetkau says. “It’s sort of like we’re weaving in and out of things but a major focus for sure is the Arctic.”

Trevor, Chris and his brother Carlyle founded the company and started working on projects in the north in 2013. Paetkau says the way they approach the Arctic is looking at it in many different ways.buildfilms 2

“It’s not enough to look at it through scientific lens; it’s not enough to look at it through a wildlife lens; it’s not enough to look at it through a cultural lens; and it’s not enough to look at it through an economic or tourism lens,” Paetkau says. “We’re interested in the intersection between all of these different lenses and how that plays out in something like a marine protected area. When you start looking at the world like that, it becomes endlessly complex but also, you can dial it in and tell a very interesting and in-depth story.”

Right now, they’re working on a few different projects including, Breaking Ice, a feature film coming out in the spring of 2018.

Paetkau just came back from San Felipe, Mexico, where he was working to protect the world’s most endangered marine mammal, the Vaquita Porpoise, for Discovery Canada.

“There’s only 18 left in the world,” Paetkau says.

Another feather in Build Films’ cap is making it into Canada’s National Arctic Gallery.

“Right when you walk in, there’s a beautiful display from the National Film Board of Canada and the Canadian Museum of Nature and it features footage that we shot,” Paetkau says. “So when you see polar bears there, we filmed those polar bears. When you see hunting camps and Inuit going about their life, we were there.”

Gill says Build Films started in the Exchange and they have no plans on moving from the area anytime soon.

“I actually think it’s the nicest part of the city,” Gill says. “Old market square is quite nice, it’s kind of like the hub.”

IMG_4777“There’s a good collaborative vibe and lots of people to call on,” Paetkau says. “…and great sandwiches.”

Build Films doesn’t want to be like any regular video production company. It’s important to them that they differentiate themselves, because they really are doing unique things.

Gill says they are definitely growing and expanding their company and will likely have a new office in the Exchange in the new year.

“Being constructive, being positive, and making change in the world essentially is what we’re up to,” Paetkau says. “We really do care that beautiful places are kept beautiful and enjoyed. We really do care that women in remote villages in India get the care that they need. We really do care about the porpoises in the world. We care. So, we hope that [our name] reflects it.”

Find out more about Build Films on their website: at