Being Robert Redford's son might make a career in filmmaking seem the natural choice, but documentary maker Jamie Redford says it can sometimes sting. 

"Being a Redford might get you a meeting but it in no way gets you greenlit," the younger Redford told CBC News ahead of his upcoming visit to Prince Edward Island.

"And, you know, wading through meetings in which there's a curiosity factor, people want to meet you and see what you're about but don't really have a serious intention. You know, having to sense, try to develop an instinct about what meetings are real, how not to waste your time with irrelevant meetings and trying to move forward. It's a blessing and a curse."

Redford, a producer and director of documentaries including the upcoming HBO project Happening, will be on the Island this week for PEI Fest, a new festival billed as three days of films, food and ideas.

Redford will be showing a few clips from the HBO program and take part of a panel on environmental filmmaking. He and his father co-founded the Redford Center, an organization that uses film to increase awareness about social and environmental issues. The centre offers mentorship and small development grants to help films get off the ground.

Hopeful, solutions-based filmmaking

"There are a lot of stories out there that are either not being seen or not being told, one, because they're hard to finance, two, because the word environment has a lot of negative connotations to people, and it connotes sort of dry, depressing, educational, a lot of things that just don't need to be that way," he said. 

"And there's just so many young filmmakers who have stories to tell about challenges we face with the environment from a more hopeful or solutions-based angle."

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Jamie Redford and Robert Redford are shown in 2006. The father and son pair founded the Redford Center, which provides support to filmmakers producing work about social and environmental issues. (Dan Steinberg/Associated Press)

Redford said he tried to take that approach with Happening, which he considers the Redford Center's flagship project.

"I threw myself into a journey through the renewable-energy revolution that's currently underway in America to bear witness to it ... with the intent, though, of it showing we can do this. And I think when you come away from the film, if you see it, you'll understand what I mean."

Redford was invited to PEI Fest by its founder, Colin Stanfield, whom he met through a friend in San Francisco. 

"I know about films, I know about dialogue," he said. "I've never been to Prince Edward Island. I'm in."