Nfld. & Labrador

Baroness von Sketch co-creator impressed by N.L. creativity — and facial hair

The minds behind the comedy series were brought to town by St. John's International Women's Film Festival organizers.

Minds behind the comedy series brought to town by St. John's International Women's Film Festival organizers

Baroness von Sketch Show co-creator and star Aurora Browne grabs the mic at a meet-and-greet in St. John's on Saturday, where she traded stories with her East Coast peers and tried to figure out why she was encountering so many well-groomed beards. (Malone Mullin/CBC)

Aurora Browne came to Newfoundland to trade insider tips with aspiring film and television stars.

She didn't expect to be totally overwhelmed by facial hair.

"Every man I've met has a really impeccably groomed beard," said Browne, co-creator of CBC television series Baroness von Sketch Show, describing her impression of the province so far.

"I don't know if that's a full-year thing or just because it's winter, or they're just like, really into beards right now. But all of them have beautiful beards. That one guy at the bookstore could use a trim. But he was very nice." 

Other than critiquing grooming trends, Browne and two of the series' directors, Jordan Canning and Aleysa Young, mingled at a relatively beardless meet-and-greet Saturday afternoon as part of St. John's International Women's Film Festival programming.

Browne was in town to trade ideas and insights into making comedy at a soldout appearance at Club One.

"I'm always excited to talk to other creators," she said in a rare moment of near-seriousness. "And especially female creators. It's exciting to make something and then talk to other people about making their thing. 

"Sometimes you need to show people, 'Yeah, this is also possible.'"

Saturday night's talk sold out twice, said the festival's executive director Jenn Brown, signaling increased interest in the region's potential as an incubator for movies and television.

"We added 150 seats and we sold it that a couple of hours. We had this huge wait list of people wanted to see it," Brown said.

The festival recently made a top 10 list from American newspaper USA Today, and Browne said she's seen the impact of that so far, with "industry leaders and big names" getting in touch to check out what Newfoundland can offer.

"They're eager to connect with people and they want to create work here," she said. "The caliber of the artists that we have here as storytellers, really across all disciplines, stands out. People know that there's something in the water."

As for Browne, she's hoping to make an impact during her visit to the Avalon — but not necessarily on her East Coast peers, who already seem to be bursting with their own ideas and projects, she said.

"I hope that I'm inspiration," she said coyly, "to the network executives, to keep saying yes. I think the people that really need to be inspired is the people with the money."

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