Filmmaker reinvents himself by diversifying skills

Author: 
Lisa Weighton

For almost 20 years, EJ Tremblay’s office was in one of two places—in front of the camera or behind it.

As an actor, director and assistant director, Tremblay’s film career took him to Korea, New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland, the USA and Germany. He worked on the set of films like “The Weight of Water”, a French-American mystery thriller and “Bailey’s Mistake”, a Walt Disney film starring Linda Hamilton. EJ Tremblay poses with Linda Hamilton on the set of the 2001 film,

“Art and creativity were early, natural components of my identity,” he says. “I was fortunate to learn every aspect of the film industry.”

But after two decades in film, EJ left the industry he loved.

“You can’t see, you can’t work,” he says.

It was his friends who noticed first.

“I would chase seagulls instead of fly balls,” says the former university football and rugby player. “My friends wouldn’t drive with me.”

Tremblay started seeing specialists about 10 years ago but they couldn’t tell him what caused his vision loss.

Tremblay’s condition, which causes a blind spot in about one-third of his field of vision, is still undiagnosed.

“I don’t see a big vacant spot. My brain fills it in based on my memory so I see wonderfully. It’s just not reality,” he says.

“Blindness doesn’t lend itself to visual art. So I had to reinvent myself.”

Tremblay registered in the Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching program. He received a $500 Graham Dickson Leadership and Learning Award to support his studies, which he completed in 2014.

“One-on-one coaching is almost synonymous with directing—with nurturing a person to develop what they want to do. As an actor, you want to feel authentic—that the performance is yours … I think that is what stimulates people being coached. They go ‘oh, I figured it out.’ So it tends to resonate longer or they remember it.”

Tremblay coaches diverse clients including National Hockey League coaches, an infectious disease doctor in New Brunswick and executives from the David Suzuki Foundation.

“I fell in love with team coaching,” he says, adding that his clients pilot their own journey. Like a co-pilot, he’s says he’s just there to support their ride.

“My motto is ‘coaching continues long after the coach is gone,’” he says. “So I’m setting them up to develop a coaching culture for themselves to hold each other accountable.”

Tremblay is also a student in the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies. He is specializing in coaching, communications and education.

For his major project, he’s planning to produce an informative documentary about adaptive skills and resilience through sharing his and others’ stories.

“It’s funny how I thought film was done. When I lost my vision, I thought my life as I knew it was over,” he says. “But in accepting this challenge, I want to help people find the courage to make changes that impact their lives in positive ways.”