403714392_10163303899184942_2349704733890292057_nLike a real-life version of the underdog tales often depicted in movies, Stephen Paniccia’s journey from his humble beginnings to the glitz and glamour of the Emmys is a story worth telling. This talented producer and director has made waves in the industry with his exceptional work, culminating in a well-deserved Emmy win for his documentary “Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On.” Paniccia’s rise to success is a testament to his passion, perseverance, and unwavering commitment to his craft, proving that in the world of filmmaking, sometimes the most compelling stories happen off-screen.

“I’ve been working for White Pine Pictures for 10 years and I’m the hands-on Producer for the company,” Paniccia shares, explaining how he became involved with the Buffy Sainte-Marie documentary. “The company got involved with Buffy Sainte-Marie when our head of Development Andrew Munger read Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography by Andrea Warner. He brought the idea to our Executive Producer and they reached out together to Buffy Sainte-Marie and her Manager – Gilles Paquin and the rest is history.”


Paniccia’s passion for storytelling and his keen eye for compelling narratives have been the driving forces behind his success. His ability to bring out the best in his subjects, as he did with Buffy Sainte-Marie, is a testament to his skill as a filmmaker. “Buffy Sainte-Marie was the kindest, most down to earth celebrity I’ve ever met. She was very creative,” Paniccia recalls fondly. “I was lucky enough to spend a week with Buffy, filming with her at her home in Hawaii where we turned a hotel ballroom into a 1960’s NYC coffee house. I also got the chance to film with Buffy in LA, NYC and Toronto, so I consider myself very lucky to have had the opportunity to spend so much time with her while we were filming the documentary.”

384112244_10163154767384942_9119548771945664345_nThe Emmy win for “Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On” was a defining moment in Paniccia’s career, an experience he describes as unforgettable. “It’s an experience you never forget. It’s an honour just to be nominated but to be there and to be given your award by fellow Canadian Paul Shaffer, there’s just no words,” he shares, still in awe of the moment.
But Paniccia’s success extends beyond his work on the Buffy Sainte-Marie documentary. His award-winning film “Toxic Beauty” delved into the dangers of chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products, presenting key findings that have the potential to change the way we view the beauty industry. “Are cosmetics making us sick? Five surprising facts that you probably don’t know,” Paniccia shares, referencing an article written by one of his team members that encapsulates the film’s message.

Paniccia’s love for the arts and filmmaking can be traced back to his Windsor upbringing, where he was exposed to a thriving theatre scene. “I think living in Windsor, we were very lucky because there was a lot of local theatre growing up, which shaped my love of the stage,” he reminisces. “Besides all the great community theatre in Windsor, we had access to all the large productions that also came to Detroit, which made Windsor a great place to live for arts and culture.”

It was this early exposure to the performing arts that led Paniccia to pursue a career in film and television. “I started in theatre in grade 10 acting and then moving backstage into lighting, sound and stage management,” he shares. “When I first got into film and I started being a Production Manager, many of the actors I worked with could tell I came from theatre, just in how I handled situations, live theatre is fast paced, stressful and as a stage manager, you have to stay calm and know what’s going on everywhere, on stage, backstage and work with everyone to get it done. Similar to a Production Manager and Producer.”

Paniccia’s success in the film industry is a testament to his resilience and determination, qualities he relates to his lifelong love for the Detroit Tigers. “In this industry you get a lot of no’s, with only a few broadcasters and sources of funding in Canada, you have to take the good and the bad and the ups and the downs just like the Tigers,” he explains. “Even though you have an Emmy nothing comes easy, you still have to go back to the beginning just like the start of a new season, it’s the same when you start a new project.”
As Paniccia continues to make his mark in the film industry, he remains grounded in his roots and the values instilled in him during his Windsor upbringing. “Growing up in Windsor, I was lucky to have a lot of experiences thanks to my parents who were always part of the community,” he shares. “They were always volunteering for different organizations and events which allowed me to have a lot of experiences. They showed me that you should be involved and give back to your community. And this has helped me in both my personal and professional life.”

With his latest project, “Plastic People,” premiering at SXSW to rave reviews from The New York Times and Variety, Paniccia shows no signs of slowing down. His dedication to his craft and his commitment to telling meaningful stories continue to set him apart in an industry where talent and perseverance are the keys to success.

As seen in the April 2024 issue:

519 Issue 67 March 2024 cover 2.0

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