I was born in the Dolbeau-Mistassini region in Quebec, Canada in 1978. I come from the Saguenay Lac-St-Jean region, an area whose residents bear the nickname “blueberries” because of the abundance of wild berries that grow throughout the region. We are known as very hard-working people with deeply-rooted family values and also as nature lovers who enjoy practicing various outdoor activities. My parents returned to this wonderful region for their well-deserved retirement. I am the eldest of three boys and was fortunate enough to have a family that was stable and perfect in all its imperfections. I have only good memories of my youth, not to mention all those weekends where we played hockey, a true passion with us.

At the age of 17, I enlisted in the Saguenay Regiment, an infantry regiment of the Canadian army. At the time, in 1995, Canada was recognized as a world leader in maintaining the peace. I wanted to do my duty and participate in a blue helmet mission for the United Nations. I volunteered to go to Bosnia 3 times, but as my regiment was a reserve regiment, places were very limited. I was not destined to live this experience … but I was able to experience and understand the true spirit of unity and camaraderie between perfect strangers. The spirit of unity that ensures that a small group of volunteers ready for anything, can accomplish the impossible.

Afterwards, I obtained a Collegiate Studies Diploma (DEC) in analytical chemistry at the Cégep de Jonquière. I have always had a need for answers and to understand the mechanics of life. Chemistry did give me many answers but, as it turned out, I came out of the experience with even more questions. I worked in chemical laboratories for various companies in different sectors for 5 years. I worked in the materials, environmental and pharmaceutical industries, among others. But, I felt I was stuck in a rut and could not see myself doing this for the rest of my life. For the first time in my life, I began to question the way my life was going.

It is often said that travel expands the mind and for me it was a life-enriching experience. At the age of 27, after leaving my job, I decided it was time for me to face the unknown and head out on a three-month backpacking trip around Europe. I visited England, France, Italy, Spain, Austria and Holland. I “couchsurfed” a few times and met great people from all over the world. As French is my mother tongue, it was an adventure for me to get by with only English. I was able to improve my English-language skills – but I still have a lot to learn!

When I got back from my trip, I decided to change careers and went back to school. I got a certificate in advertising at the University of Montreal in 2003. At the same time, I began to explore my creative side. It had always been very present in me but, as of yet, had never been exploited. Studying advertising helped me understand the main principles of marketing as well as various media strategies. I also took evening courses in script-writing at the National School of Humor as I wanted to do stand-up comedy in local bars for fun. I wrote about a dozen scripts, but finally came to the conclusion that I did not have the rather flamboyant personality needed to make it in the comedy trade.

The following year, I completed another certificate from the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) – this time in writing film scripts. I’ve always loved writing and have always had a lot of imagination when telling stories. During this year, in addition to learning how to write screenplays, I had the chance to study directing, video editing and audio editing. I learned enough about it to recruit a team of passionate individuals and start producing my own short films. The first one I produced was a horror flick called The Handler (Le Dresseur) . You can watch it here.

We had the good fortune to have our film be selected to compete in 3 major festivals including Montreal’s Fantasia Festival – known around the world. As for prizes, we won a Special prize for Best Fiction Film at the Philadelphia Documentary & Fiction Festival and an award for best photography at the San Francisco Short Film Festival in 2007. The Handler was a very dark project but it allowed us to participate in more festivals because “gore” was very trendy at the time. The experience taught me a lot about cinema, on a small scale, of course. The following year, we shot a second short film but it was not as successful. After which, my volunteer production team dissolved and its members went their separate ways. At this point in my life, I survived by working as a freelance technician in show business. I had the opportunity to work as a stagehand in Montreal in the development of a show by the Cirque du Soleil – “Wintuk” – which was presented at New York City’s Madison Square Garden a few years ago.

Over the next 3 years, I wrote three different concepts for a TV series. For each one, I met with producers who were interested, but for various reasons – ranging from high production costs to bad timing – none of them ever went into production. My first concept for a TV show, titled “Couchsurfers”, was a reality show where a family received a traveler from another country into their home for a week. It was meant to put the spotlight on interactions between people from different cultures with diverse ways of thinking. I wrote this concept back when the wave of reality shows was just starting, but it would still be very interesting to viewers even today. My second TV concept was a documentary series consisting of 13 episodes, each one presenting a different way to become a millionaire. For example, with real estate, playing the stock market, running a successful blog or website, inventing a new product, etc. This concept would also be of interest to modern-day audiences.

After my failed TV concepts and with the arrival of digital music in the mid-2000s, I noticed that many people loved certain songs but did not know the song’s title or the name of the band that played it. I then spent 2 years developing MusiChoose!, a website whose purpose was to identify the names of songs being played on the radio using VoIP technology through a conventional telephone. I never managed to get the necessary funding to finance this start-up properly. Meanwhile, the sudden appearance of smartphones and Shazam application made my website obsolete. I had to abandon MusiChoose!

Once again, I questioned myself and the path I was on. At the age of 30, I abandoned all the creative projects I had envisioned to find a real job. With the arrival of my first child- a beautiful daughter who is now 7 years old – it was time to stop dreaming and assume my responsibilities as a father. Three years later, my little boy came along and completed our family.

For the last 7 years, I have been working as a supervisor in a large Canadian company. But, even though I may have officially abandoned my plans from before, I have not stopped being creative – that’s just who I am! And that’s why I never told you about my 3rd TV concept – for now, it must remain confidential because soon I will introduce it to certain producers …

All that said, I would now like to present a wonderful adventure filled with exciting discoveries in Project: The Secret.

stephane Boily

Stéphane Boily
Founder of Project: The Secret