Weggon Allen is a force to be reckoned with in the Ottawa film industry; he, along with his business partners, Fitch Jean (Director) and Jelan Maxwell (DOP), have seen their company Lenz Media Group grow substantially over the past two years—and they have no intention of stopping now.
Fitch and Weggon built the companies together after Weggon invested in his short film—after the initial creation of the companies, Jelan came on as a partner. With their first feature film on the way, and four successful short films already under their belts, while also producing content for BellMedia & CBC, Lenz Media Group is proving to have what it takes to not only keep up, but excel in the rapidly growing Canadian film industry.
Though Weggon’s personal journey to success wasn’t without its fair share of speed bumps, potholes, and, in some cases, full road closures. He was born in Guyana, and in a move that would solidify him as a lifelong entrepreneur, he started his own business at just 5 years old, selling candy and his mother’s homemade food.
When Weggon, his mother, and his brother immigrated to Canada when he was 14 years old, he found himself falling in with a bad crowd. Weggon’s mother worked tirelessly to support their family, and his father was absent from his life at the time—so he turned to the streets to seek out a sense of belonging that he couldn’t find at home. What he found instead, was a version of himself that he isn’t proud to remember, “I was young and mad at the world,” Weggon recalls of this time.
Even under the circumstances of his youth, Weggon still had an ambition that couldn’t be held down. He formed a successful rap group called Clarence Gruff, with their music video for the single Mystery Unsolved being featured on MuchMusic. “Music played a major role in the early stage of my life—and it influenced me in a negative way at the time, even when it comes to the content I was producing as an artist,” Weggon states. “There were times when I would listen to a song and be on my way to hurt someone; mind you, this was in the 90’s, and I’ve changed so much since then.” The success of Clarence Gruff was just about to peak when it all came tumbling down, and his past on the street caught up to him—Weggon knew then that it was time for serious change.
“When you discover that your mind is your greatest asset, you stop feeding it bad content,” Weggon states while looking back on this time in his life, and the decision he made to turn away from the music that had both helped and hurt him. After this turning point, Weggon’s life went through a series of twists and turns, hopping from one entrepreneurial venture to the next.
When asked about his experience as a lifelong entrepreneur, Weggon broke down his philosophy and experience: “picture yourself falling into a deep river and not knowing how to swim,” he starts with his characteristic passion that has us hanging off every word, “there are only three ways of getting out: someone jumps in to save you; someone throws you a life jacket; or at that moment, you figure out how to swim. Now, add all that you have lost along the way, like time with family, friendships, sometimes even health––and the list goes on. My entrepreneurial traits have been my life jacket, but I’ve had to learn how to swim to shore on my own.” Weggon ends this particularly insightful look into his journey with, “making it out of that river can be a costly experience, so if I have survived this long without giving up, I guess I’m doing some things right,”––looking at the success he now has as a product of this perseverance, it’s clear to see that Weggon hit the nail right on the head.
Now as the owner of a successful film and photography business, Weggon balances his creative ambitions with his mind for management, “If you develop your ability to lead and master the art of delegating, it then allows you to see the whole board—it’s a lot like chess in that way.” Weggon goes on to explain that many entrepreneurs aren’t able to balance the two sides and end up falling flat on their face—so, an even emphasis on both creativity and results-driven management is necessary in order to succeed.
Lenz Media Group is the product of this perspective, with a strong balance of both creative vision, and a knowledge of the needs of the market informing business decisions. The group covers a variety of different subcategories of the business, including Lenz Studio, Lenz Creative, Lenz Film, Lenz Rental, and the soon-to-be-debuted Lenz Academy. “We see a gap in the industry when it comes to crew development, which is why we are creating an academy to provide experiential learning to develop people’s capacity to contribute to the industry,” Weggon explains. Though this isn’t the only project on the horizon for the group. “Our goal is to expand our studio space to provide more creative sets for our customers and eventually have a sound stage, and also to grow our equipment list to attract more film production companies to rent, since the growth in the city is up by 60% from last year. We would also like to focus on collaborating with like-minded creators to produce some great content, from films, tv series, and documentaries.”
Weggon acknowledges that this is a particularly opportune time for his company to thrive, “the film industry is growing rapidly in Canada and a lot of the major networks are utilizing tax credits and crews across the country to produce great movies, TV series, and documentaries,” he explains. “The murder of George Floyd in 2020 sparked conversation and action towards change, which affected all industries in so many ways. At this time, you were able to peek in and see that there were a lot of people at the table, but none of them looked like us,” Weggon continues, highlighting the cultural shift in 2020 towards accountability and diversity in the business world—and society as a whole. “Now that it’s being talked about, every company is pushing to add more diversity and a more inclusive image to their brand. There are more opportunities for BIPOC to showcase their talent in this industry today than ever before, and it isn’t lost on us that these doors weren’t open even just a few years ago.”
The future is bright for Weggon Allen, who exists as a true example of where unshakeable ambition and perseverance can get you. Though his life is not without its regrets and challenges, Weggon has found his place, both in the Ottawa film industry, and as a father, husband, and member of the community. “Success in life is defined in many ways, and at different stages of your life. It absolutely has to change over time, because change is necessary for growth. The people who failed to adopt this philosophy are the ones who are still talking about their “good old days’,” Weggon explains. “This is why I have a bad memory: I only focus on the now and how I get to the next level of achievements… when you are born with many disadvantages, there is a lot of catching up to do, so I look at success like a moving plane that can’t afford to stop.” And stop, it will not.
By Maijia Stevenson
Photography by Sean Sisk