Pouliot began working in Montreal as an assistant cameraman on local films as well as international ones like Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in America" and Tony Richardson's "Hotel New Hampshire". During this time, teaming with Robert Belisle, he co-wrote and co-directed a number of short animated films for the National Film Board of Canada, including "The Egg".

In 1982, Pouliot became a writer-designer at Cossette Communication Marketing, Canada's largest advertising agency. Quickly promoted to creative director of French-speaking advertising for McDonald's restaurants, he twice won the Grand Prize of the Mundial de la Publicite Francophone.

In 1988, he decided to return to filmmaking, with the logical path being through advertising. Pouliot began directing for Fabrique d'Images, one of the country's largest production houses for television advertising. He made commercials mainly for Canadian clients, but also for American and European ones, and won a Silver Lion at Cannes for a Loto-Quebec ad.

As a successful director for fifteen years and nearly 500 commercials, Pouliot was often approached with feature film projects, but never found anything that he wanted to do until he read Ken Scott's screenplay for "Seducing Doctor Lewis".