Young people in Hay River have the opportunity to get into moviemaking with the launch of a new film club.
For Alice Coates, volunteer co-ordinator at the Hay River Community Youth Centre (HRCYC), it’s all about giving kids more ways to express themselves.
“I see it being a fun club for people who want to learn about different or all parts of the process of bringing a story to life on film,” she said.
The club will run once a week on Thursdays at the HRCYC, beginning Jan. 9 and ending in May.
It is being funded, including with the purchase of the equipment to make it possible, by the NWT Arts Council and NWT Literacy Council as part of an initiative to encourage youth to engage in storytelling. The club has two cameras and all the necessities on hand for both shooting film and editing it, but won’t focus only on the technical aspects of filmmaking.
“I’d like them to start with themselves,” said Coates. “It’s important that young people gain confidence in lifting their voices and talking about what’s important or interesting to them. I hope that the format in itself is interesting to them, and that, in learning how to film, some people might get more comfortable telling stories.”
Coates is hoping for up to 25 young people to participate. They will learn skills including lighting, filming and sound recording, as well as story writing and planning, and, of course, they will get to be on camera.
Professionals in the community are also donating their time and expertise to the club, hoping to pass along their knowledge.
“I guess I’m more of a technical advisor,” said Craig Kovatch, owner of G B Superior Sound and self-described “gun for hire” when it comes to filmmaking in Hay River. “I’ll be getting kids familiar with the equipment and the ins and outs of what it can do.”
Kovatch said he thinks the strength of the project is that everybody involved has something different to bring to the table. When he was approached to help with the club, he thought it would be a good opportunity to get more people interested in the process of filmmaking.
“Hay River doesn’t have a vibrant arts scene like Yellowknife,” he said. “So to get anything off the ground takes a lot of effort.”
Jacob Barker, the resident CBC reporter in Hay River, is also on the list of skilled volunteers set to pass on their knowledge.
Barker noted he took a film class in Grade 12 and, although it was a few years before he made a career out of it, that was when he got his start.
“Most of the stuff I do is journalistic,” he said. “But filmmaking is something people with strong visions will thrive in. No matter what ends up on the screen, it’s the kids’ visions.”
Barker said the medium is only growing in popularity and accessibility, and that allowing youth to explore telling stories through it will be a useful tool. While all aspects may not appeal to all participants, he said he hoped each youth might find something to be good at and enjoy, whether it be writing, directing, producing or editing.
“It’s something that I thought was cool at that age,” he said. “And now most people have video cameras sitting in their pockets, anyway.”
The club is set up so that each participant can decide what to work on.
“The important thing is that they’ve got a lot of time,” said Coates. “Time and the expertise around them to experiment. We will look at storytelling, but there will be a good portion dedicated to the technical side, so that the youth will have the tools to tell their stories as a productive team.”
Coates also said she thinks the kids will be ahead of the game when they come in, noting, “The best part is everyone has a real life, compelling story in them.”