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Marie Clements captures the beauty of the land and people in Red Snow

 

Red Snow follows Dylan, a Gwich’in soldier from the Canadian Arctic, caught in an ambush in Afghanistan. His capture and interrogation by a Taliban Commander releases a cache of memories connected to the love and death of his Inuit cousin, Asana, and binds him closer to a Pashtun family as they escape across treacherous landscapes and through a blizzard that becomes their key to survival.

 


Marie Clements, Red Snow

 

The British Columbia film written and directed by Galiano Island filmmaker Marie Clements has gained acclaim since its debut at Vancouver International Film Festival in 2019. The award-winning feature opens this Friday, March 13th in Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.

 

Tell us a little about yourself and your work.
I am Métis/Dene filmmaker with an independent media production company, Marie Clements Media, specializing in the development, creation and production of innovative works that ignite an Indigenous and intercultural reality.


What were the early days of your career like
?
I originally started out as an actor, then writer and producer, and director in theatre and then formed a theatre company to produce works I was committed to bringing to stage. In some ways this has mirrored my transition to documentary, film and television, creating and producing works through my company MCM. Starting in theatre gave me an incredible appreciation for every single part of creation and a kind of single-minded discipline that was crucial to not only survive my own artistic goals but the many challenges that was put in front of me in doing so.

How did you get to where you are now?
We make decisions along the way that will determine the how of it, and ultimately what we want and need to create. There’s a time when these decisions aren’t conscious really but as you evolve in the doing, you begin to understand that your work defines you, and that you define it. I think there is a great responsibility to this but also a clarity that is freeing.

 


Marie Clements

What inspires you as a creator? What are your influences?
I have been impacted by artists that have gone before me, but James Baldwin helped me hang on. He gave witness to his time. His voice was undeniably unique yet inclusive, his perceptions razor-sharp and his humanity unapologetically massive. I found these attributes talked to me when I was younger and that it inspired me to use who I am at this time in history, my family’s history, this country’s history and our present realities as a resource in breaking a story that speaks to me. I am like so many filmmakers in the sense I am propelled into story by the influences of other artists, activists, musicians, current events and untold stories rising. Story is everywhere.


What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
Know what your job is. Know how to start and also finish. Take responsibility when you should and don’t pass the buck.

Align yourself with like-minded and passionate people that hold integrity in the same ways you do. Beware of the posers. Rejection is part of the business. You are one “no” away from yes. Work hard. Be persistent. Lean into it. Take the risk of being extraordinary.


What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Red Snow took nine years to get to the screen, so I am grateful and proud to have it realized with the artists I worked with. I think there is an accomplishment in committing to stories you can’t not tell. This doesn’t always make it easy, but it makes it incredibly worth it on so many levels.

 


Red Snow

Tell us about RED SNOW and your process or influence in the creation of the film?
Dylan, a Gwich’in soldier from the Canadian Arctic, is caught in an ambush in Kandahar, Afghanistan. His capture and interrogation from a Taliban Commander releases a cache of memories connected to the love and death of his Inuit cousin, Asana, and binds him closer to a Pashtun family as they escape across treacherous landscapes and through a blizzard that becomes their key to survival. Filmed on location in Canada’s Northwest Territories and the desert interior region of British Columbia (the Ashcroft Band Lands, Cache Creek and Kamloops). Over a rigorous 20-day production schedule, the Red Snow team worked in temperatures as high as +38 degrees and as low as -40 to capture the beauty of the land and people. Red Snow was filmed in four languages – Gwich’in, Inuvialuktun, Pashto and English.

 

What’s next for Marie?
I am currently working on a slate of projects with my company MCM including Bones of Crows, a mini-series and Tombs, a feature drama.  

 


Red Snow

Kat Jayme, Filmmaker, Finding Big Country

You could say that Kat Jayme was destined to become a filmmaker. “I’ve had a camera pointed at me all my life. My grandfather was a director in the Philippines, and so everything was documented.”

 

Kat grew up in Vancouver, where she was the point guard for her high school basketball team.  When she got her first video camera, she started documenting her friends in their day-to-day life. Capturing moments was something she innately knew how to do, and when she graduated from high school, she naturally gravitated toward film. She studied film production at the University of British Columbia and then interned with the National Film Board for three years, learning the ropes. “That experience was invaluable,” she reflects.  

While she was at film school, she knew that she had to tell the story of her childhood heroes, The Vancouver Grizzlies. “I had a feeling that I had to make this film, so I started to do some research. Bryant ‘Big Country’ Reeves was the only player people couldn’t track down, it was like he was missing, and so I set out to find him.” 

Kat documented her journey in Finding Big Country, and she learned so much along the way. “He had become the scapegoat, the guy people blamed for how terrible The Grizzlies were. As a little girl, I loved them, even though they were terrible, and I wanted to find my long lost hero. It was the perfect recipe – you couldn’t have written a better storyline.” Yet, it wasn’t always easy. As a young, female director, Kat knows how lonely it can get, working by herself all day. Finding a group of like-minded individuals was a game-changer for her. “I’m really lucky I found my film family. We’re all female documentary makers, and we lift each other up.” 

In a genre heavily dominated by white men, Kat was often the only female in a room full of male sports reporters. They assumed she was lost, or that she didn’t belong, yet she would use that to her advantage. “I believe I got access to Bryant and his family because he wasn’t as guarded with me as he might have been with someone else. No one else had been able to do that except me.”

Kat believes her basketball training helped her become a better filmmaker. “Being a point guard is very similar to being a director. You’re a leader on the floor, the one trying to bring out the best in everyone.” She also knows that nothing great happens without a strong team. “When it comes to producing an independent film, you need all of the help you can get. Creative BC was nothing but supportive. Without their help, I wouldn’t have been able to complete this film the way I wanted. We are so lucky to have organizations like this supporting emerging filmmakers, helping to bring their dream projects come to life.”

As for Kat’s grandfather, he was able to fly to Vancouver to see her film premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival. “That’s something I will always be grateful for, to see him there opening night. He was so proud that I was following in his footsteps and keeping the family tradition of filmmaking alive.”

Kat Jayme
Finding Big Country

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Deadpool Movie Is a Hit, Both at the Box Office & for B.C.’s Economy

Ryan Reynolds made the Deadpool movie in his hometown of Vancouver.

This weekend’s release of Deadpool shattered all box office expectations, creating a new record for a February movie release with $135 million dollars. It also forged a new record for the highest-opening for an R-rated film, beating 2003’s The Matrix Reloaded by more than $40 million dollars.

Filmed in various locations in the Lower Mainland, Deadpool also gives our local film production industry another win: the movie injected $40 million dollars into B.C.’s economy for the 58 days it shot here. Over 2,000 crew members, local actors and extras were employed, giving these trained workers $19 million in wages.

“Vancouver continues to be an attractive and competitive production hub, with outstanding scenery,” commented David Starke, Executive Vice President, Physical Production for Twentieth Century Fox. “We were thrilled to shoot in B.C. where we had access to some of the best cast and crew, and a variety of locations that provided the ideal backdrop for so many of the movie’s most exciting scenes.”

Starke may be referring to the climactic car chase and gunfight sequence that was filmed on downtown Vancouver’s Georgia Street Viaduct. In April 2015 the Deadpool production shot on the Viaduct, with the roadway closed to traffic for 10 days. The sequence is one of the movie’s longest ones, showing off the False Creek waterfront and skyline of Vancouver as the red-and-black costumed superhero squares off against armed bad guys.

deadpool georgia viaduct

Deadpool faces bad guys on Vancouver’s Georgia Viaduct.

Facts & Figures from Deadpool’s Bottom Line

“I have seen firsthand the enormous positive impact that productions like Deadpool have had on our city,” said Gregor Robertson, Vancouver’s Mayor. “Film and television production continues to be a billion dollar industry here, and it is a growing contributor to Vancouver’s nation-leading economic growth.”

The Mayor makes an important point. Vancouver and B.C. have earned the nickname “Hollywood North” for the hundreds of movie and television productions that have filmed in our backyard. But when you take a closer look at the dollar impact, you’ll begin to see how this creative sector helps pump tens of millions of dollars into our economy.

For example, on just the Deadpool production alone:

  • The crew spent nearly $815,000 on hotel rooms, catering and food costs
  • Nearly $780,000 was spent on truck & car rentals, plus additional transportation costs
  • North of $735,000 went to construction costs on the movie
  • And more than $1 million was earmarked on location costs

 

The Reynolds Connection

While B.C.’s reputation for highly experienced crews helped, let’s not forget that local boy-made-good Ryan Reynolds also played a huge part in getting Deadpool to the big screen. Reynolds had first originated the merc with a mouth character in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which had some pick-up photography shot at UBC. While that movie’s version of the character wasn’t what Reynolds had hoped for, his belief in giving Deadpool a second screen chance and getting back to the comic book roots of the hero have now paid off.

“I got to push it to my hometown…really so I could see my mom,” the actor recently told etalk about why he fought to get his movie made where his roots are. “But Vancouver has some of the best production facilities in the world and I really wanted to be in Vancouver and be home.”