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Action! Gordon Bell students learn the essentials of filmmaking

June 16, 2022
Local filmmaker Roger Boyer was at the high school May 30 to June 3 to guide students through five one-hour sessions on the basics of film.

A group of Gordon Bell High School students were immersed in the art of filmmaking during a recent extracurricular workshop.

Local filmmaker Roger Boyer was at the high school May 30 to June 3 to guide students through five one-hour sessions on the basics of film.

Mr. Boyer’s films have screened at numerous festivals around the world, including the American Indian Film Festival, imagineNATIVE Film Festival, the Accra Indie Film Festival, the Native Spirit Film Festival and the Gimli Film Festival. He is a founder of both the Winnipeg Indigenous Filmmakers Collective and the Indigenous Film Summit. Mr. Boyer has been making films for over a decade.

“I’m just trying to give students a taste of each aspect of filmmaking—storytelling, scriptwriting, directing, camera work and editing,” Mr. Boyer said. 

The biggest advantage students have today when it comes to filmmaking is access to technology. Most cellular phones have more-than-adequate video cameras and there are a multitude of video editing options available online.

“When I was in high-school, I was interested in filmmaking, but I never had an outlet. No one around me even had a camera…so the biggest change has been in the technology,” Mr. Boyer said. “These days the kids have a lot more access to outlets for filmmaking. Having a phone is such a huge advantage…it’s right in your pocket.”

The benefit is especially empowering for underrepresented voices in film—such as Indigenous artists.

“In the last 10 years, I’ve seen the number of Indigenous filmmakers grow and again, that’s the advantage of the technology growing more accessible,” Mr. Boyer said. “The opportunity is there to push for more diverse storytelling…there’s so many stories in our community that have never been told.”

One of the goals of the weeklong workshop was for students to create their own short videos on any topic of their choosing.

Student Rejoice Lihoc chose to do a news format video, in which she interviewed Gordon Bell teachers and asked their advice for Class of 2022 graduates.

“My plan is for my fellow graduates to be able to watch this either on the evening of graduation, or maybe at the breakfast. Maybe it will be something next year’s grads can watch as well,” she said, adding that she found the workshop worthwhile. “I really like filming and editing videos, and I plan to use this in the future for something like a YouTube vlog.”

Grade 7 student Willa McPhail went with a short fictional narrative for her film.

“It’s about this girl who thinks there’s a monster in her closet,” she said. “It chases her all through the house and into the backyard, but it turns out to be her dog.”

Willa had tried her hand at acting previously.

“I’ve done a drama production before, and filmmaking was always just something I was interested in,” she said. 

Guidance counsellor Sandra Vieira said students have shown interest in learning more about film and television.

“A lot of students were asking about different jobs in the industry. We thought it would be great to have an Indigenous filmmaker from our own community come down and talk about how he got started, and what different jobs are available,” she said. “There are more jobs than just acting—there are so many jobs behind the scenes. There are lot of possibilities within the industry, so if students are interested, they just have to keep pursuing and working at it, and all things are possible.”

Gordon Bell staff hope to offer students an expanded filmmaking workshop opportunity to students in the fall.

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