Telling stories through photos and film
- Linda Mikolayenko | July 29, 2016
Images tell stories. Through photos and films, students at the Lac La Ronge Indian Band’s Senator Myles Venne School recently shared their stories with their classmates and the public at the Jonas Roberts Memorial Community Centre.
As part of the Communications Media 10 course, students participated in a PhotoVoice project and had the opportunity to create films.
“I like students to be exposed to as many art strands as possible,” says Lacey Eninew.
Eninew is concluding a two-year assignment at the school researching the use of arts-based methods to enhance health. For this latest project, she was joined by Janice Victor, formerly with First Nations University of Canada, and now with the University of Lethbridge. In addition, for two weeks in June, Saskatoon filmmaker Marcel Petit shared his expertise and guided the students in the production of four short films.
“I love being an artist,” says Petit, adding, “I love exciting people about art.”
Before the students got behind the camera, however, Petit went through the “boring stuff” about film – where it comes from, how it started, the history, and all the rules.
Then Petit told them to break all the rules – “No matter what I tell you.”
Working with limited time, and some rainy weather, the students paired up to create four films: a horror film called “One Night”, a re-creation of a scene from the movie “Reservoir Dogs”, a dramatization of a legend, “Wihtigo and the Wolf Spirit”, and a documentary on the behind-the-scenes making of the student films.
Petit assisted with the editing and fine-tuning. The challenge was “keeping it theirs, without making it Marcel’s”, he says.
PhotoVoice is a research method that uses photography as a medium for people to communicate and share something important about their community or life to others. It is a way for people to tell stories about their lives without using words, says Victor.
Students were given digital cameras and asked to take photographs on two themes: “A Sense of Place” and “A Good Life”. From the photos they took, five broad themes emerged: the land, culture, family, sports and feeling good.
For the exhibit, each student showcased three photos, two of their favourites, and a third chosen by the facilitators.
Kiana Bird had already had an interest in photography and filmmaking before enrolling in the course. Last December, she purchased a Nikon camera, but since the course, she has noticed that her photos are more professional.
“We learned about a lot of things that I did not know,” says Bird. “The rule-of-thirds, lighting, composition, shading.”
Bird had also experimented with film, creating a video about her school which she posted on YouTube. For this project, she played many roles – directing, filming and acting.
Eninew also invited Felipe Gomez, an independent filmmaker, to speak to the class. Gomez encouraged the students to “reach for the right people to ask for their advice and help, so that the learning curve is not so steep.”
“I was really impressed with the content they developed,” said Gomez. “I wish I was that aware at their age.”