Stanstead teens behind the camera
A handful of Stanstead teenagers are well on the way to making what’s sure to be an interesting and informative movie about life in a rural community, a project that’s now being supported by the National Film Board. Several of these young filmmakers
took some time out from their Saturday afternoon filming session with project manager Damon Cox for an interview with the Stanstead Journal.
Dylan Sisco, a grade six Sunnyside student who has lived in Stanstead all his life, has been with the project since the beginning, having been “recruited” at last summer’s BorderFest. “My mom said ‘Dylan, you’re going to do this’. I’d never worked a video camera before,” said Dylan who seemed quite comfortable handling one of the professional, high definition cameras being used for the project.
“I’ve seen a huge sense of discipline in Dylan when he’s handling the equipment and he took to it fairly quickly. He’s at a level now that I can tell him to go set up the camera and I don’t have to watch him,” commented Mr. Cox. Besides knowing how to operate the camera, Damon’s learnt about centering and framing shots and “to be quiet while I’m filming,” said the talkative youth.
“I heard some of my relatives talking about this movie and I thought it sounded like a good idea so I asked my sister to do it with me,” explained Sean Warren, a level one Galt student who moved to Stanstead three years ago with his family. He and his sister, level three Galt student Stephanie Warren, joined the film crew which also includes Daniel Dumont, Eve-Marie Fortier and Natasha Sisco Warner, about one month ago. “We started by just taking still pictures and then Damon showed us how to use the big camera,” he continued. “I’ve learnt how to zoom in and zoom out, how to get a closer view of a subject,” added Stephanie.
Although Stephanie and Sean find living in Stanstead a big change from Sherbrooke, they like their new hometown, an attitude not always shared by their contemporaries. “It’s a small place but it’s still a beautiful place and your friends are not so far away,” they agreed. “There’s a dichotomy of attitudes here in Stanstead. Some of their peers think poorly of the town, but they don’t,” mentioned Damon.
The 52 minute documentary movie will have as the main content interviews with young people about their experience growing up in a somewhat isolated, rural community. “We are looking at education, community morale and the socio-economic situation here and how those three main things have impacted their lives.”
Working with inexperienced teenagers, although essential to the project, has been challenging. “Each one of them is an individual with their own personality; some are strong-headed so it’s knowing how to reign that in. I’m enjoying getting to know these guys – they’re all intelligent and the fact that they even tried to do this is impressive. Now I’m trying to push them to ask questions, in general, and not to be afraid to ask the questions that make someone uncomfortable; that can lead to an opportunity,” commented Mr. Cox who continued: “I’m pleased that the young people I’m working with are people in this community who could make positive changes.”
Everyone working on the project is hoping that there will be a good turnout for the premiere of the movie in Stanstead this summer. “When we first started working on the movie someone asked ‘Why would anyone want to watch a film about Stanstead?’ But it’s not about this town but about how living in a small town impacts the people there and how what they do impacts the community. The goal is for these kids to get active and do something that can be shared with others.”
Sean Warren (left) sets up the tripod while Dylan Sisco readies the video camera for more filming, last Saturday, at the Stanstead Arts Centre.