North Shore film earns notice
North Shore film wins prestigious award at Nickel Festival
Newfoundland filmmaker Justin Oakey, pictured above, is earning some accolades for his short film “Flankers,” which was shot in communities along the North Shore. Oakey has family roots in Northern Bay and wants to make movies that reflect Newfoundland’s culture.
It could be the smell of the salty air off the ocean or the close-knit relationships in a small town, but whatever the reason, Justin Oakey keeps enthusiastically returning to Newfoundland.
The 27-year-old St. John’s native has roots in Northern Bay, and spent a lot of time “around the bay” throughout his childhood.
Being in the calming atmosphere of outport Newfoundland is Oakey’s muse, and he used that inspiration for his most recent award-winning short film called “Flankers.” It was filmed in Ochre Pit Cove and Northern Bay.
His film has been shown at festivals all over the world, and shows how there are sometimes rivalries among fishermen from neighbouring communities in this province. But in the end, the rivalries are set aside when emergencies arise.
A graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto, Oakey has used his homegrown knowledge to capture the attention of audiences, especially in his home province.
Last month, “Flankers” screened during the final night of the Nickel Independent Film Festival in St. John’s and it received a lot of support. The film was one of two recipients of the People’s Choice award. It’s a feat Oakey is proud of, because filmgoers choose the winners.
“Flankers” debuted at the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax last year and gained momentum in places like Ireland and Scotland. It has been nominated for several awards in Canada, and one in Ireland as well.
His film mostly takes place around the Ochre Pit Cove wharf, a setting that gives a visual representation of what some of the smaller harbours in the province look like.
A lot of the acting was improvised, said Oakey. The actors, who were mostly professionals, kept the language simple and traditional.
There’s some profanity in the film, but Oakey has been told it demonstrates Newfoundland speech. He tried to keep the feel of the film as authentic as possible.
“A lot of my knowledge about the fishery may not be modernday knowledge,” he admitted. “I kind of grew up with it in the background. Heard it talked about my whole life.”
The idea of doing a script and film with a fisheries connection has been on his mind for years, and he finally had the funding to go ahead with it. A large percentage of what is seen in the film couldn’t have happened without donations.
“Friends, family, friends of the family,” Oakey said. “Everything besides labour and equipment, everything behind the scenes, everything else was graciously donated.”
Plans for the future
Oakey is in the process of mov- ing back to Newfoundland from Toronto and hopes to continue to bring stories of Newfoundland alive through his filmmaking.
“I want to help preserve Newfoundland culture,” he explained, noting he likes to hunt and go to the cabin rather than spend time in the city.
He was looking forward to finishing film school so he could get back to Newfoundland and reconnect with his roots. His next venture is likely going to be more of a challenge.
“Planning my next film, hoping it will be a full length,” Oakey said. “I am hoping to shoot it in Harbour Grace.”
Friends from Ontario are already on the list to come back and help with the next project because they loved their experience here working on “Flankers.”
To watch the short film “Flankers,” visit https://vimeo.com/132439890.
“I want to help preserve Newfoundland culture.” Justin Oakey
Justin Oakey’s short film “Flankers” was filmed in communities along the North Shore.
A still image of actor Joel Thomas Hynes from the award-winning short film “Flankers,” written and directed by Justin Oakey.
Justin Oakey (right) is the writer and director of “Flankers.”