The Prince George Citizen - - 97/6 - 97/16 STAFF

There are few uni­ver­sal traits among cul­tures, but sto­ry­telling is one of them. Re­gard­less of which First Na­tion across Canada you be­long to, or from which an­ces­try you are de­scended, the telling of sto­ries is a foun­da­tional re­al­ity.

In a thou­sand years, that will still be true, which is why Noir­foot Nar­ra­tive Labs was in Prince Ge­orge ear­lier this month. This ini­tia­tive puts In­dige­nous peo­ple in touch with the most mod­ern of sto­ry­telling gen­res: film­mak­ing. Teach­ing the skills of cin­ema pro­vides power to col­lect and dis­sem­i­nate in­for­ma­tion to any­one who wants to know. One no longer needs to be a Hol­ly­wood in­sider to use the film­mak­ing medium. The tech­nolo­gies and hard­ware are read­ily avail­able, but the know-how isn’t al­ways avail­able or in­tu­itive.

One of those Hol­ly­wood in­sid­ers was in Prince Ge­orge to help pass on these skills to grass­roots sto­ry­tellers of the fu­ture. Grace Dove rock­eted for in­ter­na­tional fame in the movie The Revenant, then car­ried her fame deeper in the Net­flix hit movie How It Ends, and is now the star in the up­com­ing film ver­sion of the best­selling novel Mon­key Beach.

How­ever, Dove is also a Prince Ge­orge in­sider. She is Tsq’es­cenemc First Na­tion (CAnim Lake, near 100 Mile House) by her­itage, raised at Salmon Val­ley in Lhei­dli T’en­neh ter­ri­tory here in this city. She is a grad­u­ate of Kelly Road Sec­ondary School where she was a stand­out in the drama depart­ment.

It is the third time in the past month that Dove has trav­elled to Prince Ge­orge to take part in men­tor­ship ses­sions. Each time she gets in some vis­its with fam­ily and friends, but this is a busy part of the au­di­tion sea­son for the film in­dus­try, so she has to quickly re­turn to Los An­ge­les and Van­cou­ver for a heavy sched­ule of meet­ings and read­ings lead­ing to­wards fu­ture roles.

“It’s very re­ward­ing,” she said. “I was in L.A. just a few months ago lit­er­ally liv­ing my dream and do­ing what I had al­ways imag­ined. There was one day where I had three au­di­tions in the one day.”

That may not sound like “the dream” to which most young ac­tors as­pire. Most cut the cor­ner straight to their face on the sil­ver screen. For Dove, the dream is be­ing a work­ing ac­tor, not a celebrity. For Dove, the dream is the job and the job is 90 per cent au­di­tions.

These au­di­tions each come with their own form of stress. Each one is a miniper­for­mance re­quir­ing cos­tume, char­ac­ter­i­za­tion, and de­liv­er­ing lines, all for some­one’s judg­ment. (And it is hard enough just get­ting to three places in one day in the ocean of traf­fic that is Los An­ge­les, let alone get­ting into three com­pletely dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters, each one rep­re­sent­ing a po­ten­tial ca­reer erup­tion.)

“It was for three leads of three pi­lots, and I had to learn 30 pages of dia­logue. It was so com­mit­ted, fully. I knew that if I did that, that’s all I can do, give it ev­ery­thing I’ve got, and then you’ve got to let it go.

“That hus­tle was just as I’d al­ways dreamed it, and in that mo­ment I had to stop for a sec­ond and cel­e­brate that win not book­ing the role, but just get­ting that far, just be­ing there in that op­por­tu­nity.”

She is land­ing good roles, though. Play­ing op­po­site For­est Whi­taker and Theo James in key seg­ments of How It Ends, and be­ing the love in­ter­est of Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant have seen to the in­ter­est she’s get­ting from casting di­rec­tors, and that is go­ing to in­crease again when Mon­key Beach re­veals her abil­i­ties as a lead ac­tor.

Mix in some piv­otal pub­lic ap­pear­ances like a TED Talk and at We Day, guest spots on the tele­vi­sion se­ries Coy­ote’s Crazy Smart Sci­ence Show, her host­ing du­ties for the ad­ven­ture sports re­al­ity show Un­derEx­posed and it’s easy to see her value as a men­tor to lo­cal youth and Abo­rig­i­nal cul­tures look­ing for ex­am­ples to look to­wards.

In this case, Dove is one of the pro­fes­sion­als brought in by Noir­foot Nar­ra­tive Labs to teach a guer­rilla sem­i­nar in how to make films.

“We are do­ing a 72-hour film com­pe­ti­tion, so we are ac­tu­ally mak­ing a high qual­ity short-film,” she ex­plained. “We are start­ing from the very be­gin­ning, writ­ing it our­selves and film­ing it. So that’s why we are do­ing 12-hour days and we will be done by the end of the week­end. We split into two teams of about 12. In our group we only have one youth and the rest are adults.”

She knows what that means. It is highly sug­ges­tive that In­dige­nous peo­ple are anx­ious to say what’s on their mind, and doc­u­ment their re­al­i­ties. Young peo­ple are typ­i­cally in­ter­ested in film­mak­ing be­cause they want to pur­sue it as a pro­fes­sion, be that as an ac­tor or set-builder or cos­tume de­signer or film ed­i­tor, or any of the many trades within the in­dus­try. But adults dive in to ac­quire film­maker skills be­cause they have some­thing im­por­tant to say and film is a way they hope to say it.

“My friend is mak­ing (the movie Por­traits From A Fire) in the Wil­liams Lake area, said Dove (it is a co-pro­duc­tion by Trevor Mack, Kate Kroll, and Ry­lan Fri­day). He is from the Chilcotin area. He’s based in the Van­cou­ver film in­dus­try now. Imag­ine com­ing from the Chilcotin, train­ing for 10 years to be a film­maker, then get­ting to go back to com­mu­nity and make a film. That’s most In­dige­nous film­mak­ers’ dream, to tell their sto­ries on their land. That’s what he’s do­ing, that’s what we did with Mon­key Beach, and that’s what we’re set­ting out to do (with Noir­foot Nar­ra­tive Labs). I think a lot of peo­ple in our groups here have never been able to learn film­mak­ing even though they’ve been in­ter­ested their whole lives. That’s what I’m hear­ing. And it’s adults. And we are teach­ing them.”

Noir­foot Nar­ra­tive Labs has been con­duct­ing crash cour­ses in film­mak­ing for In­dige­nous and other marginal­ized or un­der­rep­re­sented com­mu­ni­ties since 2016. Their Prince Ge­orge sem­i­nar was sup­ported by Telus’s Sto­ryHive pro­gram.

97/16 file photo

Ac­tress Grace Dove and her par­ents at UNBC in March 2016.

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