The Valley Wire
‘An art to simply listening to people’
Creative Action Digital Video is bringing personal stories to life
Kimberly Smith calls himself a “storyteller for hire.”
For more than a quarter century his production company, Creative Action Digital Video, has been helping local people and nonprofit organizations tell their stories to the world.
“There is an art to simply listening to people, understanding what their story is and then helping them express it,” Smith says.
After many years in the film and entertainment industry, Smith made what he says was a “counter-intuitive move” in 1997 by launching his own video production company in Canning. At the time he was a member of the Directors Guild of Canada and was ascending the industry ladder.
“This allows me to do what I love doing, while also performing a service for the community here in the Valley.”
Since then, he has produced, written and directed countless videos for a wide range of clients, many from the non-profit sector. The productions range from small projects that can be shot in a few hours to more complex projects with shooting at a number of locations. Clients include Literacy Nova Scotia, Acadia’s S.M.I.L.E. Program, Annapolis Valley Learning Association and the Alexander Society for Inclusive Arts, to name only a few.
“I’m able to bring the knowledge I’ve picked up from the Hollywood folks and make it accessible here in my community.”
Smith’s career in the entertainment sector began at York University, where he obtained a bachelor of fine arts in theatre performance. He began as an actor and it was while working on set for movies and television that he was increasingly drawn to the technical work being done behind the scenes.
“I’d be really curious about what was happening with the camera and I ended up just staying around after I did my acting scenes, watching how things were being done.”
While he honed his technical skills, Smith made his directorial debut with a St. Catharines theatre company called PROPS – Plays Reflecting Ordinary People Surviving. The plays were about 30 minutes in length and the subject matter was sombre: domestic violence, suicide, alcoholism and aging.
“We performed these plays for free around the St. Catharines area and there would be social workers in the wings,
taking referrals after the show,” Smith recalls. “It was the first time I’d done theatre as a community building and healing process. I was hooked.”
Smith and his family moved to Nova Scotia in 1989.
He continued working in film, but the travel demands, especially after the birth of his son, made work in the film industry increasingly less appealing.
Directing community oriented videos, by contrast, brought great personal and professional satisfaction.
One 17-minute film, Severe Brain Injury Recovery; Shooting For the Stars, tells the story of three Valley residents living together and helping each other through the lifelong process of recovery.
The film was entered in more than 40 different film festivals around the world and won five awards.
“There are some really beautiful stories to tell here,” Smith says. “These are stories about people taking care of each other.”