Storyhive, a funding platform supporting independent filmmakers, has launched its first-ever Indigenous Storyteller Edition.
The Telus-supported platform describes the move as the beginning of a commitment to invest in the careers of Indigenous creators and help drive social change in the filmmaker production industry in Western Canada.
Award-winning documentary director, writer and producer — and Penticton Indian Band member — Tracey Kim Bonneau is on the Indigenous advisory council for the new platform.
Storyhive wanted to know what shape such a program should take so they brought together a group of Indigenous filmmakers, video makers and content creators last spring to put the question to them.
“I was part of that focus group,” said Bonneau. “One of the things that was important to us was to not have it as a contest. There are individuals, really good artists, possibly in rural and northern areas and the interior, may not have full access to the internet, and there may be some systemic barriers.”
Storyhive’s regular platform accepts votes for which projects should receive funding, but for the Indigenous Storyteller Edition, the selections will be made by an Indigenous jury. They will choose 20 projects that will receive a $20,000 grant through Storyhive, topped up by an up-to $5,000 grant from Creative B.C. in the case of B.C.-based projects.
Bonneau said students in the National Aboriginal Professional Artist Training Program at the En’owkin Centre at the Penticton Indian Band are excited about participating.
“This will be an amazing opportunity,” said Bonneau. “They (students) were telling me about it.”
It’s also, she said, a step to reversing the lack of Indigenous representation in the film industry, whether behind the camera or in front of it.
“These opportunities will build capacity that there is a level playing field in the industry because currently there isn’t one,” said Bonneau. “Our group is marginalized, we are not represented in those industries and there are a lot of barriers.
“This is one way of overcoming those barriers.”
Bonneau said there is a lot of catching up to do in terms of how Indigenous cultures and peoples are depicted.
“We have really powerful, interesting, absolutely authentic stories that we want to share with the rest of Canadians,” said Bonneau. “An edition like this creates a spark. It ignites the capacity building, for teams to come together. Once you start building a base, then that is when we start participating in the industry.”
Storyhive is looking for Indigenous creators from B.C. and Alberta to submit their short film idea, which can include a comedy, drama, animation, web series pilot or documentary between three to 10 minutes long. Creators who are at the beginning of their career, as well as more established creators, are all welcome to apply for this edition and bring their passion project to life.
“This could be your first film, this could be your first project,” said Bonneau, adding that the jury will be looking for support in terms of a production team that will help mentor new creators and carry the project through.
The Indigenous Storyteller Edition remains open for applications until Dec. 4. More information about how to participate can be found online at storyhive.com
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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