Filmmaker Judith Pyke talks about her film Cracking Cancer. (Photo courtesy Dreamfilm Productions)

Filmmaker Judith Pyke talks about her film Cracking Cancer. (Photo courtesy Dreamfilm Productions)

Award-winning filmmaker deconstructs documentary process at public UVic lecture

Discovering Documentary: A Filmmaker’s Journey Through the Foundational Aspects of Documentary Making

An award-winning filmmaker will deconstruct the documentary process at a UVic talk Thursday evening that is open to the public.

As a writer, director, executive producer and show-runner, Judith Pyke has travelled from the frozen lands of the High Arctic to the scorching streets of Liberia to follow her storytelling passion. She has interviewed a myriad of people ranging from top scientists and international figures to village locals and renowned artists like Lou Reed, Philip Glass and Stephen King.

“Filmmaking is my passion so I am always excited about it,” said Pyke. “I’m always challenging myself to tell the best story possible.”

Pyke will discuss the key pillars to what she believes makes a strong documentary, using her last two films as primary samples: Cracking Cancer, which aired on the Nature of Things last year; and Inseparable, which aired on CBC as part of CBC Docs POV.

Inseparable – the story of a set of conjoined 10-year-old twin girls in Vernon, B.C. – won a Remi Award at the 51st Annual Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival, and has also been nominated for a Golden Sheaf Award in the “Documentary History and Biography” category at the Yorkton Film Festival. Her 2017 documentary Cracking Cancer received a Canadian Screen Award nomination for “Best Direction in a Documentary”.

As the 2018 Southam Lecturer in Journalism and Nonfiction for UVic’s writing department, Pyke has been commuting to UVic from Vancouver every Friday this semester to teach a one-off course about documentary filmmaking as part of the prestigious journalist-in-residence program.

While Pyke’s 50 students have had access to her 20 years of filmmaking experience over the last few months, Thursday’s talk will give the public a chance to see what goes into the process that has led Pyke to multiple awards.

“Some projects I work as a hired gun and some as an independent producer and director. Sometimes people will hire me to do a particular topic and other times I come up with the story on my own,” said Pyke. “It’s a mix of what I’m passionate about, and also what broadcasters are looking for. You get a commission when you are both on the same page.”

Cracking Cancer had Pyke in the role of a hired gun, directing and writing the film for Dreamfilm Productions. Inseparable was produced through her own company, Curious Features.

The academic path that Pyke took to get to where she is today began at UVic with an English degree before moving on to a graduate degree in Communications at Concordia and a Masters Degree in Political Science at York University.

“They are all relevant to what I do as a filmmaker,” said Pyke. “I loved going to UVic so it is really great to be back as an instructor. I’m basically teaching the course that I really wanted to take when I was there.”

The class has walked students through the documentary process from the initial idea for a film, through execution and completion of a film.

“The students are super keen and super bright. This group of students is really exceptional,” said Pyke of the class that wraps up the day after the public lecture.

After the class and talk wrap up, Pyke returns to Vancouver to dive back into juggling films and family.

“Balance is basically an impossible dream as a working mom. It’s a nice word. I like the sound of it,” said Pyke. “But having a kid has made me a better journalist. It makes me a better filmmaker. It is another way to connect with people.”

And documentary work is all about connecting with people.

“You have to take that first chance and reach out to people. Then you have to earn their trust. It is a process,” said Pyke. “I don’t think most people understand the amount of work that goes into a documentary.”

What: “Discovering Documentary: A Filmmaker’s Journey Through the Foundational Aspects of Documentary-Making”

When: Thursday, April 5, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Room 240, Human & Social Development Building, UVic

Admission is free and everyone is welcome.


 

keri.coles@oakbaynews.com

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

documentaryUVic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

(Photo courtesy Curious Features)

(Photo courtesy Curious Features)

Judith Pyke’s film, Inseparable – the story of a set of conjoined 10-year-old twin girls in Vernon, B.C. – won a Remi Award at the 51st Annual Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival, and has also been nominated for a Golden Sheaf Award in the “Documentary History and Biography” category at the Yorkton Film Festival.. (Photo courtesy Curious Features)

Judith Pyke’s film, Inseparable – the story of a set of conjoined 10-year-old twin girls in Vernon, B.C. – won a Remi Award at the 51st Annual Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival, and has also been nominated for a Golden Sheaf Award in the “Documentary History and Biography” category at the Yorkton Film Festival.. (Photo courtesy Curious Features)

Just Posted

Victoria-Swan Lake MLA Rob Fleming moves to the role of transportation minister in the NDP’s new cabinet. (B.C. government file photo)
Greater Victoria MLAs claim key roles in new cabinet

Transportation, Indigenous relations, children and family development ministries headed by locals

Victoria police are warning people after two Victoria residents fell victim to financial scams on Nov. 18 and 19. (Black Press Media File photo)
VicPD issues warning after two Victoria residents scammed $3,500

In both cases, the fraudsters were posing as financial services employees

Peninsula Panthers' owner and general manager Pete Zubersky questions the decision-making process leading to the suspension of play in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL). (Black Press Media File)
Peninsula Panthers’ owner questions process behind suspension of Junior B hockey action

Pete Zubersky does not understand actions of provincial body administering amateur sports

The old home at 785 Island Rd. is coming down as the developer was unable to find a feasible business case to save it. (Black Press Media File Photo)
With no takers to move old Oak Bay home, teardown begins

‘We tried a last hurrah,’ developer says

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes delivers the inaugural address at council’s swearing-in ceremony in November 2018. The ceremony included blessings from representatives of two Christian churches. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes delivers the inaugural address at council’s swearing-in ceremony in November, 2018. The ceremony included blessings from representatives of two Christian churches – a fact highlighted in a report released by the BC Humanist Associaton on Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
Christian-based prayer at inaugural Vancouver Island council meetings violates court ruling

Blessings violate Supreme Court decision that prayer in council is discriminatory

Penny Hart is emotional outside the Saanich Police Department as she pleads for helpt to find her son Sean Hart last seen Nov. 6 at a health institution in Saanich. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: Mother of missing Saanich man begs public to help find her son

Sean Hart last seen leaving Saanich mental health facility Nov. 6

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Haven Daley)
POLL: Do you think the current COVID-19 restrictions should continue beyond Dec. 7?

One week into the new restrictions to curtail the spread of the… Continue reading

Gracie couldn’t stop nursing from her previous owner’s goats which was problematic given the goats were trying to be dried out to breed. Gracie now lives at A Home for Hooves. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Cowichan animal sanctuary gets international accreditation

A Home for Hooves farm sanctuary accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries

North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney has spoken out about some veterans losing their Dimished Earning Capacity income. (Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror photo)
Blaney pens letter to minister about veteran supports

Concerned about veterans losing some income

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

Port McNeill councillor Derek Koel busts a rap to help promote the town’s active transportation plan. (Facebook video screenshot)
VIDEO: Vancouver Island councillor makes rap video to promote active transportation plan

Active transportation is a personal matter for councillor Derek Koel.

FILE – A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample during an antibody testing program at the Hollymore Ambulance Hub, in Birmingham, England, on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Pool via AP)
Want to know if you’ve had COVID-19? LifeLabs is offering an antibody test

Test costs $75 and is available in B.C. and Ontario

Most Read