Three Victoria filmmakers have been awarded $20,000 each to spend the next six months producing documentaries that capture the stories of everyday heroes.
Through Telus Storyhive’s annual grant program, Gabriel Swift, B. Joel Cran and Erynne Gilpin will be highlighting three individuals who show what it means to adapt and grow in the face of difficulty.
The filmmakers represent three of 40 projects selected from 171 applications. They’ll also get mentorship, career training and a substantial platform to launch their final creations from.
Fire on Water
In Fire on Water, Gabriel Swift, 23, will be producing “an intimate portrait piece” on previous Olympic athlete Silken Laumann whose career should have come to a sudden end in 1992 when a rowing crash shattered her right leg. But Laumann’s story didn’t end there. In the years since, she has continued to be a role model and inspiration to others and recently launched a new story sharing platform called Unsinkable.
“We’re trying to showcase what she’s up to now,” Swift said. The film will be diving into Laumann’s new relationship with sport and her focus on gratitude.
For Swift, filmmaking is all about “elements of connection” – telling stories about the human spirit and the bond with the natural world. He believes documentaries, when done right, can have a significant impact on how people view and interact with the world.
“As a kid I was always interested in video, and specifically documentary,” Swift said, who was filming family vacations at age seven or eight.
Growing up, Swift said he always knew that he wanted to do something in the arts, but wasn’t any good at drawing or painting. “With cinematography the beauty is already out there. It’s just a matter of choosing the right lens and composition.”
Musician and writer B. Joel Cran will take a look at the Hey Neighbour initiative, which is working to build a “tiny town” crafted from shipping containers to provide shelter for some of Victoria’s unhoused population. The film will also explore “bigger concepts of Victoria’s ability to self fund one another within community, the effectiveness of capitalism serving marginalized communities, and the violence female leaders face when they step into this paradigm.”
Upon completion, the tiny town is expected to include 30 housing units, each 160 square feet with a bed, desk, hot plate, fridge and shared washroom facilites. It is part of the city’s plan to offer housing and shelter to everyone currently living in city parks by March 31.
In her film, Indigenous artist Erynne Gilpin will use Indigenous storied film methods to explore the life of Coast Salish artist Charles Elliott or “TEMOSEN”. Gilpin will show how Elliott’s carving practice is embedded in intergenerational knowledge, imagination and resistance.
“This film will showcase the impact Charles’ work has had on the community and how his work will guide the next generations forward,” the film’s description reads.
Find the pitch videos at storyhive.com.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story said B. Joel Cran’s documentary was I Prefer They. His documentary is Tiny Town.