Get to know the CBC New Indigenous Voices class of 2019

Presented by the National Screen Institute – Canada (NSI)

Bethany Fontaine, Isaac Kakegamic, Avery Kewistep, Kane Kirton; Bottom, from left: Chyann Maracle, André Nault, Marissa Stevenson, Celeste Sutherland, Kale Swampy

Top, from left: Bethany Fontaine, Isaac Kakegamic, Avery Kewistep, Kane Kirton; Bottom, from left: Chyann Maracle, André Nault, Marissa Stevenson, Celeste Sutherland, Kale Swampy

Our CBC New Indigenous Voices 2019 students recently began the 14-week training course in Winnipeg. As they settle in and get to know each other, we asked them about their backgrounds, interests and what they hope to get out of the course.

André Nault

André Nault

Hello! We’ve been asked to introduce ourselves. So that’s uncomfortable.

Film and television is still fairly new to me, having spent my [professional] time so far in live events. That changed last summer when I had the opportunity to work on CBC’s Burden of Truth. It was eye-opening to say the least. Seeing Winnipeg on screen was wonderful and gave me the idea that I can maybe, just maybe, make a go of storytelling right here.

Winnipeg has always been my home. When thinking about telling stories that mattered to me, my understanding of my Métis heritage stood out as something I needed to explore. That exploration brought me to the National Screen Institute and the CBC New Indigenous Voices program. The staff have been wonderful in providing a culturally sensitive environment and we have busied ourselves filling it with laughter and love (and a healthy amount of memes).

Everyone struggles in their own way to find their voice. For the fortunate who do find it, it can be a new beginning. My hope in joining the talented participants in this year’s program is to surround myself with folks that will support and nurture each other’s vision; who will say “yes” to the ideas bouncing off the wall, silly or not. I’m glad to have found exactly that.

The amount of talent in this room is truly heartening. Each participant has a drive to improve that inspires me daily. Editors, graphic artists, sound and camera techs and writers, each bringing their unique eye, will no doubt produce some wonderful short films.

Going forward, I hope to pursue work in documentary film. I have always loved helping others tell their stories and there are many stories left to tell here in Manitoba. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to share in this training.

Kane Kirton

Kane Kirton

I am a Métis filmmaker from Winnipeg, Manitoba. I grew up in foster care from an early age. I was not in a good place at first, but my godfather fostered myself and my sister and we lived in Falcon Lake for four years. From there we moved to the North Kildonan area of Winnipeg. As a family we travelled around North America in our camper trailer. I started taking pictures with my Canon T3i and would take pictures of wildlife and the beautiful scenery we encountered.

Growing up I struggled with social anxiety and never knew what I wanted to do. I felt I never had a voice. I started out in a high school film program at Argyle Alternative High School where I was exposed to the world of filmmaking and found my voice.

In the program I directed three films: Blood Memory, Realm and Miranda’s Story. Blood Memory won best student film and best director at the Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival. It also won best film and best director at the Cowichan Aboriginal Film Festival. It screened at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco and aired on APTN.

After high school I continued my training at Vancouver Film School, graduating from the film production program in June 2017. In this intensive program I learned all aspects of making a film.

Returning to Winnipeg, I was quickly picked by Frantic Films as a production assistant, and KonoFilms as a camera operator and editor. I then worked with Rajotte Productions as a camera operator, editor and technical director at Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival.

I thought CBC New Indigenous Voices would help me learn how to access funding for my projects. I am working fairly regularly but have not been able to access funding for some short films I would like to do. I believe I will learn more about this process and I need to speak better to pitch my ideas.

I have had many great opportunities in the local film industry. I’ve worked as a production assistant, grip, gaffer, production design assistant, camera operator, editor and sound mixer. Although I enjoy using my technical skills for these departments, my true calling is storytelling.

My goals are to write and direct films and the CBC New Voices program is a step in that direction.

Bethany Fontaine

Bethany Fontaine

Aniin, Boozhoo. Hello, my name is Bethany Fontaine. I am a 23-year-old Indigenous filmmaker and video editor from Winnipeg, Manitoba. I am a member of Sagkeeng First Nation and am proud of my Ojibwe heritage. My mother is Ojibwe, born and raised in Sagkeeng and my father is German from Winnipeg.

My path started with a documentary I filmed and edited about residential schools when I was 14 that went into the Winnipeg School Division. From there, I pursued broadcasting and video.

Notable among my work so far was editing a music video for the song Heart of Gold, a rendition of the famous Neil Young song, by the band Midnight Shine. I’ve also edited various videos, like promos and weddings, and have done a few short student films as well. Currently I continue to work in live broadcasting at Assiniboia Downs while pursuing filmmaking and editing other projects.

I applied to CBC New Indigenous Voices because of my interest in pursuing a career in the film industry and, being from a broadcasting background, I needed that foot in the door which it has already given me.

The industry presenters and the connections we have been introduced to have been incredibly valuable and helpful in finding direction in the industry. My fellow classmates and friends have been so fun and enjoyable to learn with. I am so excited to create our films, and future films, with them.

As for my goals forward from here, I hope to keep pursuing editing, improve my work and eventually establish myself as an editor or picture editor. I would also like to spend more time on film sets, and even make my own films, personal projects or documentaries in Winnipeg.

Celeste Sutherland

Celeste Sutherland

I am an Indigenous children’s book illustrator, graphic designer and aspiring filmmaker. I am from Opaskwayak Cree Nation but have lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba for most of my life.

Ever since I was a kid I was always creative. Doodling hamster doodles in my binder in sixth grade was the start of my artistic journey. I have been drawing traditionally since I was a kid, before switching over to drawing digitally in high school. To improve my skills I entered many comic competitions for fun where I learned about composition, storytelling and character design.

In 2013 I was introduced to a local filmmaker, Sonya Ballantyne (CBC New Indigenous Voices, NSI IndigiDocs), who asked me to create artwork for her film Crash Site. Later I was asked to create a poster for the film. This opened up many opportunities for me. People saw the poster and asked me to design their posters too. This is how I got into creating monthly posters for The Decolonizing Lens, a Winnipeg event series featuring the works of Indigenous filmmakers with a Q&A afterwards. Every month, I watch the films that I have created posters for. It inspired me to one day create a film myself.

I continued with graphic design for another year before applying to Red River College. I got into the digital media design course that teaches 3D animation, web design, graphic design, and video and motion graphics. I took extra interest in film and motion graphics so decided to major in those courses for my next term.

In January 2019 I published my first children’s book, Kerry Berry Lynn, about a young Indigenous girl who has seven dogs that she thinks of as her siblings. It’s a happy story that teaches Cree in a fun way. It’s available at FriesenPress, Amazon, Chapters and McNally Robinson. My writer (Sonya Ballantyne) and I hope to make it into a series. I also have plans to publish another children’s book I wrote recently called Barry Decides to Go Home about a city polar bear going home to the Arctic to visit his family with his best friend, a cat named Darcy.

I take pride in storytelling and hope to one day bring my ideas to film. I was recommended to sign up for CBC New Indigenous Voices and heard very good things about the program. I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more about filmmaking before going back to school in the fall. So far I’m having an amazing time and learning a lot. I’m aiming to get into the art department when this program ends.

Marissa Stevenson

Marissa Stevenson

I am a young Métis woman born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

My interests are art, painting, sketching/doodling – anything in a creative form. I love animals, especially my pets. Music keeps me pretty sane. My friends are a solid part of my life but of most importance is my family. They’re all so interesting because they all have stories to share with me.

Growing up I was always artistic but as I get older I find myself constantly thinking of perceptions in life. I love reading and hearing or seeing stories in life that I wish I could bring to life through film. I hope one day to tell a story from the visual stance of someone else or myself.

Sisler High School was great but Technical Vocational High School opened my eyes to greater potential. I thought I would be working in broadcast as a reporter and have all the questions for people I would interview. I started working at Assiniboia Downs as a simulcast operator, then trained in South Tower, hand-held, e-photo, main camera, race patrol and graphics. Somewhere in the middle of being part of broadcasting and working at Assiniboia Downs I started to feel like I could do a lot more things with the camera, creatively. Just recently I got my hands on a camera and have been shooting scene work with people taking acting classes.

I applied to CBC New Indigenous Voices because I have ideas, visions and stories I want to share but have never known the proper way to go about it. I believe taking this course will help me write, pitch and actually get myself in a different position than I was a few years ago with the same ideas.

I also believe, once taught properly about the film and television industry, I’ll become more confident to pursue my ideas as well as others.

If I could pick a career in this industry I would say camera operator because I see things every day and try to recreate imagery the way I see it. I’ve never really thought about any other department because, before this program, I didn’t realize how many departments there were. I’m considering going into the art department if not camera, as well as being a director.

Before this program started I was really nervous (like everyone else, I’m sure) so when I showed up on the first day I remember feeling unsure. As laughs happened and the comfort settled in after a few days, I felt like I’d known the group for a long while. We’re all so different and have something unique to bring but, in the same way, we’re all connected by stories of some sort. Learning the industry with this group of people is inspiring, motivating, influential and moving. It’s definitely an experience I won’t forget.

Kale Swampy

Kale Swampy

Nindizhnikaaz, Niizh Manidog Anishinaabe Nindaw. Sagkeeng Nindonji.

I am a Two-Spirit Anishinaabe from Sagkeeng, Manitoba.

My passions include language and culture revitalization, spending time community organizing, visiting elders, youth mentorship and keeping teachings and histories alive through art and storytelling.

As an Anishinaabe, storytelling is vital to our culture and way of life. Through oral histories our peoples kept the stories of creation, our peoples migration and Mino Bimaadiziwin (The Good Life) alive from the beginning of creation to today. It is our role, as the current generation, to listen to the older generations, learn their ways of knowing and teach them to future generations.

I heard about CBC New Indigenous Voices through friends who are alumni of the program. I heard many good things about the program from the Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Collective and thought I would give it a try.

Coming into the program I’m excited to learn the tricks of the trade when it comes to bringing our stories into the world of film and showbiz in a respectful way following traditional protocols. Furthering my career and growing my gift as a storyteller, I plan on sharing my skills and the tools learned in this program with Indigenous communities such as my own to find the voices and stories of these peoples.

Isaac Kakegamic

Isaac Kakegamic

I was born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I am a screenwriter, author and director. I have a passion for writing, creating stories and enjoying what I can get out of life.

Thunder Bay and the surrounding area are my stomping grounds. The long highways, scary plane rides and isolated reservation my family called home were all the familiar things I grew up with. I grew up always within sight of the Sleeping Giant across the bay. I highly recommend looking upon him at least once in your life.

Filmmaking wasn’t the first career idea I had in mind when I was small. I always wanted to be a doctor. Throughout my life, helping others through stories and inspiration is what I can do with the skill set I’ve acquired.

My first exposure to filmmaking was in high school: talking about movies with friends, critiquing movies and exploring the idea of trying our hand at making our own film, all without the knowledge to meet those challenges. This inspired me to look further into filmmaking and what goes into making a story for the screen.

This led me to theatre where I got an idea of what it’s like to live in the arts world, how to work with actors as an actor and how to weave a story in a concise way.

During my time performing in theatre I built a set of skills that allowed me to guide others from behind a camera. This led me to an independent film school called Weengushk Film Institute.

Weengushk was different from other film schools I’d heard about. There were little, if any, theory portions because it’s part of the process to simply learn on the fly. I learned many of the ins and outs of filmmaking, how to bring a story to screen and what goes into the process.

That path brought me all the way to the National Screen Institute where I bring much of what I’ve already learned in theatre school and at Weengushk.

The reason I applied for CBC New Indigenous Voices was [because of] the limited opportunities in my home province. I was also told that Winnipeg is a rising spot in the film and television industry.

Overall, what I hope to get out of the program is a foothold in Winnipeg’s [growing] film and television industry as it’s reasonably close to my hometown of Thunder Bay. It [may] be a good jumping off point for my career as a storyteller in the modern age. I am an Indigenous writer but I also don’t allow that to be my complete identity. I desire to be my own person, telling stories to inspire others and giving new generations a voice to be proud of.

Avery Kewistep

Avery Kewistep

I’m a 21-year-old Saulteaux man from Fishing Lake, Saskatchewan.

Ever since my first experiences with filmmaking in high school I’ve always been interested in learning more about what it means to be a storyteller and how everything works behind a camera.

After attending the University of Saskatchewan for four years and having the ability to learn in different areas, I again found my passion for film and the arts. In drama I started enjoying my time working with lights and sound and how it helped my spirit telling stories with shadows and sounds that aren’t just human voices. With the loss of Saskatchewan’s tax credit for film, it’s been challenging trying to hone my skills.

When I heard about CBC New Indigenous Voices through my dad I knew this would be an amazing opportunity to get back into the realm of where I want to be.

Reading through the course itinerary, I am very excited to learn all the various jobs and opportunities that filmmakers have in Manitoba and throughout Canada. The major factor was that the course also has a focus on working in other areas of film such as lighting, sound, camera and class work that [also provides information on writing and directing] even if your background is not in those areas.

Coming from out of town to a place where film is part of the culture is really refreshing.

After completing the program, I wish to use the knowledge and connections I make to help tell stories and establish a similar culture for new filmmakers like myself.

Chyann Maracle

Chyann Maracle

She:kon! Hello!

My name is Chyann Maracle. I love board games, storytelling and stargazing. I’ve got two lizards (Basil and Alice) and I was that kid in grade three who got separated from her friends for talking too much.

I grew up on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, a reserve in Ontario about three hours east of Toronto, but I’ve been living in the city for the past five years attending Sheridan College for a bachelor’s degree in film production.

While I was in school I made a ton of short films and some short documentaries. I was lucky enough to make a deal with CBC and have my own documentary Urban Gold shown nationally on the show Absolutely Toronto. I also developed and shot the first two episodes of a web series that’s very close to my heart called The Night Shift.

Beyond school and film, I love theatre, cooking and surfing Petfinder to look at dogs I know I can’t own (allergies). I am a stamp maker, performer, analog filmmaker and photographer who develops things in her bathroom, and a lover of romantic comedies and horror films.

I initially applied to CBC New Indigenous Voices as a sort of calculated risk. I received a link to the program in my email three days before the deadline. The absolute terror of impending graduation combined with the stress of school led me to take a chance on possibly moving to a city that was a five-day drive away to pursue something I knew about in a completely different cultural context: my own. I wanted to learn and share stories with other Indigenous youth like myself, to gain mentors who appreciated and explored their culture within the broader context of the filmmaking community. Through this course I hope to explore that.

I want to create a stronger connection between my Indigenous identity and my identity as a filmmaker. I want to work with other young people like myself so we can learn from one another what the experience of the young Indigenous filmmaker is now and explore what it could be in the future.

My career is fairly young but I know as I go forward in the industry I would love to work as a commercial and documentary cinematographer. I’d like to use my skills to help others share their stories visually and let them be heard. I’ve been fortunate to work on several documentary sets over the past two years, and the energy, teamwork and flexibility is something I find very appealing.

I am thrilled to be working with the CBC New Indigenous Voices group this year. Having spent a few weeks together I know everyone is very talented, and our diverse backgrounds mean new knowledge is shared all the time. I count myself as very lucky to be here and to have met these people, and I’m very excited to share what we produce this summer with everyone.

• • •

CBC New Indigenous Voices is a 14-week, full-time, culturally-sensitive training course offering exposure to a variety of creative and challenging employment opportunities in film, TV and digital media. Minimum wage is paid throughout.

CBC New Indigenous Voices is funded by Title, Presenting and Tuition Sponsor CBC; Program Partners Manitoba Sport, Culture & Heritage, the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development (CAHRD) and Telefilm Canada; Supporting Sponsors Corus Entertainment, Super Channel and CBC Gem; Provincial Sponsor Manitoba Film & Music; Industry Partner the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC); Industry Supporters IATSE Local 856 and imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival; and Service Sponsor William F. White. NSI Core Funders are Manitoba Sport, Culture & Heritage and the City of Winnipeg through the Winnipeg Arts Council.

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