BY WENDY ELLIOTT
Kings County Advertiser/Register
Both African Nova Scotian and First Nations youth were invited to the two-week long camp. Each was called upon to contribute to a 22-minute film, Shortcut.
Written, produced and directed by Ann Verrall of Halifax, Shortcut will be a fusion of a rap musical and a drama; using humor, dance and music to tell a story that explores the layered complexities of the cultural/ racial divides in Nova Scotia. It is also about what happens when youth from different cultural communities are forced to deal with each other.
The youth were involved in an extensive workshop process that covered screen and songwriting, developing characters, exploring story ideas and improvising scenes. Two of the 17 were older, says Verrall, and took on a mentorship role.
Two local youth were involved: Seth Browning, whose father is from Gibson Woods, and C.J. Brooks of Kentville, as one of the mentor participants.
Shooting took place in Gibson Woods, the Ross Creek area and Kingsport. Editing and postproduction work will take probably until March.
Most of the crew was from Halifax. The assistant director came from Regina; the cinematographer used to live in Halifax, but is now based in Toronto. Tara Reddick, in The Two Planks and a Passion Theatre’s production of The Crucible this summer, was the acting coach, working with the youth off set.
Working with groups of young people on video projects is a major focus of Verrall’s.
“This project is different, in that it is the first time I combined my drama-based filmmaking with the community workshop process.”
She has done seven video camp projects before this, five with the African/ Nova Scotian community, one with a First Nations community in Cape Breton and one with First Nations students in Regina.
“I am also returning to Regina in the fall to do another project,” Verrall says.
Sponsors of the Ross Creek project included the Canada Council for the Arts, the Centre for Art Tapes, William F. White, the CBC Broadcast Fund, the Department of Education and the African Canadian Services Division.