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Exploring Canada’s parks in film and music

Exploring Canada’s parks in film and music

[photo of Ryan, Geoff and Joel of FilmCAN] L-R: Ryan, Geoff, and Joel

In March, three Queen’s alumni - Ryan Noth, Artsci’01, Joel McConvey, and Geoff Morrison, both Artsci’02 - screened their latest film at the Kingston Canadian Film Festival.

The National Parks Project: Gros Morne is an audiovisual tribute to the beautiful Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland. The film is the first in a series that takes film crews and musicians on an artistic exploration of parks across Canada.

After graduation from Film Studies, Ryan and Geoff started FilmCAN, an online journal devoted to the promotion and criticism of Canadian cinema (www.filmcan.org)

Joel, an English grad, began contributing to the web site, which developed into an interactive hub, offering podcasts and Canadian feature films for sale via download.

With funding from Telefilm Canada, the FilmCAN team partnered with Parks Canada to create a multimedia series exploring Canada’s parks. The series aimed to explore the elemental ways in which Canada’s cultural imagination is shaped by the country’s natural spaces.

The National Parks Project: Gros Morne was originally intended as a test shoot for the proposed series, but has become a success in its own right. The film made its debut at the Rotterdam Film Festival in The Netherlands, and was screened at festivals in Calgary and Montreal before making its way to Kingston. It’s also part of the official line-up at the 2010 Hot Docs festival in Toronto.

The 43-minute film includes an improvised musical score provided by Dale Morningstar and Andrew Whiteman (of Apostle of Hustle and Broken Social Scene fame.) At some screenings of Gros Morne, the filmmakers recruited local musicians to play along with the film. Ryan recorded all of these events, and is now assembling a new score from pieces of all the live performances.

Geoff and Ryan talked to film buffs at the Kingston Canadian Film Festival about the perils of filming on location at a “Fearless Filmmaking” workshop at the Kingston Canadian Film Festival. “We shared some woeful stories about our production - like losing a pair of wireless microphones when a canoe capsized,” Geoff says.

This spring, the FilmCAN team begins production on a TV series about the National Parks Project, to air on Discovery HD in Spring 2011. The series will feature more than 50 artists in 13 parks across Canada, one in each province and territory. With a bigger budget, the filmmakers can now send out film crews and musicians out on location to each park. Each shoot will actually have two crews. The first crew will shoot the film and create music at each park, and the second will be documenting the work of the first crew. The first shoot is scheduled for late May, at Gwaii Haanas National Park, in BC’s Queen Charlotte Islands.

[Queen's Alumni Review 2010-2 cover]