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Flying high on the work study experience

The Banff Centre’s Film & Media department recently worked on a promotional video for Banff Lake Louise Tourism, working with Aerial Filmworks and a helicopter-mounted Cineflex camera like the one used on BBC’s Planet Earth. We asked two of the F + M work studies to tell us about working on the project.  

As the videographer work study, working on the Banff Lake Louise Tourism shoot with Aerial Filmworks was an incredible learning opportunity not only because we got to see the helicopter film crew in action, but because Ron Chapple from Aerial Filmworks took the time afterwards to share his knowledge about shooting on the Cineflex camera. We actually got to push the control buttons and help him take it apart to see how all of the components work together. To see Chapple’s passion for the film industry was inspiring and I look forward to many more exciting project in the future. -Gina Lende

As the video editor work study I loved being a part of this aerial project because it got me out of my cave (edit suite), and into a fast-paced working environment. I still love to edit, but to have the opportunity to get out with the camera crew for a day was amazing. I learned that a lot of planning goes into this type of a shoot. Especially when dealing with helicopters, you need to utilize your location in a very short amount of time.  -Graham King

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Jill Barber’s The Poem Song onscreen


Jill Barber in the Hemingway Studio in 2012. Photo: Kim Williams.

Every now and then while producing for The Banff Centre, an opportunity comes up to work on something outside of the usual, something free and artistic. Resources are often limited with these projects, and it becomes an exercise in making the maximum possible with the least available. For example, when I worked on a music video for Jill Barber’s The Poem Song. I had 24 hours after meeting Jill to come up with a concept and prepare for the half-day shoot. It was tight, so I had to think instinctively about the visuals, follow my gut, and be a little daring. Jill had asked for something experimental, personal, and unique to the location, but other than that, all of the inspiration came from the music.

For the shoot, Tory Kendal, the videographer, and I filled the Hemingway Studio with as many lights as we could pull up the icy service road and worked with a Canon 7D and a vintage lens to get a nostalgic feel. Working with Sasha Stanojevic, the lead animator, we designed the inkblot effects and set about filming food dyes and bleach on various papers for the transition effects. One of the parts I really enjoyed with this video was making the drawings. It’s always been a part of my artistic practice and it’s been the foundation of my path into video.

This project was an unusual challenge. I’m used to taking myself on a process of artistic discovery that requires experimentation and trial as a part of development, but to take a team and three vfx/motion graphics guys on a process like this is quite different. It required a lot of very open discussion, trust, and patience but in the end I think we were able to pull off a delicate and detailed piece of work. Take a look for yourself.

Edwin Hasler, is a UK-based filmmaker who was here at The Banff Centre during 2011-2012 doing a work study residency as video producer with our Film & Media department. Singer / songwriter Jill Barber was here in early 2012 for a creative residency in our Leighton Artists’ Colony.

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The quotable Oliver Stone

Academy Award winning director Oliver Stone deep in conversation with Banff Centre Globe Canada correspondent Ian Brown from the recent Satire and Controversy event at The Banff Centre. Photo: Kim Williams.

Academy Award winning director Oliver Stone deep in conversation with Banff Centre Globe Canada correspondent Ian Brown during the recent Satire and Controversy event at The Banff Centre. Photo: Kim Williams.

It’s remarkable how quiet 950 people can be. Ian Brown’s introduction of Oliver Stone on Saturday night —“easily the most controversial filmmaker of our time,” “a recklessly outspoken left-wing provocateur” — was greeted with loud applause and wolf-whistles; but once his interview with Stone began, the sold-out Eric Harvie Theatre hushed.

It was so quiet, I found myself worrying that the scratching of my pen, as I took notes in the dark, was disturbing my seat mates. Herewith, my favourite Oliver Stone moments:

On his early life:“I was born Republican, raised conservatively in New York City. My father was an Eisenhower Republican. He was a soldier in World War Two. He despised Franklin Roosevelt, despised labour unions. That was the orthodoxy of my time.”

“I ended up in Vietnam, among other reasons, for patriotic reasons because I wanted to fight, like Tom Cruise said [in Born of the Fourth of July] ‘I want to do the right thing. I want to fight for my county.’”

On how Vietnam changed him:

“I went through the looking glass, so to speak, in Vietnam. And I think, ‘black is white and white is black.’ I was in shock. I was trashed out, burned. I’d seen so much — disgusting things. And beautiful things, by the way. However, the break point … [came in 1985]. We were in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Salvador and those places woke me up, because all of a sudden I said ‘come on’, you’re almost forty years old and you are seeing the same thing you saw in Vietnam. You are seeing the same soldiers walking around. These pink baby faces in tropical countries … and I said ‘you know, this is a repeat of Vietnam.’” Continue Reading →

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Cam Christiansen animates David Hare

An illustration from artist Éléonore Goldberg for the upcoming NFB film, 'Wall.'

An illustration from artist Éléonore Goldberg for Cam Christiansen’s upcoming NFB film, ‘Wall.’

Director and animator Cam Christiansen took over a computer lab here recently and turned the room into one-part horror scene from a Dexter episode and two-parts Slip ‘n Slide. His visit late last year allowed Christiansen time to explore with different and unusual techniques, like a set-up using water to distort paint strokes on a plastic surface. The aim of the experiment was to try and give life to changing graffiti on a concrete wall, the barrier between Israel and Palestine.

Christiansen is directing Wall, the National Film Board’s adaptation of a play by the same name by British playwright David Hare. Wall has been in the works for two years as Christiansen’s small team plays around with techniques like motion capture, illustration, photography, live action, and classic animation, with production set to wrap in 2014.



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Andres Wanner and his drawing robots

Andres Wanner builds robots. These robots do art. By this I mean that he attaches Sharpie pens to small robots on wheels, places them on a canvas and let’s them run through a series of pre-programmed movements. So far, so straightforward, but it becomes interesting when the robots bash into each other or into the sides of their pen, or just break and stop working for a while. This element of chaos is at the heart of Wanner’s work. The pictures that are left behind after the robots run out of battery power resemble broken Spirograph images — mathematically complex, but frayed at the edges with randomness.

We spoke to Wanner about his process during his residency at The Banff Centre last December. This audio piece combines interview with sound, with the little whirring voices of the robots chattering away as they go about their work.

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Film shares Indigenous communities’ wise practices and success stories

In the midst of Idle No More, Canada’s news machine and opinion pages have been filled with images, dialogue, debate, and, in my opinion, some frighteningly stereotypical characterizations of this land’s Indigenous peoples.

This video produced at The Banff Centre offers a refreshing perspective on contemporary Indigenous communities that have achieved success with economic and community development projects. It tells the positive stories of the persistence and hard work that have led to four very successful Alberta enterprises – Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park, Alberta Indian Investment Corporation, Metis Crossing, and Mikisew Group of Companies.

This 45-minute documentary video was produced by our Film & Media department. It was created during a two-and-a-half-year research project investigating wise practices in Indigenous communities in Alberta, led by Indigenous Leadership and Management at The Banff Centre and supported by Rural Alberta’s Development Fund and the Nexen Chair in Indigenous Leadership.

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