21 min. 2013
short film by
Tara Lee Reddick & Ann Verrall
SYNOPSIS: Lauren has been working in the sex trade in Toronto. She suddenly returns to her small rural African Nova Scotian community after a five-year absence. Not even the funeral of her beloved grandmother had brought her back. Her child has been raised by her mother, Ardella. The harsh judgment of Ardella, makes Lauren want to stay in her grandmother’s empty house – a place that was always her sanctuary. But Ardella has sold the old house. In a fit of rage, Lauren takes off. She goes to her grandmother’s and discovers the new owner is a middle-aged white woman, Nadine, who is ripping the guts out of the house. Much to Lauren’s surprise, she discovers common ground with Nadine. The night Lauren spends in her grandmother’s house is not at all what she imagined.
with songs by
CAST: Tara Lee Reddick, Ann-Marie Kerr, Juanita Peters, Naijan David, Jamika Wellington
directed by Ann Verrall
written & produced by Tara Lee Reddick & Ann Verrall
cinematography Becky Parsons
production designer Lisa Tondino
editor Jackie Dzuba
costume designer Bonnie Archibald-Awalt
composer Dave Johnson
Filmed on location in the communities of Three Mile Plains and Jeddore, Nova Scotia
23 min. musical drama
Written by Tara Lee Reddick & Ann Verrall
in collaboration with the youth participants
Produced and Directed by Ann Verrall
On the shores of the Bay of Fundy a Mythical Chorus emerges from the natural elements – rock, earth and air. They embody the African Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaq spirits past, present and future. They have returned to the world because their history is being forgotten. In a small rural African Nova Scotian community, Gibson Woods, Jasmine and her friends are leaving to make it as performers in the city. Jasmine’s brother tries to convince them to stay because the community is dying. They won’t be held down by the weight of family and history. Their journey takes a sudden turn when they come to a detour sign, put there by the Mythic Chorus. They soon discover they are on a First Nations reserve where their van suddenly breaks down. Stranded at a garage, each of them comes to discover a deeper wisdom about the past and their connection to the community they now find themselves in.
Gibson Woods, a musical drama, was created in part through a TV Drama Academy, a 2-week summer camp program. The youth were involved in developing the script through an improvisation process. They also wrote some of the songs they sing and rap. One of the objectives of this project was to bring together Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotian youth from around the province to explore the historical connection between the two communities. When the Black Loyalists first came to Nova Scotia, the Mi’kmaq offered support, relationships formed and families grew. For the most part, there is very little written about this shared history.
Artist Statement • Gibson Woods
Created through the Shortworks: TV Drama Academy, a 2-week summer camp program
The idea of Gibson Woods grew out of my interest in making a film that brought together my two ways of working – writer/director of dramas and project director for youth video camps. I have been running video camps with youth from the Mi’Kmaq and African Nova Scotia communities. I wanted to create a new project that brought both communities together to learn, experience and participate in a dramatic production. I wanted to workshop a story and script with the youth involved, a process I had done for The Wait. The Wait was a two-year process. Gibson Woods was a two-week process but I started with a concept for the film, something I did not have for The Wait.
I came up with a basic concept: a group of youth from a rural African Nova Scotia community are traveling to Halifax to perform and end up stranded in a Mi’kmaq community. A Mythical Chorus of ancestral spirits returns to the world because the youth have lost their connection to the past.
The immense musical talent in the group meant that music creation and performance was a given. Three songs were created. Lyrics were inspired by Nova Scotian filmmakers’ Sylvia Hamilton, Sobaz Benjamin and Actor/playwright Tara Lee Reddick with rap verses written by the youth performing them (Seth Browning, Devon Taylor, Donnie Peters). The Shire Film Scoring created one song, plus the score. The song “I, I Love You”, sung in the van, was created entirely by the performers. The music for this song and the third song was created by Kyland Cain, one of the youth participants. Karleen Francis, Reeny Smith and Nzingha Millar were also instrumental in the song and music arrangement and design.
Some of the youth involved had been in previous video camps. Others got involved through a province-wide call for participants. Fourteen youth from across the province came together for 10 days in August, 2010 to workshop the concept into a script, create and record songs and take part in a 5-day film shoot. Through improvisation, discussions, workshopping scripted scenes, a script was created and continued to be revised even during the filming process. Tara Reddick was instrumental in the writing and workshopping process. Once the production began, she worked with the youth who were not on set while I was on set, reworking and prepping upcoming scenes.
The striking landscape played an integral part in creating the look, feel and story of the film. We were based in the beautiful Annapolis Valley. The Mythical Chorus “emerges” from the landscape of the Bay of Fundy, each representing an element: Rock, Air, Earth. “Rock” (Kira Sark), a Mi’Kmaq child, lives in the caves of the eroding cliffs along the shores of the Bay of Fundy. “Rock” speaks: “I am as ancient as the rock. I have watched over all these generations, survived European diseases…” “Air” (Reeny Smith) descending from the sky, sings: “For years upon years we have always been here…” “Earth” (Seth Browning) emerging from the sand, raps: “you offered us a place that we could raise our children on but all we got was rocks to start building on…”
Gibson Woods is a small rural community in the area, established by the Black Loyalists where the family of one of the participants lives. The lush green setting with the billowing willow tree and the remnants of an ancient wagon overgrown with wild roses, is the backyard of the “Earth’s” grandmother – Geraldine Browning.
In addition to the dramatic film, some of the youth created a short documentary about Gibson Woods, under the mentorship of Ariella Pahlke and Lis van Berkel. Discovering Gibson Woods which features interviews with Geraldine Browning and Scott Browning.
The process of making Gibson Woods was an experiment that took us all through a very challenging process. The constraints of time and the camp structure certainly had an impact on the experience and the outcome of the film. Looking back I am amazed at what we were able to accomplish. I am eternally grateful to the youth involved for their commitment and creative input and for all the adults who supported and contributed to the Gibson Woods film experience.
This Time Last Winter website
Directed by Ann Verrall
Co-written by Sarah Abbott & Ann Verrall
Produced by Sarah Abbott
created through the University of Regina Filmmaker in Residence Program
Distributor: Moving Images Distribution
This Time Last Winter: The Making Of
The Wait captures a moment in life we long for and dread. High school is over, summer is coming to an end and Jake must say goodbye to the girl he loves but can’t. Instead, he seeks out escape by any means necessary. In the chaos that follows plain cheese pizza becomes profound, freaking out becomes ordinary, and loosing yourself can eventually lead you home.
A downed fighter pilot runs in a panic through a field of long grass and dives for cover. He crawls on his stomach to reach a young girl who lies peacefully, dreaming. It is another round in a game of hide and seek and Elliot (12) is trying to get his sister Winifred (9) to play the game his way. When she refuses, he turns against her, determined to make her ‘IT’. As the game deteriorates, a conflict erupts and Winifred runs away. In order to find her, Elliot must leave behind his imaginary world and see his surroundings as his sister does. Rain creates a timeless story about the complexities of love and the magical moments that transform us when we least expect it.
Cast: Seamus Morrison, Michelle Robinson, Colleen Merlin, Ashton Bennett, Sarah Brianne,
Director of Photography: Stan Barua
Production Designer: Siân Morris Ross
Music: Hugh Marsh & Steven MacKinnon
• Poetry & Film 5, Saskatchewan Filmpool Coorperative
• Broadcast: CBC, Canadian Reflections & Atlantic Region
• ViewFinders International Film Festival for Youth, Halifax, NS
• FlickerFest, Sydney & Melbourne Australia
curated program: Best of the Canadian Film Centre’s WorldWide Short Film Festival
• Canadian Film Centre’s WorldWild Short Film Festival, Toronto
• Reel World Film Festival, Toronto
• Local Heros, Winnipeg, Edmonton
• Raindance, London, England
• Atlantic Film Festival, Halifax, NS
• Best Atlantic Short, Atlantic Film Festival, Halifax, NS
• Durham District School Board
• Halton District School Board
• Lambton-Kent District School Board
• Upper grand District School Board
• Toronto District School Board
• New Brunswick Dept. of Education
• Ottawa Public Library
• London Public Library
• Calgary Public Library