Need proof of the impact of the Department of Writing‘s film production courses? Just look to the 2015 Leo Award nominations, where films by Writing faculty and alumni received a combined 26 nominations—a staggering number for a university that doesn’t technically have a film production program.
Clearly, the Writing department is punching above its weight when it comes to film futures, but this year’s list of nominees is no exception—as evidenced by past Leo nominations and the department’s 2011 win for Best Web Series Award for Freshman’s Wharf.
What’s the secret to their success? “Film is just a development of the Writing department’s already well-known streams: fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction and drama,” says film professor Maureen Bradley. “I don’t know anywhere else in the country where this is happening. There are good student films being made, but they’re not being driven by faculty [led-courses].”
Bradley has spent the past five years building up the technical equipment and supporting talent to create professional-looking 10-minute short student films. “Drama and film are really an applied form of learning,” she explains. “A screenplay and a play are not final products, and they’re always open to interpretation. Students need to see how hard it is to make a film, how to adjust the writing as the film is made, how to write with a budget in mind.”
With no other Vancouver Island college or university offering film production classes, Bradley feels UVic’s Writing department is uniquely situated to help fill a gap both locally and nationally. “I think we have the best [student] screenwriters in Canada here, and I have a lot of experience in the other centres,” she says. “This is a unique situation where the production comes through the writing first. I’ve seen beautiful films at student screenings across Canada, but the story is usually lacking—so it’s really exciting to see story and surface come together here. Why make a film if there’s no heart to it?”
This year’s Leo nominees with ties to the Writing department include:
• Alumnus Jason Bourque‘s feature film Blackfly leads the pack with nominations for 10 awards, including best motion picture, direction & screenwriting
• Professor Maureen Bradley‘s feature film Two 4 One (produced by Fine Arts Digital Media Technician Daniel Hogg) is nominated for six awards, also including best motion picture, direction & screenwriting—and costumes, which were created by Theatre grad Kat Jeffery
• The short film Gord’s Brother—created by the busy alumni team of Daniel Hogg (producer), Jeremy Lutter (director) & Ben Rollo (writer)—received four nominations
• Alumni Kate Bateman & Matt Hamilton‘s web series The Actress Diaries received four nominations
• Recent MFA grad Connor Gaston‘s student film Godhead received 2 nominations
A project of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Foundation of British
Columbia since 1999, the Leo Awards are an annual celebration of excellence in BC’s film & television scene.
The awards will be presented over three evenings in Vancouver, depending on program: June 6 at the Westin Bayshore and June 13 & 14 at the Hotel Vancouver.