Hayley Morin, alumni from CAT’s 2017 Digital Filmmaking program, has hit the big time with ‘ Joe Buffalo’. This documentary on the First Nations’ skateboarder has recently been selected for the prestigious 2021 ‘South by Southwest’ Film Festival in Austin Texas this past March.
You have just had one of your projects accepted by SXSW Film Festival, can you tell us a bit about the film?
Joe Buffalo is a short documentary on the life and career of Indigenous skateboarding legend, Joe Buffalo.
A survivor of Canada’s notorious Indian Residential School system, following a traumatic childhood and decades of addiction, Joe must face his inner demons to realize his dream of turning pro.
How did you get involved in the project, and what was your role?
My Co-Producer, Mack Stannard, actually found me on Instagram and reached out to me about joining the project! The bulk of the film was shot in Vancouver, where Joe currently lives, but they were looking for a producer to come on for their shoot in Alberta.
What did your working day look like on the project? Talk us through the day-to-day.
The film being a short documentary allowed for the two days we had in Alberta to be pretty loose.
While we were shooting, I was responsible for securing our locations, crew members, and anything additional that our director and cinematographer required to film.
During post production, my role shifted into supporting our team during editing with feedback and a very important indigenous perspective.
How did you feel when you heard it had been chosen by SXSW?
I was completely shocked and thrilled. SXSW is a very prestigious and well-respected festival in general, but especially to the film industry.
I remember actually doing a project in our first Professional Development class in quarter one where we had to write down major goals for our career and getting featured at SXSW was a top one for me.
Tell us a bit about the SXSW Film Festival and why it is important to filmmakers like yourself.
I think just the amount of notoriety it has is huge. Beside it being an Oscar and international award qualifying festival, the name itself has becomes such a large part of pop culture.
It also attracts such a wide and diverse audience across film, music, and other media.
A documentary you started working on while studying at CAT was chosen for a Telus StoryHive grant. How did that experience help you moving forward in your career?
That experience was huge for me. Being able to get not only a grant that size, but also the support from Storyhive for my debut film was both life and career changing for me.
That documentary is so special to me because it taught me so much about the business side of filmmaking while also allowing me to be creative and find my voice as a director.
Another really special thing that it allowed me to do was collaborate with three of my classmates from the program and bring them back to my community to tell this story.
In what ways has your program at CAT helped you be prepared for your chosen career post-graduation?
Aside from the technical skills that the course gave me, it also provided me with a great level of understanding of all the aspects of filmmaking. From being on set, to working in the different departments, to having you work with other creatives; it gives a great sense of what to expect when making a film.
What do you like best about producing films?
I love being able to support creativity on all levels. Helping someone’s vision become a reality on screen is such a beautiful part of filmmaking and being the one to bring together all the moving parts to make that possible is extremely rewarding.
Producing allows you to have a lot of input into the film and be involved at almost every stage.
What is the most challenging thing about producing films?
Being in a high position like that comes with a lot of responsibility. While you have the ability to have an impact on the film, that means you’re also responsible for making that happen. It can be demanding at times, but once you see the product of all your hard work on screen it’s beyond worth it.
What tips or advice would you give to students currently on CAT’s Digital Filmmaking course?
Start finding your voice now.
I know that can seem like a big undertaking, but the sooner that you find your unique perspective and style of filmmaking, things will start to come easier – from inspiration, to networking connections, to great opportunities.
Interview by Deborah Lampitt-McConnachie