CAT students across the animation and filmmaking departments are staying busy with STORYHIVE’s ‘Reel Youth’ short film initiatives.
Cheyanna Kidd, CAT animation student, recently made the news this spring when she and her partner Kurtis Peskleway were featured in a story on Castanet.com about their then upcoming animated short film ‘Like and Follow’, followed by subsequent articles in northeastnow.com and bclocalnews.com.
Since then we are happy to report the project has been finished, and Cheyanna is very happy with it.
“Yes! The short film is fully complete and we are all incredibly proud of it. ELUS Storyhive is currently reviewing all of the short films from each group in their grant project, so we have no official answers yet. Reel Youth says that we’ve knocked it out of the park and they’re very proud of us.”
The project was developed through the Reel Youth’s ‘Youth Community Stories’ program and TELUS STORYHIVE, and Cheyanna was happy to talk to interFACE about the experience.
How did the media coverage in Castanet come about?
“Our team includes a brilliant woman from TELUS Storyhive and Reel Youth’s PR agency, Tiffani Lee, who guided us in a media campaign to share our unique journey as young filmmakers. The Castanet was one of many interviews that we were a part of and it’s been an honor to share our project, voices, and message with Canadians across BC and SK.”
Was it exciting to make the news? And has the publicity impacted your project in any positive ways?
“It was daunting and thrilling to make the news; I have autism, which is a communication disorder. Even though I’m well spoken, it is difficult for me to “read” social situations and avoid phrasing that might be misinterpreted or misunderstood. I often made myself notes on cards to ease my anxiety.
The public support has been a huge source of encouragement, motivation, and reassurance. People in my hometown, Tisdale, have been visiting my father’s shop just to say that they’ve seen me in the news and they’re incredibly proud of me! Publicity about this fantastic opportunity created by TELUS Storyhive and Reel Youth Canada also encourages similar projects in the future and I would love to see more Canadian youth filmmakers have opportunities like this.”
How did you get involved with the Reel Youth project?
“After our application for the grant was accepted, we attended a series of workshops lead by Reel Youth that laid the foundation of our projects, refined our visions, and connected us with an experienced group mentor, Daniel Pierce. Dan has guided and encouraged us in meeting our checkpoints, deadlines, and goals throughout our extensive animation process.”
Tell us a bit about the project; what is the film about and why its story is important?
“Our animated short film, “Like and Follow” is about the beautiful journey of two LGBTQ2+ teens who meet online, go out for a date, and have a raven steal their phone. The raven becomes their guide up a huge mountain with obstacles, far away from the city. When they finally retrieve the phone from the mountain peak, they see their entire journey sprawled out beneath them in a sunset and decide to be fully present in the moment together.
Amidst Covid 19, we are facing an unprecedented dependency on technology and risk for developing tech addiction. We want to raise awareness and spark hope during a time when it is needed most.”Cheyanna Kidd
Our story features a First Nations lead character and her androgynous date. In honour of Pride month and Aboriginal History Month, we are reaching out to give these characters new, powerful names that reflect the strength, elegance, and empowerment in our story.
The most important aspect of our film is representation: LGBTQ2+, Aboriginal women, youth, and technology addiction. We want everyone to see a reflection of themselves in our film.
There is a critical need for Aboriginal people and characters in media; I hired 8 Aboriginal artists across Canada in this project and I am honored that our lead character will be representing their people in a respectful, beautiful way.
As I am part of the LGBTQ2+ community, being bisexual, I have several wonderful friends who are androgynous: I designed the personality and look of our androgynous character in honor of them.
Amidst Covid 19, we are facing an unprecedented dependency on technology and risk for developing tech addiction. We want to raise awareness and spark hope during a time when it is needed most.”
‘Like and Follow’ and ‘Silent Addictions’
This is the second Reel Youth project currently being developed by CAT students and recent alumni. Digital Filmmaking alumni team Fifth Productions is also busy developing their short film project ‘Silent Addictions’.
“At this point we have completed the project, which premiered on September 10th at an online premiere via Zoom. As of now we don’t have an actual release date but are waiting to hear, and are waiting to see if we receive any feedback from the premiere,” says Morgan Thomas, “Silent Addictions’ producer.
‘Like and Follow’ will be released this September and will be available to view online via YouTube and a TELUS’s website.
“It can be viewed various places online (we’ll have specific links upon public release) and hopefully at film festivals across Canada as well! We hope to also plan a viewing at CAT as soon as it’s safe to do so,” says Cheyanna.
You can read the Castanet article on Cheyanna at: https://www.castanet.net/news/Kelowna/301237/Kelowna-couple-producing-short-film-with-TELUS-STORYHIVE#301237
‘Like and Follow’