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YK filmmaker talks new movie and film trade in the NWT

Cast and crew working on set for Polaris. Photo courtesy of Kirsten Carthew.

Inspired by mythology, fantasy and stories of nature, Northern dystopian thriller Polaris is set to appear on big and small screens as early as 2022. 

The film, a collaboration between Yellowknife-born filmmaker Kirsten Carthew and Whitehorse producer Max Fraser, follows the story of a young girl trying to find her way home after escaping capture from warriors who want her mother dead. 

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic forever-winter and focuses on themes of nature and the relationship between humans and their environment. 

The filmSA国际影视传媒檚 protagonist is able to navigate the harsh environment through lessons learned from her polar bear teacher SA国际影视传媒 played by 26-year-old polar bear and on-screen veteran, Agee. 

Carthew said she has always loved both fantasy and the outdoors. SA国际影视传媒淢ost of the stories I tell have something to do with both,SA国际影视传媒 she said. 

Carthew compared exploring relationships between humans and animals, to travelling somewhere without knowing the language or the customs. 

Humanity and intuition are on full display, she said, as youSA国际影视传媒檙e forced to relate and communicate in the most basic ways. 

Among CarthewSA国际影视传媒檚 former works are Dead North short, Fish Out of Water, and award winning feature film The Sun At Midnight SA国际影视传媒 both shot in the NWT. 

Carthew wrote Polaris to be filmed in the NWT as well, though it was instead shot in the Yukon for financial reasons. 

Carthew called Northerners SA国际影视传媒渁mbitious,SA国际影视传媒 SA国际影视传媒渆xtremely hard workers,SA国际影视传媒 and SA国际影视传媒渉ardy troubleshooters.SA国际影视传媒 

She said collaborating between territories helps create networking opportunities and build the industry. 

KSA国际影视传媒檃 NakehkSA国际影视传媒檕, a Yellowknifer who worked as a production assistant (PA) on set, was among those taking advantage of the partnership. 

NakehkSA国际影视传媒檕 hopes to pursue film as a career and touts the opportunity to have spent five weeks helping out with the camera crew, driving cast and crew to and from sets and rubbing shoulders with production staff of all kinds to learn the ropes and take in as much as he could. 

SA国际影视传媒淚t was awesome to work with so many people in the industry and getting to pick their brains,SA国际影视传媒 he said of the experts he met. 

In the five weeks he spent on set, each day was varied. 

SA国际影视传媒淓ven if weSA国际影视传媒檙e working on one scene for the whole week, weSA国际影视传媒檙e capturing different camera angles, and doing different things each day.SA国际影视传媒 

For all the new things he tried, and people he met, NakehkSA国际影视传媒檕SA国际影视传媒檚 biggest takeaway was SA国际影视传媒渉ow far having a good attitude can really get you.SA国际影视传媒 

For his own career, NakehkSA国际影视传媒檕 said he sees himself working in front of the camera. 

Growing up, NakehkSA国际影视传媒檕 loved superhero movies. He noticed from a young age, however, that the lead actors were mostly white. 

SA国际影视传媒淚t would be awesome to get more Indigenous faces in TV and movies,SA国际影视传媒 he said, SA国际影视传媒渢o give Indigenous people a good name and talk about things people might not know about Indigenous people.SA国际影视传媒 

To grow the industry for NakehkSA国际影视传媒檕 and his cohort, Carthew said decision makers need to recognize film as a viable industry in the NWT. 

She sees significant interest and creative talent in residents of the territory, but resources and funding are necessary to nurture those projects. 

SA国际影视传媒淚 think thereSA国际影视传媒檚 a real challenge in the North whereby people think filmmaking is purely about art. ThatSA国际影视传媒檚 a huge part of it, and for most filmmakers thatSA国际影视传媒檚 the motivation, but itSA国际影视传媒檚 also an economic industry that requires funding and returns funding to industry.SA国际影视传媒 

Through the film commission and the advocacy efforts of individuals and organization, there has been progress in gaining industry recognition, but thereSA国际影视传媒檚 more work to be done, Carthew said, to create a landscape for telling Northern stories in Northern settings. 

Polaris received funding primarily through national and regional funds, as well as through partnership with the NWT film commission to pay expenses and wages. 

The filmSA国际影视传媒檚 bill is hovering around $2.5 million, though it could easily have been a bigger production Carthew explained. 

Once complete, Polaris will be screened on broadcast networks SA国际影视传媒 though Carthew couldnSA国际影视传媒檛 say which SA国际影视传媒 in addition to its theatrical release. 

Post-production is set to take the crew until the end of the year, after which Carthew said sheSA国际影视传媒檚 SA国际影视传媒渆xcited to show the product to the North.SA国际影视传媒 

SA国际影视传媒淭he NWT can feel really proud of the work theySA国际影视传媒檝e done.SA国际影视传媒  



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