The public broadcaster hosted a two-day pitching workshop this past weekend in Nelson. Fifteen filmmakers were invited, knowing one of them would walk away with the contract for create a series of 10 two-minute history documentaries based on still photographs.
Over the weekend, the filmmakers shared their story ideas and received feedback from each other before pitching them to the network. Knowledge Network president Rudy Buttignol said some of the popular themes the filmmakers were interested in documenting included the Japanese internment, silver mining and sternwheelers.
“There was a lot of overlap in terms of what everyone wanted their films to be about,” Buttignol noted. “What made [Bohigian] stand out was her ability to find a person with an individual story that illustrates the larger issues. She has a lot of filmmaking experience and we know she’ll be able to deliver on the project.”
Bohigian runs her own film company called Watershed Productions and is the founder of the Summer Film Camp for Youth and the Kootenay Summer Shorts Film Festival. Her recent documentaries Rural Transcrapes, about transgendered folks in the Kootenays, and Conceiving Family, about same-sex couples adopting children.
She’s currently working on a 12-part documentary series for the Columbia Basin Trust called Basin Stories. She’s spent the past year and a half interviewing more than 45 people about how the area has changed since the 1964 Columbia River Treaty.
Bohigian said some of the stories and photographs she collected through the Basin Stories project will likely make their way into the Knowledge Network series.
“I’ve gone through a ton of shoe boxes of photographs in people’s living rooms and of course you get way more material than you could ever use for one project,” Bohigian said. “There’s a lot of interesting people in this area.”
The series Bohigian came up with for the Knowledge Network is tentatively titled If These Mountains Could Talk. It includes episodes on the back to the land movement, how the collapse of the salmon run impacted First Nations, the history of Kokanee Glacier Park, and of course, the flooding of the Columbia Basin.
“These are big topics to squeeze into two minute clips,” Bohigian acknowledged, noting she’ll have some good help to accomplish this.
She’s recruited local archivist and researcher Nicole Tremblay to help find photos and research stories; Selkirk College digital arts instructor Daryl Jolly to help with help with post-production and digital effects; and composer Ben Euerby to write the music.
“I think it’s going to be interesting for the rest of BC to learn about the history of this area,” Bohigian said. “Nelson and the Kootenays will be in the television spotlight for awhile.”
The series will air on the Knowledge Network together as a package and then separately between other programming. They’ll also be available to view online, and there’s talk of organizing a local screening of the series at the Civic Theatre sometime next year.