Last night I joined the Board Of Directors at The Film And Video Arts Society – Alberta as the Video Chair.
FAVA is a not-for-profit organization that supports independent media artists in Alberta through access to discounted equipment, facilities, programs, and networks. Working in the equipment depot was the very first job I had after film school, and as people came to pick up their gear, I got to meet everyone who was making stuff in Edmonton. After a while I got invited to a few sets, then a few more, and now, years later, I’m the person making the stuff who comes to FAVA to pick up gear. From what I understand, this is a pretty familiar cycle at FAVA: support, learn, go out, create, employ and inspire the next generation of filmmakers.
From doing some videos with corporate spokespeople recently, I’ve noticed that the word “community” gets tossed around a lot in sort of a jargonistic way, a way that tends to prevent it from actually meaning anything. FAVA is a place where this word “community” is the opposite of platitudinous. I’ve learned so much from other filmmakers and been inspired by their work. I’ve received so much encouragement and advice about how to actually work in this weird and wonderful world of film and video. I’ve been ready to essentially give up so many times and been talked out of it by people who have been there before and understand the way progress waxes and wanes; I’ve talked people out of giving up too. Almost all of the professional relationships I have now are because of FAVA. I find an excuse to hang out there even when I have to invent one.
Now I have an even greater opportunity to try and give back, and to help FAVA continue to reach people in this province who have stories and ideas that they need to express. To help the next generation of people who stumble into that weird old armoury with something to say and no way to say it. It’s easy to get depressed about the future of filmmaking if you want to, to ruminate endlessly on this idea that because everyone has an HD camera in their pocket, everyone’s a filmmaker and this will lead to the complete erosion of any sort of craft. I don’t think this attitude carries any weight. It’s borne by insecurity. To my mind, it’s much healthier to be excited about how easy it is to access (for lack of a less-Marxist term) the means of production, the fact that you can shoot a feature film on your phone and have it become its own aesthetic. To know that the next Fassbinder, Cassavates, Andrea Arnold, John Waters, Spike Lee, Wong Kar-Wai won’t be held back because they can’t afford processing. But that the aesthetic of film is still out there and still available to them if they want it, really want it. It’s an exciting time.
So maybe people might not always come to FAVA to rent a camera because maybe they have one in their pocket. They’ll still come to meet other people who believe in the weird power images hold over us, and to commiserate about the challenges of a creative life. I’m not sure what the word “community” means to a spokesperson for CN or Syncrude, but that’s what community means to me.
Until next time.
Dylan – Edmonton, AB