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NWT author’s novel to become film, will be shot in 4 languages

Fort Smith author Richard Van Camp will see another one of his graphic novels adapted for screenplay in the coming months.

Van Camp has published 15 books over two decades, according to his website. That includes The Lesser Blessed (1996), which was turned into an award-winning feature film under the same name in 2012.

This time, his graphic novel Three Feathers (2015), illustrated by Krystal Mateus, will be transformed into film.

The novel explores the idea of restorative justice in a remote northern community after three young men are sentenced for a string of vandalism.

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Over the weekend, a casting call will be held in Fort Smith to round out the cast for the film. Van Camp says a number of main roles have already been filled but that there’s ample room for others to join the production.

The author says this film will be different though, in that it will be filmed and produced in four languages: English, Cree, Chipewyan and South Slavey.

“This is going to be unlike any other movie in the whole wide world,” he said.

“Can you imagine shooting a scene in Bush Cree, taking a break, then South Slavey, then taking a break and then Dene? It’s going to be fantastic.”

Shooting is scheduled to begin in Fort Smith in March. Van Camp says the film will be shot over four seasons to capture different seasonal activities.

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“We’re going to shoot it by season so you can see them checking snares one season, learning how to moose hunt in another and learning how to protect the sacred fire and build a lean-to in the rain,” he said.

“We’re going to shoot it in Fort Smith. We’re going to need the entire community to show up for certain scenes.”

Van Camp says the final production will likely be complete with subtitles. During production, cast and crew members will have access to audio tapes and some of the best translators the South Slave has to offer.

Van Camp learned French throughout school but says it would’ve served him better to learn indigenous dialects instead.

He hopes the film, scheduled for release in 2017, can help facilitate language learning.

“This is the perfect opportunity to watch a full movie – it’s probably going to be around 40 minutes – in your language and that way you start to learn little by little,” he said.

“You get to hear and see your language in action.”

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Van Camp says his publication of Three Feathers wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Brent Kaulback, who pushed him to write the graphic novel and later turn it into a film.

He also has the utmost confidence in director Carla Ulrich, whom he’s collaborated with before. The two worked together on the film Hickey Gone Wrong (2015), based on his graphic novel One Tribe.

Casting calls will be held at the Fort Smith Recreation Centre on Saturday between 11am and 1pm, and on Sunday between 1pm and 4pm.

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