A short film that was written, produced and directed by a Yellowknife artist will be thrust into the national spotlight this summer.
Jennifer Walden’s Painted Girl tells the story of an abused woman in her mid-20s who finds escape through painting.
The short 12-minute production was shot entirely in the Yellowknife area and features local talent.
This summer, it will be one of nine films featured in CBC’s Short Film Face Off, a nationally televised contest that’s decided by viewers.
Known primarily for her work as a painter, this was Walden’s first attempt at filmmaking. She told 1001. The Moose some components of the art form came more naturally to her than others.
WIFT-T Showcase: Q&A With Jennifer Walden
“Some aspects of it came very naturally like having an eye for composition and colour and knowing what I wanted to see on the screen,” she said. “It’s almost the same as planning out a painting.
“Working with the colours and layout was something I could easily transition to but some of the real logistics that go into making a film and how the equipment works, I didn’t know anything about.
“Normally working in my studio, I’m doing solitary work so having the opportunity to work with other talented artists in different mediums … was a huge highlight for me.”
Walden says she drew inspiration from a family item that was passed down to her a couple years ago. While visiting family, she was given an old wooden paint box that used to belong to her grandfather.
Starting with that as a central prop, she worked it into a landscape that was familiar to her – burn areas around Yellowknife.
“Oddly enough I started backwards which I think is the opposite of how most people write stories,” said Walden.
“I kind of started with a landscape and a prop and then I wrote a story to fit them.”
While this won’t be Walden’s first time on the national stage as a filmmaker, CBC’s program will certainly draw the largest audience.
Last month, Painted Girl was featured during the 2016 Women in Film and Television – Toronto Showcase (WIFT-T), which supports the development of women in the industry.
Walden admits to being a little more nervous this time around.
“It’s nerve-wracking to think it’s going to be on television because I hadn’t anticipated that side of it,” she said. “I prefer to be the person behind the scenes so that’s a little scary to me.”
CBC’s Short Film Face Off will go to air on June 18, June 25, July 2 and July 9 with $45,000 up for grabs.
Since her work on Painted Girl, Walden submitted an entry for Yellowknife’s Dead North Film Festival and has already begun work on a second short film, which she expects to shoot this summer.
Like many of her colleagues, Walden’s goal is to enhance the profile of the territory’s film sector as much as possible.
“We have something really unique up here,” she said. “We have such an amazing landscape to work with and for others who want to come here to do film.
“There’s also a really unique voice that comes out of the North. The voice is different, and I think it’s really dictated by the spirit of this landscape and this community.”