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Powell River Digital Film School productions win awards

Students continue to create top-notch content
EARN DISTINCTIONS: Powell River Digital Film School students, working on a short production for WorkSafeBC, won top prize in the organization’s video contest. Last year’s students have also collected a number of awards for their production called Beauty, which deals with domestic violence issues.

Powell River Digital Film School students continue to earn honours for their first-rate productions.

Film school instructor/mentor Tony Papa said last year’s students shot a short film called Beauty that has won an “astounding number of awards.” He said the production has won the Vancouver film award, which is prestigious, and at the recent Real to Reel youth festival in Vancouver, it was also accorded best film honours, as well as a cinematography award, with cinematographer Mel Yerna also being recognized.

“Mel is now at Capilano University and went in at a running speed,” said Papa. “She’s working for a feature film in her spare time as a camera assistant. It’s just great.”

Beauty was also recognized at the Awareness Film Festival, the Nashville Independent Filmmakers Festival, the Kids First Film and Video Festival, the Toronto Indie Shorts, and California Indies, the Fox International Film Festival and the University of Hawai’i Kids First Film Festival.

The short feature, Beauty, dealt with the topic of domestic abuse and how a woman and her child make a decision to stay or go.

This year’s digital film school students have already won top prize in the WorkSafeBC video contest. Papa said the students had to scramble to put it together, but the results were very impressive. It was their first full production of the year.

“They got a full module in writing and used those principles to get a story, so they know the bounds of beginning, middle and end,” said Papa. “They got it, and it worked out very well.

“It was entered and there were productions coming from many high schools in BC. The students are awarded a cheque and the school gets a cheque as well, which we can pour back into the program and equipment.”

Papa said at the final screening of each year’s big production, the film school also asks for donations to help supplement wear and tear of the equipment the students need to create top-notch productions.

Papa said this year’s class has talked about its final film already and the students are looking forward to its production.

The digital film school has a longstanding tradition of winning awards for its productions. Now in its 16th year, Papa said he has run out of space on the shelves for accolades bestowed upon the film program. He said he needs a new shelf.

“Many of the students have gone onto post-secondary studies and many are working in the film industry today, like for Amazon, Netflix, as well as independent films,” said Papa. “It always feels good when they come back and say they couldn’t have done it without having gone through the digital film school.”

When the feature film Exile was filming in the qathet region in 2021, Papa said he had three students working as part of the production crew, and a former student from 16 years ago was also on the production.

“Pretty impressive,” added Papa.

He said shooting will continue in qathet region and he is regularly in the process of driving around, looking for locations for students to use for projects, so they can write a story around certain locations.

“My ulterior motive is to get it out to producers and build up the infrastructure,” said Papa. “I’m working to build vibrant production in qathet, to showcase the area and to provide opportunities for people here in film production.”

Papa said Powell River Digital Film School is looking forward to its annual public screening of the students’ work, showing at Max Cameron Theatre in Brooks Secondary School on June 27, starting with a reception at 6 pm and screening starting at 7 pm.