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Herland program paves way for Calgary female filmmakers

Last Updated Nov 20, 2020 at 4:32 pm MST


CALGARY (660 NEWS) — If you’re an aspiring local female filmmaker wondering how your scripts can make their way to the big screen, keep reading.

Meet Herland — a mentorship program helping women explore their creative visions.

“It’s the brainchild of local filmmaker Sandi Somers, and it’s an opportunity to encourage women to get into film and also to ladder up their careers,” Calgary-based writer and director Jill Roberts explained to 660 NEWS.

“It’s an intimidating thing to get into at first until you get your feet wet and you realize that everybody has to start somewhere. Everybody feels a similar way when they’re getting going.

“But then you start to meet all of these other people who are having a great time doing it, and you suddenly can’t imagine your life without filmmaking.”

And connecting with the program is already paying dividends for Roberts in spades.

Her recent Herland-supported short, B*TCH, has been nominated for the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers Stinger Awards.

“We are so thrilled to be part of the Stinger Awards,” Roberts said with a smile. “It was a huge honour for us, especially having it be the first film, and I can’t really say enough about CSIF. They’ve been amazing in creating an ecosystem for independent film. It’s been such a great experience.

“We got to showcase our film at a drive-in in High River, and it was a hoot. Just seeing your work on the big screen and to be part of this local awards program is great, just amazing. It makes you feel like anything is possible, and there’s a direction you can go into. You realize there’s a lot of talent here.”

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So to say 2020 has been a whirlwind for Roberts and her crew is an understatement, especially with the pandemic.

“We were pretty fortunate because it was a week pretty much to do the day that we filmed that everything went into lockdown,” she recalled. “We’d actually filmed the weekend before, and we got into post right away. I was able to spend a lot more than I would’ve normally on the film because we had all of our deadlines extended.”

You can watch all of the Herland films on Telus Optik on Demand on the community showcase channel.