March 27, 2018 Large cameras, film crew, translators and a Director’s tent dotted the community of Dettah as Red Snow, the latest film production to land in the Northwest Territories (NWT), shot scenes last week. The feature-length film, written and directed by Marie Clements, tells the story of Dylan, a Gwich’in soldier from the Northwest Territories, who is caught in an ambush in Afghanistan. His interrogation by a Taliban commander releases a cache of memories connected to the love and death of his Inuit cousin, Asana, and binds him closer to a Pashtun family as they escape across treacherous landscapes. Language plays a large role in the film, with actors speaking four languages: Gwich’in, Inuvialuit, English and Pashto. The riveting story is one that Clements has been working on for some time. Three years ago, Clements travelled to Yellowknife and discussed the project with Jay Bulckaert and Pablo Saravanja (Artless Collective(link is external)) over a dinner of muskox and spaghetti. “There is no place Red Snow could have been filmed than the NWT. There’s a uniqueness here to the land and people. A kind of brilliant survival that is built in the bones. By not only bringing together a diverse cast from Canada and the world, we brought together film communities. We borrowed hats and mitts, we literally walked in each other’s boots to tell this story. There’s a misconception that Indigenous stories are unto themselves…that they are somehow separate from what we think as the Canadian experience when in fact this is the core of who we are, and who we have become,” says Clements.Red Snow Producer Michelle Morris, NWT Film Commissioner Camilla MacEachern, Red Snow Writer & Director Marie Clements, and Minister Wally Schumann smile on the set of Red Snow in Dettah.
Local Industry on SetThere was a noticeable local presence on the Red Snow set in Dettah. Jen Walden(link is external), was selected out of 244 applicants nation-wide to be one of six recipients of the Academy Apprenticeship for Women Directors. The prestigious recognition provides her with the opportunity to shadow Clements on the set of Red Snow. Leela Gilday(link is external) and Reneltta Arluk were hired as actors in the film,and will play Asana’s aunts. Jay Bulckaert and Pablo Saravanja were hired as Line Producers and are assisting with drone video footage and special effects. For Bulckaert, this included breathing life into a stuffed bear through a tube to give it the realism required.
Related Stories: A Wrinkle in Time Comes to Yellowknife NWT Film Profile Rises with Dead North SuccessesLilian Elias was hired as the Inuvialuit Cultural Advisor and William Firth was hired as the Gwich’in Cultural Advisor. In addition, several other actors came from the NWT.