Outpost 31 Goes to Cannes

The founders of Outpost 31 were recently selected to attend the Cannes Film Festival through a program called Not Short on Talent. The program, a Telefilm initiative, recognized the Yukon company for its short film The Changeling. I sat down with Neil Macdonald, filmmaker and co-founder of Outpost 31, to discuss the experience.

So, how did the opportunity come about to go to Cannes?

We made this short film as part of the Dead North Film Festival – a film festival out of Yellowknife. Unbeknownst to us, Danny Lennon, who curates a Telefilm program called Not Short on Talent, was watching all the films at the festival. He’s been taking one of the Dead North films to the Cannes Film Festival every year and selected The Changeling to take this year! It was the first time the film screened anywhere.

Wow, so cool. How did it feel when you found out you were selected to go?

It was pretty crazy! We didn’t know about the opportunity until we got to the festival. They kind of just let people know that one of this year’s films would be selected to go to Cannes. So, on the final evening of the festival, after the awards ceremony, they announced the selection. We were definitely shocked that we were the ones that were chosen because, you know, it’s the world’s biggest film festival! But I need to be clear – we didn’t screen in the festival, we just attended. But even just being affiliated in some small way is really cool. Getting to go was the best part.

Totally, what were some of the cool things you got to do at the festival?

Well, it was great to take advantage of everything that Telefilm had to offer: the photo op, a couple parties, some one-on-one sessions with festival programmers. The one-on-one sessions were really cool – to get to sit there with the programmers of Sundance, Toronto International Film Festival, and different festivals, and to meet the other Talent to Watch cohort. There are 15 short films that are representing Canada and to meet some of those other people and filmmakers and realize there are some connections and you’ve worked with some of them before is cool.
We also wanted to take advantage of the market aspect of the festival. It is a huge market and, like, probably a bigger market then it is a film festival. There’s like 10,000 accredited people attending the festival and there are all these concurrent mini film festivals that are associated, but not part of the festival. It’s just this huge, huge film event.
A producer we had previously made a film with, Shayne Putzlocher, was there this year and he’s always been a bit of a mentor to me, so he helped us do some prep work and set up some meetings for us. We also have a couple other projects we’re working on, so it was nice to meet the people we’re working with from outside of the country and outside of the territory, face-to-face, at this crazy festival.
So, a lot of just relationship-building and networking. And seeing movies and going to workshops and master classes and stuff like that.

Did you notice any trends in filmmaking, or media, or just film culture in general?

I think the biggest one is the growth of XR (extended reality). It’s still a burgeoning part of the medium and people are still figuring out how to use it to tell stories and what the best audience experience is for those specific types of forms. But VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality), 360 videos, and those kinds of things are now being branded as XR, and there was a whole section dedicated to it this year. It was beneficial to explore the medium and see where it’s headed. It’s certainly an interesting way to tell stories. A big thing that was being talked about was cinematic VR because I think a lot of people associate VR with video games and a lot of the experiences to date have been more akin to video games. And I’m really interested in exploring the hybrid of how you take those kinds of longform participatory immersive storytelling experiences and blend them with the cinematic experience. So, it’s cool to see that trend and I think people are starting to figure it out. There are a lot of unknowns about it at this point, but it’s really exciting and definitely a developing part of the business which is cool.
For the future? The landscape is shifting and we’re at a really interesting time. There was a lot of talk at Cannes this year about Netflix and what constitutes a film versus TV. There were these big heavyweights in the industry weighing in about this whole thing. I think this year is the first year in Canada there are more OTT (over-the-top media service) subscriptions *. So, we’re at that tipping point where TV as a medium is going to change in a big way, or maybe die. And that’s going to be a big shift in the business and then just storytelling in general.

I imagine you have some great stories from your trip, can you tell me about the most interesting or surprising thing that happened at Cannes?

Well, there’s this whole lottery system to get tickets at Cannes. Your badges can get you into certain screenings, but for the main gala screenings it’s a lottery. So, the three of us were all trying to get into one film together, so we could walk the red carpet and see the premier of some big movie. And, like, literally within the last eight hours we managed to all get tickets to one screening on our last night! So, by pure luck, we got to walk the red carpet and go see a movie that we actually would have really liked to see. It was a genre South Korean drama movie – kind of cop thriller/serial killer movie. So, that was really cool. We got the black suits and bowties, walked the red carpet and got to see a movie in the Grande Palais. That was the last thing we did at Cannes, then we walked home and got up at five in the morning and went to the airport.

That’s amazing, what a perfect way to cap off your first trip to Cannes. Was there an experience or meeting that you anticipate will influence your work as a filmmaker, or as a media company?

We had a few meetings with people we haven’t met before and spent some time with people we have already made movies with and will hopefully work with again. Certainly, spending time with a producer like Shayne Putzlocher, who I consider to be a mentor, and doing it out of place like that – he was generous to let us see a little bit of what he’s doing, business-wise. We’re constantly talking about doing more projects in the Yukon and hopefully doing some of our projects with him, so it’s good to strengthen those relationships and cool to do it in a place where there’s lots of business going on and meeting new people through him.

Right, yeah, I imagine just sharing the experience of being in a filmmaker in Cannes would strengthen those relationships. Is there anything else you’d like to share

Yes. There’s this amazing festival in Canada call Fantasia, it’s one of the bigger genre festivals in the world, and they have a market component and we just found out yesterday that The Changeling has also been selected to a program they have called Shorts to Features. So, we’re going to go to the festival in Montreal in July and show The Changeling and pitch our feature length version of the short, so that’s really cool!

*OTT (over the top media) from Wikipedia – is a term used to refer to content providers that distribute streaming media as a standalone product directly to viewers over the Internet, bypassing telecommunications, multichannel television, and broadcast television platforms that traditionally act as a controller or distributor of such content.

Meet our Members: Jocelyn Joe-Strack

Over the last four weeks, Yukonstruct Cospace member Jocelyn Joe-Strack, embarked on a speaking tour of Canadian embassies in Europe to share her Indigenous perspective on Climate Change with senior diplomats, academics, youth and the public.

Jocelyn Joe-Strack is an academic with multiple advanced degrees in microbiology and

geography and is currently working towards a PhD regarding Indigenous Land Use Planning. She holds degrees from the University of Northern British Columbia and University of Victoria. She is a Jane Glassco Northern Fellow and a recipient of the prestigious 2017 Vanier Scholarship.

With her business, Subarctic Research & Strategy, Joe-Strack is currently leading development of a progressive Land Use Plan for her First Nation’s Traditional Territory – which will contribute to the Yukon-wide regional land planning process. She is concurrently applying this experience towards a PhD in Sustainability & Environment with the University of Saskatchewan.

Jocelyn was born and currently lives in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory with her husband and two young children.

She enjoys being a part of the Yukonstruct community. Especially the opportunity to network and brainstorm with so many creative and progressive thinkers. It’s the perfect atmosphere to get work done!

During her tour, Joe-Strack has posted regular blog updates about her travels. You can follow her on Twitter at @jocelynjs and facebook /jocelynjs

Introducing Curtis

Have you noticed how clean things have become lately? It has been almost two months since Curtis started work at the makerspace and (co)space.

Curtis came to the organization thanks to a new partnership with Challenge Disability Resource Group. (co)space & YuKonstruct gratefully accepted an invitation recently to be honored for the success of our partnership with Challenge at their upcoming Annual General Meeting on June 14th!

“We support and promote self-starters, entrepreneurship and innovation in the North and consider this success story as another win. Curtis graduated from Challenge’s Employ Ability Skills Program this spring and started with us the following week. THIS is what we do!” Says Lauren Manekin Beille, (co)space’s Director of Coworking.

We interviewed Curtis and here’s what had to say about his role:

Curtis, what is your role at (co)space & YuKonstuct?
I am a proud janitor for the spaces. The dirtier it is, the better I clean!

Why is this job important to you and the organization?
It keeps both spaces open, welcoming and immaculate. It’s working because I received a compliment last Wednesday. The person said, ‘Wow – since you’ve been here the place is so clean. I appreciate all the things you’ve been doing. You do great work and I appreciate you.” That made me feel really good. Also, everyone says hello and gives me high-fives here.

Tell us about your work ethic.
My father has been a strong influence. He works at his job and continues to work at home. He’s always kept busy and never sat around. My motto today is “Safety – no running on the job, Quality – always aim to do better work, and Quantity – do more work than the day before.”

What did you learn at Challenge to prepare you for your business venture?
They taught me to be articulate. Before I spoke with my hands and now I use my words. I did so well that I won the “Most Reliable” Award because I was never late.

Do you have any advice for people in making the leap to being a self-starter?
Keep busy, have a good frame of mind to push forward, commit to always showing up, and be better than the day before. Finally, always smile because it goes a long way.

(co)space’s coworkers: Lauren

Meet the Makers is a series of interviews to help you get to know the people who are building YuKonstruct’s makerspace. With lots of interesting members at (co)space, we wanted to broaden our interviews to include them!  We now have the (co)space’s coworkers interviews. Here’s Lauren’s.

Lauren, what role do you play at YuKonstruct and (co)space?
I’m joining this community with a few goals. First off, to continue telling the amazing story about the work and possibilities of this space and community it has attracted in its first year. I am excited to increase the volunteer and member engagement and marketing of YuKonstruct and (co)space.

What’s your Yukon story?
My husband, Patrick, four-year-old daughter, Kluane, and I moved from Baltimore, Maryland (USA) nine months ago. We had started and sold a craft brewery in Baltimore and were pining for the Northern way of life for our family after having spent some time in a remote cabin on Kluane Lake in 2010. We LOVE it here and amazingly our favorite part of the Yukon is the community which a perfect fit with the part of my role that is charged with community building around our vision for (co)space.

What do you like about this organization?
The vision. The team. The community. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and continue to be drawn to the radical ideas, courage, perseverance, and passion that makes up the true believers of dreams in this world. I also love the potential of this space! This organization is going to be THE spot for everyone with a dream looking for a community them help make it come true.

What are you excited about bringing to the community?
A career of community building and customer service to continue the organization’s growth. I started in International Tourism and moved on to Nonprofit Management. Every role in my career has revolved around my passion for creating exceptional experiences, bringing people together and building relationships and partnerships with diverse internal and external stakeholders.

Are you prepared for the Yukon winter?
HA! I have to admit, seeing -20C the other day made all the stories a reality and apparently that’s not even that cold! I still have not figured out how to dress, the right shoes to wear, how to cross-country ski, and how many vitamin D tablets to take per day to stay sane but I’ll get there soon enough…I hope.

(co)space’s coworkers: Michel

Meet the Makers is a series of interviews to help you get to know the people who are building YuKonstruct’s makerspace. With lots of interesting members at (co)space, we wanted to broaden our interviews to include them!  We now have the (co)space’s coworkers interviews. Here’s Michel’s.

Michel is a young water sciences specialist currently teaching at the Yukon College. At (co)space, Michel has found an ideal setting to network and develop his entrepreneurial idea: Duteau Bioresource Contracting. This environmental consulting business caters to agriculture, mining, forestry and urban development clients in the Yukon.

Michel, what made you go into business for yourself? 

I have always had a strong entrepreneurial drive. I was raised in the midst of a thriving business, my parents being agricultural entrepreneurs. I always admired self-starters, and want to make a personal contribution to the society and share ideas. I also am disinclined to ‘’corporate culture’’, where the individual’s development and well-being is subordinated to a company’s – a balanced lifestyle is a strong value of mine.

How did you start your company? 

I started throwing ideas on papers a number of years ago. Last summer, I started organizing these ideas towards a coherent business definition (what services I wanted to offer, to whom, etc.). I was slowly making strides towards a business plan. In the last few months, I registered my business with the authorities (e.g. YG, City of Whitehorse, WCB) and developed formal marketing tools (website, brochures, etc.). Networking is a big part of a start-up, and I am now actively offering my services and looking for contracts.

Why do you love being an entrepreneur? 

What I love the most about being an entrepreneur is that I can instill my personal views onto my work, through a personalized approach. Hence, you can share your values and ideas and imprint an impetus onto societal development. For instance, I have a strong care for the environment and my work can contribute to a sound development of the natural resources, through stewardship and adapted technical means.

What advice do you have for other Yukon small business starters?

Get the word out! Networking really is core. Ask advice to your friends, family, co-workers, fellow professionals, and experienced people. Seek feedback on your ideas, and incorporate it in your enterprise development.

What do you like about (co)space?

Working from (co)space has helped me focus on my duties – I used to work from home, where there always are plenty of distractions. It also helped me in keeping a sound schedule. Having people that you can chat with, bounce ideas against and share the mood with is a huge plus.

(co)space’s coworkers: Jenna

Meet the Makers is a series of interviews to help you get to know the people who are building YuKonstruct’s makerspace. With lots of interesting members at (co)space, we wanted to broaden our interviews to include them!  We now have the (co)space’s coworkers interviews. Here’s Jenna’s.

Jenna, what do you work on while at (co)space? (what is your business/studies)
I work a lot on business development, networking, and social media. I own two companies, Frozen Beach Music, Inc. and Dynamics Intelligence Inc. Frozen Beach Music is a music production company and Dynamics Intelligence is a technology software company.

How did you get involved with (co)space?
I conducted a web search for co-location/virtual offices.  After touring (co)space, I knew it was for me, a perfect fit.

Why did you join (co)space?
To be able to operate my business in a place with reliable internet access, a place that was away from home, and a place where I could meet and interact with other business community members.

What do you like most about (co)space being up and running? 
The staff is clearly the best to work with. They are very reliable and get things resolved quickly.

Why do you think other people should become (co)space members?
Anyone that is looking for a place to work that is not in their home, a place to socialize with other business people, and a place with reliable high speed internet should become a member.

What inspires you to work?
I love statistics and being involved with social media is exciting if you like statistics, charts, reports, and graphs.  It’s really exciting to see something go viral and it is challenging to constantly find new content to keep the traffic levels up.

What advice to you have for other members?
My advice would be to get more involved. Host an event or simply invite colleagues to (co)space.