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Feature-length film shot in Wabigoon Lake and Fort William concludes

Wednesday September 3, 2014

Wabigoon Lake’s Donna Chief enjoyed playing the role of a police officer during the recent shooting of an independent film — Fire Song — in her Treaty #3 community.

“It’s something I wanted to play all my life, for real,” said the vice-principal/teacher with Seven Generations Education Institute in Wabigoon Lake. “But teaching was the profession of choice, and the cop will have to stay just in the pictures.”

Chief was “incredibly nervous” during the filming process.

“I entertain in front of students as a teacher every single day but this was a whole different level of nervousness,” Chief said. “They set me up and then (during) my first lines I went ‘Ah,’ so it was pretty nerve wracking.”

In addition to Chief, many Wabigoon Lake community members took part in the film as extras and drivers for the film crew. The film is a co-production by Big Soul Productions, from Toronto, and Thunderstone Pictures, from Thunder Bay.

“Right now we are shooting some exteriors down by the point and earlier today we shot a little bit of a service scene outside of the community hall,” said Michelle Derosier, executive producer of the film and co-owner of Thunderstone Pictures. “We are shooting here until Friday (Aug. 29) and then that is the wrap, the end of the 15 days (of filming).”

Derosier and Adam Garnet Jones, writer and director of Fire Song, shot scenes for 10 days in Fort William First Nation before beginning the five-day shoot in Wabigoon Lake.

“Our lead is from Six Nations — his name is Andrew (Martin),” Derosier said. “And our other lead is from Fort William First Nation, and that is Harley Legarde.”

Other actors in the feature-length film include Mary Galloway, from Cowicham Tribe in B.C.; Alexis Legarde, from Fort William; Brendt Diabo, from Mohawks of Kahnawake in Quebec; Jennifer Podemski, from Saulteaux Tribe in Saskatchewan; Ma-Nee Chacaby, from Eabametoong; Misty Dore, from Long Lake #58; Krysten Flett, from Keeseekoowenin First Nation in Manitoba; Natty Morriseau, from Eabametoong; Derek Miller, from Six Nations; Tom Polson, from Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation in Quebec and Veronika Swartz.

Post-production for Fire Song, which focuses on a gay Aboriginal teenager who is trying to support his family in the aftermath of his sister’s suicide, is scheduled for later this year in Toronto.

“It’s about a young male, who is a two-spirited youth,” Derosier said. “It’s kind of a push-and-pull struggle with wanting to go and follow his dreams in the big city in Toronto and go to university, but things just weren’t going well in his life. He had lost his sister to suicide five weeks before the story started so he’s torn between having to stay home in the community to take care of his mom and his family and his community and family responsibilities and deciding whether or not to go and follow his dreams.”

The film is expected to be ready for distribution next spring, with special screenings also scheduled for Fort William and Wabigoon Lake community members.

“We’re hoping to have it done by the spring to visit the spring (film) festivals,” Derosier said. “We’ll be working into the winter on the editing.”

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