Zoe Slusar

Zoe Slusar

Maskwacis students fine-tune their writing skills

“We’re bringing the script alive and creating our own content” Manisha Khetarpal, MCC librarian

Students at Maskwacis Cultural College (MCC) got their writing grooves together last week during a writing workshop.

The workshop was organized to give students tips and ideas on good screenwriting techniques and how to write a newspaper article, explained Manisha Khetarpal, MCC librarian.

“What we’re doing today is a new way of including multimedia and creating content with our current students,” said Khetarpal.

She says the project is meant as a way to connect with the Cree culture. Students were to read a book by First Nations author Richard Wagamese and then create a screenplay and then short movie inspired by their reading.

“We’re bringing the script alive and creating our own content,” said Kheterpal.

She invited independent filmmaker Zoe Slusar of Untitled Productions to provide tips on filmmaking techniques and best strategies for putting a movie together. Also invited was Ponoka News’ reporter Amelia Naismith, who offered core strategies when writing a news story.

The final requirement of the project is to present a short one-minute pre-production video of the screenplay, said Khetarpal.

“Not only are we learning about Cree identity (in) storytelling and script writing but we are also learning about the filmmaking process…there are multiple learnings going on,” she explained.

She suggests bringing a multimedia project such as this to MCC gives students an opportunity to stretch their creative wings with regard to storytelling, which is a big part of the Cree culture.

“It’s also building oral communication skills,” she said.

Slusar spoke about a group called Prairie Tales, a collection of short films and videos made by Albertan artists.

Slusar said Wagamese’s writing was significant in that he was homeless at a young age but used libraries as a tool to learn about the world. Conversations he overheard were then researched at the libraries he visited.

Eventually Wagamese became a columnist for the Calgary Herald and has published a number of books and poetry works.