Artist Talk With Shirley Cheechoo at the Female Eye Film Festival 2015
From conception to the final cut, filmmaking is endlessly challenging and ultimately motivated by an internal drive that rarely revs down. For Shirley Cheechoo, filmmaking is a lifeline to express her perspective in an industry where the dominant voice is one she doesn’t recognize. Driven by a desire to tell authentic stories, she made her mark in theatre and would go on to become the first First Nations woman to write, produce, direct and act in a Canadian feature.
Balancing the constraints of funding and time is the least glamorous aspect of filmmaking and Shirley has frequently found herself taking on multiple roles. She credits humour to her survival and is quick to point out the eternal dilemma for independent storytellers—having to take on administrative roles in your projects despite a deep-seated aversion to administrative tasks.
Inspired by her own struggles to make projects under limited resources, Shirley saw an opportunity to improve access for future filmmakers and founded the Weengushk Film Institute on Manitoulin Island. To date the institute has produced over 30 films and provided both facilities and training to encourage emerging voices. Shirley’s passion for providing this level of support and community underscores her main lesson in filmmaking: “Rejection doesn’t bother me. You can’t let yourself get discouraged or it will just consume you. You have to move forward and keep creating.”
For more information about Weengushk Film Institute check out: www.weengushk.com0