LOOK Program Combines Mental Wellness with Filmmaking
At this year’s Regina International Film Festival & Awards (RIFFA), three exceptional short films premiered on opening night with a special story behind them. The films were directed and produced through the first intake year of LOOK Film and Fine Arts Program — a RIFFA-sponsored, volunteer-run program for Regina-area young people with serious mental illness.
“We believe filmmaking is a powerful tool to create connections and get conversations started around the complex topic of mental illness,” says Trevor Grant. Trevor is LOOK’s creative director, as well as a lecturer and graduate studies coordinator with the University of Regina’s School of Journalism. He currently supervises graduate students filming in places as diverse as Nigeria and India.
“LOOK was a dream for a number of people for several years. The idea is ‘LOOK at what I have to say.’ The students are between the ages of 17 and 23 and the dynamic is amazing and collaborative. The end results are beautiful works of art,” adds Trevor.
With a Master of Fine Arts from the U of R, Trevor was an executive producer (arts and entertainment) with CBC Television. He is also a successful independent documentary director and producer under the moniker Roadhouse Pictures.
The LOOK program partners with the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Canadian Mental Health Association (Saskatchewan division). The program began with an orientation session in January 2019 and lasted 22 weeks. The U of R’s School of Journalism graciously lent the program its television studio on Saturdays. Film professionals led by Trevor generously volunteered their time to work with the LOOK students and give guest lectures.
Hannah is a student in the program: “I would encourage a number of my peers to join this course in the future. I’ve learned not only how to use a camera, but the importance behind the usage of a camera and its ability to navigate, captivate and provoke an audience through various artful techniques. Likewise, the in-depth teachings of past films and documentaries of all kinds were interesting, informative and inspiring.”
“Priorities for the LOOK program going forward are taking in our next round of students and fundraising,” Trevor adds. “We also need donations of laptop computers for editing purposes (or funding towards purchasing laptops). Down the road, I hope LOOK can expand to include more students with marginalized voices; Indigenous youth and new Canadians are a few examples. There has also been an interest in a more advanced, second-year course.”
Photos courtesy LOOK Film & Fine Arts Program
The Three Films
You Can’t Hurry Love
A young filmmaker explores relationships and the popular way of meeting people — online dating. Through the stories of a young couple just starting out together and two people married for 35 years, the film reveals that perhaps the old-fashioned way still has value. Filmmaker: Anonymous.
Able to fly, Maru the blue whale swims in the atmosphere high above to see the planet in its entirety. There, he is better able to better soak in the waters of a cumbrous past, one divided in vile oddities and a dangerous, tempting sort of brilliance. Filmmaker: Hannah.
Romeo and Mental
A self-diagnosis and romancing of mental health. Filmmaker Kayla Mak Harrison sets out to show the realness of bipolar disorder and major depression and to experience real-life through the mental illness itself. Filmmaker: Kayla Mak Harrison.