Newfoundland Independent Filmmakers Cooperative
The lovely heritage structures atop a hill in St. John’s historic downtown house the only filmmakers’ cooperative in Newfoundland and Labrador. A Norwegian filmmaker once photographed the row houses only to discover that the colourful and picturesque façade concealed 30 years of Canadian filmmaking history.
The Newfoundland Independent Filmmakers Cooperative (NIFCO) celebrated three decades of filmmaking in June 2005, and it has a score of achievements to highlight.
Newfoundland filmmaker Gerry Rogers has received countless awards, including two Geminis, for her film My Left Breast (2000), a documentary about her personal experience with breast cancer. Her film Pleasant Street (2004) earned the Rex Tasker Award for Best Documentary and the Best Direction Award at the Atlantic Film Festival.
NIFCO’s first-time independent filmmakers Adriana Maggs and Sabah Hadi both received awards at the 2004 Atlantic Film Festival. Maggs earned the Outstanding Writer’s Award for her film I Dare Not Go (2004) and Hadi was honoured for Excellence in Art Direction for Maids (2004). Linda Fitzpatrick’s first independent film Lynn and Harriet (2004), a humorous story about a woman who befriends her pig, earned no less than four awards.
The filmmaking industry has exploded on the island in recent years, says NIFCO Executive Director Jean Smith. Feature films such as The Shipping News (2001) and the television mini-series Random Passage (2002) have put the spotlight on Newfoundland’s film production industry and unearthed skilled technicians and promising new filmmakers.
And NIFCO is welcoming the surging sea of first time filmmakers to its cosy refuge, having flung its doors wide open to anyone interested in the art of filmmaking. Its long-standing practice of mentoring continues under the First Time Film Program.
NIFCO has embraced many challenges since it was founded in 1975, such as replacing outdated equipment and overcoming its geographic isolation. The Coop now boasts a state-of-the-art sound recording studio and digital editing equipment, which allow filmmakers to produce films to industry standards. The Atlantic Studios Cooperative has been instrumental, says Smith, in acquiring mobile film production equipment and in establishing a sound stage in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.
In short, NIFCO has been a critical catalyst for a fast-growing and original artistic medium.
by Christine Roger